Style Guide: The Finer Points of Entertaining Outdoors

Assistant Home Editor Todd Childs divulges the details that make an outdoor event great.


[MUSIC] Hi. I'm Todd Chiles. Assistant homes editor at Southern Living. When you're decorating for an outdoor party the possibilities are limitless. If there's ever a place where over-the-top is just right, it's outside. [MUSIC] Because of the volume of space, outdoor areas can easily pull off big looks. [MUSIC] Place extra-tall candelabras on a long table with serving stands at different heights. The elevated trays not only make an interesting look but give you more serving area. [MUSIC] Think about the place settings, too. There's a happy medium between paper plates and your grandmother's fine china. Inexpensive white plates are always elegant when paired with stainless flatware and wine glasses. But take it a step further and print menus with your computer. These few touches can make an outdoor meal a very special occasion. For those spur-of-the-moment casual events, be prepared. [MUSIC] Stock a hutch near the back door as a party pantry. Fill it with napkins, utensils and plastic plates and cups. Don't forget a few inexpensive serving trays to help get everything outside. You're more likely to do something if you've got everything you need in one place. Tables are always great. But for those stand and snack times a bar is a perfect addition. A few metal sills with all weather pillars are ideal for overflow seating. The bar provides a fantastic surface for serving or just resting a drink. [MUSIC] Mother nature has taken care of most of the decorating, so don't feel you have to go all out with the accessories. Flowering potted plants, or just green plants are enough to add a little something. Tuck in some colorful candlesticks for some added color and you are ready to serve. [MUSIC] A great alternative to a centerpiece of flowers is a planter filled with fresh summer produce. Add in a candle or two and it is a wonderfully unexpected touch that really says summer. [MUSIC] Or play with peppers to create fun candle votives [MUSIC] Play up the informality of the season with a fun arrangment of flowers in an unexpected vessel. Super coffee cans work great, and are certainly an ecconomical choice for adding some color and life. For more tips for outstanding outdoor entertaining, pick up a copy of Southern Living Magazine and visit
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