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Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner Alfresco

Many bloggers’ posts this time of year, mine included, write about entertaining outdoors for a crowd, throwing parties for family and friends, girls’ night outs and setting up festive birthday parties for our children as well as setting up bar carts for guests with aplomb. Today, I am posting about entertaining, but not in the ways I just listed.  I want you to entertain this summer, but with only one guest in mind… yourself.

I know a great little spot for doing just this.  It’s warm, inviting and right in your neighborhood, in fact…it is in your own backyard, porch, deck, or whatever little space you can carve outside to call your own.

Summer is the best time to perch yourself there to sip a cup of coffee, enjoy a meal or to watch the sun go down with a glass of your favorite wine.

Monogram outdoor drinkware

I have a “party basket” set up in my pantry so I can easily grab what I need when we entertain outside. I also keep the items I need when I want to eat alfresco, like pretty paper plates, napkins, and these Tritan monogrammed outdoor glasses. They feel like real glass, but are unbreakable. I have them in 3 sizes for parties and use them when dining outdoors by myself, too.

Breakfast dining ideas for eating outside

I enjoy starting the day outside, even if it is hot. I like hearing the birds chirp and the sounds of the day beginning.  I use a decorative tray to carry whatever I make for breakfast outside.

  • If you have a garden, reap the rewards and pick the fresh bounty to enjoy. Embellish your plate with some fresh herbs. It is the little touches that will make the 15-20 minutes spent eating outside a little more special before you have to start your day.
  • Pour juice into a monogrammed outdoor water glass.
  • I buy pretty paper napkins at the dollar store, Target, and Walmart. They elevate the pretty factor of my outdoor meals.
  • Place fresh flowers in a small vase. When not used to embellish your tray, they add fresh color when moved inside your house.


Love this umbrella and base that don't need a table to hold it up

My backyard gets full sun all day.  To be able to sit in comfort, I need patio umbrellas. The umbrellas go into the center holes of 2 tables I have, but depending on where the sun is in the sky, the tables are not always shaded when I want to go sit down to eat.

Birch Lane Umbrella stand

That is why I like this round umbrella stand from Birch Lane.  It comes with two interchangeable pole holders. One long enough so a Eastvale Sunbrella Patio umbrella can stand by itself without the support of a table and a shorter one if I want to use the umbrella over a table.

Sunday brunch alfresco ideas

Sunday brunch is a special meal no matter what time of year you partake it. In the summer months, freshly squeezed OJ and champagne elevate to staycation status when enjoyed alfresco.

  • The monogrammed outdoor stemware makes a few morning hours reading the NY Times feel like a celebration.
  • I have all sizes of paper doilies that I buy at the dollar store to use as coasters or to line bread baskets and serving trays.
  • Buy “tinkle ice”. That is what my friend Susan calls ice you buy in small cubes at the supermaket.  I didn’t have any to use when I was taking this photo, but it is much better to use in drinks as it makes a pretty “tinkle” sound when you swirl your drink instead of ice that most refrigerators make that make a clicking sound when you swirl.  These little details can make something as simple as a glass of OJ feel special.

Breakfast alfresco ideas

Outdoor ideas for eating lunch outside

Create magic not only for yourself, but ask your child to join you outside for lunch and call it a picnic. Simple finger food set up in an easy but out of the ordinary way will have your child asking to have a picnic everyday.

  • Grab a tray to use as your tabletop and to place everything on so you can carry it outside easily.
  • No utensils needed. Make your normal sandwiches, but instead of cutting them in half, cut them into squares or triangles. Pile on a pretty paper plate. Do the same for summer fresh watermelon or in-season fruit.
  • Add a slice of lemon or fruit to your drinks. A colorful straw makes ordinary water look and feel extra special.
  • Grab a glass jar from your recycling bin, wash it out. Ask your child to gather flowers from your yard to create a pretty arrangement to add style to your picnic.
  • Move your umbrella and chairs to a grassy area. If you don’t have movable chairs, spread out an old quilt or bedspread to create your picnic area.

Meal ideas for dining alfresco for sinner

Unwind and dine outside for dinner.  A simple white cloth and napkins will make you feel like you are enjoying reserved outside seating at a chic French bistro.

Outdoor candle chandelier

I looked endlessly to find white Vintage Bulb String Lights for my deck. They are easy to find with dark green strings, but for the white pergola on my deck, I needed white. I found them, here.  I needed 2 strands.

  • I used white cup hooks to hang the lights. The hook for the chandelier has been there for a few years and has gotten rusted. I am not after perfection, just ambiance. :-)

You can find the tutorial for this outdoor chandelier I made a few years ago. It has been well used. I have used both battery operated candles as well as real candles.

Outdoor alfresco meals

Keep the meal simple.

  • Zucchini from the garden spiralized and served with tomato sauce and meatballs.   A salad and glass of wine in the monogrammed outdoor wine glasses I grabbed from my pantry make for one easy, breezy elegant meal to wind down with your significant other.

