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Outdoor decorated setting on a deck with a pool in backyard.
We’re sharing ideas for styling your outdoor entertaining area to make the most of get-togethers with family and friends.

Set the scene

Summer is filled to the brim with fun – hot days, warm evenings, backyard barbecues, Christmas get-togethers, and New Year’s Eve parties. There is a calendar of celebrations awaiting you and your loved ones. If you’re the host with the most, style your outdoor area to make entertaining a breeze. We’re sharing simple steps and inspirational ideas to get you ready for a great time. 

Divide the backyard into entertaining zones

Think about how to best use your entire outdoor area. Forget how you’ve always done things and approach the space with fresh eyes. Start by selecting a dining area. This might involve placing a dining table under cover or on the deck for comfort and convenience. Do you need a drinks station, adjacent barbecue area, or a place for people to stand around and chat? You know your entertainment style, so create a space that works best for you and your guests.

Next, think about outdoor seating areas. Spacing things out makes the most of your outside area and encourages people to circulate so they’re not crowded around the dining table before the meal even begins. 

A red stained outdoor dining set on a matching red stained deck, with a pool nearby

Fun for all ages

When you’re zoning your backyard, don’t forget about the kids! Setting up an entertainment area on the grass is a great way to give kids their own space to have fun, happily occupied but still within sight of adult supervision. Equip this zone to suit your space and the ages of your children and guests. Lawn games are great for older kids, while little ones might enjoy playground equipment, a tent fort or a sandpit.

Tip: If you have children, get them involved in planning the perfect summer play-space.

A kids tent and plastic toys set up on a grassy area to make a kids' play zone.

Set the outdoor dining table

The star of any outdoor entertainment area is the dining table. A well-laid table with a beautiful seasonal centrepiece is a wonderful way to create a sense of occasion, and attention to detail is the true art of tablescaping. Start by making sure you’ve got an outdoor table big enough for a crowd (and keep a trestle table on hand for unexpected guests). Set up dining chairs or bench seats and add cushions for colour and comfort.

Start your decorating with a bare table, neutral-toned tablecloth or a table runner. “Be resourceful – you can use a painter’s calico drop sheet or some fabric by the metre,” says stylist Sharon Begg. “Always use white as a base and build your colour from there.”

Begin with this blank canvas and then build a setting that’s specific to your event and can easily be updated, no matter the occasion.

Create some Christmas table décor

Festive meals are a great time to bring friends and family together, so make your Christmas table setting extra special. A tablecloth or runner and linen napkins make a lovely start to your dining area, which you can then build on with stylish additions.

While it’s fun to play with Christmas-themed table décor, bear in mind that you’ll need room for large sharing platters, like the Christmas ham. Rather than one large centrepiece, small vases of flowers and candles are practical – they look fantastic and can easily be moved around. Don't forget to add the traditional Christmas crackers!

Flowers and foliage are a beautiful addition to a table setting, and they’re a great way to set a holiday mood. Native flowers in shades of red and pink provide a modern Christmas look, providing a stylish twist on traditional festive colours.

Alternatively, Sharon suggests using green foliage – pine fronds work well, as do olive branches. “For a simple, elegant look, add some green foliage along the length of the table on top of a white tablecloth,” she says. “Give height by using vases and flowers, either grouped or spaced out.”

And for a sprinkle of festive colour? “Add either fresh or dried fruit, such as lemons, oranges or figs,” Sharon suggests.

A close up image of colourful glass vases holding foliage and Christmas crackers and candles on the table.

Style a New Year’s Eve celebration

For New Year’s Eve in your outdoor entertaining area, simply swap out the Christmas crackers for twinkly lights and candles to create a magical atmosphere. Don’t forget to take outdoor lighting beyond the tabletop and expand it into your garden, too.

“Set up mood lighting that can take your space from day to night – fairy lights, festoon lights or candles can create a cosy and relaxed vibe,” says stylist Samantha Pointon. Hang lights along the fence or in trees to keep the entertaining area well-lit and ambient.

Tip: Flickering candles look fantastic, but flameless versions are safer and you don’t have to worry about them blowing out in the breeze.

A New Year’s Eve dining table should be less formal, with an element of fun. Add a touch of gold by spraying MDF craft coasters in metallic paint – this easy D.I.Y. project looks a million bucks for very little cost.

A New Year's Eve outdoor table set up at night time decorated with candles and foliage.

Set the scene for a summer barbecue

Summer barbecues are usually casual affairs, so a pop of pretty colour is often all you need to transform your table décor. A simple and cost-effective way to achieve this is with fresh flowers. “Flowers are a really easy way to make your entertaining area feel special with minimal effort, and they don't have to be fancy or expensive. Even a few stems from your garden adds a nice touch,” says Samantha.

Alternatively, plant up a collection of low planters with cottage garden flowers that provide long-lasting summer colour. This acts as a semi-permanent centrepiece that can sit on the dining table all summer long, so you’re always ready for impromptu barbecues and get-togethers with loved ones. Plus, it provides you with a pretty display to enjoy every day and not just when company calls.

An outdoor table setting decorated with pot plants in a backyard.

Looking for more inspiration?

Read through our vast range of D.I.Y. articles.


Photo Credit: Cath Muscat

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.