Summer! Ahh the warmth of Sunshine. I can feel my blood pressure drop when the calendar flips to the “J months”.  June brings a birthday in our house as well as many other excuses for al fresco gatherings. To switch things up this month, I wanted to create a few different schemes that might fit into your social agenda and inspire an al fresco party of your own. While these boards are meant inspire, they are not meant to overwhelm. Remember the main point of having a party is not for a pretty picture but more for conversation and community! All you really need for a great al fresco event is good food, a cold drink, good tunes and if you’re in the south, maybe some bug spray…..

Outdoor Entertaining with Jane Allen

Fourth of July

A red, white and blue celebration that’s the perfect combination of fresh and fun.


Long table on the dock at the lake house



Extra crispy French fries


Root beer floats

Jane tips: Reach out to your local bakery to see if they make hamburger buns. Nothing better than good bread for an all-American classic! Watermelon can be cut into stars with a large cookie cutter to make things more festive and I always have the makings of Shirley temples (sprite, grenadine and cherries) for something fun for the children or child at heart. Extra bonus points if you order some light-up ice cubes to throw in the drink.


Italian Ball Candle
Red and White Tablecloth
Red and Blue Elephant Plates
French Blue Taper Candles
Red and Blue Cocktail Napkins

Garden Party

Perfect for the Debutants, the bride-to-be or girls’ lunch.


Back or side patio or in the grass


Chicken salad plated inside a peeled, solid halved avocado

Sliced fruit (berry blend of strawberry, raspberry and blackberry being a favorite)

Sparkling Lemonade (equal parts  fresh pre-made lemonade (found in the orange juice section of your grocery) mixed with topo chico or the sparkling water of choice), topped with a fresh round  slice of lemon

Jane Tips: Rather than doing large floral arrangements, keep things low and get small bouquets made to equal to the number of guests you are expecting . These make for the best party favors.


Green Block Print Tablecloth
Hobnail Pitcher Set
Garden Party Invitations
Garden Party Dress
Katherine Earrings

Salt & Sand

Ideal for beach gathering or when you’re simply craving a coastal getaway.

Alfresco Dinner Part Inspiration


On the beach or deck of the house 


Small plates of whatever fresh seafood you can get your hands on….Some ideas that come to mind are mini shrimp tacos with fresh slaw, petite crab cakes, skewered lobster meat with melted butter…

Salt rimmed cocktails made with pineapple juice & rum

Extra cold glass of white wine

Little chocolates in shapes of Sea Shells (Guylian Chocolates being a favorite) passed on little plates

Jane tips: Don’t forget to use the vessels a lot of these delicacies come in as vessels to plate your food. Bring the theme home by using the lobster or clam shell. Hurricane candles holders are almost non-negotiable.


Striped Linen Napkins
Coastal Invitations
Smoke Taper Candles
Cream Scalloped Plate
Fillable Seahorse Invitations

Street Tacos in the Backyard

Perfect for a friend’s gathering, birthday or graduation celebration.

Outdoor Entertaining Tips and Ideas from Jane Allen


Backyard on picnic tables


Beef and pork tacos street tacos

All the fixings (don’t forget the Cotija cheese)

Chips & fresh guacamole

Funnel cake …Rather than topping with powdered sugar, what about a mixture of sugar and cinnamon to resemble more of a Churro (making funnel cakes at home may or may not be achievable depending on your chef skills-see Jane tips for a substitute option) 

Bonus points if you have fresh vanilla ice cream on the side

Jane tips: Always head to your best local Mexican restaurant for fresh chips and flour tortillas – price will be the same if not less than what you would find at the grocery store and it is obvious who wins on the freshness level… If making funnel cakes seems overwhelming or not up your alley, swing by your local bakery (or grocery if you think that’s better) and pick up some elephant ear pastries. The grease won’t set in like restaurant pick-up Churros and the crunchy, sweet layer component is still there. 

shop the look

Striped Invitations
Harvest Placemat
Fuschia Twisted Taper Candle
Blue Wine Goblet
Gold Border Placecards

Here’s to celebrating!


Alfresco Entertaining by Contributing editor Jane Allen
Janie Dickson, owner and founder of Jane Allen Designs