Image via: Pinterest
Long days, warm evenings, and time to catchup with friends over leisurely meals on the patio. These are some of my favorite things about summer. There’s something magical about long evenings spent catching up with friends over glasses of chilled white wine and casual dinners; under a dusky sky with the fairy lights just starting to twinkle. It feels romantic and carefree, the way summer should feel.
With summer entertaining getting underway here in Seattle I thought I’d share a few tips for setting up your outdoor space as well as my current favorites for dining al fresco.
Think of your outdoor space in the same way you would think about the indoor spaces in your home. Layout, seating arrangements, and flow are key. Think about where your guests will sit and talk. Make sure the seating is comfortable and there are places to set a drink or an appetizer plate.
If you have a space large enough for a dining table think about that too. Make sure there is enough room to pull out the dining chairs and allow people to move around the table.
Outdoor lighting should be layered, just like your indoor lighting. In addition to your porch or patio light, which is often a bit bright but good for general task lighting for things like grilling or clean-up, consider ambiance and decorative lighting. For ambiance lighting I like to use string lights (these CB2 lights are my favorite) strung overhead or along the top of the fence. And for decorative lighting I like to use a variety of lanterns, both hanging and on tabletops or the ground if they’re large enough, and votives.
Food and drinks
I like to spend as much time as possible with my guests so I like to keep it simple when I entertain outdoors. For appetizers a charcuterie board and some fresh vegetables with dip are simple, self-serve, and work great. Grilling is of course synonymous with outdoor meals but I also like to serve platters of sandwiches along with salads that can be made ahead of time and pulled from the refrigerator just before serving. Pizza from your favorite pizzeria that delivers is a fabulous option too.
And, of course, don’t forget the importance of an outdoor bar. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but a well stocked bar will keep you and your guests from constantly running back into the house for a refill. Large party tubs can be filled with ice and stocked with sodas, mixers, and wine. Beverage dispensers with water, iced tea, or lemonade make it easy for guests to help themselves. A variety of glasses is also essential. If you’re uncomfortable with glass glasses, or you have a pool area and want to avoid any broken glass concerns, the acrylic options are so good now it’s often hard to tell the difference when looking at them. And always keep the ice bucket filled, nobody likes a warm drink on a summer evening.
And finally, be sure to have fun at your own party. It’s a party after all and your friends are there to spend time with you.
Please feel free to share your favorite outdoor entertaining favorites or ideas.