Dining Outdoors: How to Prepare

If your goal is to get your family to dine together outdoors, the task can be a lot more challenging than it would initially seem. With kids glued to television screens and laptop monitors, and parents running around like crazy between work, home, and everything else on their plates, it can be tough to find enough time just to get the family together at all. Getting everyone outside together to eat, however, is a great way to both encourage more shared time as a family while also emphasizing the importance of sunshine and the outdoors. Your kids may resent you at first for unplugging them from their Xbox 360s and PS3s, but they’ll get over it (eventually).

In order to have dinner outside, however, you first need to create a space to have meals together. Getting just the right patio furniture is essential, though what pieces you end up choosing will depend on the size of your family and several other factors. If you live in a place where rain is commonplace during the summer, such as in New England, outdoor furniture should be self cleaning for the most part. In these areas, you can get more diverse furniture sets, just be sure they’re either weatherproofed, or that you’re ready to move the furniture inside at a moment’s notice if storm clouds move in. For people living in dry areas during the summer, such as Los Angeles, furniture that isn’t cleaned regularly when left outdoors will soon become the homes of spiders and many other types of unpleasant company. There is nothing more discouraging to eating outside than having a spider crawl up your leg during dinner, so pick furniture that is easily washed with a hose.

Make sure your outdoor table is cozy enough just for your family and perhaps an occasional guest or two. Sometimes, tables outdoor are either so small that families must split up to eat outside, or so big that it doesn’t even feel as though you’re sharing a meal together. One right in the middle of that line should ease concerns on both sides.

Also, don’t forget the most important thing of all: the grill. Though you make occasionally bring food outside that you prepared indoors, the scent of food roasting on an open grill may be the most enticing part about eating outside. And if you have kids to worry about, the smell should have them running for their new patio seats.