Is there anything better than enjoying good food and drinks outside with family and friends? Perhaps a few things, but an alfresco entertaining moment is definitely at the top of our list! So, we decided to touch base with Rugs USA ambassador Natalia Picano, who runs the beautiful @natalialanaeinteriors account along with luxury picnic company Soleil, to spill all her top outdoor entertaining tips. Whether you’re hosting an intimate dinner with a few friends or a full-on soiree, Natalia’s advice is sure to elevate your next hosting experience!
On Prepping for Guests
“There’s tons of prep that goes into hosting!” Natalia says. “It tends to be too overwhelming if I try to do it a couple of days before, so I’ve come up with a method that helps me tackle things throughout the week, especially since I’m not just prepping the inside of my home.” For outside, Natalia likes to enlist her fiancé to help pick weeds, clean up after pets, spray down the patio, and dust off any areas guests will be sitting or hanging out. She also likes to make sure she has several different areas set up outside, like a dining table and sitting area, so guests can move around and enjoy conversation.
On Lighting and Creating Ambience
Lighting is always an important element for entertaining, but it’s especially key outdoors and if you’re entertaining at night when the sun is setting. Natalia says bringing in additional lighting, like string likes, tea lights, candlesticks, and pillar candles, is the best way to create a cozy, welcoming vibe in your space. And bonus: All of these items are budget-friendly and easy to find at your local hardware or home store.
“One of the first things we did when we moved into our current home was hang up string lights,” Natalia says. “I think this adds to the overall ambiance of the night. When going out to eat, I choose restaurants based on their outdoor seating, and most have string lights. I love that we have been able to incorporate that feel into our extended living space.”
On Her Must-Have for the Table
“Easy. Carafes! I think having drinks accessible for guests when hosting a dinner party is always one of the easiest ways to have a great dinner,” Natalia says. “I find as a host, I’m always looking around to make sure everyone has everything they need. Drinks seem to be a consistent request at the table. Having carafes filled with yummy beverages keeps guests at the table enjoying themselves!”
On DIY-ing Florals on a Budget
Natalia’s secret to creating awe-inspiring floral arrangements? Buying inexpensive grocery store bouquets, and sprucing them up with a few (affordable!) special finishing touches, like pampas grass, eucalyptus, olive branches, and dried florals. “The arrangements seriously end up looking professional when you’re done, and for a third of the price!” she says.
On Rolling Out Rugs
Sure, rugs aren’t 100% necessary to pull off a successful outdoor dinner, but they certainly add polish and coziness to your space! Natalia has incorporated many a rug in her outdoor spaces and events, from durable outdoor rugs to jute rugs that are typically designated for indoors. If she’s using an indoor rug, Natalia will roll out the rug the day of the event so it doesn’t suffer damage from overexposure to the elements. If you have a spare indoor rug you want to bring outside, don’t forget to roll it up after your event is over!
Shop a few of Natalia’s favorites: Iris Totem Indoor/Outdoor Flatweave rug, Moroccan Diamonds Indoor/Outdoor rug, Handmade Braided Indoor/Outdoor rug, Faded Stripes Indoor/Outdoor rug, Ashlyn Parallel Stripes Indoor/Outdoor rug, Indoor/Outdoor Striped with Tassels rug
And One Final Piece of Advice
“Enjoy yourself! Those that are coming over are coming to hang out with YOU and spend quality time with YOU!” Natalia says. “While we all may put a lot of effort into making things gorgeous and aesthetically pleasing (and it’s super fun to do), always remember not to over-exert yourself worrying about all the details to make your event perfect.”