Set the table to set the mood
Cloth, candles and cutlery tells your guests to expect a formal sit down dining experience. It says “don’t sit here until the meal is served” and directs guests to where you want them to mingle.
Remove the cloth, add stacked plates, a set of glasses, water jugs and a couple of antipasto platters. This invites your guests to help themselves and is a much more relaxed vibe.
You get the gist. So will your guests.
Let food lead the way
People go where the food is. If you want guests on the deck before dinner or by the pool afterwards, take the food there first!
Lay your chips, dips and nibbly bits where you want guests to gather. You might use a side table, an outdoor coffee table or a high bar for this. The point is, where there’s food, there are people.
This works when you want to move people too. Serve dessert by your outdoor lounge set and watch the party leave the dining table. Easy.
Keep it simple, not stupid
Pre-prepared dishes make outdoor entertaining much easier. And cold foods are perfect in summer. Pre-make them, pop them in the fridge, uncover when you’re ready to serve. Here are some things you can prepare in advance:
- All dips and crudites
- Antipasto plates
- Sushi, rice paper rolls, smoked salmon
- Your favourite summer salads
- Fruit platters, skewers, dessert
Yes, dessert! Think: chocolate mousse, cassata, trifle, cheesecake, tiramisu. Better yet, serve them in a jar or brandy glass so the ‘plating up’ is already done.
Take the bar where you are
It’s not just for booze. A portable bar table gives you extra serving space and puts all the bits and pieces you need right where you need them.
A table with shelves or drawers is best. Pre-stock it with cups and glasses, cutlery, napkins, bottle openers, extra plates and serving spoons.
This means less time running to and from the kitchen, more time with your family and friends.
One last tip for Aussie Mozzies!
In Australia, entertaining outside brings unwanted guests. We’ve relied on Citronella candles for years, but lemon, lavender, eucalyptus and rosemary may be more effective.
Loved by us, loathed by mosquitoes, these pretty scents are common in store bought candles you can dot around the entertainment area. You can also pot them as plants or decorate tables with fragrant bunches. Blend the oils with water in spray bottles you can keep outside and send a waft into the air every now and then.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself! A little time planning and preparing should keep you off your toes so you can enjoy more of your time outside this summer.