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Must-Have Items For Outdoor Dining

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If you read my article yesterday, you know I’m looking forward to summer dining on my back porch. It’s easy to clean up when you can just spray everything down with a hose. Also, since I have to write the check for the electric bill each month, I am glad to give the air conditioner a break instead of making it go to war with the oven.

backyard dining



You can probably skip this for your informal family dinner, but if you’re hosting a party you might want to add a splash of color. Also, the wooden picnic table at the park is  a splinter minefield. Check out these sturdy, yet inexpensive tablecloths at Amazon that come in a variety of colors.

Tablecloth Clips and Weights

Remember when I mentioned the wind being an outdoor dining downside? You don’t want the wind to pick up that pretty tablecloth and carry it away. Luckily you have a few different options.

You can use these handy Tablecloth Clips that secure your tablecloth to the table. Or, you can use tablecloth weights. Here are some fun ones that play on the BBQ theme. If you prefer something pretty, you might like these Dragonfly Charms or these Star Charms.


Whether you are moving your family dinner to the back porch or to the local park, caddies make it easier to get all of your supplies to their destination. I use this Picnic Caddy to transport our paper plates, napkins, and utensils to and from our back porch table. And I love this Condiment Caddy for easily moving our ketchup, mustard, steak sauce and seasonings.


If you’re having a party, it’s nice to provide some stability for flimsy paper plates since guests will be moving around and probably standing and eating part of the time. I have these Paper Plate Holders. Since they’re not expensive and are reusable, you can stock up for parties.

Additionally, if you are having guests or just want to create ambiance, consider purchasing some solar Chinese lanterns for decoration or just string white lights around your porch or yard.


Food Covers

Now that you’ve made your table pretty and secure, you need to start worrying about the other outdoor dining downside–insects. First, let’s talk about the easiest ways to keep the bugs off of the food while you’re gathering everyone together.

My favorite solution is using tent-like food covers. They are decorative and keep the bugs off of your food. You obviously can’t eat your food with them on, but they will keep the flies from landing on your yummies while you are getting all of your supplies together or greeting your guests.

You can opt for this large Tabletop Food Cover that will cover several dishes at once. Or, you can choose this set that will allow you to cover each dish separately, including drinks.

Bug Repellents

In my article “Natural Ways to Repel Insects” I covered a number of plants and scents you can use to keep bugs away. Those tips were intended to keep bugs from biting you or invading your garden. To protect a large area like your back porch or backyard, you will need to take some additional precautions. Here are some options:

Surround your dining area with Citronella Mosquito Plants. These naturally repel mosquitoes and have a pleasant scent.

To keep flies and mosquitoes from buzzing around me at the dinner table, I prefer to use candles like these Citronella Tea Lights or these Citronella Votives.

You can also invest in tiki torches but I don’t like constantly refilling the citronella oil. Instead, I prefer these All-Natural Insect Repellent Incense Sticks that you can stick directly in the ground or in a potted plant.

16 thoughts on “Must-Have Items For Outdoor Dining”

  1. We have a small patio dining table…I need a new set of outdoor dining.

  2. Thumbs up for these summery ideas! 🙂 Cannot wait for it!

  3. Those tips are totally a must, we are on the stage of cleaning our backyard and it will apply pretty soon. Thank you for sharing.

  4. We already started grilling and dining at the back porch 🙂 Awesome ideas you’ve got in here. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. I am not a fan of eating outdoors—do not like bugs swarming around me (and yes I use bug repellent)–but they are still there!!

  6. Awesome tips! Definitely have some bug repellent since bugs and mosquitoes love to hang out with us while we are outside. I just thought of a natural way to repel bugs and hope it works. I am excited for some backyard time with the family as well.

  7. The Clips and Weights are something I tend to forget about. Thanks so much for the list.

  8. These are great list! My kids are asking if we could eat outside ur backyard tomorrow, that would be fun!

  9. We often have lunch and dinner on our patio, we have a great view and it is so relaxing. Always forget some of the items you mentioned – food covers being a big one. I need to print this list.

  10. Great article! Everyone loves to eat outside, except for when the bugs are hungry . . . I use things called “chargers” to back up the paper plates, but my husband keeps calling them “cruisers” for some reason. They are wonderful for outdoor eating, especially when the teenagers pile on mounds of meat, potatoes fruit salad.

    I found that some lemon grass planted around where you eat will help keep the bugs away, but my husband loves when the big June bugs get zapped in the bug zapper he hangs out there. For Father’s Day I think I am going to get him one of those tennis racket bug zappers.

    My neighbors keep Gila monster lizards out on their porch, and they are the best bug prevention yet!

    Thanks for the article. I’ll be making some burgers outside and eating with the family on the porch, while we have meaningful conversation about our days – Assuming I can tear myself away from this and the other sites linked on here. I’m becoming addicted. I hear there is a good 12 step program for awesome blog addictions . . .


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