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Dawn Matthews  |  May 21, 2024

Outdoor Entertaining Essentials

10 Minute Read

Eating and drinking outdoors is one of the joys of summer, so when those first few hot days finally hit, you want to be ready to go – you don’t want to be scrambling to buy the bits you need in the shops then. While you can probably make do with a lot of the things you already have at home to start with, when you’re properly entertaining, you want your tablescape to look great, whether that’s outdoors or in – whether that’s outdoors or in – depending on the weather, of course! With that in mind, in this post, we’re listing some of the things you’ll want to have available to really make the most of the summer outdoor entertaining season.

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What To Include In A Great Entertaining Space

We’ve written at length about outdoor kitchens, styling your outdoor space, and so on, and for good reason – it is wonderful to be able to be outdoors and to really enjoy ourselves in the space! Let’s go over some of the foundations of a great entertaining space.

Table and comfortable seating

The first thing you’ll want to ensure that you have is the right space for your family and your guests. So, if you’re still using an old plastic patio table and chairs, there’s never a better time to upgrade to solid wooden outdoor furniture. Not only will it last you so much longer, but it is more comfortable (no sticking to it when it is really humid!) and let’s face it, it just looks so much better. You’ll want cushions and throws for added comfort.



If you’re planning to entertain into the evening, you’ll want to consider lighting. There are some fantastic options, including eco-friendly LED solar lighting, which means you can light up any area of your garden that you choose, even those furthest from the house. Festoons and fairy lights make for a perfectly festive, but relaxed atmosphere, while outdoor pendants, table lamps, and wall lighting can create a more formal look. Finish off your outdoor lighting and add to the visual with candles and lanterns.


You’ll also need to think about how to provide shade when the sun is relentless, and whether you might want a way to weatherproof your outdoor entertaining space if the Great British Summer delivers the showers that we’re all used to! Parasols, pergolas, gazebos and sail shades are all good options, and it goes without saying that picking those made from sustainable materials are the chicest.



Whether you drink alcohol or not, having a fixed hydration spot is an excellent plan too, whether that is in the form of a permanent outdoor bar, an outdoor shelf, or simply an outdoor coffee table to place glasses, jugs, and bottles. Allowing guests to charge their own glasses – especially if you have children around – means that you can relax and focus on enjoying the company rather than constantly fetching drinks.


Finally, having music available can really ramp up the atmosphere when you’re eating and drinking outdoors with guests. A decent portable Bluetooth speaker is a perfect way to ensure that you can set the tone, and means that “jukebox takeovers” can easily happen as the fun develops, simply by connecting to different phones and playlists. Just remember to be considerate of your neighbours!

Choose Your Outdoor Style

The style you choose for entertaining outdoors will depend on the look and feel of your home, the type of event you’re holding, and the people you’re hosting. For example, brunch with the girls is likely to look very different to an outdoor pizza party with the kids, and different again to dinner and drinks with other couples. You can absolutely create a completely different look and feel to your outdoor kitchen and outdoor dining area for each event, perhaps by adding or removing things around your table, but the way the table looks is probably the easiest thing to change. It can be really simple to dress your summer table when you’ve got friends or family coming to dine with you al fresco, and just like your dining table indoors, you can be as elaborate – or as simple – as you like.

Starting out with just one aesthetic and having a theme means that you can choose accessories in line with your style. A classic outdoor style, such as boho and rustic, means that you don’t have to replace items as often as if you followed the current trends, and will remain perfectly Instagram-worthy for years to come.

Outdoor crockery and glassware

Eating outdoors doesn’t mean you need to buy plastic picnic sets that will be either broken, or out of fashion next year, and contribute to the plastic waste we’re all trying to avoid. But you probably don’t want to have your finest crystal glasses outside either, just in case! Having plates and glasses that you’re not too attached to is definitely the way forward when it comes to entertaining outdoors, particularly if your table is on a patio.

Having a way to transport drinks from the kitchen is always a good idea – whether you’re bringing out yet another round of squash for the children, or you’re planning to enjoy sangria on a sunny weekend afternoon. Get yourself a really great jug (we love this glass jar with bamboo handle, and it can be used equally perfectly to hold a bouquet of flowers!) and a gorgeous tray to make staying hydrated even easier.

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Of course, place mats are strictly optional for table settings, but they do elevate the way your table looks, and can help to protect the wood. There are so many options for placemats, and they can be a wonderful, and inexpensive way to change the way your table looks, really quickly. The other great thing? They don’t take up too much space when you need to put them away. Our natural woven table placemats look fantastic indoors and out, and they are available in three colours, so you can pick the perfect shade for you.

Table decorations

Decorating your outdoor table doesn’t have to be as elaborate, or even as well thought out as your Christmas table. But if you’re having guests over, and you have a little time, why not decorate your outdoor table as you’re putting the place settings out? Here’s a few ideas that we love:

⭐  A decorative bowl filled with citrus fruits (multi-purpose if you’re using them for drinks later on!)
⭐  Brass lanterns with candles in – LED candles are ideal if you have children attending
⭐  Rustic candles without any other adornment for a relaxed appeal
⭐  Vases or jars filled with flowers clipped from your garden
⭐  Table cloths to provide colour
⭐  String lights woven through the centrepiece


Bringing delicious food and drink from the kitchen is so much easier with the right serveware! Get yourself trays made from sustainable materials – our recycled rustic trays are gorgeous for carrying food and drinks, and natural chopping boards are ideal for serving fresh bread or creating charcuterie boards that are on-trend this year. These are multi-purpose, and can be used inside the home too.


Eco-Friendly Storage

When you’re entertaining outdoors, there are things you’ll always want to have on hand, but need to put away post-party. Depending on who you’re likely to have as guests, there are things you might want to consider having in your outdoor storage, such as:

🌿  Games, both for children and for adults
🌿  Colouring books, pencils, or crayons - Blankets and throws for chilly evenings and for sitting on
🌿  Sunscreen
🌿  Insect repellent and citronella
🌿  Salt and pepper pots and other seasonings
🌿  Handheld fans
🌿  Outdoor tableware

The list here is endless, and will change from home to home. But having the right storage will mean you can have it available quickly, and put it away organised when it isn’t needed. If you’ve got a summer house in your garden, a shed, or you’re simply putting it in the garage, make sure it is on a shelf that has been treated for outdoor use – our outdoor care packs make it easy to keep your outdoor wooden furniture in top shape. If you’re putting stuff away, natural baskets are by far one of the easiest to use – and if you need a little extra storage, a metal hanging rail with a hook or two and a basket can be a handy way to add that in.

Our Final Thoughts

When choosing tableware, decorations, and accessories for your outdoor entertainment, aim to be as sustainable as possible. Reduce, reuse, and recycle wherever possible. If you need to buy, consider the many amazing pieces available from small local businesses that are handmade and made from sustainable materials. Instead of buying cheap plastic items, visit local thrift stores to find unique pieces that create a cohesive look without harming the environment.When you’re sharing your photos on Instagram, don’t forget to tag us @bensimpsonfurniture – we love to see your photos, and to share the best ones too.

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