Alfresco dining ideas – our pick of the best

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The term alfresco dining is borrowed from our friends Mediterranean friends on the continent meaning eating out ‘in the cool’ or ‘fresh’ and so whatever the occasion, nothing says summer to us Brits quite like enjoying a meal out of doors while our shifting seasons allows us. Whether you have a terrace or small patio in town, are lucky enough to have a country garden, or simply looking for inspiration to give a picnic or party that wow factor, here are some alfresco dining ideas to transform your entertaining space with style.

Lighting is key, especially if your get-together is going to stretch from day into evening. If you prefer a vintage feel, string up pretty LED festoon lights in your themed colour or add tea lights to glass hurricane lanterns to set the mood. For a more contemporary touch, choose a statement candelabra for the table to add drama. When it comes to china, melamine is a pretty but practical choice especially for picnics – opt for sherbet shades for a retro Fifties feel that’s very Darling Buds of May. Bundles of bright-handled cutlery will add a splash of colour and can be piled into mugs or small chunky pottery vases to keep things informal. Don’t forget the niceties such as a stack of crisp linen napkins in a pretty floral design and personalised name cards for your guests – you may be outside but the details still count. 
Use glass pebbles to anchor them and also to weigh down the corners of a tablecloth if you’re using one in the event of it being windy. Brightly coloured patterned cloths give an instant design statement perfect for balmy nigths alfresco dining. Finally, fresh flowers always provide an extra special finishing touch – opt for single blowsy blooms such a peonies or dahlias in hot pinks and oranges for a quick pop of colour.
Image credit: Tom Leighton
Image credit: Mark Scott