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Seagrass placemat with knife and fork

8 outdoor tableware items to upgrade your al fresco set-up

Published: August 15, 2022 at 3:11 pm

Make your al fresco meals extra special with a few of these chic outdoor tableware items.

When the weather warms up, it’s tempting to just grab your everyday plates and glasses and head outside to soak up the sun. But with a few extra touches, you can instantly upgrade your outdoor dining experience, whether it’s by repelling insects, providing cooling drinks ‘on tap’, or avoiding smashed crockery and glasses.

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We’ve scoured the internet to find the most beautiful outdoor tableware items for a quick and affordable upgrade, from unbreakable glasses to citronella candles and glass drinks dispensers.

The best outdoor tableware items to buy today

12-Piece Kampa Agean Melamine Tableware Set

12-Piece Kampa Agean Melamine Tableware Set on a white background

We’ll admit: it’s tricky to find stylish melamine tableware sets, but this one ticks all of our boxes.

It has the sophisticated crackle glaze finish you can find on high-end ceramic crockery, along with the practicality of melamine. It’s lightweight yet sturdy, and won’t smash if dropped.

Plus, you can put it in the dishwasher for easy cleaning at the end of the night.

The beautiful blue-green tone is inspired by tropical rainforests, and you’ll get four dinner plates, side plates and cereal bowls, all in the distinctive pattern. Pair them with the matching salad bowl on summer evenings.

Drinks dispenser

A drinks dispenser on a blue table

Creating an infused water station is a simple way to add a touch of luxury to any al fresco meals. Within minutes, you can whip up a tasty and nutritious drink for your friends and family, and avoid the endless trips back to the kitchen.

This large dispenser can hold up to five litres of water, so it should keep all your guests hydrated and refreshed for a long while.

If you’re hosting a large gathering or it’s a special occasion, you could prep multiple dispensers to give your guests a choice of delicious concoctions like Pimm’s and homemade lemonade.

Etched Star Hurricanes

Etched Star Hurricane Jars on a wooden table

If you’ve ever struggled to light a candle on a breezy day, you’ll know how useful a hurricane jar can be. Protecting the flame from windy weather, they’ll save you a lot of faffing with matches.

These pretty glass hurricane lanterns feature a subtle etched star pattern. They’d look just as lovely indoors on a sideboard or coffee table, and they’d make charming gifts, along with the matching placemats, wine glasses and champagne coupes.

To complete the look, add some ivory pillar candles to your basket before checkout.

Unbreakable wine glasses

Unbreakable wine glasses on a garden table

It’s annoyingly easy to break a wine glass - especially if you’re dashing in and out of the house - so a set of ‘unbreakable’ ones is essential.

Unlike lots of plastic wine glasses you can find online, these ones swap plain, untextured designs for a turquoise finish with an unusual rippled appearance.

You can also buy matching beer glasses and a handy pitcher and tumbler set, so you can always be prepared for your guests’ drinks orders!

Set of seagrass placemats

Seagrass placemat with a knife and fork

Adding natural fibres into any tablescape is a quick and easy way to give it a rustic, homely look. These woven seagrass placemats are sure to do the trick, offsetting your crockery beautifully, while protecting the table from heat damage and scorch marks.

Each placemat is 35cm across, so it should peek out from underneath most dinner plates. Why not complement them with a washed linen tablecloth and napkins, and a black or terracotta seagrass trivet for your serving dishes?

Midford Serving Bowls

Wooden serving bowls on a table

Using wooden tableware is a convenient way to make your food even more tempting when dining outside, as it won’t crack or smash if you drop it mid-journey.

Thanks to natural variations in the grain, each of these mango wood bowls comes with unique markings. Mix and match the large salad bowl with the small versions for side dishes, crudités and dips.

Citronella candle

Citronella candles in terracotta and white dishes

Bugs often like to join us during al fresco dinners, so it’s worth keeping a stash of citronella candles in the cupboard to discourage them in a non-toxic way. M&S has a particularly elegant selection, sold in neutral-toned dishes you can reuse once the candles have burnt out.

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Choose between the three-wick citronella candle in a rustic terracotta pot, and the four-wick version in a timeless white dish with a reactive glaze.

Find other beautiful designs in our full round-up of the best citronella candles to use in your garden.

Melamine Tumblers

Melamine Tumblers on a grey table

These fun melamine tumblers are perfect for garden parties, but you could also use them as children’s cups while the adults drink from wine or beer glasses.

Each tumbler features a different animal design, so it’s easy to avoid drinks mix-ups. You can also create your own collection of safari-themed tableware with the matching plates, bowls and square dishes.

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Authors

Alice TufferyDigital Writer

Alice is a digital writer with a knack for tracking down the most innovative and exciting products to hit the market. Working across several of Our Media's special interest brands, she's written for publications including Countryfile, Gardens Illustrated and Science Focus. Outside of work - and lusting over homeware and gardening products - you’ll find her rambling in the great outdoors or watching an old film.

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