Set a Summer Tablescape for Outdoor Dining

Posted August 8, 2020 in Real Estate Trends

Krista edited 2020, Clark County WA real estate agent

August is here, which means this is month to be outside as much as possible—which includes dining and entertaining. Whether you’re cooking for guests or just your own family, the last thing you want to do is stand inside over a hot stove preparing a meal while everyone else is outside having fun.

Here are some ideas for creating a simple summer tablescape for casual dining:

Set the mood, not the table
With summer dining you don’t need formal place settings with every salad fork and dessert spoon in place. In fact, you don’t need any place settings at all. With outdoor dining, the more casual the better! A picnic cloth or linen cover can dress up your regular patio table for the season. A stack of plates, basket of napkins, and mason jar of utensils give your guests and family the message to relax and enjoy the meal. You can even set some of this up on a separate table or cart along with the food for everyone to help themselves.

Of course, festive touches are nice to upgrade your summer tablescape for entertaining. You can use your formal napkins or tea towels to wrap the wine bottles or juice carafes. Strings of outdoor fairy lights can transform your simple tabletop into a midsummer night’s dream. These can be placed mostly anywhere you want quite easily with just plastic stick-on hooks. And to get rid of unwanted guests (mosquitos), you can add citronella to a diffuser with other fresh-smelling scents such as grapefruit or lemon. Warm lighting and inviting aromas get the senses ready to enjoy a delicious meal with good company.

Keep it casual
Along with your casual tablescape, you can keep the meal schedule and menu leisurely too. The summer heat causes everything and everyone to move a little more slowly. So for summer dining it’s more relaxing to throw out the timeline and meal courses. Let everyone eat what they want, when they’re ready. This is especially a relief for meals with young children. Getting little ones to sit down and eat at a certain time is always a challenge! Take a break from that routine and make summer a memorable time for kids as they eat on the go or sitting in the grass as the sun begins to set. Adults can join them on the lawn or linger around the table well into the evening.

Choose a menu of cold entrees and sides so that there’s no time wasted in the kitchen preparing and no rush to “get it while its hot.” Green salads, cold pasta dishes, charcuterie platters, and bowls of grapes or fruit salad are great choices and easy to prepare. Of course, barbecue lovers won’t mind making the extra effort to grill up some meat or vegetables and maybe kebobs too.

Comfort is key
Make the outdoors just as cozy as the indoors. Bring out the pillows and soft throws to place on outside chairs and loungers, porch swings or hammocks. If you have a fire pit or outdoor fireplace, light it up for extra mood lighting. It can be like an evening campout with skewers and s’mores ingredients next to the fire so that guests can make their own dessert if they wish.

And above all, relax. A relaxed host makes guests feel comfortable and welcome. Frantically cleaning the house before company arrives can be stressful and you don’t want to be worn out. A tired host can really ruin the atmosphere. So skip the indoor cleaning and focus on tidying just the yard and patio. Except for the guest bathroom, don’t worry about the rest of the house. Your guests will be happy and comfortable outdoors and no one will be inside to notice any dust on the mantel.