Whether you have a city balcony, deck or backyard, dining outdoors is one of the best ways to enjoy summer. Dinner with your immediate household members is one thing, but if you’re planning on having a get-together with a few friends in your trusted social bubble, a little extra planning — and creativity — is in order.
Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines and keep it small, with tables and chairs at least 6 feet apart. Require everyone to wear a mask and have hand sanitizer at the ready. Serving all of the food yourself is also a good idea so that multiple people aren’t handling the serving utensils, or go with single-use, biodegradable tableware that doesn’t have to be taken back inside your home.
“I think that casual is key; keep it simple,” Chicago entertaining expert and author Marc Sievers said about hosting guests in our new normal.
“I love packaging each course in individual takeout containers of different sizes. Then you give each of your guests a gift bag or reusable tote. It’s like their own picnic in a bag; they get napkins, single-use utensils and maybe a split size bottle of wine or bubbles,” he said. “I think that people feel much more secure eating from their own container versus a large bowl of pasta salad that’s being handled by multiple people.”
If your guests are spending two or three hours, they will most likely need to use the bathroom, so do a little advance work and set the rules to make everyone more comfortable. “We have a powder room that’s available to guests,” said Sievers. “There’s a little table there that’s set up with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, and I ask guests to please wipe down the handles of the sink, toilet and the door.”
Luckily, some of the best summer tableware, lighting and outdoor furniture is on sale, making it even easier to create the perfect outdoor space to escape to, whether with your immediate household members or a socially distanced group. Here are a few cheap and chic ways to celebrate the season.
Serve dinner courses in chic, leakproof eco-friendly takeout boxes for a creative dinner party solution. $10.12 for a pack of 10, amazon.com
Go for biodegradable beauty
Marimekko’s summery poppy print paper napkins are 100% biodegradable and made with nontoxic, water-based ink. $6 for a pack of 20, amazon.com
Bring the look of the indoors out
Ikea’s stackable Skarpo outdoor lounge chairs bring a comfy, relaxed vibe to your outdoor space. They also have a drain hole in the seat to let water out. $39.99, ikea.com
Try eco-friendly, single-use bamboo
Bambu’s minimalist bamboo plates look great and make for easy cleanup. $11 for a pack of eight, bambuhome.com
Add big style to a small space
Ikea’s classic Tarno bistro table and two chairs add charm and a pop of color to your outdoor space. $49.99, ikea.com
Embrace summer’s tie-dye craze
Target’s blue and white melamine Shibori bowls blend tradition with trend. $2.99, target.com
Add major midcentury style
Ikea’s acacia wood and synthetic rope Brommo lounge chair not only adds high design to your outdoor space, it’s easy to fold up and put away. $59.99, ikea.com
Light up the garden
Handmade from durable chem lab glass, CB2's Garden Stake tea light candle holders also look great in potted plants. $4.95, cb2.com
Summer’s plastic is fantastic
Designer Aaron Probyn’s chic fluted acrylic pitcher and glasses add a modern, minimalist look to your outdoor table. $5.50-$16.50, westelm.com
Add bold pattern to your summer table
Summer dining is all about small bites and Williams Sonoma’s Mediterranean melamine appetizer plates make dining out all the more enjoyable. $9.95, williams-sonoma.com.
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