Eating outside always feels like a special occasion, so enjoy it while you can!  Get out the tea lights and spend your evenings on the patio.  Breezy summer nights offer the perfect opportunity for al fresco dining.  When planning an evening of outdoor entertaining I like to keep these few tips in mind.

Bring the Indoors Out

Don’t be afraid to expand your living room to the patio or deck.  The key is to keep your guests comfortable…and nothing says comfort quite like a grouping of plush and inviting pillows and throws.  Play with patterns, add bursts of bright color, and mix the old with the new.

Capture the Light

You’ve heard me talk about how important lighting is in an interior space and it is extra important when hosting outdoor entertainment.  Lanterns are a great source for mood lighting outdoors, and you don’t have to worry about the wind blowing out the candle flame!  Pop in a lit candle and place them on the dining table or hang them by nearby branches.  Remember to marry form and function by using citronella candles to keep the bugs at bay.

The Table

Outdoor tablescapes are an excellent opportunity to get creative with nature.  I like to use simple monotone arrangements of an assortment of plant and floral species in elegant vases and basins.  You can also go right out into your back yard and find elegantly shaped branches, leaves and flowers to use for a centerpiece.  When it comes to dishware think affordable and unbreakable.

The KISS Theory

Keep It Simple, Stupid (or Silly, if you like).  The most important part of al fresco dining is enjoying yourself and your company.  You don’t want to be working and worrying while your guests are outdoors enjoying themselves.  Keep a light menu that is easy to transport from the Kitchen to the table – or better yet have your event catered!