Hosting al fresco provides a sense of fun and informality, as well as the additional ambiance of the sights, sounds and smells of the great outdoors. Stay till the very end to get all the hosting tips. Give this a like to help others have a great time outside with their loved ones. Catering for guests outside requires an even greater level of resourcefulness, however, in the face of the ever-unpredictable Mother Nature:
Al fresco entertaining can be one of the highlights of the spring and summer months, but however favourable the forecast, it’s wise to be prepared for all eventualities.
If you’re entertaining at lunchtime, remember that your guests may not want to bake in full sun. Locate your table in dappled shade under a tree, or make sure you have parasols and spare sun hats. If it’s evening or the weather is cool, have cosy rugs, woollen wraps and spare jumpers at the ready in case guests become chilly, and have a contingency plan to move indoors if it starts to rain.
Eating outside doesn’t have to mean being uncomfortable. If garden chairs and tables are rickety or stained, think about bringing some of your indoor furniture outside instead. Ensure that guests have cushions, and use tablecloth to disguise any stains and give the table a festive air. Lay the table with proper glassware, crockery and cutlery.
If you’ve got a spare table, set it up outside – it will be useful for serving dishes, wine and jugs of water, and will help minimise the number of journeys you have to make back and forth to the kitchen.
If you’re entertaining at night, think carefully about lighting. Fairy lights look attractive strung up in trees or on fences, while tea lights in lanterns or battery-operated candles, will ensure adequate lighting at the table.
Al fresco menu tips
- Don’t choose elaborate meals that will involve you dashing back and forth from the kitchen throughout the meal. You’ll miss out on the fun!
- Create a menu that can be prepared in advance and will need minimal attention once your guests arrive.
- Make use of fresh, summery, seasonal foods such as salmon, sea bass, bream, crab, prawns, lamb, slad, new potatoes, strawberries, cherries and raspberries.
- Encourage guests to eat as soon as they’re served – food cools down more quickly outdoors.
- Remember, if you’re eating outside you’ll crave stronger flavours, so consider using strong marinades and sauces with meat or fish.
- Don’t stand on ceremony, dining outside is always going to feel more relaxed, and guests will enjoy serving themselves.
If you have any hosting ideas or tips you love to use, let us know in the comments below. The same applies to questions if you have any, I’d be thrilled to answer them. Find more etiquette posts here. Interested in a lesson? Book a course with the links below and become the most polished version of you.