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We are cooking out, gardening and spending more time outdoors. It's time to sweep the dust off the deck and patio and create an outdoor room that is as inviting as the interior of your home. Plan your next party outdoors for a comfortable and entertaining environment for you and your guests. Whether it's a Sunday Brunch on the Deck, an Afternoon Tea in the Garden or Dinner on the Patio, we have plenty of decorating suggestions for you.

Elegant Sunday Brunch On The Deck

Nothing is as relaxing as a Sunday Brunch! Especially if you take advantage of your outdoor living area. To create a memorable Sunday Brunch for your family and friends make your outdoor dining area as comfortable as your indoor dining room. Here are a few tips to make it a perfect morning.

-Bring your dining table and chairs out to the deck or set up folding table and cover in an elegant tablecloth.

-Purchase an inexpensive acrylic area rug for the sole purpose of dressing up your deck. You can purchase an 8' x 10' for as little as $198, smaller ones are even less and they are easily cleaned. If your deck is covered,you can leave it out all season or roll it up between uses. Place the area rug underneath your table, or if its only an area rug or runner, place it outside the door leading to the table.

-You can use tablecloths with the edges weighted down by drapery weights to keep them in control on breezy mornings.

-Bring out your silver, crystal and china. Arrange spring flowers in vases as the centerpiece or prepare an elaborate dessert, such as a Strawberry Shortcake, and let that be your centerpiece.

-If you have a covered deck and you'd like more privacy for your brunch, or you'd like to keep direct sunlight off your guests, attach inexpensive while muslin on a wood strip and attach to the edge of your deck roof. If it's a windy day, attach drapery weights to the base, it will still billow wonderfully in the breeze.

-Set up speakers on the deck and play classical music or whatever music your guests will love.

-Serve foods which can be prepared in advance so that you can relax and enjoy your brunch with your guests.

Afternoon Tea In The Garden

For an unforgettable afternoon tea for your friends, create a magical dining room in the middle of your flower garden or in a secluded spot of your yard.

-If your area is in a flower garden purchase stepping stones or collect flat stones in your yard and create a path to the Tea.

outdoor entertaining decor

-If your selected area isn't in a garden, but in a corner of your yard, place potted flowers along your path.

-Just before your guests arrive sprinkle bird seed along your path and around your table for a beautiful spectacle of birds visiting your party.

-Place a folding table and chairs in the area. If you have a shade tree, I would take advantage of it and place the table underneath it. You can hang potted flowers and wind chimes from the tree branches.

-Use a colorful tablecloth, weighing down the edges with drapery weights if its a windy day.

-Purchase lively paper plates and napkins for your tea cakes, but use nice glasses and tea cups for the beverages.

-It's convenient to have an extra folding table nearby (covered in a beautiful tablecloth, of course) to hold teapots, and plates of tea cakes.

-Use garden flowers in a vase or teapot for your centerpiece.

Evening Dinner On The Patio

Patios are perfect places to entertain on a Spring or Summer evening. You can seat a large number of people by extending your dining area into your yard.

-Consider your lighting. If you have eave lights on your house, redirect them so that they don't shine right in your guests eyes, possibly use them to illuminate a nearby tree.

-Place torches around the perimeter of the entire area. One word of caution however, make sure they are far enough away from traffic areas because the wind tends to make the torch burn to the sides sometimes.

-Set up individual card table, keeping them close enough to each other that your guests can converse from table to table easily. Cover them in a tablecloth, again adding drapery weights to the hem to keep them from blowing.

-Depending on the type of dinner party you have planned, use china or colorful paper plates.

-Four votive candles on each table will give more light and not obstruct vision as much as one tall candlestick.

-Once again, your inexpensive acrylic rug can be used on the patio area.

-If you have a pool or pond, creating a floating arrangement of flowers and candles.

-Spring evenings can be cool, so if you have space consider adding an outdoor fireplace. Your entire family will enjoy it for years. If building a fireplace or is out of the question, look into the portable adobe fireplaces that are available in home stores now, such as Pier I. They are inexpensive and create a wonderful atmosphere as well as warmth.

-Have fun! Serve food you can prepare ahead of time or have the dinner catered so that you can have as much fun as your guests will.

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