Ahhhh, al fresco. An Italian phrase, the English translation means “in the fresh air”. Dining al fresco is all about enjoying a beautiful meal outside in cool, fresh air. Luckily for us, in the South the evenings are temperate to enjoy dining outdoors.
If you are considering taking advantage of your outdoor living space and dining al fresco, we have put together 8 tips to make your outdoor dining experience its best.
Tip 1 – Check the Weather
It may go without saying, but for any outdoor experience you will want to check the weather and plan accordingly. Also, be sure that you have the proper setup (no matter what the weather brings) to make the outing more comfortable for you and your guests.
Tip 2 – Set the Stage
Dining al fresco is all about the setting. Nature sets the stage, but to finish it off, decorate the table to create a beautiful space your friends and family will enjoy. Select pretty dinnerware, and centerpieces such as flowers and candles. Take a cue from nature – as an alternative to traditional flower centerpieces, consider potted herbs, or pumpkins and leaves which are economical and in the season.
Tip 3 – Light It Up
Nothing creates a mood like lighting. The sun will do the job for you, setting a golden glow on your dining during sunset. If you are planning on enjoying the evening outside after sunset, plan ahead.
Strands of lights under and around a pavilion, a series of lanterns, and votives on the table are all good options. If using string lights, test them out the night before to make sure they are working properly and bright enough. If you’re using candles, consider glass hurricanes that will keep the wind from blowing them out.
Tip 4 – Stay Comfortable in Any Season
When dining al fresco, always take the season into consideration. When dining outdoors in the cooler months, as the sun dips over the horizon, it’s time to celebrate with a plan for staying warm. Maybe you’ve got dinner by an outdoor fireplace or firepit or consider moving dessert indoors as the temperature drops. If you do not have an outdoor fireplace, rented heat lamps can do the trick. A basket of blankets for guests is also a great idea, and economical as well. When dining in hot summer months, be sure to provide of shade. If not dining under a pavilion with fans, consider placing large fans to create a cooling breeze.
Tip 5 – Keep Insects at Bay
If you’ve ever eaten outside before then you know insects can make or break a good outdoor dining experience, especially here in the South. To keep insects at bay, especially mosquitoes, use citronella candles to persuade them to fly elsewhere. Also be sure to have bug spray available. Another helpful tip is to have a designated spray area so that when guests apply insect repellant, it won’t blow into the dining area.
Tip 6 – Keep the Kitchen Close
The kitchen is home base so keep in mind that you want to have the best possible access to it. By doing so, you can handle anything that arises at a moment’s notice with ease. For instance, if you need to cool down or heat food up, the refrigerator and oven are close enough for you to do so. Also note, that the further away the kitchen is the more difficult it may be to handle simple tasks, and more careful planning will be required.
Tip 7 – Add Music for Ambiance
Nothing goes better with good food than a great ambiance! Setting the right atmosphere for your outdoor dining experience can be as simple as cueing up your favorite playlist to play in the background while conversing with family and friends. For continuous enjoyment, you may want to download your playlist beforehand via Spotify, just to ensure that there are no interruptions with sound (or commercials) in between.
Tip 8 – Enjoy!
And let’s not forget the most important part – enjoy! Sometimes when we are hosting, it is easy to be anxious about the outcome. But with some careful planning ahead and tips like these, you will be all set for a beautiful evening spent dining al fresco at home with friends and family.