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Outdoor dinner party


Dinner parties call to mind simple elegance and a handful of close friends. Surprise your guests by hosting your next dinner party outdoors.

Outdoor dinner party

Oftentimes when we think of eating outdoors, we envision picnics, barbecues, pool parties and campfires, but outdoor entertaining doesn’t have to be rustic. Use the warmth and beauty of spring to host an elegant dinner party in your own backyard.

1Pick a time

Early evening is ideal for an outdoor dinner party. The bright sun is sinking and the cool night air is still at bay.

Check out the perfect dinner party planning timeline >>


The perfect spot

Avoid the temptation to set up under those succulent, blossoming trees. The scent of the blossoms will compete with the food, and you’ll likely find loose blooms floating into your guests’ dinner plates and hair! Instead, opt for a level stone patio, a deck or an open yard.

Create an outdoor oasis on the cheap >>

3Elegant lighting

Forego harsh outdoor lighting by hanging tea lights from trees and running votive candles across the length of the dining table, says San Francisco-based interior designer Cecilie Starin. As the sun sets, the candles will create a soft ambiance, and the dinner party can remain outdoors.

Find more tips for dining by candlelight outdoors >>

4Simple decorations

A well-manicured lawn with a backdrop of spring trees and plants is a perfect start. To dress up the table, sprinkle flower petals and leaves and add a few small centerpieces of cut flowers.

10 Outdoor decorations for less than $20 >>

5Cocktail hour

Set up an outdoor bar stocked with refreshing mixed drinks and cocktails. Fruity drinks featuring apples, peaches, lemons and watermelon will whet your guests’ appetites. Don’t forget to offer non-alcoholic versions of the cocktails for the designated drivers among you.

Check out these 5 spring cocktail recipes for the perfect party drinks >>

6The menu

You can serve the same elegant foods outdoors as you do indoors, but keep the spring theme going with light fare:

  • Start with a light garden salad
  • Serve grilled fish or chicken instead of beef
  • Replace heavy casseroles with a side of grilled veggies
  • Serve up fruit cup or gelatin with fruit for dessert?

Try one of these delicious grilled salad recipes >>

7Be prepared

Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Make sure you’re prepared to move the party indoors if the weather turns bad or the bugs become unbearable.

6 Must-haves for spring parties

More spring party ideas

Mother’s Day brunch ideas
Best spring outdoor party themes
5 Perfect spring cocktails

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