The most beautiful dinner parties are the ones hosted on those balmy summer evenings, bathed in the golden light of the setting sun, with candles flickering in the dusk, chilled glasses of wine clinking, meat sizzling away on the grill, and the table filled with colorful, fresh summer salads. While there is obviously a time and a place for paper plates, plastic cups, and ketchup-covered hot dogs, your elegant al fresco dinner party isn’t it. Take all your chairs, tableware, and fairy lights outside, cook up a feast, and serve the most relaxed, but beautiful dinner party, out in the warm summer air.
Once you’ve created your fairytale-inspired, al fresco dinner setting, covered with wild flowers, citronella candles, and cozy blankets, it’s time to fill that table with all the prettiest foods. Make sure the majority of the food you’re serving can be enjoyed at room temperature, so that you don’t have to spend the evening rushing back and forth between the kitchen, and try to serve everything family-style, so the meal can be laid out on the table and your guests can simply help themselves throughout the evening.
Of course, an al fresco dinner party wouldn’t be complete without turning the grill on. We recommend that you grill your menu’s centerpiece and serve it with plenty of salads and side dishes. A grilled leg of lamb or a whole grilled chicken are both flavor-packed, stunning dinner party centerpieces, which easily combine with a wide range of sides, such as a simple potato salad, and an elegant zucchini and ricotta tart. And of course you should end your dinner with a summertime sweet treat: Personally, we can’t think of anything better than a tipsy affogato and bowls filled with summer’s best, ripest berries.
Read on for our best recipes and décor tips for hosting the ultimate al fresco dinner party.