We asked some of the country’s top hosts to share their secrets and divulge tried-and-true strategies on how to create the perfect mood, ambiance, and dining settings for outdoor entertaining.
Creative Director, W/17
1. Make sure your garden is clean and in order—the grass is mowed and all the dry leaves
2. Bring the indoors outside. Sofas in the garden are comfortable and chic, and setting one under a beautiful tree in the garden creates unparalleled
3. Match the informality of a summer buffet with rustic serving dishes, but only linen napkins please, no disposable ones no matter how casual your party may be.
4. Keep your alcohol supply well-stocked. Multiple beverage stations help ensure that guests can get a refill without waiting. Copper tubs, urns, and stone planters work perfectly. Place an assortment of drinks in each bin if they’re destined for different locations throughout the garden.
5. Always decant condiments and other prepackaged items from their original packaging into small dishes.
Mary Anne Aboitiz-Arculli
1. Remember to enjoy your own party. There is nothing worse than a stressed out and frazzled hostess. As someone once said, “Be who you are because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
2. Plan ahead. Organize table settings the day before so you have one less thing to worry about. Also, try to plan a menu that you can cook ahead or order some dishes from other sources. It is always a good idea to have a vegetarian dish included on your menu.
3. Avoid tall flower arrangements that block the view of other guests. Simple and low arrangements with lots of candle light are more conversation-friendly and are more forgiving, making everyone and every home look better.
4. Don’t forget that good lighting (no white fluorescent bulbs, please!) and music set the mood of any get-together. Adjust your playlist according to the guests you will be entertaining.
5. If you are entertaining outside or in a garden, have a few cool-looking floor fans ready in case the area gets hot and stuffy. Comfortable guests are happy guests.
Anne Marie Saguil
1. An outdoor party does not have to be overly styled nor fussy—dinnerware can be mix-and-match. Using
2. Greet guests with festive cocktails to kick off the evening. Fresh fruit juice and mint leaves make refreshing ingredients to an alcoholic beverage. Also, offer a well-chilled rosé to those who prefer wine.
3. Include food and beverage stations in different areas, encouraging your guests to roam and mingle during the party.
4. Light up the outdoors with candles, lanterns, or torches. Paper lanterns or twinkling strands draped between trees create a charming setting.
5. Create a menu that allows you to cook or prepare food in advance. Cold vegetable or pasta salads can be prepared a day or two in advance, leaving your kitchen less messy and stress-free.
Marga and Joel Binamira
Proprietors, Zubuchon restaurants
2. Lighting is essential. Plants should be lit from below in strategic parts of the garden. Put votive candles on the table and, if possible, soft lights or candles above guests heads and on the floor to light pathways.
3. Cold towels are refreshing on a tropical evening or after an outdoor lunch. Add natural fragrance by passing around cold towels with freshly picked leaves of citrus plants. Crush the leaves in your palms and enjoy the fresh scent all evening long.
4. Fresh coconut water is very much back in vogue. Serve the coconut water with coconut water ice (ice cubes made with coconut water) if you like it very cold and don’t want to dilute the natural goodness.
5. Platters of chilled seafood are perfect for summer entertaining. Cooked and chilled prawns, lobsters, crabs, scallops, mussels, served on ice with a mignonette or cocktail sauce are easy to make well ahead of guests arriving.
1. Know your guests’ poison and stock up for variety. Most men like moving up to single-malt Scotch so make sure you have that at your bar.
2. Have proper glassware—water goblets, wine glasses, flutes. Always change the glasses as your guests switch drinks. Never pour white wine into a used red wine glass and vice-versa.
3. Chill, chill, chill! There is nothing sadder than unchilled bubbly. When serving Champagne, make sure all bottles are in the cooler filled with ice and equal parts water 45 minutes to an hour before it is served.
4. Eliminate all things disposable. Whatever you do, steer clear of plastic. Linen is always a top priority for napkins. However, some guests still ask for disposable napkins—whether to wipe off their lipstick or dab their faces—so keep them nearby.
5. Set the music and always have a ready playlist. Music definitely sets the tone for any gathering.
Tina De Jesus
1. Rinse out your wine glasses before each use. Nothing ruins a good wine like a dusty smelling glass. Use paper towels to dry wine glasses. Sometimes even clean dishcloths smell like detergent or soap that can alter the taste of the wine in the glass.
2. Pick a theme and stick to it, from your menu to your table setting. When choosing flowers, I find that I like to use lots of the same kind and use complementary shades in my table set up.
3. When setting the table, make sure to stand directly behind the chair when laying down the utensils; only then are they exactly straight.
4. Remember to always use scent-free candles, as scented ones tend to affect the taste of the wine.
5. Never ever try out a new recipe at your dinner or party without trying it out beforehand to avoid any surprises.