Sunday, June 21, 2015

Alfresco Summer {for YOU Magazine} - Inspiration for Throwing an Outdoor Dinner Party

I recently had the pleasure of working on a fun party piece for YOU Magazine's Food issue which is out on the town now. With the giddy approach of summer (shot 5 weeks ago but honestly, we're still kinda waiting for that HEAT) I was completely exhilarated at the prospect of an outdoor dinner party with all the whimsy and ambience these secret garden-esque affairs can bring. Alfresco dining is one of my favorite summer activities and it's always, always Instagram worthy isn't it? Whether you're BBQ-ing with the fam or sitting on a romantic deck overlooking the water downtown, or there's that idyllic courtyard where you're sometimes lucky to snatch a seat at that yummy Italian restaurant. Whatever the case, it's all pretty amazing and I set to work visualizing and planning my perfect backyard dinner. 

The plan!

1. Budget friendly - entertaining and feeding a small crowd can cost a fortune, so I was all for finding a less expensive approach.

2. Tons of atmosphere - seek out decor that adds loads of charm to a patio.

3. Easy, easy, easy - Inside scoop: it was after all the same weekend as my dance recital and also the evening I returned home from an overnight stay in the hospital with my little E. But there's always something to keep big families bustling about so why not make it simple.

4. Incorporate something really spectacular - create a stand out moment (or 2!) that your guests will talk about all summer.
My tips for keeping the decor beautiful but budget friendly:

+  A huge bouquet of flowers cut into smaller arrangements and held together in a casual summer classic, that perfect little mason jar. Costco sells enormous bouquets for $15 that last a nice long time too. Flowers are the perfect place to start when creating a colorful tablescape (the second ingredient can be found under atmosphere).

+ Thrifted glassware (or any tableware) in a pop of color that may just happen to match your flowers, if you're really lucky. No really, just keep a color scheme in mind and see what you can find. Thrift stores have some of the prettiest colored glasses often for around 50 - 75 cents each.

My tips for adding atmosphere to your patio:

+ Always the answer and it's so simple. Lighting, lighting, lighting. Terrace twinkle lights from Target add enormous atmosphere to a space.

+ Candles too and I love them all! I found milk glass candlesticks and tapered candles at the thrift store and little tea lights from the Target dollar spot. Play with height when you're creating your table lighting, as we did here with a mix of tall candlesticks and short tea lights. It makes for an eye catching centerpiece.

My tips for making it easy to pull off

+ I had the help of my favorite grocery store, Festival Foods, to pull this one off. Instead of making a big meal, I went for simple and quick. I'm loving antipasto boards served alongside bowls of assorted olives. They're chic and yummy at the same time! I also added a selection of breads with dips and fresh shrimp and lemon over ice. It was light and delicious.

Making it spectacular!

+ I wanted to add something really awesome to the menu, so we went with 2 stand out moments. First, a signature drink which was created by Best Food Green Bay, a fabulous local Instagram account (@bestfoodgreenbay) that shares all the best dishes from restaurants around the area. It was so yum! And a naked cake created by my dear friend Heather with Hey Sugar! Incredible!

I included the recipe for this champagne cocktail in the article so click below to read the full article and grab that recipe for your next backyard party. Good luck!  ->

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Thanks for reading!
xx Kirsty

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