Top tips for dining and hosting outdoors

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Top tips for dining and hosting outdoors

Dining and entertaining outdoors is simply magical. While eating outdoors is usually reserved for informal occasions like braais and picnics, you can absolutely set the table outside for a more semiformal gathering. We’ve put together a simple guide to help you plan the ultimate al fresco dinner party.

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For picnics, plastic cups and paper plates are great, but if you’re hosting something more formal outdoors, disposable spoons and forks just won’t cut it. It’s important to make sure your table is dressed for the occasion.

1 . Plan ahead

To avoid spoiling the big occasion, get a game plan together. This should start with a guest list. Once you’ve sent out your invitations and received RSVPs, you’ll be able to plan accordingly for your guests. This will dictate how many place settings you’ll need, what menu to go for and if you should stick to a theme. If you’re planning on pairing any wines with your meals, do your research or head to your nearest WCellar to consult the friendly experts in store.

2 . Be well stocked

A well-stocked bar will get you far but your planning shouldn’t be limited to drinks. Make sure you have enough ice, the right amount of tableware (plan for breakages), and even have containers on standby for guests who want to take some of the evening’s delights home.

3 . Set the scene

Since the occasion is more formal, you may need more tableware than usual. Semi-formal dinners include a placemat, dinner plate and a small salad plate on top. Place two forks on each side of the plate for salad and dinner and a knife and spoon on the right.

Include a wine glass and a water glass and place them on the right of each setting.

To make the dinner more intimate, serve your menu on platters so guests can share and pass the food around. Match the plates and platters to give the table a more uniform aesthetic.

4. Linens are non-negotiable

Break out the tablecloth for the occasion. Make sure it’s pressed before you lay it out. Be inspired by the outdoors with the style you choose. Gingham is a great pattern for those looking for something minimal beyond classic white. It’s always trendy and gives a nod to picnic blankets.

Go for cloth serviettes in a complementary colour to stay on par with the rest of the table.

5. Accessorise

Fresh flowers add instant elegance to the table. If you’re not a fan of flowers, opt for green leafy stems like eucalyptus. Display them in vases in varying sizes to add to the outdoor setting. Natural light will shine through clear vases and cast lovely shadows on the table while everyone dines and chat.

Add coasters for the glasses and rustic chopping boards for bread and sides.

Now that you’re all set, what’s on the menu? Need some inspiration? Here are some fantastic ideas:

Starter: fior di latte pepperoncinoFior di latte pepperoncino

Get the recipe for fior di latte pepperoncino here.

Main: grilled lamb kebab pitas

Get the recipe for grilled lamb kebab pitas here.

Side: tomato salad with chilli crispTomato salad with chilli crisp

Get the recipe for tomato salad with chilli crisp here.

Dessert: nectarine almond crumble Nectarine-almond-crumble

Get the recipe for nectarine almond crumble here.


Choose from a range of crockery, cutlery and linen to suit your theme and finish the look with a large vase. Add finishing touches with greenery or faux flowers for a centrepiece that will last. Woolworths’ outdoor dining homeware also includes coasters, napkin holders and placemats.

Shop at Woolworths.

TASTE Article by: TASTE

The TASTE team is a happy bunch of keen cooks and writers, always on the look out for the next food trend or the next piece of cake.

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