Spring has sprung, and with the UK seeing much lighter, brighter, and warmer days, you may already be planning some garden meals you can enjoy with your nearest and dearest. Here, Hayley Baddiley from Denby shares her top tips with us for creating a stunning al fresco dining experience this spring.


The warmer months are always a pleasure to welcome, and with plenty of sunshine to come, you’re no doubt already thinking of some ways to spend more time relaxing in your garden. This is especially the case if you’ve put plenty of effort into maintaining or making it more beautiful over the past year.

And what better way to celebrate the sun coming out than hosting a fabulous al fresco dining experience from your own garden? Here, I’ll be sharing my top five tips to help you create memorable dinners, and moments, all season long.

Consider setting a theme

If you’ve had plenty of dining ideas whirring round in your head in the lead up to increased socialising, it might be a good idea to set a theme. This will help to give your al fresco dinner a base to build on. An easy way to do this is to pick a colour theme such as beautiful pastels or bright, warm-toned summer hues, and plan your food and décor around these.

If you’d like to set a more distinct theme, you could think about something summer related, such as a coastal or beach theme. Again, you could use this as a reference for creating a delicious menu — including plenty of in-season flavours — as well as mirroring your theme in your set up. You could use beautiful ceramic dishes in tones that complement these themes, as well as napkins and tableware that match, too.

Focus on lighter dishes for your menu

With so much delicious in-season produce available in the spring, you’ll have no problem putting together a menu that boasts flavour. The warmer weather usually makes people feel a little less hungry and more inclined to choose colder dishes rather than hearty ones, so bear this in mind when planning your menu.

If you get excited about the theme and can’t wait to entertain outdoors but want to take the hassle out of it, why not contact us, Graze Derbyshire to supply you with their mouth-watering pre-prepared charcuterie boards, these come in the form of grazing boxes for outdoor gatherings and picnics or platters if you’re catering for more guests and it’s a special occasion like a birthday, hen night or baby shower.  You could even hire a catering company, like us to come in and put together a beautiful grazing table that is bound to impress your guests. These can be tailored to any dietary requirements, so that’s one less thing for you to worry about organising and we even offer advise on how to lay out your food and dress the grazing tables to tie in any colour scheme or theme you have.

©Graze Derbyshire

Opting for little gourmet bites like cheese and crackers, cold meats, and pastries, as well as some small, sweet treats is the perfect way to satisfy your guests’ appetite, without overdoing it. And as you won’t have to do anything except get the tableware and décor out, you can spend more time enjoying the sunshine with your nearest and dearest.

Create the perfect outdoor dining area

Once you’ve decided what type of food will be being served at your dinner party, you’ll have a good indication of how much space you’ll need for your dining space. You’ll need some comfortable seating and a table big enough to showcase your grazing boards/table.

Cosy cushions for your guests to sink into will add to their comfort. Make sure that you don’t overcrowd the table with seating that will limit their movement and ability to social distance. After all, you’ll want everybody to be able to tuck into the beautiful platters you’re serving.

Prioritise your table presentation

Your food will be the main event, and the way you present it can elevate your al fresco dining experience even more, so take some time to consider how best to arrange everything. You might want to begin by selecting a beautiful tablecloth that has some intricate detailing on for an extra special touch, or placing a runner down a wooden table can give a rustic feel.

To make the most of springtime themes and colours, consider napkins and ceramic tableware in pastel or bright hues, like azure or baby blue to mimic bright, clear skies. You might also want to include some lovely seasonal flowers, in your table décor, again if working with Graze Derbyshire for a grazing table they will come armed with props and flowers to dress your table to your requirements.

The tableware you choose can also make a big difference to the style of your dinner party, giving you the perfect opportunity to buy some new pieces. I’d recommend investing in some durable ceramic plates, bowls, and jugs in timeless patterns or colourways.

Consider additional heating and lighting

While the sun is taking much longer to set on an evening, it may still become dim if you plan to stay out for a while, so you’ll need to consider additional lighting. Candles can add a beautiful atmospheric touch to your dinner party, as can lanterns that are used to light up pathways.


It’ll no doubt be quite pleasant when you first sit out with your guests, but you’ll want to plan for when it turns chilly as the evening draws closer. If you don’t have access to a patio heater or chiminea, draping some knitted throws or blankets over each chair will allow your guests to stay cosy when it gets cooler.

If you’re planning to spend your days soaking up the springtime sunshine, an al fresco dinner party is one you’ll want to experience. By following my top five tips, you can create a beautiful moment every time and we’re always here should you require an outdoor grazing creation for your gathering! Contact us today.

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