It’s officially time to dust off the grill and prepare for outdoor dining season! Hosting friends and family for an outdoor dining experience can come with its quirks and challenges. Here are some things to keep in mind to ensure everyone (host included) has an enjoyable experience!
Set the Scene
Go for an understated, yet elevated look. Accentuate your beautiful outdoor dining table by adding a runner or placemats. Even tablecloths are making a comeback! Keep it simple, though. A crisp linen tablecloth in a neutral color will make a statement with texture and really give the spotlight to the colors of the food.
Potted herbs on the table are always a nice touch. Not only do they provide a great aroma, they can also serve as a garnish for drinks! Incorporating other natural elements such as water hyacinth placemats, terra cotta platters for serving and cutlery with wooden handles really helps guests feel immersed in the al fresco experience.
Lanterns, string lights and candles will set a fun vibe as the sun goes down and encourage lingering conversations long after dinner has ended.
Preparing for the Elements
Mother nature has plenty of tricks up her sleeve when it comes to hosting outdoor gatherings. It’s important to be prepared for any potential issues that could potentially ruin an outdoor meal such as bugs, sun or temperature. Make sure your patio dining area is set where the sun won’t be beating down on guests during their meal - or plan for an umbrella and offer guests sunscreen. Burn some citronella candles to ward off mosquitos and spring for a few food covers to keep the flys away. Keep everyone comfortable as the night goes on, by filling a basket with cozy blankets and throws to wrap up in.
Plan the Meal
Plan to have appetizers for grazing when people start to arrive. Whether you have picky eaters, kids or have a delay of the main course, you can’t go wrong with a few snack items at the ready.
Invest in a bar cart where you can set up the drink station. This keeps beverages from cluttering up the dining or buffet tables. It also allows for extra storage of cutlery and napkins. Keep drinks cold but not watered down with reusable ice cubes. Plan for a few carafes of water throughout the table for the meal. A signature cocktail in a pitcher will also save time for everyone.
For the actual meal itself, plan dishes that can sit out for a bit of time without melting or spoiling. Think grilled meats and seasonal vegetables that can be enjoyed hot or at room temperature. The less fuss the better. Opt for a dessert that can be prepared and dished out in advance and stored in the fridge.
With some advance preparation, you can make sure your efforts during your event are focused entirely on spending time with the people you’ve invited to gather. Happy hosting!
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