Lakeside dining is the perfect way to entertain in Central Florida. As locals, Michael and Andrea Owen know this point very well. They often invite friends and relatives to their family home on Lake Weir to enjoy an elegant sunset followed by a gourmet dinner under the stars.
“The lake provides a relaxing atmosphere,” says Andrea. “We enjoy our time together here year-round.”
Thoughtful cuisine, well-chosen beverages, and a lake-inspired natural backdrop make dining al fresco one of the best features of living in The Sunshine State. Here are seven ways to create your own outdoor entertaining magic.
MICHAEL AND ANDREA OWEN love to entertain friends
at their Lake Weir home.
1. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR HOME’S outdoor furniture by creating seating with a patio set, Adirondack chairs, or a porch swing. Rustic outdoor items can be incorporated into a more formal dining setting, giving your space a casual, elegant feel.
2. SET THE TABLE IN STYLE. Outdoor dining doesn’t automatically require paper and plastic. Pull out your fine china, mix-and-match patterns, glassware, and silverware to set a beautiful table. Don’t forget your candelabra either for a fancier affair!
3. BID FAREWELL WITH A GIFT. Send your guests home with a little something to remember the night. The Owens gave their guests a carafe of delicious sangria. The carafe can be re-used for water, lemonade, or as a beautiful vase for fresh-cut flowers, giving guests a permanent memento of a lovely evening by the lake.
4. SET THE BAR. Offer beverages and cocktails at a self-serve satellite bar near your outdoor dining area. Instead of mixing drinks all night, serve a large batch of one fabulous drink. Guests can then pour from the pitchers themselves.
5. LET YOUR SURROUNDINGS DETERMINE your color scheme. Use greenery and seasonal foliage for your tablescape in order to put nature in perfect harmony with the place servings.
6. SEND THE INVITE. Once the date is set, let your friends and family know by creating an eye-catching invitation. Your dinner guests will appreciate the personalized attention and be much-obliged to respond. Your gathering will take on the air of a formal event rather than that of a quick get-together.
7. ENTERTAINING OUTDOORS CAN BE FUN and scenic, but the resident insects can pack a sting. To avoid being bothered by these unwanted guests, take precautions. Before your human guests arrive, spray the perimeter of the area with a quality insect repellant. Strategically place citronella candles around the outdoors. Fill a bucket with sprays, lotions, and sunscreens for guests to use when needed.