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Top tips for outdoor dining

20 October 2018
june 101

At long last, it’s time to come out of hibernation because with the warmer weather comes scope for wining and dining in the great outdoors.

Words Ella James


Style’s top tips for outdoor dining

  • Where possible, prepare as much of the meal as you can in advance.
  • Invite people that you can count on to provide compelling conversation.
  • Shop small and shop local. You just can’t beat fresh bread from the local bakery or meat from the butcher.
  • The soundtrack is important, so always pack a speaker.
  • Check if any of your guests have allergies, and be sure to cater for their needs.
  • Scented candles should never be lit around food. Let the smell of your cooking entice your guests instead.
  • There’s no shame in asking your guests to contribute by bringing a dish of food. Just make sure everyone sticks to the same cuisine.


Dinner al fresco

We can picture it now, a beautiful outdoor table with a marvellous setting, delicately strung fairy lights and the gentle flickering of candles. It’s time to take your dinner party outdoors, and we couldn’t be happier about it. Now, is definitely the time to use those napkins that you’ve been saving for a special occasion.

We’ll be inviting:

This is truly an occasion for your nearest and dearest. It will be an evening of fine food, drink, conversation and company. So, when it comes to the guest list, consider quality over quantity.

We’ll be wearing:

It’s time, at last, to break out your favourite summer dress and pair with heeled sandals and an abundance of statement jewellery. White linens and bright colours are certainly given the go ahead, while muted, sombre tones just won’t make the cut, because when it comes to al fresco, go bold or go home.

As the temperature drops later in the evening, likely once dessert have been served, it’s important to have a contingency fashion plan, and yours can and should come in the form of a simple shawl. Shawls, however, should never be an afterthought, so make sure you have one in a colour that complements the rest of your ensemble. On that note, it’s wise to provide shawls or blankets for your guests, to ensure everyone stays as toasty as the warm breads passed around the table.

We’ll be serving:

For dinner, take inspiration from your surroundings. Wherever possible, source local seasonal ingredients that are as fresh as can be.

It goes without saying that you should consider dishes that can be prepared in advance so that you can spend your time with your guests rather than standing by the stove. Salads, however, must never be prepared in advance, and should always be made just before it’s time to serve. After all, wilted spinach simply won’t do. Before the obviously mouth-watering mains are served, get up to speed with the grazing platter trend. Large wooden boards packed to the brim with nuts, crackers, olives and more, are the perfect remedy for peckish guests.

You’ll get extra points from us if your meal can be prepared in front of your guests. Be it in a pizza oven or tagine, there’s nothing quite like cooking and dining out on the deck during the golden hour.

We’ll be pouring:

Perfectly paired wines, no less. Sparkling waters are a great option in terms of soft beverages, but jazz yours up with garnish, as you would an expensive cocktail.

And we won’t forget…

To make sure we have enough chairs for each and every guest to be seated comfortably. An upturned waste bin absolutely will not suffice.

A camping trip cookout

The evenings are getting lighter and warmer, so it’s time to start making the most of the great outdoors. The highlight of any camping trip is the barbecue, so get your tongs and skewers at the ready.

Yes, the sheer thought of pitching up a tent and crawling into a sleeping bag induces fear and panic, but preparation can make for a stylish, comfortable and, dare we say, enjoyable camping and barbecuing experience that will have us pining for the campfire each weekend. The key to a successful camping trip you ask? Good food and good company, of course.

We’ll be inviting:

For this particular outing we’ll be inviting the whole family. Teenagers aren’t getting out of this one. Do you have friends with children of a similar age? Even better!

We’ll be wearing:

During the day it’s time to don your favourite pair of denim shorts. Denim is durable and tough, so it’s perfect for tramping through the bush to collect kindling for the evening’s campfire. Team your denims with a singlet and boyfriend-style shirt, that can be effortlessly but so stylishly tied around your waist when those temperatures rise. Colour wise, it’s best not to sport your favourite new summer pastels, so opt for darker shades instead. Charcoal and tomato ketchup won’t be getting the best of you this time!

Footwear needs to be sturdy, so leave your sandals at home. When the sun sets, anything woollen goes! Chunky knits, oversized scarves and bobble hats are a must, so don’t even think about packing them away with the rest of your wintry wardrobe.

Oh, and we’ll also be wearing mosquito spray. Lots and lots of it.


We’ll be serving:

We’ll be keeping the kids happy with the classics! But for the adults, we love the idea of chucking marinated tofu skewers, buttery clams and even quesadillas on the barbie.

We’ll be pouring:

Anything that will fit in a cooler box. Ready-to-drink options are convenient and practical, so you can leave your champagne flutes at home. In the morning, make sure you’re able to get your mitts on a coffee. Find yourself a portable espresso machine, such as the Wacaco Minipresso GR ( Fresh espresso in the morning? Camping isn’t so bad after all.

And we won’t forget…

The matches, the flash light or the air pump!

A beach banquet

I’m sure we’re all in agreement that one of the most wonderful things about warmer weather is a day at the beach. Elevate your next trip with a smart selection of clothing, food and drinks that will have other beach-goers wishing they had packed more than a feeble bucket and spade. Beach picnics are calling, so pack the blankets, snorkels and togs, and get going!

We’ll be inviting:

The beach is a wonderful open space that should be enjoyed by the masses. So, in this case, it really is the more the merrier. Friends, family, neighbours; invites for all. Just don’t hold your breath for a car park when you arrive.

We’ll be wearing:

Well, first things first, we’ll be applying a generous amount of sunscreen in order to eliminate any burning that could ultimately lead to a premature departure from the beachside festivities. Swimwear must be worn underneath your beach dress, so that when the sea works its magic and entices you to take a dip, you won’t be left chaffing in your clothes. A few sprays of Cool Girl by Sam McKnight ( and your beach waves will give Ariel a run for her money.

Some of our favourite swimwear pieces so far are the Melika reversible onepiece from Araks and Mexico Maillot suit from Marysia. These wave-ready offerings are as practical as they are stylish, thus more than suitable for beach volleyball too!

Leave your day-to-day handbag at home or you’ll be shaking out sand for years to come. Instead, opt for a colourful wicker bag that packs a punch as well as all of your beachside essentials.

We’ll be serving:

All of the food for the day will be cleverly stored in that beautiful picnic basket you bought for yourself long ago, having convinced yourself you truly needed it. At long last, you’re finally using it!

Wraps, bowls of pre-roasted veggies and cold pastas are great alternatives for the often stereotypical picnic hamper. On the other side of the spectrum, cheese-based dishes, sandwiches and salads are better off left at home on this particular occasion, please.

Wrapping your food in foil instead of plastic wrap or bags will not only keep it fresher for longer, but it’s also far better for the environment, so you can chow down on your snacks, guilt free. Similarly, your cutlery needn’t be single use – take regular cutlery and wash it upon returning home.

We’ll be pouring:

Fruit punch, with an alcoholic version that is readily available for the adults. Sip yours through a reusable metal straw.

And we won’t forget…

The towels. A car full of wet, sandy kids, truly isn’t how we wish to conclude our idyllic day at the beach.




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