al fresco dining

There is no denying that the Houston summer is brutal. But when the night rolls in, sometimes we’re lucky enough for the heat to break and give way to a truly amazing outdoor dining experience.
Gardens are made to be enjoyed, and your outdoor spaces are as much a reflection of you are your interior spaces or your attire and personal presentation. So, when you have an opportunity to dine al fresco or host an al fresco dining opportunity, seize it with these tips!

Set the stage: in every garden or yard there is framework. Either a patch of shade, a flowering hedge, or if you’re very lucky, there is an existing structure to set your table off. Not only does it create a focus, but it also creates a flow for the event.

The Power of a Place Setting: charger, charger, charger. Nothing makes an impact like the elegance of a charger. Woven, wooden, ceramic … it all works.

Napkins, and Menus and Greens … Oh My!: Take elements from your garden or yard to set off your napkins. Tie with a sprig of herbs if you have an herb garden blooming. Rose bush nearby? Snip a few blooms and gently lay them across the plate. Unify your yard and table with natural elements. And don’t feel like a printed menu is overkill. It’s thoughtful and ties the entire setting together

Flowers and Candles and Their Dual Purpose: Yes, mosquitos and gnats are just part of summer in the South. But setting off your statement floral centerpiece with candles offers a little buffer for those pesky bugs. Not to mention they set the tone for an intimate dining experience

Family Style Dining: Keeping a stunning, but single centerpiece framed by pretty, contained candles as a focus allows for passed trays of food from appetizers to salads to pizzas. Passing the plates makes a more interactive dinner and for a dinner party of 6 to 16 this makes a fun impact and memorable evening

Al fresco dining is a way to celebrate the warmer season and is one of our favorite parts of southern entertaining!
*thanks to Swift & Co. for the dining pieces and Kelli Durham for the photos!
Source: Shopify Blog import

the art of the centerpiece

The art of an elegant table is just that: an art. It’s not fussy or overworked or mundane, at that. it bears some nod to the creative vision of the hostess, and it should represent both the event, what’s being served and the season. 
While a focal centerpiece will never go out of style, the table runner has become a trend in recent years when it comes to weddings. There is no reason why it cannot become a trend on your dining table too.

To start, roll coated chicken wire out along your table to get the appropriate length. Cut the wire at the end of the table. Remember, your cascade comes from the greens, not the framework. Once the wire is cut, you’ll roll it and wrap the edges around themselves to create a tube down your table. 
To create a base of greens use long stems of greenery tucked into the chicken wire. I do recommend having floral wire handy to secure some wayward pieces, but in general the greens should hook into the chicken wire easily. You want the lush, wilder look, so embrace the way the greens sway. 

Once your base of greens is set, the fun part of creating a spring runner is adding the flowers. We chose to go with a romantic pastel palette, but this can transcend seasons all based on the shades of and kind of blooms you choose. Here we’ve chosen:

garden roses
sweet peas

Any flower with a long, malleable stem is ideal. 
To construct, start at one end and work your way down, getting heavier in the quantity of flowers as you get towards one end. We want the flowers to build on themselves and crescendo down the side of your table that your guests will see as they enter. 

As they cascade, that’s when using small pieces of floral wire will come in handy. Securing the stems to the greenery base will allow for them to spill romantically down the side of the table. Finish off your runner by adding more textured feathery greens like ferns. 

The charger creates a base for your table, and anchors the china to the overall design of the centerpiece. I chose a lighter, glass charger here to allow the runner to flourish on its’ own without the distraction of a gold or ceramic charger.

The napkin fold and inclusion of a printed menu may seem silly to some, but it’s a detail that makes a huge impact. It’s so simple, yet so stunning at the same time. 

Final touches. Straighten the details. And you’ve secured your dining experience as one radiating that ever-elusive southern charisma only captured by a truly exceptional presentation!
*thanks to Swift & Co. for the dining pieces and Kelli Durham for the photos!
Source: Shopify Blog import