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Outdoor Dining Essentials on a Budget

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Outdoor Dining Essentials on a Budget

Summer is fun for lots of reasons, but one of my favorites is outdoor dining. It combines so many of my favorite things: spending time with friends and family, soaking in nice weather and enjoying good food and wine! Tommy and I have had an outdoor dining table for years but haven’t gotten a ton of use out of it recently because it gets so dirty with the trees above it. So last summer, we decided to buckle down and get a few new things for our table outside to make it more appealing.

I had a brand collaboration to shoot outdoors, so this felt like the perfect excuse to freshen up my table with new chargers, a table cloth, fun napkins and cups, and even new plates and bowls since Tommy and I never got a new set when we got married!

I was blown away by how much better our table looked with the new things we ordered. In fact, Tommy came downstairs and said “WOAH, that looks amazing. Where did all this come from?” And the best part was that it wasn’t hard. The only thing that was a little extra work was removing our umbrella, BUT we didn’t have to do that, it just made for better lighting in pictures. Our new table cloth actually has a zipper and hole for an umbrella so you can put it on with the umbrella still in the table! I’ll explain that more below.

Today I’m sharing the things we ordered for our outdoor dining area and some essentials for hosting an alfresco dinner at home.

Outdoor Dining Essentials on a Budget

Outdoor Dining Essentials on a Budget

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Outdoor Dining Essentials

Washable table cloth

A good outdoor table cloth is a game-changer to make your dining space feel brand new. Our table was so dirty and I couldn’t imagine it looking any different, but then we found this table cloth for $27! We ordered the beige color so that it wouldn’t look too much like a wedding table cloth that was starched white. I wanted something a little softer and more casual.

It even has a zipper down the middle and an umbrella hole so that you can put it on your table and zip it right around the umbrella if you have one. If your table doesn’t have an umbrella, snag this table cloth.

Make sure you actually measure for your table cloth, since you want to make sure you have enough of a drop on each side. To do this, measure both the length and the width of your table and add 10-20 inches to each measurement to include room for the cloth to hang over the side. We ordered the 60×102 size since our table was 40 inches by 80 inches.

Placemats or Chargers

The next item to think through is a charger or placemat. This really elevates a place setting. I got my fun woven chargers on Amazon for $31 in a pack of 6. These are 12.9″ and my dinner plates are 12″. So you may want to get your chargers a little larger if you want to see them more under your plate. I served pasta in bowls, sitting on salad plates for our dinner this night, and my salad plates are only 10″ so it was perfect.


Napkins are next. I have formal napkins for our dining room but I wanted a set of napkins more appropriate for outdoor dining. I got these linen napkins from Amazon for $30. They came in a set of 4, so I recommend getting two packs. I LOVE the blue color. These are washable and very casual, which is perfect for our family!


I was convinced I didn’t need to order new cups until I saw these. They are so fun and feel so good in my hand, oddly enough. They’re short water cups and  I love them. They look great next to wine glasses. You can also get them in a tall set which would be useful too! They come in a set of 4, so it’s not a huge commitment to finding lots of space for new cups. And they make me happy!

Wine glasses

We didn’t order new wine glasses for outdoors. We used the set we already have and love! However, if you really want to get a fun set for our summer, check out these acrylic wine glasses. They’re plastic, making them ideal for outside since they wouldn’t get broken on your patio or deck, and they’re easy to carry in and outdoors. This is a set of 4 for $38. They’d make a great hostess gift too!

Serving bowl

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Tommy and I didn’t get a new set of dinnerware when we got married. We both just brought our sets and combined them. And the mix matched set has bothered me for years now. Since we were already planning to set this dinner up and take photos for a brand collaboration, I figured it made sense to just go ahead and order a set that I’ve been wanting. I love our new Gabriella Set from Pottery Barn. I got the full set and I wish I’d gotten it years ago. The dishes make me so happy at every meal now!!

I also got this matching serving bowl that I LOVE. We served my vegan pesto pasta recipe and it not only tasted great, but also looked great in our new bowl.

Essentials for Outdoor Dining

Bistro Lights

We haven’t ordered these bistro lights yet but I plan to. They’d be so pretty strung from our house over our deck. We’d need to have 2 or 3 poles put up on the side of our deck, but I think it would look so nice and would create a great ambiance.

Bread Basket

Another thing I didn’t have until this dinner was a bread basket! And that’s kind of hilarious considering my love for bread. I got this one from Amazon for $20. I put a few napkins in with the bread and it was super pretty. AND it’s large enough for my bread obsession :).

colavita olive oil Outdoor Dining Essentials


Candles are an item I wish I had used and will next time. These are only really useful or nice to have if you’re eating later into the night once it’s dark. Since we eat around 6 or 7, they aren’t really necessary. But if I was going to order some, it would be this set. If you struggle with bugs on your patio or deck, a few citronella candles would be a smart move too.

Decorative Pillows

Another item I would like to order for our table! We have blue cushions for our chairs so I’d go for neutral pillows like these waterproof pillows or these prettier ones and I’d just bring them inside after using them

Fresh flowers

These aren’t necessary but they definitely complete a dinner table. Don’t go overboard with these, just cut a few flowers from your yard or grab a few from Trader Joe’s since they have such cheap flowers.

And that’s all that’s needed (and not even needed, just fun) for a dinner party outside! I hope you get to enjoy your summer nights with friends and family this summer!

What are a few items you’ve loved for your outdoor dinners? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

colavita oilive oil and balsamic vinegar Outdoor Dining Essentials

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