May 03, 2017

My Five Tips For Alfresco Summer Dining

simple food for alfresco lunch in summer

Five Tips for alfresco summer dining

It’s almost that time of the year again – the one where we thankfully get to spend as many hours as possible outside.

Morning coffee on the deck, outdoor weekend breakfasts, lazy summer lunches and BBQs aplenty – bring it all on. Summer is so close you can almost smell the suncream, strawberries and freshly cut grass!

We seem to have fallen into a
divide of responsibilities in our house…

We seem to have fallen into a divide of responsibilities in our house. Mr OS spends many hours in the garden tidying, planting and generally making it look good. And the rest of us ensure we put in the time enjoying the end results! The dog included.

…outdoor eating
is a big thing!

With food being one of the main topics of conversation in our daily lives, outdoor eating during the warmer months is a BIG thing. So I’m thrilled to team up with Marks & Spencer for this post and share my five tips for alfresco summer dining with you.

Come on British weather…we’re right here, ready and waiting and there’s not a soggy egg sandwich in sight…


Dining alfresco with Marks & Spencer

dining in the garden Marks & spencer alfresco

Take Your indoor comforts outside

Transforming your garden into another “room” in the summer gives a welcome feeling of having more living space.

I love nothing more than throwing open the back door on a warm day and padding out onto the deck to join Biscuit who seems to have claimed a permanent sunbathing spot out there.

Simple touches such as extra cushions on patio furniture, a blanket on the grass and tea lights on the table help to make it feel more like an extra room to dwell in.

Drape throws over chair backs for cooler evenings and deploy a great big parasol to provide shade on a hot summers day.

And don’t forget the music. Our portable speaker and summer Spotify playlists are in high demand Chez Online Stylist right now!

3 jar tealight holder for alfresco dining

labrador begging for food

Zebra Crewel Work Cushion3 Jar Tea Light Holder | Crackle Effect Melamine Dinner Plate | Crackle Effect Melamine Bowl


Keep the food simple

My motto for pretty much anything domesticity related is the less time you spend preparing, the more time you get to enjoy.

In this case I’m referring to food. Again!

Our outdoor eating tends to take the form of a selection of antipasto served up on a wooden board, cheese (of course), salads, crudités with a dip and a mix of rustic breads.

Other easy lunchtime favourites include a huge Spanish tortilla, something pasta based or great steak sandwich. Hungry yet?

When it comes to eating outside in the evening, it’s pretty much always a BBQ. Mr OS is obsessed with firing up the grill (is there a man that isn’t?) and that’s absolutely fine with me!


Make it a help yourself affair

For alfresco eating, sharing platters are always more fun.

Whether its just you and the family or guests too, bringing everything outside and getting everyone to dig in and help themselves makes for the perfect social set up.

Nothing says summer like a jug
of ice cold, pink lemonade…

As a parent of a girl who at times was a fussy eater in the early days, I found that letting her help herself to food often gave rise to her trying something new.

And nothing says summer like a jug of ice cold, pink lemonade that demands endless refills – heaven!

five tips for alfresco summer dining

jug of pink lemonade served in the garden

Crackle Effect Picnic Jug | Crackle Effect Picnic Hi Ball Glass | Crackle Effect Melamine Side Plate


Invest in great picnicware

If you’re going outside, keep it to picnicware where possible.

I’ve learnt (on numerous occasions) that dogs that jump up and kids that spill will inevitably mean breakages. Go for melamine and avoid the issue in the first place.

These fab Marks & Spencer plates look so much like china that the family keep picking them up, tapping them and saying “Really??”

As much as I love the vintage vibe tableware trend, I personally prefer something plain and unfussy but it doesn’t all have to be matchy matchy either.

I loved the black and white print bowl as it tones with the cushions (Hello animal print!) and the crackle effect jug and tumblers make a nice contrast to the simpler taupe hued tableware. Which by the way, goes in the dishwasher.

There’s that less on the domesticity prep thing again.

marks and spencer chef chop & serve board

Marks & spencer graffiti cereal bowl

serving up a summer mozzerella & tomato salad

Chef Chop & Serve BoardSue Timney Graffiti Cereal Bowl 


Make it an occasion

I know I’ve said it a gazillion times before but its always the little touches that #ElevateTheEveryday. Or in this case, outdoor summer dining.

Add flowers and potted herbs to your table at lunch time. Festoon the garden or your seating area with some outdoor fairy lights in the evening.

With the summer night time temperatures here not quite being the same as they are in warmer holiday climes, a chiminea or fire pit gives a cosy vibe as well as warmth.

And don’t forget to dot some Citronella candles around for added bug prevention.

online stylist enjoying alfresco lunch in the garden


There’s nothing better than sitting outside with a glass of wine, watching the skies slowly darken and feeling like summer has finally arrived.

Right now I’m wondering if I can persuade Mr OS that an outdoor sofa would add so much more to his garden. Do you think he’ll go for it?


Thanks to one of my high street favourites, Marks & Spencer for sponsoring this post!


Photography by: Sarah Lou Francis

5 comments on “My Five Tips For Alfresco Summer Dining”

  1. What a great post ..love love love all of it ..just need to ask about the tea light holder (great for citronella tea lights to ward off e pesky flies and wasps) ..where are they from ?

  2. Great, been so cold today this has made me feel warmer and cant wait for the summer, Please !!!

    Loving our blogs, really inspiring me .

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