If you’ve never dragged a table and a few chairs into your backyard for an al fresco dinner, then I must tell you, you’re missing out.
I have been consumed by this delightful concept ever since our honeymoon in Greece 19 years ago.
Did I just say 19 years? Wow, that’s a loooooong time to be dragging furniture in and out of my house and into my backyard.
But I’m here to tell you, it’s totally worth it!
Your yard can make a stunning backdrop to a delicious meal any ol’ time you fancy. In my opinion, late summer or early fall is the perfect time for outside dining. The temperatures are cooling off, the bugs have seemed to disappear and the evening air is exhilarating!
And guess what? That just happens to be right now!
There’s just something elegant about enjoying a meal underneath a tree in the middle of your yard.
Don’t ask me why. It just is. Trust me.
There’s really nothing to it. Once you place a table and some chairs in the grass, you’re good to go.
I’ve got a few simple tips to share that will make your evening complete. No worries, they’re easy and quick, no making paper from scratch for place cards here.
For starters, I like to use a simple white tablecloth and then take my color cues from my backyard, green seemed the obvious way to go. I want my centerpieces to be quick and easy. Don’t stress over complicated arrangements and definitely don’t go spend a lot of money on flowers! Just look around your yard and use what you’ve got at your fingertips! You’ll be surprised at all you can do.
As you can see, I just cut some green foliage from my Baptisia plant that had already finished blooming and then trimmed some lavender that was in its’ full glory… and voila!
A centerpiece was born!
I like to spruce up my white tablecloth with some color and I’ve found that placemats work like a dream. Bet you’ll never guess what I use as placemats…
I’m serious! They cost pennies a piece and you’ll have an unlimited selection of color, texture and design. Not to mention, no worries about food and stains to clean up later! Here I used different designs within the same color family and alternated them between place settings.
I decided to jazz up the table a bit with green & white polka dot plates. Personally, I adore polka dots. They’re just so happy and festive, but you can use what you like.
Instead of place cards, I like to use cardboard letters. They’re fun and hip and if the mood strikes, you and your guests can stick them on your shirts like Laverne. Or not. See, no tedious paper making or calligraphy in sight. You could even use a letter shape paper punch or even cut out letters from the newspaper.
The world is your oyster.
Now, my next tip is my all time favorite…
Try tying different color ribbons on the stems of your glasses, this way everyone will easily remember which glass belongs to them (hopefully).
Simple. Fun. Easy.
For a little sparkle and sophistication I like to set the table with fun flatware. It also gives me an excuse for my antique silver flatware fetish.
I love to find old silver at antique shows- it’s so affordable and charming. Of course the monograms aren’t always mine, but don’t tell anyone.
Now for the show-stopper of the evening…(drum roll please) the “CHANdelabra.”
“What the world is a chandelabra”, you ask?
Well my friends, this is a chandelabra…
… a Chandelier turned into a Candelabra. It’s an old brass chandelier that has been spray painted white and filled with candles rather than light bulbs. I like to tie a ribbon to mine and hang it from the tree in the center of my yard. I light it as dusk settles in and the crickets begin their evening serenade. And let me tell you, an applause of “oooooooo’s” and “aaaaaaah’s” from the mouths of my guests never fails.
There is just nothing like candlelight dancing from a tree to make your evening complete.
Well, have I convinced you? I hope so! And don’t worry, you can blame it all on me when your neighbors wonder why in the world you keep schlepping that table back and forth.
And who knows…I may just leave my table outside until it snows.
Happy dining al fresco style!