There’s nothing better on a summer day than sitting at a table in the backyard, watching the kids play and relaxing with a cold drink — except maybe having a fantastic family dinner at that same table first. All it takes to create these fabulous family memories is a little bit of preparation followed by lots of relaxation.
A Firm Foundation
You’ll need an outdoor dining table with comfortable chairs. Outdoor seat cushions can make just about any outdoor chair comfortable, and will last quite a long time if you store them indoors between uses. Find and use a sturdy umbrella to protect you from the sun and prevent annoying glare as the sun sets. Cantilever umbrellas are ideal, since they don’t break up the table and can easily be adjusted as the sun moves. Wayfair offers a wide variety of umbrellas and bases starting around $160. Available at Wayfair.com.au.
Set the Scene
Will you still be sitting outside when the sun goes down? If so, how will you light the area? For some families, flood lights that are already in place will suffice. Others like to use twinkle lights or candles in lanterns or mason jars to give softer light.
Placemats are a great way to both add color and save you work. Rather than aggressively cleaning a table that won’t stay clean (it is outdoors after all), you can just wipe it down and throw the placemats in the wash after the meal. Cloth napkins are also easy to clean and use. Plus they’re heavy enough that they won’t blow away with the first hint of a breeze, sending you chasing them across the yard while your meal goes cold. Cloth napkins are also environmentally friendly and you won’t run out of them when you least expect it.
Set the Table
Choose sturdy, reusable plates like Tupperware’s Fiesta line from Tupperware.com.au, or if you don’t want to do dishes, opt for eco-friendly disposables like those offered by Biome, available at Biome.com. Invest in a large, well-made tray with comfortable handles and a lip all the way around to transport dishes, silverware, food, and drink from inside to outside and back again at the end of the night. You’ll also want to cover food either by serving from lidded dishes or covering with a tea towel or dish cover. This will help keep the food fresh at the right temperature, and keep any flying pests away.
Don’t Overdo It
Remember, you’ll be transporting food from the house to your outdoor eating area, so don’t add stress by cooking overly elaborate dishes that require constant attention. Save the souffles and the duck confit for another occasion and choose a meal that won’t drive you crazy. After all, you’re meant to enjoy the experience too. Perfection – at least in this case – isn’t about a perfectly plated meal, it’s about enjoying your surroundings and your loved ones. So don’t worry if the serving plates don’t match. If the food makes it out to the table, onto the plates and into bellies, all is well.
Sit Back and Enjoy
You’ve done it! Food is on the table, music is streaming through a portable bluetooth speaker, and everyone’s having a jolly good time. All that’s left to do is serve dessert… oh, and don’t be afraid to let someone else do the dishes. Enjoy!