With warm weather comes outdoor fun and summer is the warmest season of all. With sun-lit skies and long days, summer is the perfect time to gather friends for an outdoor dinner party. Here’s how to celebrate the season by hosting a dinner party with a laid-back feel.
Get the timing right by inviting guests over for drinks and appetizers around 6:00 p.m. Any time before 6 and the weather might be too hot to handle. If you have patio umbrellas and shaded areas, you might be able to get away with an earlier start, but a good rule of thumb is to start serving food and drinks a few hours before the sun goes down. Have the main course ready to go around 7:30 p.m. and let guests enjoy dessert at sunset.
An outdoor dinner party doesn’t mean you have to create a luxurious menu. In fact, keeping the food simple is best so you have time to mingle and visit with friends. A simple dinner menu consists of an appetizer, main course with side dishes, and dessert, all preferably made with seasonal fruit and vegetables.
You can serve a variety of drinks, from margaritas and beer to punch and lemonade. Whatever you think your group of guests will like. If you’d like a signature cocktail to carry you through the night, try these refreshing picks:
Create cozy seating areas to encourage conversation. If you already own outdoor furniture, all the better, but if not, you can always make fold-up chairs more comfortable by padding them with cushions. For an extra unique dining experience, have everyone gather around a floor table and sit on blankets and oversized pillows. If you’re keen on crafting and would love to add a pop of color to the dingy metal chairs you have hiding in the garage, follow this tutorial for giving them new life with spray paint.
Don’t stress out if your dinnerware doesn’t match. Having an eclectic mix of dishes gives the dinner a more laid back feel. If you want matching plates and bowls, consider going all-white so that the food really stands out. An all-white dinnerware palette also makes it easy to add color in other areas, like with the napkins, tablecloth, and centerpieces.
Lighting is everything, especially once the sun goes down. Create ambience and keep the bugs at bay by placing citronella candles on and around the dining/lounge areas. You can place candles in decorative holders or in something as simple as a jam jar. If you have unused empty wine bottles lying around, place taper candles in the top and use as centerpieces.
You’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of lighting around your backyard or outdoor venue space. The last thing you want is for friends to stumble around in the dark. A fun and easy way to decorate, while also providing plenty of light, is to surround your space with festive tiki torches. Pick up a few torches at your home supply store, then follow this tip from Martha Stewart to anchor them: Hold the torch upright in a bucket and fill with gravel to about 3 inches from the rim. Simple as that! Other lighting ideas: hanging glass lanterns, paper lanterns, and stringing lights between and around trees.
I hope these dinner party ideas have given you the inspiration to head outdoors and soak up the rest of summer with good friends, good conversation, and delicious food.