With the recent temperate climate who wouldn’t want to open up the doors, set up the garden furniture and stoke up the bbq? But wait! It shouldn’t just start there. Let’s look at the actual meaning of the phrase ‘al fresco dining’– a style of dining that is casual and often party-like in it’s atmosphere, and let’s think about how to achieve the perfect outdoor dining experience. (Although the phrase itself is Italian for ‘in the cool [air]’, it is not used in the Italian language to refer to outside dining. Instead the Italians use the phrase ‘fuori’ or ‘allaperto’.)
To start with make sure that you have plenty of seating for all of your guests. Try adding scatter cushions and bean bags on the floor too as this will help brighten up the space as well as providing extra areas to sit. Use cushions on chairs and benches and drape over fabric and throws or pashminas in various colours and patterns to add interest. If you are choosing a theme (i.e. vintage tea party or Moroccan dining) make sure to match your menu to your design to keep things as authentic as possible. Add lots of candles holders and hang lanterns from trees and bushes, using citronella candles to deter any bugs, and try making a path of lights from the entrance to your dining area by decorating empty glass jars using specialist glass paint and placing tea lights inside each one – particularly useful if your soiree goes on into the evening.
Another tip is to fill a large bucket or container with water and ice and place bottles within to keep your party drinks ice cold – also useful for cooling your guests off too! Remember to keep everyone entertained, so why not invest in some over-sized outdoor games such as quoits, boules or giant dominoes and make it even more interesting by providing prizes for the winners. A shade is a must in the hot weather too, especially if you are out in the midday sun, so be sure to have a large parasol, gazebo or awning to hand. Also, don’t forget that the suncream and hats are for everyone, not just the children!