One of the simplest and loveliest ways of making the most of the summer is by gathering your family and friends to try out a bit of al fresco dining.
Since we’ll also be celebrating the Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee this June, we think there’s no better time to get prepared for your royal-themed afternoon teas and garden parties.
Whether you’ve got a large garden, a patio, or even just balcony space in a busting city, follow these 5 simple steps to create the perfect al fresco set-up for your home.
Step 1: Pick the right furniture
Even if you don’t have a large back garden or outdoor space available, that’s no reason to skip out on giving al fresco dining a go.
A small circular table and chairs can create a cosy escape on city centre balconies. A large outdoor seating area with low tables, on the other hand, can create an open dining space in your garden this is perfect for laying back and relaxing in. Choosing the right furniture is all about maximising the potential of the space you have.
When doing this, a general rule to stick by is to choose furniture that is small enough for you and your guests to move around freely without bumping into one another. If you don’t have much space to store your furniture outside. It can make for a more personal and quirkier dining experience that is more convenient for you too!
If you have some old wooden chairs or a bench taking room in your garden, bringing them back to life with a fresh coat of paint is a great way to repurpose old furniture into your new dining space. We highly recommend trying out that gorgeous shade of royal purple to match the Platinum Jubilee Emblem.
Since this is the UK, you should also remember to keep in mind those unexpected showers or windy days that can spell the end of garden gatherings. Taking shelter beneath a parasol or growing a natural roof over time with pergola are both effective and visually pleasing ways to keep the rain off.
Step 2: Dress your table
Now that you’ve got your furniture sorted, it’s time to dress the table so it’s fit for a queen, or at least a Jubilee party.
Al fresco dining is much more informal than dining inside, so it’s not a requirement to have perfectly matching sets of crockery or glassware. In fact, it can be a great opportunity to bring your personality or a little bit quirkiness into the dining experience.
Do you want your Jubilee celebration to feel modern and fresh? Or do you want to go out with bunting and fine china? Going to charity shop, car boot sales, or antique stores is an excellent way to discover vintage crockery and glassware that fits perfectly into the royal theme.
Once you’ve found everything you need, a tablecloth or runner can bring the whole thing together. Plain white will add simplicity and elegance to your dining space (and will go perfectly with purple chairs!) Or a classic gingham pattern will really add to the vintage atmosphere Finish everything off with some flowers, teapots, or even glorious cake stand to act as a centrepiece.
Although you might not be thinking about what goes underneath the table at this point, an outdoor rug shouldn’t be overlooked. They can help define the dining area, especially in larger gardens, and give your al fresco space a more comforting atmosphere.
Step 3: Get comfy
Speaking of comforting atmospheres, bringing in soft furnishing such as cushions and blankets to your outdoor dining can make it much more inviting and is the perfect way to add pops of colour to your party. Even napkins and the outdoor rugs mentioned above are opportunities to make your table and chair feel more welcoming.
For a Jubilee party, you might choose to go bold with red, white and blue cushions. Or if you want a more quintessentially British tea party, you could instead opt for softer floral patterns.
Cushion and blankets or throws are also great to have on hand when the weather gets cooler. No one wants to interrupt the celebrations to move everything and everyone indoors. If you want to dial up that royal factor, you can always nestle under one of our stylish birdcage umbrella (as modelled by Her Majesty herself) should the wind pick up or the heaven decide to open. They’re available in all sorts of colour and patterns to go with rest of your décor!
Step 4: Turn up the atmosphere
Now that your dining area is set up, it’s time to add the finishing accessories to really bring the atmosphere to life.
Plant pots or planting troughs are a great way to add definition accessories to really bring the atmosphere to life.
Plant pots or planting troughs are great way to add definition or separate your dining space from the rest of your garden. The greenery combined with the scents of flowers and herbs can really add the feeling of a regal private garden or country getaway.
If the day is overcast or your festivities extend after the sun has gone down, the right lighting is also essential. A chimenea or firepit can act as a central focal point for your gathering, add some much-needed warmth, and provide a great place for guests to socialise.
If you don’t want to hassle of open flames, or if there will be excitable children at your party, you can still bring in light and warmth with fairy lights and hurricane lanterns. They’re an easy and inexpensive way to make your alfresco space a little more magical and intimate in the evening.
Once everything is in place, don’t forget to round off the atmosphere with an outdoor speaker and some good music. At Fulton, we’re particularly fond of classic British hits- just make sure whatever you choose to play is quiet enough that your guests, friends, and family can comfortable hear and speak over it.
5. Enjoy your Jubilee Party!
With your alfresco dining area ready for the party, all you need to do now is add the food, the drink, and the guests.
Popular British treats such as sparkling wine, pork pies, cucumber sandwiches, and Vitoria sponge cake are absolute musts for any Jubilee celebration! A buffet-style menu is particularly ideal for alfresco dining since you won’t have to wander back and forth to the kitchen.
Gather your family and friends, keep your umbrellas on hand just in case, and have a spectacular weekend celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.