Dining outside may be considered casual but that doesn’t mean that setting a nice table and providing an appealing tablescape are not important. On the contrary, taking the meal outside is a perfect excuse to try your hand at a more casual style of decorating and perhaps incorporating elements you wouldn’t otherwise use.
While more and more accessories are made to be used outside, it is not necessary to restrict yourself to these items. It’s ok to use pieces that you use inside but why not use them differently? Mix things up—yes, even the dishes. Brainstorm what other uses some of your beloved accessories may serve and see if you can reinvent their usefulness (and the joy they give you) outside.
A centerpiece is a good idea on any dining table. Unfortunately, there is often a scarcity of space on the table, so it’s a good idea to keep the scale on the smaller side but make sure it has a big impact. Flowers from the yard are an instant hit and will beg the question, “Are these from your yard?” This serves as a great conversation starter and can generate lively dialog with interesting stories. A simple vase, mason jar, pitcher, or teapot are a few container ideas.
Using fresh greenery from the yard is an inexpensive way to decorate and show off your creativity. Branches, leaves, acorns, berries, moss, and rocks are interesting additions to your tablescape. You can craft leaves into a runner and use this as a base on which to layer the rest of your design.
Tie herbs such as chives or flowers around your napkins and utensils.
I like to take one of my pashmina’s and use it for a table runner. Inexpensive and often brightly colored, these liven up a table and are easily cleaned if any spills occur.
Shallow bowls running down a long table, each containing a floating flower, are simple and discreet but show your flair and attention to detail. On a round table, use one large bowl with several blooms, or perhaps, a cluster of small bowls grouped together.
For evening, simply add candle light or solar powered lanterns. Small votives can be used singly or clustered on the tabletop. Lanterns lined up down the length of the table, or, again, clustered in the center of a round table, look striking at night.
Decorating the table surface is not the only way to decorate for an event. If you are under the trees, consider hanging a branch or pole over the table and using that for your décor. Hang votives, lanterns, or small bud bases at varying heights above the table. Decorate the pole with flowers and greenery. Cut out and hang shapes to create a theme for a specific type of gathering.
If you are running short on table space, consider decorating the chairs instead. Make a garland or wreath with fresh finds and hang one on each chair. Or, tie a swath of fabric around the chair and weave a few flowers or greens into the knot.
Whether you are hosting a big event or an intimate dinner with friends, adding a few special decorative elements shows you care, makes your guests feel special, and makes your outdoor dining room shine.