Top tips for dressing your outdoor table for summer entertaining

Summer is on its way and with long light evenings and warmer weather comes a shift towards outdoor living. There’s nothing quite like gathering your favourite people for sun-kissed alfresco afternoons spent eating, and laughing, and losing track of time as day slips slowly into balmy night.  

If the arrival of summer has got you busy planning outdoor gatherings, it’s time to put some thought into your garden dining space. Successful summer entertaining requires a carefully considered balance between function and style, to create an inspiring outdoor dining space that’s also comfortable and easy to use. Check out our garden dining ideas for dressing your table to impress.  



The foundation of any aesthetic outdoor dining setup is table linen. As well as protecting – or hiding – your table, a pretty outdoor tablecloth adds a touch of elegance and personality to your space. Go for a tough, durable cotton that’ll be resistant to spills and is weighty enough not to billow in the breeze. Choose a pattern that’ll accentuate your chosen aesthetic, whether that’s bold checks for classic picnic vibes or delicate florals for a more whimsical English garden style. 



Help your guests relax in comfort by scattering in some eye catching outdoor cushions and seat pads. It’ll help your space look and feel cosier and more inviting, as well as making it far easier to settle in for some true quality time. 



Want to know the secret to achieving effortless elegance? The trick is to stay true to your overall aesthetic, while taking care not to match your tableware too closely. Pick your style, whether that’s vibrant and colourful, rustic and warm or pretty and playful. Then keep it in mind while choosing things like napkins, plates and placemats in a mixture of complementary colours, textures and patterns. The result: easy summer style that looks like you just threw it together.  

Alternatively, if you prefer a more uniform look, our divine Marnhull Collection includes matching tablecloths, a quilted throw, placemats, table runner and seat pads, for your guests to swoon over!  



Create a soft, relaxed outdoor ambiance with strategic lighting, whether that’s strings of warm festoon lights strung around your garden or flickering candles dotted across the tabletop. Pop pillar candles into sleek glass cylinders and group them together in the centre of your table for an instant dose of wow factor, or drop tealights into coloured votives and scatter them among your tableware to create a relaxed, romantic atmosphere. 



Nothing says summer like an injection of nature and you can embrace this by incorporating greenery and florals into your table décor. Try arranging some freshly cut flowers in rustic mason jars or vintage vases for a seasonal centrepiece. Or use potted herbs and succulents for a more organic touch that your friends will love.  



As the evening draws in and the temperatures drop there’s no reason to move inside. Keep some stylish blankets on hand for your guests to grab if they start to feel chilly and there’ll be no reason for the chats to stop flowing. Choose from quilted cotton for maximum cosiness, or invest in a few fringed hammam throws for extra warmth with a Mediterranean twist.  

To create a cosy, colourful outdoor dining space this summer, check out Forever England’s designs online. Or if you are close by, pop into one of our stunning stores in Sherborne, Sidmouth, or Wells, where you will find a treasure trove of outdoor entertaining essentials.  

Additionally, our designer, Katie, and the team are delighted to be at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 21-24 May and the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival 2-7 July once again, so be sure to stop by the Forever England stand. Be sure to follow our socials for further details!