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Add a Touch of Elegance to Your Next Outdoor Gathering

(ARA) - When most people think about outdoor dining, poolside parties and casual barbeques usually come to mind. Casual IS comfortable but sometimes breezy summer evenings call for a bit more. Why not bring the indoors out with an elegant dinner party al fresco? Whether it's just you and your sweetie or dinner with friends, a chic outdoor dinner party is a unique twist on the typical outdoor dining experience AND the perfect way to celebrate the warmer weather.

Ellen Berner, Housewares & Garden Merchandising Director for Pier 1, shares some tips on how to create a stylish outdoor dinner setting.

This Is No Picnic

"Just because you're dining outside, you don't have to sit in uncomfortable plastic lawn chairs," Berner says. "If you haven't invested in some serious outdoor furniture yet, now is the time to do it." Find some great looking outdoor tables and chairs in hand-carved wood, wrought iron, or tiled stone that are durable enough for outdoor use but have a more polished feel. "Depending on your style, Pier 1 has THE outdoor furniture for you, and at great value. Our wood and iron Cabana Bali collection will give your backyard the feel of a hip, island retreat while our patina'd iron Villa Toscana collection is reminiscent of a Mediterranean villa," says Berner. "Both are great looking and will instantly give your backyard a stylish feel." If you're not in the market for new furniture, use a few elegant table runners and new chair cushions to create your outdoor bistro look.

The Perfect Setting

With the grass as your carpet and the sky as your chandelier, bring out your special occasion ceramics to give the dinner a more elegant feel! "We don't get to use our second (or third!) set of dinnerware all that frequently so I'm always looking for a reason to break it out," says Berner. "Dinner with friends is a perfect excuse." Add elegant flatware and stemware to complete the look. "I just bought Pier 1's new teardrop flatware -- it's simple enough for every day use but also appropriate for special occasions," Berner explains.

Once you've created the perfect table setting, why not add some fresh flowers or candles to complete the look? "Both are great ways to spice up your table without a lot of effort," explains Berner. "I recommend using hurricane candleholders to protect the flame on a breezy night."

In The Mood

Pier 1 has a great selection of brightly colored lanterns, string lights and citronella candles for the outdoors. "My husband and I recently went to a party where the whole backyard was lined with bamboo torches," says Berner. "It was a glowing, beautiful setting, but more importantly, the torches were filled with citronella oil so they kept the mosquitoes away. It's amazing how something as simple as a few lanterns or colorful string lights can transform a space."

Enjoy!

Now that you've set your table and the mood is just right, pick up the phone and invite some friends over to enjoy your newly styled backyard! Whether you spend all day creating in the kitchen or you decide to order take out, everyone will appreciate the extra effort that you've put into making your backyard into an elegant outdoor oasis.

For more outdoor decorating ideas, visit www.pier1.com or call (800) 245-4595.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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