Many posts found online this time of year are about entertaining outdoors for a crowd, throwing backyard parties for family and friends, girls’ night out as well as setting up bar carts with aplomb to have a cocktail party on the patio.
Summer is all about dining alfresco. It is fun to eat our meals outside. When you put a fancy French term to the festivities makes it even more so.
Dining alfresco can boost your mood. A outdoor setting can make you feel at ease, relaxed and happy.
It is one reason the French and Italian’s do it so much. The term al fresco is a French saying that means eating outside. In Italian – Vorrei mangiare fuori’.
Today, I am posting about dining alfresco, but not in the ways I just listed.
Dining outside is a great way to enjoy summer, but you don’t have to wait to have a party to enjoy doing it or spend hours in the kitchen preparing food for a large alfresco gathering.
These alfresco gatherings are great, but this summer almost everyday if the weather permits, I want to inspire you to do it with only one guest in mind… yourself.
I know a great little spot for doing this special solo ritual. It’s warm, inviting and right in your neighborhood, in fact… it is in your own backyard, or on your porch, deck, patio, balcony, in your garden or whatever little space you can carve outside to call your own.
It doesn’t have to be a designated outdoor dining area.
Summer is the best time to perch yourself outside to sip a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, enjoy a causal lunch or to watch the sun go down with a glass of your favorite wine in the evening.
No outdoor party menu planning, exhausting party preparations or guests needed.
Pick an Alfresco Dining Spot
There is no need to set an alfresco dining table, fire up a grill, set up a bar, or create a party-like atmosphere.
To set up your own solo outdoor cafe or restaurant to enjoy one or all of your meals, all you need is a comfy chair, a small table and a favorite spot and of course something to eat which could be as simple as last night’s leftovers.
Solo Alfresco Dining Necessity
To make solo alfresco dining at home easy, yet feel like a stylish event to enIighten your day, I like to look for unique plates, bowls and trays to make dining alone outside special for me.
I found a pretty tray at a thrift store that I painted pink that is the perfect size for taking a plate of food, coffee or drinks outside to enjoy eating a meal in the fresh air.
Handmade coffee mugs and a few stylish utensils are other things I like to have on hand to make alfresco dining a more pleasurable experience.
I have a “party basket” set up in my pantry so I can easily grab what I need when we entertain friends and family outside.
I also keep the items I need when I want to eat alfresco by myself – pretty paper plates, napkins and unbreakable water glasses.
I enjoy starting the day outside, even if it is hot. I like hearing the birds chirp and the sounds of the day beginning. I keep a collection of decorative and outdoor trays handy to carry whatever I make for breakfast outside.
- If you have a garden, reap the rewards and pick the fresh bounty to enjoy. Embellish your plate with some fresh herbs. It is the little touches that will make the 15-20 minutes spent eating outside a little more special before you have to start your day.
- Pour juice into a pretty glass.
- I buy pretty paper napkins at the dollar store, Target, and Walmart. They elevate the pretty factor of my outdoor meals.
- Place fresh flowers in a small vase. When not used to embellish your tray, they add fresh color when moved inside your house.
My deck and yard gets full sun all day. When the temperature rises, to be able to sit in comfort, I need patio umbrellas. One of the umbrellas goes into the center hole of our high outdoor table.
The second umbrella’s position changes depending on where the sun is in the sky. I keep a large stand on the deck that I move where I need it.
Sunday brunch is a special meal no matter what time of year you partake it. In the summer months, freshly squeezed OJ and champagne elevate to staycation status when enjoyed alfresco.
- The monogrammed outdoor stemware makes a few morning hours reading the a newspaper the old fashioned way and not on my phone feel like a celebration.
- I have all sizes of paper doilies that I buy at the dollar store to use as coasters or to line bread baskets and serving trays.
- Buy “tinkle ice”. That is what a friend calls ice you buy in small cubes at the supermarket. I didn’t have any to use when I was taking this photo, but it is much better to use in drinks as it makes a pretty “tinkle” sound when you swirl your drink instead of ice that most refrigerators make that make a clicking sound when you swirl. These little details can make something as simple as a glass of OJ feel special.
Create magic not only for yourself, but ask your child to join you outside for lunch and call it a picnic. Simple finger food set up in an easy but out of the ordinary way will have your child asking to have a picnic everyday.
- Grab a large outdoor serving tray with handles to use as your tabletop and to place everything on so you can carry it outside easily.
- No utensils needed. Make your normal sandwiches, but instead of cutting them in half, cut them into squares or triangles. Pile on a pretty paper plate. Do the same for summer fresh watermelon or in-season fruit.
- Add a slice of lemon or fruit to your drinks. A colorful straw makes ordinary water look and feel extra special.
- Grab a glass jar from your recycling bin, wash it out. Ask your child to gather flowers from your yard to create a pretty arrangement to add style to your picnic.
- Move your umbrella and chairs to a grassy area. If you don’t have movable chairs, spread out an old quilt or bedspread to create your picnic area.
Unwind and dine outside for dinner. Since it is dinner, you can ask your spouse or family member to join in.
A simple white tablecloth and napkins will make you feel like you are enjoying reserved outside seating at a chic French bistro.
I found white Vintage Bulb String Lights for the deck in my previous house.
- I used white cup hooks to hang the lights.
You can find the tutorial for this outdoor chandelier I made a few years ago. It has been well used. I use battery operated candles that don’t go out when a breeze blows by.
Keep the Meal Simple
- Zucchini from the garden spiralized and served with tomato sauce and meatballs. A salad and glass of wine in acrylic glasses I grabbed from my pantry make for one easy, breezy elegant meal to wind down with your significant other.
- Keep a few pieces of your “good stuff” in your “alfresco basket”. It will be effortless to heighten the elegant factor to your outdoor tablescape.
- For flowers, fill a large vase with one type of flower from your yard. For this meal, I snipped a few branches from one of the Butterfly bushes we have in the yard.
This is my fave time on the deck, watching the sun go down.
It feels magical and worth the few extra minutes it took to set up.
If eating alfresco solo sounds good to you, don’t put it off to start someday…
…begin the ritual of movable feasts this week to add a little joie de vivre to brighten your day. No reservations needed. The only thing that could stop you of course… is mother nature.
Alfresco Dining Trays & Utensils
I am always on the lookout for affordable flatware to use when the seasons change. I have wanted a bamboo set, but they can be expensive.
Bamboo Utensil Set
I was happy to recently find a bamboo set that looks like this set from Pottery Barn.
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