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