If you have started planning your alfresco dinner party, going to the effort of preparing invitations and outdoor decorating, you may be left feeling the pressure on yourself about cooking the meal. A good tip to put any stress at bay is to remember the real reason for the night; a chance to enjoy the company of family or friends, so instead laugh off any food dramas you encounter.
We recommend picking tried and tested, easy to prepare meals, because the last thing you want is to be stuck in the kitchen while your guests are outside having fun. Ideally you should be picking meals that can be prepared as much as possible in advance, so you are only left serving up once your guests have arrived.
This will also be important to keep in mind when deciding on the style of your meal and menu ideas. Another option is to make the most of your outdoor party by incorporating meals cooked on the barbecue, therefore limiting the time you need to be inside for.
Other things to consider are whether to stick to one cuisine, what drinks to have with the meal and how to serve the meal. A cocktail party menu will obviously work best as self-serve, but a traditional three-course meal may be easier served out to guests and plus, it will give you the opportunity to use your outdoor setting one last time before the cooler months.
Refreshments are just as important as the meal, so make sure you are organised in this department too. Preparing one cocktail for the night is sufficient however; you should also have extra beer, wine and cold water on supply.
Stuck on menu ideas? You can host a great dinner party with just appetisers; there are so many creative and gourmet appetiser recipes out there. A tapas style dinner is a great way to give guests the chance to mingle and converse, but then a traditional three-course meal is always a popular choice and a seated meal will still provide plenty of opportunity for chatter.
Cuisines like Mexican, Asian and Mediterranean are great starting points; they can work as cocktail style or a three-course meal, and you won’t have any problems finding recipes to suit.
If you are still unsure of a menu plan, we have found a few ideas to get you thinking:
Mexican Grill Party: Highlights include Mixed grill with coriander pesto, Mexican flavoured prawns and Pomegranate Margaritas.
Barbeque Dinner Party: Highlights include Build your own gourmet burgers, BBQ beer can chicken and Strawberry Watermelon Lemonade.
Cocktail Party: Highlights include Prawn, fig & prosciutto with lime aioli, Caramelised onion and goat’s cheese mini pizzas and Summer Iced Tea.
Dinner Party in an Hour: Highlights include Smoked chicken, watercress & sugar snap pea salad, Herb-crusted fish with roasted asparagus and Vodka with pomegranate & soda.
With the menu sorted you can move onto the finer details of the night. Whether it’s a formal or casual party you should still use nice dinnerware. Plastic is of course convenient, but if you want to add some special touches you should bring your good-quality cutlery, plates and glassware outside for the night.
Lastly, place serviettes and toothpicks on the table for guests to access easily throughout the night. And viola you are now ready to enjoy the night with your family or friends, on your beautiful outdoor entertaining area.
Check out our Pinterest board for more inspiration.