Why hide inside when the chill sets in? Autumn entertaining on the patio can be perfectly enjoyable and cosy – here’s how…
Light it up
You’ll need to rethink the lighting now that it’s getting darker earlier in the evenings – from the glow of candles in lanterns on your patio table, to twinkling string lights wrapped around nearby trees and other structures. The autumn ‘mood’ is warm and cosy, so the lighting should be the same – dimmed and golden – rather than too bright and intense. And don’t forget to illuminate the way to and from your patio or outdoor entertainment area for visitors, using pathway lighting.
Keep your guests warm and comfortable with strategically-placed space heaters (either mounted or freestanding). Or offer them a basket with assorted wraps and lap blankets as they sink into comfy chairs with oversized cushions. You could also invest in a fire pit for a bit of ‘open fire’ huddling and marshmallow roasting.
Dot your patio with pots and planters that have been painted with an ‘autumn’ brush – think rich reds and browns, deep greens, earthy tones and warm oranges, etc. And fill them with in-season flowers and foliage (ask your local garden specialist for advice about what to plant). Be imaginative with your table settings by using natural elements, like dried flowers, leaves and berries, scented candles and autumn-themed dinnerware, table runners, napkins, etc.
Eat, drink and be merry
Grab a mug of hot chocolate or cider from your outdoor ‘autumn’ drinks trolley, with close access to plug points to help keep things warm, or herd guests to a self-service soup bar for the evening. Casseroles, stews, fondues and potjies are also great autumn menu options, although you can still enjoy the warmth and bounty of a good ol’ braai. And for dessert? Anything that requires warm custard to be poured on the top will do. Here’s an easy and tasty soup to try…
Easy Autumn Garden Soup (Serves 4-6)
Using a heavy-based pot, sauté a large leek (sliced) in some melted butter over a low heat until soft and golden. Add a crushed garlic clove and a teaspoon of grated ginger and stir. Pour in a litre of vegetable stock and add the following veggies: 2 large carrots, 2 parsnips, 3 potatoes and 2 turnips (all peeled and chopped), along with 2 sticks of celery (sliced). Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Season to taste and serve with snipped chives and warm crusty bread.
PS: Always invest in all-weather patio furniture and accessories that can withstand the elements – to see you through hot and cold, rain or shine.