This post is sponsored by NESTLĖ Damak®.
Now that the warmer weather is finally here, I will use any excuse to get outside. Whether I’m by myself or with friends and family, if there’s a reason to power down my electronics and enjoy the sunshine, I’m in. This rule also applies to dining. I love eating outside. (Or, as the fancy folks call it, “dining al fresco.”) It makes no difference if I’m at a favorite restaurant or in my own backyard, food and drink just seem to taste better outside.
Today, I thought it’d be fun to share a few ideas for effortless, beautiful ways to dine al fresco. While there are many options for outdoor dining, these are a few of my favorite tips to get you started.
1. Start with Color
As you’ve heard me say many times here on IBC, when planning a dinner or party, it’s helpful to begin with a color scheme. Once you have that, making decisions about décor and food is that much easier. A color palette will provide you with a more limited scope and give you some direction.
For this particular experience I was inspired by the new NESTLĖ Damak® chocolate bars. In case you haven’t heard of them yet, they are a creamy Turkish chocolate with savory pistachios. They come in fine (milk) chocolate and dark chocolate. (While they’re available at a few locations, I recommend picking them up at Walgreens.)
Based on the design and color of the Damak® packaging, I opted for a green, black, and gold color scheme. It worked perfectly.
2. Bring in Nature
Since dining al fresco allows you to connect with and be in nature, incorporating natural touches into your tablescape is a no brainer. I had some extra potted succulents, so I used those to decorate my table and serve as a favor for my guests (more on that soon.)
However, if you don’t have any extra succulents lying around, adding a touch of nature can be as simple as cutting a few flowers, branches, or plants from your own landscape and tucking them into mason jars. You could even use leftover fresh herbs or grab a potted flower from your porch. Keep it simple.
3. Plan for the Elements
Yes, even though dining outdoors can be a magical experience, one of the downsides is that you have no control over the weather. However, you can plan ahead and be prepared .
First, check the forecast to see if rain is predicted. If there are just a few drops of rain, using an umbrella over the table like I did, may be enough to shelter you and your guests. If lots of rain is expected, move your meal to a covered area such as a porch or garage.
Secondly, pay attention to the temperatures. If your dinner will go into the evening, consider making blankets available or plan on lighting a campfire to keep folks warm. Also remember that your umbrella can protect your guests (and your food) on extra sunny days.
4. Simple Snacks
When planning outdoor meals, keeping your food choices simple is a must. Try serving dishes that are delicious at cold or room temperature. Also, unless you’re planning to grill, choose things that you can prepare in advance so that you can enjoy the meal and your company without having to run back and forth to kitchen.
You might even purchase elements of the meal that won’t require any cooking. Simple snacks like popcorn, nuts, and grapes make a great meal starters with minimal effort. You could even get a pie or cake from your local bakery for dessert. Dress it up with fresh berries or edible flowers, and no one will care that it’s store bought. A stressed out or exhausted host is fun for no one.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the beverage I’m serving, tune into IBC tomorrow for full details and the recipe. It’s delicious. You won’t want to miss it.
5. Something Quirky
Whether I’m decorating a room in my house or setting a table, I always like to include an unexpected element because it can instantly inject life into your table. Here, I’ve dressed up my potted succulents with this truck and camper cake topper.
As you can tell, it brings a fresh and fun element into my décor. Plus, quirky pieces like these can be great conversation starters.
Of course quirky doesn’t need to be décor. Involve your guests in the cooking process. For example, have a s’mores bar where guests can create their own personalized, tasty dessert
6. Sweet Treat
What better way to end your dining al fresco experience than with a sweet treat your guests can take home with them.
I used wood berry baskets to create favors for my guests. I filled each with a succulent, a NESTLĖ Damak® chocolate bar, and several of my IBC Summer Recipe Cards. (More details on my new summer recipe card design coming soon. Be sure to join the IBC Mailing List here for exclusive access to the free printable file which will be mailed out late next week.)
Not only are they fun things for my guests to take home with them, but they also enliven the table décor. Who doesn’t love items that do double duty?
And that’s it, my friends. I think you’re ready.
While there are many things to consider when dining al fresco, I hope you found a few of my tips helpful. Most importantly, have fun and keep it low stress.
If you’re interested in trying these new chocolate bars (I personally recommend the fine (milk chocolate), I have a sweet offer for you. Beginning on June 26, you can receive $2 off when you purchase any (2) NESTLĖ Damak® chocolate with Pistachios 2.82 oz bars. Visit Walgreens.com/Coupons to receive your coupon; then go to your local Walgreens to buy the chocolate and redeem your coupon.
For more food and entertaining inspiration, you can follow the #DiscoverDamak Pinterest board and join me for the #DiscoverDamak Twitter Party on June 23 from 8-9 pm ET. (There will be some fabulous prizes!)
Happy Summer Entertaining!