Does the idea of entertaining outside seem great but then leave you feeling like you don’t know where to start? Well we have got you! There are some super practical steps you can follow that will help to create a memorable alfresco dining experience whether you’re wanting a quiet romantic dinner for two, or a lively evening for family and friends.

Consider your space.

This is really just the basic starting point. How big is your space? Is it a balcony? Is there hard landscaping underfoot? Is it covered over? Is there power supplied to the area? By asking these questions you are able to start to understand what you have to work with. Knowing this information will help inform other decisions later down the line, like how big and how much furniture you will be able to comfortably install, what lighting you can add and if you need to be thinking about doing a spot of landscaping before thinking of moving onto the next steps.

Orientation

Once you have a better understanding of the space you want to work with, start to think about what direction it is facing. What are your specific weather conditions? Chances are that if you are in the UK like us rain is never far off, or at least it needs to be taken into account, just in case! The point here is to consider does your area offer shelter for sun, wind or rain? If not, is there a way you could add an awning, or some kind of covering?

Function of the space

Ok so now, we are progressing nicely let’s consider what we actually want from the space. Are you wanting a quiet little corner for two, or does the space need to accommodate more people? You may well find this is largely dictated by the space available, but it is still worth considering. Also what function does it need to serve? Are you looking to create a lounging/drinks area or a more formal dining experience? Do you plan on cooking outside? Answering all these questions will help you make the most informed decision regarding furniture for the space. Lounge sectionals are great for maximising capacity, comfort and space, but they are not the best option if you have visions of friends gathered around a dinner table.

Comfort

Now that we are getting the basics in, we can focus more on to the bits that really help to create an experience for your guests. Think about making sure your space allows people to feel comfortable. This is easy to achieve with folded blankets placed over the back of chairs, firepits and patio heaters. Think about your favourite eateries and how they do outdoor dining. The most successful ones also put the customer’s comfort at the centre. Citronella candles will help keep the bugs and mosi’s away.

Creating Atmosphere

You cannot beat lighting to help create ambience in any space and outdoors is no different. Whether you opt for fairly, lantern or festoon, they will all give you a similar feel. If you don’t have a frame to string them along, simply add some wire between two points and then zig zag the string lighting along it. Candles can also be a great addition, and consider large lanterns on the perimeter to help define the space and light the way. Once you have lighting pinned down, it’s on to music. Even if you are not a huge music lover, do not skip this step! Music will help create just the right mood and with great apps like Spotify you don’t need to sift through loads of song to create a playlist, simply browse and choose from the thousands of options. Some of our favourites are Café’ Del Mar and Ibiza Sunset.

Food and Drinks

While spending hours in the kitchen lovingly preparing food for you guests may be your thing, remember to make this an enjoyable experience for yourself too. So, if you can make your life easier, we strongly recommend you do! Consider covers for food to keep away the bugs and ways to keep drink cool, so perhaps an ice-bucket or outdoor fridge. Jugs of drinks make life easier as they can sit on the table and reduce the amount of times you need to pop inside to re-fill. You can’t beat how pretty a jug of Pimm looks, let’s be fair.

Really the most important thing is to have fun with it! Create your own little oasis that you and your loved ones can enjoy and don’t get too hung up trying to make everything perfect!