Embrace the Outdoors: Alfresco Dining and Tablescape Tips

With the arrival of sunnier days, we are all eagerly embracing the glorious British weather. As we relish the warmth and longer evenings, our thoughts naturally turn to making the most of our outdoor spaces. It's time to start hosting delicious breakfasts on the patio, afternoon BBQ’s soaking up the sun, pizza nights that turn into sunset soirees and alfresco suppers with loved ones. And with just a touch of care and attention, these casual gatherings can be transformed into truly memorable occasions. 


So, let's dive into some simple yet effective ways to elevate your outdoor dining game this summer. Whether you have a sprawling garden or a cosy balcony, a little time to spare or you're gearing up for a special celebration, these ideas will help you create an enchanting atmosphere and add that extra touch of magic to your alfresco experience.


Mix and Match

Alfresco dining encourages an effortless and laid-back approach, so don't be afraid to mix and match your tableware, using all the pieces you love most without worrying if they go together or not. Try to experiment with different patterns, textures, and colours to create a unique and vibrant look that exudes personality and encourages conversation. Reimagine the contents of your cupboard and get creative with it. 

Bring out your favourite dinner plates, side plates, pasta bowls, serve platters, table linens and glassware (depending on your choice of dining) and have a play around with the positioning on the table. 

Typically serve platters, nibble bowls and salad bowls are placed in the middle along with a carafe of water, especially on those sunny days. It’s always a beautiful sight watching your loved one’s chat and laugh around the table reaching over one another, passing around plates of food.

For a colourful dining table you can mix and match the pieces in our exclusive collection created for Sur La Table – the Colour Me Happy range is perfect for summer dining and you can created a look that is unique to you by creating your own bespoke set from across the collection.

Set the Scene with Nature

The beauty of alfresco dining lies in its playful and relaxed nature, opening up a plethora of options for creative tablescaping. For table décor, why not try these simple and inexpensive ideas to create a more sustainable centrepiece for your table.

  • Forage for foliage from your garden or nearby fields, gathering wildflowers as you go.
  •  Arrange them for display in mismatched glass jars upcycled from old jam jars and other preservatives, or even empty bottles from your favourite spirits (We love the look fresh sprigs in a Hendricks Gin bottle, giving a classy vintage feel). 
  • Jam jars can also be used for tea lights or citronella candles to keep bugs away. 

The vibrant colours and fragrant aromas of fresh foliage will instantly breathe life into your outdoor space, adding a touch of freshness and charm. Incorporating natural elements into your alfresco tablescaping enhances the organic beauty of eating outdoors, connecting with the surrounding environment.


Comfort is Key

In our fast-paced lives filled with constant hustle, it's crucial to find moments to slow down and unwind. We could all benefit from carving out more time to relax and recharge with friends and family. Alfresco dining invites us to savour the present moment, relishing in the company of loved ones and the pleasure of indulging in delicious food. To ensure you and your guests are relaxed, make sure to create a comfy and chilled environment. Whether you are having an alfresco dinner turned garden party or a chilled bite to eat in the sun, you want your guests feel utterly at ease. 


Providing some soft cushions to sit on can make all the difference or for those cooler evenings offer up some cosy blankets to keep snug and warm. While it’s still bright and hot out, think about sunshades such as umbrellas and keep that ice bucket in easy reach. You don’t need to go out and buy lots of new furniture, just think about what you already have in the house and bring it outside! 

Ambient Lighting

Create a magical ambiance with a variety of lighting choices for the table and your surroundings. String solar-powered fairy lights or lanterns through the trees or across your dining area to cast a soft, enchanting glow. Candles are also a timeless addition guaranteed to add a warm and intimate touch to your alfresco dining experience. Choose from tall candlesticks in a variety of colours placed in bespoke holders or leftover wine bottles or go for your favourite scented wick candles or tea lights. 


Move away from disposable plates and cutlery by investing in reusable tableware. Look for options made from eco-friendly and durable materials that can last all your alfresco dining events for years to come. Not only is this better for the planet, but reusable pieces also make your table setting look infinitely more elegant and sophisticated. 

The same goes with reusable napkins and tablerunners that can simply be washed instead of chucked in the bin. Say goodbye to cheap looking paper napkins and hello to beautifully designed cloth napkins. Adding sophistication as well as sustainability to the table. Plus you'll save money in the long run as you wont have to keep throwing away single use napkins and re buying them! If you want to snazz your table up even more why not go for the matching tablerunner!



If you have the option, it’s also a nice idea to opt for seasonal and locally sourced ingredients for your spread, helping support local farmers and reduce your carbon footprint. Not only will your dishes taste better using fresh ingredients, but you'll also contribute to the sustainability of your community.

Plan your menu wisely to avoid excessive food waste. Consider portion sizes and the preferences of your guests to minimize leftovers. If there is any excess, make sure to save it for the next day in reusable containers. Lucky you, that’s lunch all sorted! 

Alfresco dining is a delightful way to celebrate the beauty of nature while enjoying good food and even better company in a vibrant and open-air setting. With a little creativity and attention to detail, you can transform your outdoor space into a magical haven for unforgettable gatherings. Embrace the simple pleasures of the season and unpredictable British weather and let your alfresco dining adventures unfold in style. So, gather your loved ones, set a beautiful table, and indulge in the joys of alfresco dining like never before. Bon appétit!

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