One of my favourite things about the warmer months of the year is alfresco dining! I love eating in the outdoors, there is something so rustic and romantic about fresh cool mornings, long sunny afternoons and warm evenings under the shade of an old tree.
I have always loved how Italians entertain outdoors, with an effortlessly beautifully set table of sorbet lemon or check table linens, rustic hand painted china, mouth blown glass and endless cravats of wine, fresh lemonade and bowls of tasty pasta!
As dreamy as outdoor dining may be it can sometimes feel like a little bit of a task to get the party outdoors. I have a few tips and tricks to making your alfresco dining experience as simple and enjoyable as possible.
I have a 3 alfresco essentials that I fall back on for my outdoor table settings, One; Plates, Glasses and Cutlery, Two; Linens and Three; A personal touch, these alfresco basics make it super fast and easy to set a beautiful table in minutes!
One; Plates, Glasses and Cutlery
- Plates; I do like to use different plates depending on the meal I am serving, for outdoors I have collected a range of hand pained plates and bowls which I keep close at hand in a cupboard all together so getting the essentials is so easy!
- Glasses; Taking the lead from my collection of hand painted ceramics I have collected a range of had crafted glassware, I especially love Mexican glass with its rustic charm. I also have a simple and classic collection of French café glasses which is perfect for large gatherings and parties and it is especially budget friendly too. (IKEA has a great collection of French glasses)
- Cutlery; I like to use different cutlery outdoors then indoors (I know this is a little bit cuckoo). For outdoors I have a set of French Laguiole cutlery, and a set of antique English bone handled cutlery, I like that these really add to the outdoor ambiance as opposed to clean and shiny silver or polished steel.
- Tablecloths; I like my outdoor tablecloths to be a little more casual and fun than what I use indoors, from block printed Indian cottons and colourful Irish and Italian linens they truly set the tone. I keep all my outdoor linens in the same cupboard so it is always easy to find exactly what I am looking for.
- Place mats; For outdoors I like to use natural placemats made of jute or cotton, they are perfect for a simple midweek feast and allow your tabletop to shine.
- Napkins; As much as I love to use my “proper” linen napkins at any occasion I can, often I lean on paper napkins for a quick and easy setting. You can find great designs from IKEA and H&M home.
Three: A Personal Touch
No table setting is complete without a personal touch, it doesn’t need to be fancy or take much time, but it will make your outdoor feast all the more special!
- Something Fresh; from fresh garden flowers, a potted plant or an abundance of fresh produce (think bunches of herbs or a bowl filled with tomatoes) will add to your dining experience.
- A decorative object or two will bring your personality to the table, from seashells scatted down the centre of your table or a bowl of oversized ostrich eggs, use whatever you have at hand.
- Add some light with candles or fairy lights and your alfresco table will be complete! I love how candles bring a touch of sparkle to a table setting, small tea-lights in rustic votives or statement hurricane lamps add a special magic is hard not to notice!