The first step is to pick a theme. This will make it easy to achieve a consistent design style for your table. Play with lively, tropical colors for a bright, vibrant look or set a more sophisticated, subdued mood with more mellow or darker hues. Many people opt for natural motifs like plants or animals to highlight the sense of being outdoors.
Pinterest is a great resource for exploring outdoor dinner party ideas. One of the most popular dinner party décor options is a green and white theme, which you can make as elaborate or simple as you like, depending on your taste and budget.
After you picked a theme, consider what dinnerware and table linens will best reflect your choice. If you're on a budget, use the dinner and glassware you already own and make a statement with candles, flowers, or other more affordable extras.
Or, you can splurge on new dinner and drinkware to really set the mood. Since you're eating outdoors, melamine dinnerware and shatterproof drinkware are excellent options and worth the extra cost if you plan to entertain outdoors often.
The linens and placemats you choose can also either stand out with prints and patterns or serve to highlight the other elements of your tablescape in neutral shades and designs.
Next, you should decide on the menu, since that will determine how much space you need for extra items like plates, bowls, or serving platters. Another important consideration is how far you'll be from the kitchen. Family-style service with passed platters is ideal for outdoor parties.
Entertaining becomes virtually effortless when you don't have to make many trips back and forth during the meal, but you'll need to leave plenty of room on the table for larger platters.
Pitchers and nearby beverage tubs also make it easier to enjoy your guests' company rather than trekking back and forth for everyone's drinks. You might even set up a sideboard or small folding table nearby if you don't have space on your dining table.
Make the most of your outdoor setting with greenery and natural elements like garlands or small vases of flowers. They will always elevate the look of your tablescape.
Lighting can also set the mood, and if you don't have string lights overhead, you'll want plenty of candles, which you can put in hurricane vases to keep breezes at bay.
Your theme will be important here too. A tropical tablescape can display vibrantly hued flowers or lush bowls of fruit, while a boho-chic party calls for an abundance of candles, metallic accents, and more low-key blooms.
While it's not technically part of the table setting, also consider the comfort of your guests. You may want to drape a blanket or shawl over the back of each chair or add an outdoor pillow to each seat so that people can truly relax.
Here's what you need to make your guests comfortable: