Dining outdoors is an activity everyone seems to enjoy, especially children. The atmosphere is relaxed and there is no need to worry about spilled drinks or dropped plates.
Children who normally have a hard time sitting still through a formal meal indoors can run freely around the garden, chasing butterflies during the day and fireflies at night.
The best part about an outdoor meal is that it can be assembled with inexpensive items from around the house, or even objects picked up at a second-hand sale. With a bit of creativity you can eat even eat outdoors in the autumn, using patio heaters
Creating an Outdoor Dining Room
To create an alfresco dining area in the middle of a lush garden, use flat, stacked stones to create a level surface for a table and chairs.
A natural roof can be created with the aid of a gazebo, pergola or arbour. Over time, plants and flowers will climb up the structure for a sense of seclusion and shade.
The beauty of these natural walls is that the sounds of nature and the scents of the outdoors can still be enjoyed. These types of spaces are like fairytale environments for younger children to indulge in their sense of creativity. Setting the Table The table can be a picnic table with benches or an old wooden door with attached legs and surrounded by painted wooden or wicker chairs.
A simple rustic coffee table placed beside a wooden bench creates an adorable spot to have sandwiches and lemonade underneath a large tree. An old sheet or a large piece of cotton, gingham or burlap can be used as a tablecloth.
Plastic plates and utensils can certainly be used for easy cleanup. However, mismatched plates and glasses will create a more fetching presentation.
Flatware can be wrapped in coloured bandanas and tied with a piece of leather string. For a centrepiece, arrange fresh-cut flowers in an old watering can or galvanized jug.
The children can help pick and assemble the flowers from the garden. Put small candles in votive holders or hang lanterns from the trees for atmospheric lighting.
Many people forgo the table and simply spread an old quilt on the ground sprinkled with some oversized pillows. This is also an ideal spot for the children to hang out together.
Food and Drinks
Having a separate table for both food and drinks is a smart idea because it allows people to go at their own pace. The food table can be covered with a piece of cloth or brown paper.
Wicker baskets lined with bandanas or serviettes can be used for things like biscuits, buns and bread. Wooden trays can hold extra plates and glasses. For deserts like brownies, cookies and cupcakes, use a multi-level, antique wire plant stand.
Finally, fill an aluminium tub with ice and drinks for a self-serve drinks centrepiece.
Steve Smith is a big fan of outdoor dining and also enjoys contributing to a number of blogs, including the popular Picnic Benches blog online.