Anolon Academy

Elegant Alfresco Entertaining

Try our easy-to-pull off ideas for minimal effort, maximum wow at your next outdoor gathering.

Decorate with flair

For a Midsummer Night’s Dream effect, festoon your deck or garden with coloured lanterns, paper pom-poms and subtle strands of fairy lights. No need to overthink the design – you want a casual, festive look, nothing too formal. Select a simple colour scheme with one neutral and two accent shades to help you focus and avoid feeling overwhelmed at the shops. 

For a sit-down dinner, use table cloth clips and have weighty items scattered around the table (many a beautiful dinner party has been foiled by wind). Chic copper or rose gold candelabras work well. Hand-written place cards can add a sense of occasion and encourage mingling. Those who don’t know many people will be grateful. With everything ready, have guests arrive at twilight to witness the full effect of the twinkling lights and colours.

Stay present

Naturally you want to spend a decent amount of time at your own party. With this in mind, avoid endless trips to the kitchen by installing self-serve options. There are ways you can do this elegantly. Set up a stylish bar area (we love those glass-and-brass mid-century drinks carts) stocked with glasses, carafes of water, wine coolers, stubby holders, garnishes and room temperature drinks.

Store unopened cold drinks in an oversized silver champagne bucket on a stand instead of in an esky. Very chic and saves people bending down. As for drinking ice, wine pearls or whiskey stones keep drinks cool without diluting them, plus the novelty factor makes them (ironically) a good ice-breaker. Again, saves you running to the freezer mid-conversation.

Change location

Inject new life into the party by moving around every so often. You could greet guests with canapés in the kitchen while you’re still cooking, head outdoors to eat and then adjourn to another part of the yard for dessert and coffee. This lets people stretch their legs and chat to different people. It can also signal the end of the night (if that’s what you want).

With desserts, less is more. Many people can’t face a big slab of cheesecake or a full tiramisu after a rich meal. You could set up a small dessert buffet table decorated in your colour scheme with a capsule coffee machine and an array bite-sized treats like petit fours, macarons and biscotti. HOT TIP: Serve desserts at the same temperature (all cold, all hot or all warmed) to avoid a crisis of timing.