Using good silver

  • Keep a few pieces of your “good stuff” in your “alfresco basket”. It will be effortless to heighten the elegant factor to your outdoor tablescape.

Eating alfresco at dusk

  • For flowers, fill a large vase with one type of flower from your yard. For this meal, I snipped a few branches from one of the Butterfly bushes we have in the yard.

Vintage string lights

This is my fave time on the deck, watching the sun go down.

Vintage bulb string lights on a deck

It feels magical and worth the few extra minutes it took to set up.

If eating alfresco sounds good to you, don’t put it off to start someday…begin the ritual of movable feasts this week to add a little alfresco joie de vivre to brighten your day.

Don't wait for someday. Set up a "movable feast basket" so you can make dining alfresco quick and easy. Simple ideas to make your warm weather meals feel like you are on vacation. | In My Own Style


This post is sponsored by Birch Lane; thank you so much for supporting the sponsors that make In My Own Style possible. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own.

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  1. What a great post! Your table looks so inviting and welcoming. It is too late at night to eat and I am getting hungry just reading this post. Great job!

  2. What a lovely post!! You’ve inspired me to organize a little “entertaining basket”. And those mimosa’s don’t look too bad either!!! B

    1. Hi Sally – Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me about From This Side of the Pond :-) We have many similarities and quite a bit in common. I will connect with her and tell her you sent me. XO

  3. Really lovely stuff. We don’t always get outdoor eating weather in England, but we take advantage of it when we can

  4. That was lovely – I hope your husband, children, and grands appreciate how special you make your meals. I love the idea of breakfast outside. My husband and I often go out on the deck with coffee and the paper, but I’ve never gone so far as the monogrammed glasses and Prosecco – fresh berries – delightful! I took a mini-vacation just reading your blog!

    1. Thanks Barbara – When my daughters were little, I always tried to make some of their meals feel special. Now that they are older and out on their own, it makes me smile when they bring up the times we had “picnic” lunches in the backyard or on the banks of a creek in our neighborhood. It makes me happy that I made the effort to make fun memories for them.

  5. Wonderful ideas!!!! And yes…. we deserve to treat ourselves good!!! One question…. how do you manage the mosquitos ? I live in a very humid central Virginia, and the mosquitos are miserable. I have had a professional company come and spray the outdoors early summer, but has done very little. I keep all mosquito breeding water empty, pot saucers etc….

    1. Hi Catherine –

      That is a good question and one that I have learned how to deal with. I set up Citronella candles and or torches. I have used many brands and types and they all work, but the key is to light them about a half hour before you plan to go outside. I have 7 and place them all around where we will be sitting. I need to to this most evenings, especially now that the summer is in full swing.

      I did a post for TIKI brand a few weeks ago ( https://inmyownstyle.com/2015/05/outdoor-entertaining-ideas-giveaway.html ) and love the glass tabletop torches they sell. They are pretty and are refillable with TIKI torch oil. I have used both the Citronella formula and last week bought the BiteFighter with Citronella and Cedar. They keep the bugs away.

  6. enjoyed your post, think I’ll have a little get-together, even if the weather is melting us all here in the south, at least we can melt having a good time.

  7. I will often eat my breakfast or lunch outside…..but I usually just carry it…okay STACK it….in one hand with a glass of tea in the other and find a shady spot. I need to start treating myself better! Really enjoyed this post, Diane. And your deck really looks inviting. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Christine – Having the party basket filled with what you need truly makes setting up a special little tray or table a lot easier since everything you need is in or near the basket, except the food. Enjoy your dining!

  8. I love the idea of eating outside, breakfast, lunch or dinner, but here in the south, it’s just really not possible! Too hot! Looking forward to cooler weather then we’ll be giving it a try. Your set up is beautiful!

    1. That’s the truth, Debbie! I love these ideas and we used to eat Al Fresco when I was growing up…in the Northeast. But we live in North Carolina and the heat is not conducive to enjoyable outdoor eating! Plus, this must be the buggiest place in the world!! Between the flies, the mosquitoes, the gnats, the no-see-ems, sand fleas, fire ants, etc…we are always driven indoors!! Even in our screened gazebo they get in somehow…sneaky!! But I just love the presentation and care given here to the meals and the porch area and lighting is beautiful, Diane!! I am really enjoying the blog!!

      1. Hi Christine – I lived in Durham NC for 3 years back in the 80’s. I remember the bees being very bad and we always had to eat inside the screened-in porch. When we visited my MIL in Florida…the NoSee-ems were the worst. We couldn’t even go outside at night when we visited her during certain times. We do get mosquitos here at night, but if I set up a collection of citronella candles and light them 30 minutes before we plan to go outside, we can eat in peace. Thanks for reading my blog. XO

    1. Thanks June – Even if it is only for 15 minutes, the break in your day to make a meal a bit more special makes a big difference for your mental wellbeing.