In my last post, I went over how to build the foundation of an outdoor party with furniture, furnishings and worry-free lighting. These 3 basic elements instantly establish the mood and atmosphere of an evening event. In this part of the series, I’ll go over the necessary tools any backyard event needs while suggesting some unique alternatives to the expected.
Part II: Serve it Up in Style
Continuing with the “building a house” analogy, the next step in the process is making the house (or party) functional. The tools of the party, which include serving-ware and functional accessories, are like the electric wiring and plumbing of a house. A house may be pretty without them, but no one will stick around very long if the electricity and water can’t be accessed. It’s the same with a party. If food and drinks aren’t easily accessible, it’s obvious the party is coming to an end before it even gets going. Here are some “out of the box” options to consider in the areas of setting the table, serving the food, and pouring the drinks.
Unless you’re just doing hors d’oeuvres, dinner plates and silverware are usually in order. Otherwise, dessert plates and toothpicks are fine (I make it a rule to never serve finger foods without toothpicks). And in an effort to be less wasteful, my husband and I have decided to nix the paper and plastic and invest in reusable dishware instead. Not only does it help the environment, but it also establishes a sense of elegance and hospitality. Who cares if we have to spend an extra 10 minutes scraping plates at the end of the day? Our guests feel special, and we feel better not cramming landfills with more waste.
My favorite dishware this summer is the Alessi Dressed collection by Marcel Wanders. Unique yet elegant, each piece hides its true decorative personality until picked up and used. The simple white collection keeps things casual while maintaining a sense of modern class. And if a piece is ever chipped during the evening (which rarely happens), it’s easy to order a single replacement rather than purchasing an entire set I don’t need.
Serving the Food
It’s always a good idea to minimize clutter. For a small gathering, the Hot-Pot BBQ by Black + Blum combines foliage and function in one solution. When not in use, the barbecue serves as a planter for herbs or flowers. Lift off the top lid to reveal the barbecue grill underneath and spark the conversation the moment the briquettes are lit. For late night events that require a larger grill, I’ve found the MR 11 Barbecue Light by Kichler Lighting to be a handy tool. The bulb provides plenty of focused illumination and good color rendering in a sleek design. No garish floodlights are needed, so the ambiance remains romantic and relaxed.
Pouring the Drinks
Sure, you could just stick to the bartender’s friend, but for something with a little more design umph that is sure to impress, the following wine and bottle accessories are guaranteed to elicit a “wow, that’s cool!” response.
For formal events, I like the Alessi POP-UP Bottle Opener. More than a functional piece, it also serves as a table decoration thanks to its mirror polished stainless steel design. Its ability to open bottles is a mystery and makes a great party trick, the working mechanism hidden away inside the dome. For more relaxed barbecue hangouts, the Bottle Opener by Ravenhill for Areaware is my go-to. It’s casual, smooth, fun, and magnetically sticks to my fridge until needed. Friends have a great time using it, and they’re always impressed with its simple, down to earth design.
Stay Tuned For:
Part III: Making a Memorable Menu — Unique ideas from casual to classy, featuring the Lumens Signature Cocktail!