Make the most of the winter weather and do all your entertaining outdoors. Channel your inner Martha Stewart and transform your outdoor living space – for a special event, a relaxed sunny afternoon or a balmy evening get-together – into an inspired entertaining success with these stylish decorating ideas
To avoid competing with the natural beauty of the outdoors, try incorporating organic elements such as stained wood, cotton, and linen into your table settings. Balance these heavy or neutral-coloured pieces with greens from the yard, use oversized glass bowls and lanterns to elevate the space, and keep the look feeling fresh and inviting with floral sprigs. For evenings, lighting is key. Try white fairy lights to cast a subtle twinkle, while battery-operated flameless candles give a similar glow to traditional candles, with no fear of wind, fire or spilled wax.
Looking for sustainable options? Today's faux foliage alternatives can look authentic and are long-lasting; mix with pretty pots of fresh herbs that you can use to cook with later
Bright and cheery
Create a playful ambience with a lively scheme - and don't worry if the colours and patterns clash! Bright tableware, napkins and runners look great, as does bunting and balloons. Bring bright cushions and throws outside to give seats and benches a pop of colour if necessary. A variety of patterns - chevrons, stripes, florals - will add to the festive atmosphere. From picnic to patio to full garden party mode, don't be shy with colour; it always lifts people's spirit
Set up colour-themed side tables with drinks or desserts to draw guests into corners and encourage mingling. If you're expecting little ones, a great way to keep them occupied is a kids' corner with games, or an arts and crafts table should also do the trick
Whether you are inviting guests poolside or beachside, the water is a top attraction so don't over accessorise, but do be prepared. To ensure guests have some shade, a gazebo or canopy are stylish options that you can customise to your party theme, garden or the blue of the water. Place rugs on sand, grass or a deck for extra comfort. Throws on seats will add texture and act as cosy covers if the wind picks up on the shoreline in the evening.
If your party is likely to continue once dusk falls, be prepared with lanterns, pillar candles and tea lights: these look lovely and not too fussy, even unlit during the day, and add delightful reflections from the pool or when placed besides water features after dark