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How to Host an Elegant Outdoor Dinner Party

Here are the outdoor dinner party ideas to round off summer with

Carina Bartle By Carina BartleVP Sales & Partnerships

Warm summer days and balmy evenings make a perfect combination for throwing an outdoor dinner party. And what better way to spend a summer afternoon than enjoying delicious food and drinks while basking in a sun-filled garden surrounded by friends and family?

Of course, an elegant outdoor dinner party isn’t just about the food you serve. If you really want to impress, the finishing touches such as decorations, music and lighting can make all the difference. Follow the tips below on how to throw a stylish garden get-together this summer.

1. Plan the Menu

Planning the food menu for a dinner party can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be as complicated as many make it seem. First, think about how many guests will be coming to the party. If it’s a small, intimate gathering then trying out some new recipes and cooking a starter, main and dessert on a beautiful formal dinner set is much more manageable. If the party you’re hosting is larger, serving sharing platters of food and placing them down the middle of casually decorated table allows everyone to pick and choose what they’d like.

You may also want to consider a theme for your menu. From BBQ or Caribbean-style food to Italian or French, the options are endless and you’ll have an easier time planning with a themed menu in mind. Make sure you ask your guests if they have any special dietary requirements or allergies—serving the wrong food has a habit of putting a real damper on a party!

2. Serve Delicious Summer Drinks

There’s nothing better than a refreshing cocktail on a warm summer’s day, especially when paired perfectly with your food options. Your drink choices should contrast and compliment the flavours of your dishes—invigorating the senses and enhancing flavour profiles—without matching them too closely. Seafood and gin, vodka and grilled fruit and rum and cheese all pair beautifully together.

For an inclusive drinks menu, make sure you offer non-alcoholic options too, like fresh and fruity mocktails, cordials and soft drinks. Serving your drinks in decorative designer glassware can also make a huge impact as different style glasses can help to enhance the aromas, flavours and overall drinking experience. Serving an Old-fashioned in a lowball glass or a Cosmopolitan in a martini glass will give your party a more sophisticated and professional feel.

3. Design an Elegant Outdoor Dinner Party Table Setting

If you want people to be wowed by what they see, decorating your outdoor dining furniture will greatly help in elevating the look and mood of your party. Think again about the theme of your party, the season and whether there is a special occasion such as a wedding anniversary or birthday to celebrate.

Using flowers or greenery is ideal for a dinner party table as they can add life and colour to any setting, whether they’re real or artificial. Using multiple different vases for your flowers can also create height and add interest to your table. Making your guests feel special and pampered is also important so including fine serveware, tableware, glassware and other luxury entertaining essentials will go a long way.

4. Get Creative with Outdoor Lighting

If your dinner party will be going into the evening, you’ll need to illuminate your space with beautiful outdoor lighting. Small tea lights, fairy lights, lanterns, wall lights, cordless outdoor lamps or even an outdoor fire pit will add a warm and inviting feel.

Having the right lighting will really help set the scene and turn your garden into a glamorous haven. Plus, it means the party can go on long into the night. If you have a lovely, large tree in your garden, place your table underneath it and string lights around the branches for a cosy yet classy look.

5. Prepare for the Weather

Despite warmer summer temperatures, depending on where you live, even summer weather can be entirely unpredictable. Even if the weather report shows clear skies, ensure you prepare for the rain too so you don't get caught by surprise and have to abruptly end the outdoor dinner party.

A pop-up gazebo, umbrella or other covering will help to protect your lovely tablescape, food and drinks, as well as the guests, from any unexpected showers. If the evening turns chilly, a fire pit or fire bowl will add style, drama and warmth to keep your guests comfortable at all times.

6. Curate the Perfect Playlist

Background music is an instant mood booster and a fantastic way to set a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Placing a couple of outdoor speakers and linking them up to play music all around the garden will ensure that no matter where your guests are, they’ll be able to listen and enjoy amongst the chatter.

When choosing the music for your party, think about the mood you want to achieve, the time of the day and the theme. If you’re having a beach theme, then some classic Hawaiian music would be perfect. Or, if the dinner party is for a special event such as a wedding anniversary, playing the couple’s wedding song or playlist will make it much more thoughtful. Do bear in mind that as hard as you may try, you won’t be able to cater to everyone’s musical tastes, so if in doubt, stick to the classics. LuxDeco's Bossa Nova is a perfect al fresco playlist or find your favourite on the LuxDeco Spotify channel.

Read our luxury outdoor lighting and accessories buying guide for inspiration on how you can spruce up your garden this summer and explore our complete outdoor furniture and accessories collection to help you create an outdoor space to be proud of.