Now that the warm weather is finally here, it’s time to think about entertaining out-of-doors. On a glorious spring or summer evening, and sometimes, even a nice fall evening, we love having dinner outside on the lawn. We’re lucky that we have a great stretch of lawn, beneath some massive old trees, where we can sit down for lunch or dinner.
Our biggest piece of advice for entertaining outside is to keep it simple! That way, if something happens, like a sudden storm, or unexpected guests, it’s not too hard to make some changes. We have some wonderful round tables, and wicker chairs that live outside the entire summer. It’s fairly simple to throw a pretty cloth over it, add some cushions to the chairs and set the table for company.
For a long time, it was hard to find round tablecloths, other than gingham checks, but now round tablecloths can be found everywhere. Check the local Williams-Sonoma store, or look at the Ballard Designs website. Our personal choice is full-length cloths, but you might like shorter ones. If you don’t see a cloth you like in a pattern you like, a company like the local Gala Cloths might make one for you. Or else check out their yearly sales to pick up a few!
Honestly, the difference between a long cloth and a short one is astonishing. Google it and see!
Another important piece of entertaining outside, regardless of whether it’s at a set table, or just on a lounger by the pool, is safety. Nothing ruins a nice dinner party like having to take someone to the ER because they’ve dropped a plate or glass and cut themselves. You can find so many good-looking pieces in melamine, tin, and high-end plastics that it’s often hard to tell the difference between real and un-real.
At Halcyon House Antiques, we have some melamine plates (above) that you would SWEAR are Portuguese pottery, until you pick them up and realize how light-weight they are. They’re direct copies of the original pieces, but are safe for outdoor entertaining.
We sometimes take a page from Annette de la Renta’s playbook and use these spectacular tin plates, which are copies of pieces from Chatsworth House, the Hermitage and other fine houses in Europe.
It’s pretty funny to see someone looking at these plates and trying to decide whether they are real or not! You can find them at many museum shops, providing a dual benefit!
Glassware is where things used to be tricky. It was either cheesy plastic cups or those old aluminum ones, so people risked taking glass outside. Not any more! Stunning glassware can be found these days that even looks like glass. It is so pretty and comes in amazing colors, so you can set a beautiful table.
How great would it be to serve a gin and tonic look in these blue glasses, or a beautiful white sangria in this classically drawn pitcher?
One final item is cutlery. Please don’t use your good silver outside. It’s so easy to lose a piece here or there and you’d hate that! We use some fun resin-handled cutlery and we can mix and match it according to how casual lunch or dinner is.
Between the gingham, the tortoise-shell and the bamboo, we have a hard time choosing which to use!
However you choose to entertain outside, be sure to have fun!
The View From Halcyon Farm is sponsored by Halcyon House Antiques located at 11219 Greenspring Avenue in Lutherville, and open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information visit the Halcyon House website or call 410-828-8889.
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