5 Outdoor Dinner Party Tips
There’s something about eating outside that takes all of the pressure off. No need to create a perfectly planned dinner menu. Summer arrives and all of sudden plates loaded with watermelon, bowls of chips and salsa, platters of grilled burgers or fresh from the garden zucchini turn into fine dining. Here are my top 5 tips on hosting an Outdoor Dinner : because even though I love the warm and cozy winter dinners inside, eating outside is my favorite.
I know the sun is up, it's bright and you're thinking why would we need lighting? Great lighting is the secret to keeping your guests around long after the sun goes down. Darkness is the biggest non verbal indicator to everyone that the party is over. So, if you want your dinner party to linger think ahead and hang lights, set out candles and have it all ready before the party begins.
Don't forget to turn the lights on before everyone arrives. It will create a seamless transition between bright and sunny to dusk and night time. You'll be sitting at your table, soaking in the final bits of the evening, so glad that the lights were already up and ready to usher in the evening.
Mosquitos are a thing. A real annoying thing. They don't care that you're trying to relax and enjoy being outside. They'll drive your guests away long before they really want to leave! Since I really don't like smelling like bug spray I've been testing out different outdoor bug repellants. The jury is still out, but here are the two I'll be testing over the next couple months.
Do you have another mosquito repelling trick for your outdoor spaces? For our deck I also plant citronella, lavender, rosemary and basil. I love these plants, but in the heat of the summer the mosquitos will fly right by them to get to us! At least these make your pots look pretty and I do think they help repel the bugs to a certain extent.
Since most of store all of our dishes, serving utensils, cups and so forth in the kitchen think ahead and bring all of the options outside before dinner begins. There's nothing worse then walking back and forth to the kitchen because you forgot the bottle opener, and a knife, and forks, and cups and....
As I'm getting dinner ready I fill a tray or a bin with all of the items we might need so it's just one trip instead of 20 ;) Plus having a cute little tote or tray outside will make bringing everything back inside much easier.
Here just a few of the things you could fill you tote with :
cups, plates, silverware, napkins, bottle opener, paper bag for trash, serving utensils, salt, pepper, any other condiments you might need, lighter for candles, salad dressings...
4. Hot or Cold?
Sometimes summer evenings outside make it impossible to prepare for everything! First it's so warm because the sun is still shining on you and then the sun sets and you're cold. The answer? Be prepared for both.
Be ready for the sun by setting up your food and beverages in a shaded corner, or under an umbrella. Have a few large shallow bowls or totes full of ice so you can keep drinks chilled but also the food, salads, dressings, dips can easily be set on ice.
Then even though you might be sweating as you're setting up, round up any blankets and sweaters and put them outside so your guests can easily wrap up after the sun sets. When the summer season comes we fill an old wash basin with all of the outdoor blankets and keep it in the garage ready to go!
A few years back we were gifted with our farm tables - I absolutely love them. They're rustic and allowed to be outside all summer so it's easy to invite friends over because there is always a spot to sit. BUT farm tables are not required to set up a killer outdoor dinner party.
Before the farm tables I set up folding tables, shimmed up the legs to make them straight and draped old curtains over them as table cloths (I wanted to HIDE the legs), or I set up saw horses and put old doors on them as the table top, or big sheets of plywood, or we propped pallets on cement blocks. The moral of this is that you don't NEED a perfect table in order to set up a killer party.
Look at what you have and get creative! Fabric covers a multitude of craziness, add in bottles filled with flowers, candles and trays of food and your friends are going to feel like they've been transported to a slower sweeter time.
All of this, every single bit of it is simply a way to make it easier to be with your people. Whenever you can take the stress out of hosting the better, because everyone just wants to be together! If you want even more tips on hosting you can download our complete dinner party guide here. And if you're nervous about it being awkward check out our 6 secrets to avoiding the awkward dinner party!
We're cheering you on as you fill your table and create community.