Entertaining outdoors this summer offers many pleasures, including simple food in casual surroundings and freedom from worry about crumbs and spilled drinks on the furniture or linens. Celebrate the season with all types of al fresco dining from picnic to garden party to a candlelit celebration.
Picnics can be a romantic occasion for two or a party for a hundred. The best part is, with longer summer light and warm weather, you can enjoy the outdoors with friends and family until late in the evening. And you don’t have to do all the work. The word picnic, in fact, is loosely translated from the French for potluck. In keeping with that approach, ask your friends to contribute food, supplies or games around the “eco” theme. Fresh-picked organic produce from the local farmer’s market is the most flavorful, healthiest, and simplest to prepare. You’ll also end up with less excess food to carry out.
A more elegant al fresco option is a garden party. The key is to think of your backyard as an outdoor room. Create areas where your guests can mingle – use plants, a tent or groupings of outdoor furniture to casually section off intimate areas. Beverages can be presented in a large ice bucket or garden containers, and glasses, garnishes and ice can be set up nearby. Break the rules and use the bounty of your garden for natural décor. Herbs, flowers, branches and fruit can be arranged into inventive and aromatic centerpieces. Alternatively, try an earthier color scheme by using small, washed rocks from your garden interspersed with flowers or colorful vegetables. As the sun goes down, use natural wax candles or garden lights to set a soft summer evening mood. Lighting is magical in a garden and places focus where you want it. To keep the bugs at bay in an eco-friendly way, try citronella or eucalyptus oil.
Whether you prefer casual or more formal get-togethers, summer inspires us to live and entertain outdoors, where the natural world adds its own welcoming touches and beckons us to relax and enjoy its beauty. W