Summer is here and with the longer evenings and warmer weather we seem to be enjoying this year, many of you will be thinking ahead to blissful evenings spent barbecuing, drinking wine and socialising outdoors with friends and family. If that sounds like you but you’re worried about successfully pulling off the perfect barbecue or outside dining soiree, read on as we’ve some handy alfresco tips.
Setting the scene
Given the unpredictable nature of the Irish weather, we recommend setting up a gazebo. They’re relatively inexpensive for the level of use you’ll get out of them in this country, and not only do they provide cover if it does rain, but can also be easily decorated with fairy lights to create a relaxed atmosphere.
Wood-burners are a great investment – they’ll keep your guests comfortable long after the sun has gone down. To top things off, a few scatter cushions and cosy blankets will add to the relaxed atmosphere and some tea-lights filled with citronella oil and dotted around the table will keep bugs away.
Comfort is the name of the game when it comes to choosing outdoor seating for an alfresco dinner. Choose sturdy chairs that are easy to move but won’t tip over easily when you reach for your wine glass. Make sure you have soft cushions for your chairs so no one gets a numb backside during your lengthy party. Provide a table with ample space for dishes, goblets, drink bottles, and diners’ elbows.
Cover your table with a cloth that celebrates the bounty of summer. Choose a patterned tablecloth so inevitable spills and stains are hidden in the design, Dunnes, Debenhams and Marks and Spencer have a lovely selection every year. Supply each guest with a cloth napkin that won’t blow away at a gust of wind.
A shattered glass or smashed plate are often part and parcel of outdoor dining, but you can forestall disaster by choosing dishes that won’t easily break. Instead of glass goblets, choose elegant plastic ones that will survive a fall to the patio. Rather than risk your good dishes, use sturdy paper plates. This will maintain the beauty of your table while saving the dinnerware and cutting down on dishes after the meal.
A soft glow with light enough to see your plate is all that’s needed for an alfresco dinner. Instead of the harsh glare of a porch light, opt for lanterns with candles for the table or strings of fairy to cast gentle illumination over the scene.
Food and Drink
Once the stage is set for your fabulous outdoor event, kick things up a notch on the feasting front. Consider making pizzas or fresh bread in a wood fired oven, and then use it after dinner to roast homemade marshmallows for gourmet s’mores. Keep wine, beer, and other beverages ice cold with a nice ice bucket placed near the table.
With your guests’ every need thought of and planned for, your outdoor summer dinner is sure to be a resounding success.
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