What could be more magical and romantic than a beautifully set table in an unexpected location? I was dreaming of a unique outdoor evening with friends, so I chose an opening in a grove of trees to set my late summer outdoor table.
The biggest challenge was that there was no electricity nearby, but with solar lighting available in so many different forms, an alfresco dinner in the woods or any remote location is not only possible, but easy! By stringing two wires between the trees, I was able to easily hang my LED solar mason jar lights and instantly solved the issue of lighting my new dining area. Then the fun of creating a beautiful summer table began…
1. KEEP IT CASUAL AND RELAXED
Since I was using a portable table (with not so pretty legs) I draped two soft linen cloths sideways, so that they reached the floor, then I pinned the cloth together on the short ends of the table to completely cover the table base. I also draped a French linen table runner with soft gray stripes down the length of the table. I didn’t get too fussy about the details, in fact I purposely left it casual and relaxed, so our guests felt comfortable.
2. ADD SOME ECLECTIC TOUCHES
I love the look of an eclectic mix of dishes, glassware and serving pieces and don’t believe that there are any rules when it comes to place settings. A mix of white, square and round glass plates with simple gray napkins works perfectly in this location. And while I adore a beautiful wine glass, water glasses are more practical and somehow lend a relaxed feel to the whole table. A tin container filled with silverware placed on the table works just fine and is easy to transport after dinner and the unexpected addition of a copper water pitcher somehow feels right.
3. USE LOCAL FLOWERS
What could be more natural than using what is growing nearby for a centerpiece. Rather than a vase of store bought flowers, I brought my favorite box of bottles out and picked some lupine and yarrow from the nearby meadow to create a pretty centerpiece. I also found a small grove of cow parsnip in the woods, so I picked several stems and put them in a large pitcher, which I placed on the ground near the table. It added a lovely, soft element to the tablesacpe and fit in perfectly with the environment.
4. KEEP IT COMFORTABLE
I rarely set an outdoor table without including several throw blankets hanging over the chairs. Nothing will break up a nice evening faster than cold dinner guests, so a having a few blankets available to warm legs or wrap around shoulders is a must. I also keep a can of natural bug spray nearby, just in case some uninvited “guests” decide to crash the party.
A whole new world of outdoor possibilities opened up for me by using a few solar lights. These would be great for a romantic picnic in the park, an evening at the beach or any other place that you can imagine the soft glow of light illuminating a beautiful location.
Karen Snyder writes about home, family and entertaining at Sanctuary Home, where her elegant country style inspires and educates.