The clear blue sky and sunshine-filled days with the sweet fragrance of fresh flowers mean only one thing- springtime. Dinner and wine under the stars with a few close companions can be dreamy and surreal.
For some, pulling off an al fresco dinner at home can be daunting. These secrets, however, will help bring your patio to life with the clinking of glasses, the pouring of spirits, and the laughter of friends lounging on your patio furniture, all protected by stylish patio furniture covers or table covers.
Design Elegant Invitations
Set the perfect mood with a gorgeous invitation. Take your spring soiree up a notch by matching it to the theme, if you have decided on one. Be it an e-invite or a personalized hand-addressed invitation, make it special so your guests will reply RSVP pronto.
Be specific about the date, time, and location. Express these details in simple yet catchy words. It’s advisable to have a guest list to keep track of the number of acceptances and declines in order to plan ahead.
Dream up the Perfect Menu
Planning an easy-breezy menu to be served al fresco needs a lot of preparation and thought. Listing all the groceries needed and collecting them well in advance help you streamline the process.
You would rather be spending time outside enjoying the fresh spring air with your family and friends than working in the kitchen. Choose recipes that can be made ahead of time so, on the big day, you just have to prep the items and transport them to your outdoor tables.
Serving buffet style, where guests can mingle and eat at the same time, will definitely make things easier. Dressing your tables with form-fitting table covers or custom patio furniture covers will keep them protected from any spills of food and beverages.
Super easy and versatile Italian pinwheels can be served as appetizers or along with the main course. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Large burritos/ spinach wraps/ whole wheat/ or any flatbread of your preference.
- For layering: thinly sliced salami, pepperoni, ham, provolone cheese/feta, and green leaf lettuce/basil.
- For the spread, mix together softened cream cheese (or hummus/greek yogurt) + Italian dressing + Italian seasoning + finely chopped pepperoncini & roasted bell pepper (can be replaced with sundried tomatoes or banana pepper/cherry peppers/jalapenos).
Spread the cream cheese mix on the tortilla, layer with the meats and cheese in the center, and tightly roll them into a spiral, then store them in the fridge if you will not serve immediately. Slice each tortilla into about 1” slice and plate them with fancy toothpicks and serve on a stylish platter with garnish.
Consider Dietary Restrictions & Allergies
As food allergies and dietary restrictions become increasingly common, some guests might be more health-conscious. You can alternative options to accommodate all of your guests needs.
Consider adding dishes for friends having special dietary limitations such as gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan. You can also consider adding a placard on the table with ingredients listed near the dishes being served so that friends with allergies know which foods they can enjoy or avoid.
Try a quick and simple lemony chickpea quinoa salad. Healthy, vegan, and flavorful, it will surely be a hit. Chickpeas and quinoa can be tossed with cucumber, cherry tomatoes, olives, red onion, fresh dill, and parsley tossed in a lemony dressing. Add lemon juice, olive oil, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, and a tiny tinge of maple syrup to balance the tangy flavors.
Pick the Perfect Drinks
Setting up a drink station is not challenging. What is challenging, however, is estimating what you need in order to have a bar stocked with fresh springtime essentials.
Planning the right amount of alcohol, soda and cocktails to buy for your party is not just about calculation but an art in itself. Before making a call on the final beverage shopping list, take into account the final number of guests.
A general rule of thumb is to stock up for one drink for each person at your party. Remember, this is a casual cocktail hour. Bring a taste of spring to your party with a signature cocktail.
Sangria is a regular winner but with a twist of green tea and fresh fruits, it will be a springtime hit. Just chop up pineapple, green grape, watermelon and apple in a pitcher then add the wine of your choice and green tea bags. Let it steep in the sun for an hour and store in the refrigerator then serve over ice.
Next on the list is setting up the bar which, incidentally, is the central social hub of your party. Any outdoor table can do the job. All you need is refreshing white wines and ingredients to batch refills for your signature cocktail.
Spruce Up the Backyard
Prepping your backyard, porch, lawn, or patio and transforming it into a space set for a fun spring party shouldn’t be intimidating. Keep this checklist in hand:
- Clear the ground by raking dead leaves and disposing them.
- Get the weeds out, mow the lawn, prune the plants, trim trees and shrubs, clip overgrown hedges.
- Replace any wilting plants and fill up any sparse spots by adding fresh ones.
- Take out your hose and sweep up the pavement, driveway, or any concrete flooring.
- Check out your outdoor furniture and clean up if needed.
- Place lawn decor like planters, decorative rocks, or bright fabrics near your patio space.
Don’t be afraid to bring your lightweight indoor furniture outside for the occasion. Ottomans can join the garden furniture for extra seating. Depending on assorted chairs, adding an outdoor table can give your space a charming, eclectic look.
If you happen to possess the most enchanting element of the outdoors, a swing, then keep it as the epicenter of your seating arrangements. Chic swing covers will keep your swing in pristine condition so you can use it for many spring seasons to come.
Use Charming Table Settings
A lot can be done to infuse functionality and style into your table settings. Nobody expects you to have matching dinnerware for the entire table setting.
Mix and match to create a unique yet cohesive combination for each plate setting. Once you have your dinnerware, glasses, tablecloth, placements and napkins, all you need is a centerpiece to complete the look.
Center of Attention
A floral accent on your outdoor table can add lovely aromas and atmosphere to your al fresco event. There are plenty of options to choose from:
- Succulents in small pots
- Candles in bowls with air plants
- Large fruit bowl with a few flowers
- Ikebana-style Japanese floral arrangements
- Dry arrangements
Smaller pieces of the arrangement matching the centerpiece can be scattered around tables for even more variety.
Colours of the Wind
Having monotone decor can be quite boring for a fun affair. Instead, two-color combinations used as striking contrast or multiple hues can elevate the festivities. Here’s some inspiration:
- Sunshine yellow + taupe with a touch of burnt orange
- Soft floral pinks + spring greens with a sprinkling of tranquil purple
- Tropical teal paired with terracotta and a bit of ground charcoal
- French blue + lavender grey and splash of red
- Bright marigold + earthy copper tone with a background of ivory
- Lilac + silvery grey is vintage and classic
Hang Up Lightings
Lighting is key for the ultimate al fresco effect. You want touches of softness that evoke a relaxing and inviting backyard environment.
Cozy up your outdoor space with a few strands of string lights. Overhead string lights can transform your yard and create the perfect backdrop for chatting over drinks for hours into the night.
Strategically scatter some lanterns, mason jars with candles or small bowls with tea lights around to create the perfect warm glow. You can even dress up the candles and lanterns using moss, dry potpourri, pebbles, loose flowers, and more.
Play Some Relaxing Music
What’s a party without music? Set up outdoor speakers, being sure to keep them at a lower volume to set the mood. Cocktail party music works best when it’s loud enough to hear but not the topic of conversation.
Don’t Forget The Dessert!
No spring to summer spread is complete without a sweet treat at the end. Most desserts melt in warm weather, so choose simple sweets that will survive the heat or have ice trays ready to serve and save those sumptuous delicacies.
Be Prepared for Everything & Ready for Anything
Since weather can be unpredictable, have a backup plan in place. In the event of rain on an unexpectedly warm evening, move the event indoors to your comfortable sitting areas with Sheerlux shades. Guests will appreciate the calling environment and your attention to every detail.