Design Hints

Entertaining Alfresco

Learn how to make the most of your exterior spaces with terrific tips for outdoor soirees.

With its beautiful blooms and artful arrangements, Maureen and Mike Coffland's Olympia, Washington, garden is the perfect spot for get-togethers. Make the most of your outside spaces with these tips for entertaining in the great outdoors!

Contain Yourself: Use an old tool caddy, a miniature wheelbarrow or a vintage seed box to store condiment bottles or plates and cups. For more fresh summer charm, put small canning jars to use holding forks and knives.

Double the Fun: Instead of topping your tables with just one tablecloth, add another, smaller one in a contrasting color for a doubly delightful look. For more interest, lay the second cloth at an angle like Maureen did on her patio table. If you're having a tea party and want to boost the feminine flair, head to the fabric store for a square of floral calico to spread over the table.

Eat Your Heart Out: Arrange buns or slices of French bread in woven baskets instead of piling them on plates. For more garden flavor, serve potato salad, coleslaw or mixed fruit in small flowerpots -- just be sure to thoroughly wash and line the pots before using them for food.

Spread the Love: The beauty of outdoor entertaining is the ability to spread out across the lawn or around the garden. Instead of clumping all of your seating in one area, put several groupings of three or four chairs or benches throughout the yard. Encourage mingling by setting up drink, dinner and dessert stations in different locations.

Written by Elizabeth Preston
Photographed by
Styled by Donna Pizzi