When you’re holding an outdoor dinner party or gathering there’s no need to make your tablescape as formal as the indoor equivalent, but you can still strive for opulence within your presentation.
Your table can take inspiration from the surrounding environment or create its own, and given its importance to a dinner party can make or break the occasion.
Most of us have outdoor-use deck or patio furniture in our yards but it may not be large enough to accommodate your dinner party or too flimsy to work for a special occasion.
Bring your dining table out instead if it’s going to be under cover or you’re certain the weather will be cooperative for a luxe touch that everyone will appreciate.
A white linen tablecloth will provide a great background for your lovely tablescape.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a grand mountain or forest backdrop you’ll probably lose any competition you try to get into with it, so you can choose an understated centerpiece of pine branches and cones or a pretty table runner with small bud vases containing wildflowers.
In other circumstances, it’s safe to go with lush vines, resplendent bouquets in elegant yet strong and low vases, fragrant pillar candles, glass and ceramic art figures and anything else that will fit.
Here is where you can really go to town (or country) for your guests.
Place small potted plants at each seat as party favors and use plate chargers made of natural materials like wood or even granite for an extra touch of glamour. Paper or Styrofoam plates are not going to make your guests feel valued and won’t be especially easy to use.
If the table is immediately outside your home, it’s easy to bring out the fine ceramic plates or even the china. Any but the most delicate wine glasses should work as well. The farther you move from your kitchen the more advisable it is to switch to high-quality plastic versions for both.
Cloth napkins are an easy way to add class no matter what else the table holds.