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Outdoor entertaining: 10 ways to up your al fresco game

Now is the time to think about styling your outdoor space, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

There may be an unexpected chill in the air, but it’s not too soon to be thinking about a spring getaway – to your own garden.

After all, it only takes warmer-than-average temperatures to trigger thoughts of outdoor entertaining, so why not spruce up your patio space or sun deck in preparation?

Especially if you’ve thought about doing it in the past – only to discover all that lovely al fresco booty has already been stripped from the shelves.

“Think of your outdoor space like an extension of your home,” says Gabrielle Anderson, outdoor living buyer at John Lewis. And this season is all about flexible living, she adds, and buying pieces you can use inside and out.

“For example, don’t save your glass and china tableware for inside dining only, make the most of your favourite pieces and mix and match them to create a colourful and eclectic dining table.”

Outdoor cushions are great for adding an extra layer of comfort and pop of colour to dining outdoors, Anderson suggests: “They are easily packed and stored away when not in use.”

Here’s how to style your space for springtime socials…

1. Set of 2 Daisy Melamine Side Plates, £12, Next


Fresh as a daisy, these pretty plates have the feel-good factor.

2. Brambly Cottage Sunnyside Melamine, £24.27 (was £32.79), Wayfair


When life gives you lemons… this is the dish for a citrusy burst of happiness.

3. STAUB La Cocotte Round Cast Iron Cocotte in Cherry Blossom, from £64.95 (Mini), Zwilling


Whether it’s a cheese fondue or asparagus casserole, this gorgeous new pastel shade is a must for spring entertaining.

4. Flogan Eucalyptus Bar Trolley, £299; ANYDAY Dine White Wine Glasses – Set of 4, £15; Nordlux Strap To Go Battery Outdoor Light, £90, John Lewis (trolley and glasses available mid-March)

(John Lewis/PA)

Your secret weapon for effortless entertaining, a bar trolley ticks every box in the style stakes – and will look just at home in your kitchen.

5. Matchbox Seat Pads, £38.50 each, Graham & Green

(Graham & Green/PA)

When it comes to quickie makeovers, a new seat cushion inspired by retro style matchboxes will give your patio chair some newfound flair.

6. Tahiti Outdoor Cane Chair, £550, Next


A decorative, showy piece for sure, this fashionable cane chair will turn the tiniest garden into an idyllic setting. Showerproof seat and back cushions can withstand a surprise sprinkle.

7. John Lewis Swirl Stripe Glass, £22; Glass Tumbler, £9; Coastal Explorer Spiral Fine China Serving Bowl, £15; Coastal Explorer Fine China Tapas Bowl – Set of 4, Blue/Green, £12, and Ikat Print Cotton Table Runner – 250cm, Blue/Green, £15, John Lewis

(John Lewis/PA)

Swirly stripes and washes of blue signal coastal style and long, lazy lunches. We may not be there quite yet, but this tableware draws the eye like the Mediterranean Sea.

8. Hoole Cast Iron Grill Fire Pit, £39.99 (was £149.99), Gardenesque


Easily portable, imagine how the warming flame from this rustic-style fire pit will lend a cosy ambience and focal point for your outdoor seating.

9. Gozney Limited Edition Yellow Roccbox, £399, Gozney (available from March 15)


A pizza-oven with panache, the Gozney Roccbox is available in buttercup yellow for a limited time only.

10. Pro Connect 5m 10 Warm White Connectible Festoon Lights Black Cable, £49.99; 3 Lucena Cream Tassel Solar Lanterns, £39.99, and Melbourne Garden Lantern Duo with TruGlow Candles (on table), £31.99 (were £54.99), Lights4fun


When dusk starts to fall, no-stress candlelight will highlight your styling tricks and greenery. The five metre string lights feature 10 bulbs for an atmospheric glow.

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