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Alfresco Dining

Isn’t this weather amazing? With wall-to-wall sunshine and the light evenings, it’s the perfect time to eat outside, even if you can’t invite friends around. So if you haven’t already, get your outside space up to scratch

Dining set or lounge area? It really depends on the space available and what you want. Do you like to entertain, with a dining table? Lazy, all-afternoon grazing on a lounge set-up? or drinks and nibbles at a bar table and stools? There is so much choice with outside furniture now, you are sure to find something to suit

This dreamy dining set-up has a distinctly Morrocan feel with its concrete table and benches in a peachy shade and ombre linen hangings over a wooden frame, accessories all Matalan

Corner seating is welcoming and relaxed. Make sure to buy all-weather rattan so you can leave it outdoors all year round. Cuban concrete table, from £560, Isla side table, £420 both Rust Collections

Great for a balcony or small terrace, this bar table and stool set is informal and big enough for a gang. Camley bar table set, £800 Garden Trading

Dress the table

There is nothing nicer than dressing the table for a meal outside. If there are kids involved, theme the tableware, with paper plates, cups, fun napkins and drinking straws with dinosaur or unicorn designs or if they are older, tropical or fiesta designs are colourful and bright, Talking Tables have a great range – and no washing up either! Or for a more grown up look, consider dressing the table with a sophisticated white cloth and fabric napkins from Richard Haworth

Create a mood

Your outside space has become as important as indoors, so dress it as you would your living room and include outdoor lighting like these festoon lights from Lights4fun, cushions, throws, and an outdoor rug - even a fire. If you have a pergola, its easy to create a seating or dining ‘zone’ that you can dress, as you can hang lights and plants from above, and include pots, planters and lanterns on the floor

Think about shade

Its been so hot recently, even sun-lovers like me have found it too warm, so if you are spending a lot of time outdoors, especially around a table, think about creating some shade. There are some great parasols around, ones with a swing arm that you can move to where its needed as the sun moves from east to west. Some even come with lights included. This one is £79.99 from Von Haus

Keep the bugs at bay

There’s nothing worse than flies and wasps buzzing around when you are eating. Mesh food covers are a good idea, especially if you are grazing over an afternoon and into the evening, and try lighting a citronella candle like this one from £1.75 Price's or Citronella incense sticks to ward off mosquitos. A centrepiece of herbs is a lovely idea and does double duty as an insect deterrent and a fresh, fragrant arrangement - choose rosemary, mint, lemongrass, lavender or basil.


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