How to Create an Inexpensive Table Setting for a Magical Alfresco Meal

There is something magical about dining alfresco. At this time of year the longer days (and hopefully warmer weather) are the perfect excuse to linger over a meal, listen to the rustling of the night, and wait for the stars to appear. Celebratory meals with friends feel more special. And cosy meals for two are even more romantic. At times like this it is worth the effort to lay the table, use the best china, and it doesn’t have to cost a penny to create a table setting that is simply magical.

Top Tips for Creating an Inexpensive Table Setting for a Magical Alfresco Meal

Top Tips for Creating an Inexpensive Table Setting
  • Move the table away from the back door for starters. A different setting to the usual hurried supper will make the meal feel more special. Here, I moved the table and chairs to the back of a friends garden where we were under the trees and had the best view of the countryside and back towards the house. If you have a small garden, maybe move the table to the middle of the lawn and put up a temporary canopy to create a similar sort of intimacy.

Top Tips for Creating an Inexpensive Table Setting for a Magical Alfresco Meal

  • It’s true it takes more effort to get everything to the end of the garden and back again. I utilised trays and baskets to carry plates, napkins, cutlery and the all-important wine.

Top Tips for Creating an Inexpensive Table Setting for a Magical Alfresco Meal

  • I did have a white tablecloth to hand but you could just as easily use a white sheet for the same effect. In fact sheets are normally bigger and often hang to the floor which is very handy for hiding the ugly legs of garden tables.

Top Tips for Creating an Inexpensive Table Setting for a Magical Alfresco Meal

  • Take the dining chairs outside. They look more formal for a special meal and are designed to be the right height for dining. Often garden chairs are a bit on the low side, and that’s just not comfortable when eating.

Top Tips for Creating an Inexpensive Table Setting for a Magical Alfresco Meal

  • Instead of buying expensive flowers for the table, a quick stroll down the road may turn up lots of foliage for free. Here I used ferns, grasses and wild flowers from the hedgerows which I picked up while walking the dog.
  • If you don’t have the right vases, use tall drinking glasses instead.

Top Tips for Creating an Inexpensive Table Setting for a Magical Alfresco Meal

  • In fact have a rummage round the house for anything that can be used on the table. I was lucky to be able to find some pewter items that had been picked up for a song at various French brocantes over the years.

Top Tips for Creating an Inexpensive Table Setting for a Magical Alfresco Meal

(Can you see it’s raining! Even France has rain!!)

  • Mismatched china, cutlery and glasses are charming when amassed together. It’s best however to stick to a loose theme so that the table looks considered and planned. Not thrown together in a mad rush. In particular I’ve used white (tablecloth, china, candles), silver (cutlery, candlesticks, pewter items), rattan for some texture (table mats, chair seats, baskets), glass (decanter, vases, glasses, tealight holders) and a dash of red on some of the glasses.

Top Tips for Creating an Inexpensive Table Setting for a Magical Alfresco Meal

  • Use washed out glass jars as tea-light holders. Here I used the small jars that usually hold supermarket desserts.

Bon Appetit!

 

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16 Comments

  1. Reply

    Rachel @ The Ordinary Lovely

    June 21, 2018

    This is so magical! Like a Midsummer Night’s Dream party. There’s something so lovely about dining outdoors surrounded by nature. It’s the ultimate place to eat (and drink).

    • Reply

      deardesigner

      June 22, 2018

      Aww, thanks Rachel. 🙂

  2. Reply

    Stacey Sheppard

    June 19, 2018

    Oh Carole. This is absolutely beautiful. I like how you’ve used dining chairs instead of garden chairs. It makes it feel much more sophisticated. The table is set beautifully too. So many great tips.

    • Reply

      deardesigner

      June 20, 2018

      Aww, thanks Stacey. I was inspired by the location. x

  3. Reply

    karen jones

    June 18, 2018

    Stunning photography and wonderful tips. Gorgeous post Carol xx

    • Reply

      deardesigner

      June 20, 2018

      Thanks Karen. I enjoyed doing it 🙂

  4. Reply

    Susan Earlam

    June 18, 2018

    Love the ferns here. Can I come over for a gin please?!

    • Reply

      deardesigner

      June 20, 2018

      Haha. Any time xx

  5. Reply

    Rachel @ Fresh Design

    June 18, 2018

    You’ve got that look well and truly nailed, it looks perfect!

    • Reply

      deardesigner

      June 18, 2018

      Thanks Rachel. Glad you like it 🙂

  6. Reply

    Kimberly Duran

    June 18, 2018

    Oh Carole, this is absolutely MAGICAL! I love the styling and love the indulgence of having a stunning dining table and chairs outdoors for the evening. I can imagine that any dinner here would linger well into the night… beautiful! xxx

    • Reply

      deardesigner

      June 18, 2018

      Awww, thanks Hun. We did actually eat at the table that evening. It did go on well into the night. 🙂

  7. Reply

    Karen

    June 18, 2018

    SUCH a good point about garden furniture being too low for eating! Never thought of that before. This is such a beautiful table setting hun. Like a whimsical wedding banquet, I love it! x

    • Reply

      deardesigner

      June 18, 2018

      Thanks Karen. Glad you like it. 🙂

  8. Reply

    Kate Baxter

    June 18, 2018

    Fab tips Carole! I love alfresco dining – can’t wait to be invited round to yours for dinner in the garden.. 😉

    • Reply

      deardesigner

      June 18, 2018

      Haha thanks Hun. We’ll have to set a date xx

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