There’s still some summer evenings left, and I’m not ready to be defeated and put away my flip flops just yet. I’ve gone to chase the sun in the Alps where the days are scorching and the nights drop below 0ºC. It’s beautiful, and because we’re traveling in a van, al-fresco dining is becoming the norm. As soon as the sun goes down though, you can feel the temperature drop so we’re currently mastering the art of cosy al-fresco dining so we can still enjoy the views of the mountains on the lake before retreating to our comfy van.
You don’t have to be abroad to enjoy a bit of al-fresco dining though. There is still some summer left to squeeze out of the British weather, and although it might be a little chilly, it’s still there for the taking (Com’on, we can see snow from where we’re sitting, and even we’re out on our bums!). Here are some tips to enjoy the last of the lighter evenings before it’s officially one of my FAVOURITE times of the year, pumpkin season. 🎃
What better way to brighten up your BBQ than with a bunch of fresh seasonal blooms? Some of my favourites – including peonies and freesias – are in season at the moment, and I can’t host an outdoor soiree without them!
I like to cut mine to various different lengths and place them in mismatched vintage bottles or vases for a haphazard effect that keeps things feeling really relaxed and casual. Trusty Ikea has some great vintage-style glasses and bowls, perfect for all those fresh peonies.
Cosy Blankets and Throws
We all know how unpredictable the British weather can be, so it makes sense to always have a collection of cosy blankets and throws at hand for when night falls or if those cold breezes suddenly come to call. I love soft woollen styles in summery sorbet colours for my al-fresco evenings, but I also think it looks beautifully chaotic to have a basket of mismatched blankets to give to guests whenever it gets chilly – the less organised the better!
Nothing adds warmth and homeliness like a string (or five) of fairy lights. Whether you hang them over your balcony rail or place them in large glass jars as a quirky centrepiece, these simple coloured lights really do add instant charm to al-fresco gatherings.
With a few guests vying for room on one outdoor table set, it makes sense to introduce tableware that can’t be smashed should a plate or two happen to fall on the floor (especially after a few jugs of sangria!) My favourite is Falcon enamelware – it has a contemporary feel but appeals to my vintage-loving side with its classic white and blue-rimmed design. Often used for camping, it won’t smash if it’s dropped or tipped and only seems to get better with age.
A Fire Pit
Due to the aforementioned chilly summer nights here in the UK, it makes sense to invest in a fire pit or chimnea to light as the sun goes down. Not only can they be used to toast marshmallows on for a cosy camp-side feel, but there’s something undeniably hypnotic about just sitting and watching the flames sizzle and pop on a warm summer’s evening.
A Super-sized Ice Box
If your summer soirees are anything like mine, then the drinks will be flowing! Investing in a supersized ice box to keep those beers and wines cool is a savvy idea – not only will it keep your guests happy but it makes a great investment for summers to come. I like this stylish design from Argos.
These cool creations store the sun’s energy during the day, then light up at night to create an atmospheric glow that’s perfect for any summer soiree. I like cute coloured versions as they add a rainbow effect to outdoor entertaining. And don’t worry if you don’t have a big garden – these can be sunk into plant pots dotted around your outdoor space to bring a gorgeous glow to your evening.