WHEN THE SUN is shining there can be nothing better than enjoying a festive lunch or afternoon soiree outdoors. Taking the celebrations outside doesn’t have to mean a barbie on the beach or a picnic in the park. We’ve found three creative ways to transform your backyard or balcony into the perfect alfresco entertaining area – from a relaxed Moroccaninspired lounge, to a cool and contemporary cocktail party. But before you grab the cocktails and canapes, it’s time to get creative!
exotic GARDEN PICNIC
Create a luxurious garden lounge by moving your indoor furnishings outside! Our elegant oversized sofa, Persian-style rug, and assortment of ottomans give this outdoor space a laidback Boho vibe with a Moroccan twist. A scattering of comfy floor cushions come in handy as extra seating and work well with the theme. We added a little festive flair with large red letters spelling out the word “NOEL”.
For a twist on tradition the Christmas pine tree was swapped for a palm and its branches decorated with lengths of ribbon (see “Make”, left). The decorative ribbon drapes not only create a striking shady spot to sit under, but it gives the outdoor room a lovely whimsical feel as the evening sun glimmers through the streamers.
A wicker basket comes in handy as a spot to store gifts, while accessories like the ornamental birdcage give our garden lounge a real “room” feel. Of course, no gathering would be complete without food – or friends. So grab a platter of tasty nibbles, a bottle (or three!) of wine and enjoy a leisurely garden picnic with friends and family. Cheers!
Courtyard COCKTAIL PARTY
We’ve created a chic and stylish outdoor setting that’s perfect for a Chrissy cocktail party. The simple black and white palette gives a sophisticated, glam feel, with the canapes and cocktails providing the only hit of bright colour. A streamlined modern white table and couch are dressed with a handmade fabric tablerunner (see “Make”, above) – the striped pattern adds a subtle nautical vibe but the mono palette stays true to the black-tie theme. A crisp white rug (for clean party shoes only!) softens the decking and demarcates the party zone. To enhance the feeling of intimacy we created a partition for our party by hanging drapes from the pergola. The informal feel of the linen echoes the underlying nautical feel to create a cool, coastal-chic vibe. And remember, even outdoors, stylish accessories are essential. Our wire lamp creates a striking centrepiece, with its black silhouette adding an elegant impact against the white backdrop. A cluster of candles is an easy way to create ambience – once the sun has set the soft glow will create a sense of intimacy. Pretty white paper bells are the finishing decorative touch to this fashionably festive scene. Now all you need to do is slip into a cocktail dress and enjoy a cool Campari.
There is nothing quite like sitting outside on the deck to create a relaxed atmosphere for any meal-time occasion. A garden creates a natural and casual backdrop, but to make it a little more special we took a few simple steps to make it even more fun.
Instead of using a regular tablecloth we made our own (see “Make”, left). Using an inexpensive fabric from Ikea we cut it to fit the size of the table with a little overhang. Then scallop edges were cut from the edging to give it a cute and crafty look. It couldn’t have been easier!
Also, to add to the homemade appeal we made pretty garlands from fabric offcuts (see “Make”, above). Again, it was another easy project. Pieces of fabric in various colours were cut into small circular discs and strung together.
With a hot-glue gun we then attached these discs to a piece of twining (Thetwinery.com has a great selection of colours; we used Peapod in Green & White). If you want to make a more permanent decoration you can stitch the discs to the string.
To keep our table setting casual we used a selection of different coloured plates from Bison Australia and non-matchy serving bowls and vessels. The same approach was taken with the chairs and recliners- we used various colours and materials from indoors and out. Instead of using napkins we opted for handwoven cotton tea towels, which are soft to touch and easy to clean.
For a special (and soft) underfoot touch we placed a series of mismatched cotton flatwoven rugs on the deck. To have everyone feeling relaxed it’s a fun idea to ask them to take off their shoes before stepping onto the decorated deck.
Other decorative touches included hanging lanterns and a fish trap basket used as a light shade. Lanterns on the step are pretty and practical, especially if you’re hosting a lunch that’s likely to run into dusk. Bunches of hydrangeas were used as a display on the table, sofa, and on the deck, too, completing the look. Have a great Christmas!