Top 3 Al fresco Dining Options
12 Minute Read
As the seasons turns to spring and we’re able to get out more, one of the best ways to take advantage of those sunny days and warmer temperatures with friends and family is to eat together. From a few sandwiches in a box, or grabbing a meal deal or at the local shop, there are so many opportunities to take advantage of! The ideas in this post can take place anywhere, from your garden, a local park, beach, or deep in the countryside.
1 - Traditional Picnic
The original, and the best! Taking a few sandwiches, cakes, and bottles of drink to eat outdoors, sitting either on a rug or a picnic bench in a sunny spot is a simple pleasure that is just perfect on warmer spring days. Since you can prepare a picnic quickly with whatever you have at home – sandwiches can easily be replaced for pasta salads, packs of antipasti, or cheese and crackers – it doesn’t need to cost a lot, or take a lot of time.
Picnics don’t have to be taken far out to be a glorious occasion either. If you have children to entertain for the weekend, a sunny hour before the rain is due to hit, or there’s not enough time to get out further than your garden, then grab your rug and your sandwiches, and get out onto the lawn and enjoy. The great thing about a garden picnic is that you can grab second helpings when you like, and you know where the nearest facilities are when someone has had too much lemonade!
While you’ll probably want a picnic blanket, or a sheet of some description to sit on, there isn’t really anything else that is essential for a picnic. Reusable food containers, and thermos flasks or reusable drinks bottles are best, but you don’t necessarily need to buy a fancy picnic basket – unless you really want one, of course! The only absolute must is making sure that you don’t leave any rubbish behind.
2 - Delicious Barbecues
As soon as the first sunny weekend hits, most of us are ready for a delicious barbecue – and the great thing about having a barbecue is that it can be as fancy, or as basic as you like. You can go really high-end with expensive steaks, or you can just throw a couple of sausages on the grill – and whatever you end up with is going to be delicious. Whatever your dietary requirements, there are so many incredible food options to choose from that can be cooked on the barbie, from tasty starters to decadent desserts. Low-fat, keto, vegan – they’re all possible on the barbecue! (just make sure you keep vegan faire away from the meat!)
There are so many options for where you can host a barbecue too. If you’ve got a dedicated outdoor kitchen area with barbecue grill – whether gas, or charcoal based – then you’re already set to invite friends over, and party into the evening! If you fancy a change of scenery, even the smallest portable barbecues can produce fantastic results, and means that you can get out to enjoy a gorgeous location. Just be sure to dispose of your coals carefully, so they won’t cause damage to the local wildlife.
3 - Formal Dining
We’ve all seen photos of formal dinners being hosted outdoors, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. You might think that they’re not worth the hassle, but the reality is that they don’t take all that long to prepare, and even if you’re just bringing out a home-cooked dinner to your garden, it’ll feel that much more luxurious with a few accessories brought out.
Accessories for formal dining outdoors can include tablecloths, proper tableware, glassware, and cushions. If you’re setting up for an evening meal that is likely to linger as the sun sets, then stringing festoon lights above the table, or simply adding a few candles, or battery or solar powered fairy lights can be a dreamy addition.
Formal outdoor dining makes for a fabulous change for a regular weekday evening meal, but if you’re at home a few other ideas we love include:
- Hosting a family get-together – a buffet table or barbecue food works just as well as serving from the kitchen
- A romantic date night for two under the stars – takeaway food is definitely acceptable if you’re both working!
- A get-together with the girls – especially in larger gardens where children can do their thing while you chat!
- Brunch the morning after a party or event – avocado toast optional
While it is easiest to set up formal dining in your garden, it can be taken on the road too. Camping equipment, trestle tables and folding chairs, as well as your outdoor dining accessories can all be thrown into the back of a car to set up somewhere picturesque, and they don’t take long to get set up when you get there. Pack cold picnic food options, or put hot food into flasks and thermal picnic bags to keep it warm, or pick up a takeaway on the way.
The great thing about enjoying formal outdoor dining is that you don’t have to spend huge amounts of money to create a formal outdoor dining collection. Popping into your local charity shops or thrift stores will yield all kinds of vintage accessories – you can collect everything from plates to table cloths there for just a few pounds, and they’re so much better for the environment than using disposable. And if you’ve bought items from thrift stores, you won’t have to worry about it being ruined if there is an unexpected rain shower!
We can’t wait for the warmer weather to come around – and we’re sure you can’t either. There are no set rules to al fresco dining, and the ideas in this post can be combined, or used as inspiration for a completely different type of outdoor feast – just as long as you’re having a great time, and of course, don’t leave any litter behind.
Whatever gorgeous outdoor dining you decide to go for this year, don’t forget to take plenty of photos – and if we’ve inspired you, tag us in your Instagram posts @bensimpsonfurniture!
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