Are you throwing a dinner party and hoping to make the most of the warm summer weather? Turn your patio or back garden into the perfect party venue with just a few small tips and tricks. Making an outdoor party run seamlessly is an art, and planning and preparation is imperative to make sure you have an enjoyable evening with your guest instead of being stressed the entire time. Follow these simple guidelines to help you keep your food, drinks and decor in check, while keeping your guests entertained and happy.
Prepare Prepare Prepare
When you plan to host outdoors, you face nature in its full force, such as the possibility of rain, extreme sun, pests and a whole other host of unpredictable elements that could ruin your party. As such, event manager Lel Brassel Ngo, co-founder of The Party Kit Company, emphasizes the importance of preparation:
“The key, as with any party, is preparation - especially if you’re entertaining outdoors. Not only is the weather unpredictable, there are issues related to pests, food freshness, guest comfort and lighting. Get prepared by assessing your space: ensure there is adequate seating and shade, noting where to store food and drinks safely, and having measures in place to deter pests.
By developing a menu and preparing food in advance, you will save effort as well; think salads, charcuterie, fruit - things that can be prepared in advance, rather than you having to slave over a stove or barbecue when guests have arrived.”
Dress Up Your Dinner Table
One aspect of the night that can be done well before your guests start to arrive is the setting up of your table. Your choice in decor can make the difference between a seemingly shabby, thrown together dinner and making your home and garden a stylish party venue.
When planning the aesthetic tone of your table, start with choosing a centrepiece! You might want to accentuate your outdoor environment by choosing something nature-related, like an eye-catching flower arrangement. Other table decorations with an outdoor feel could include small succulents, a table runner filled with moss, lanterns and a variety of candles. Another option is to include a selection of wooden objects, to contribute to the earthy atmosphere in which your dinner is set.
You also need to consider what type of dinnerware you are planning use, depending on the degree of formality you are hoping to achieve. Generally, choosing plates and cutlery that have colour add to the fun, stylish vibe of the table without have to appear stiff and formal.
Be Ready With Drinks
From the moment your guests arrive, you should have drinks on hand to welcome them into your home, particularly as a dinner party set outdoors may be slightly warm at the start of the evening, and you want to keep your guests feeling cool and cheery. Be sure to have a constant supply of ice on hand, as you are likely to underestimate how much will be used throughout the night, particularly if you have a large party of people coming for dinner. You will also want to have a bucket or tub filled with ice to keep the drinks cold and ready for consumption!
Anna Aldrige from Katnook Coonawarra estate winery, suggests how particular wines are perfect for an outdoor summer dinner:
“Outdoor dinner parties usually call for fresh, fruit driven styles of wine. The reason is that the great outdoors usually send us all into an immediate state of relaxation and focusing on a wine’s subtleties is often better suited to indoor dining. Katnook Coonawarra crafts ther Founder’s Block range which are fruit forward, ‘drink now with food’ styles of better known varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.”
Keep The Pests From Your Guests
An important factor to keep track of for an outdoor party is the possibility of insects, such as mosquitoes and the like. Firstly, take preventative measure such as ensuring that any pots, containers or gutters that could contain stagnant water are emptied prior to the evening. This will also help to keep your venue looking clean, smart and ready for hosting.
Understandably, you will not want to be spraying insect repellent throughout your evening, as this is sure to dampen the festive mood. Luckily, there are other options you can consider such as plugging in a number of fans to keep the air moving and the bugs at bay. This will also keep your guests cool and comfortable, killing two birds with one stone. You may even want to place a small fan on the table to keep the food items safe from lingering insects. You can also consider other repellent products, such as a gadget that you can set-up in the garden, or bug wipes that your guests can use on their skin for a pest-free evening!
Sweeten Up Your Summery Party
No outdoor dinner party is complete without the perfect dinner party dessert. Sweets For Tilly has some tips for planning the perfect end to your evening meal:
“Light and simple. For those of you who do not like a heavy and over filling dessert, stick to something light such as cookies with tea and coffee. Macadamia nut cookies or vanilla shortbread go great with some herbal tea or coffee, will not leave you feeling too full and will ensure your guests aren’t rolling home.
Add some variety. If you want to mix things up for your guests instead of having just one simple dessert, add a few different elements to the batter. Cookies, cupcakes, or cheesecake cups. This is a great idea to cater to everyone’s needs and gives the option of more than one dessert. Your guests can also eat as much as they want or keep it to a minimum.”
So there you have your guide to pulling off the perfect outdoor dinner party without a single glitch. Now you have no excuse to be sitting indoors during the months of summery weather. Happy party planning!