My Party Lines: For dinner outdoors, blankets on the chairs for chilly guests are absolute musts. I believe in keeping decor simple and unexpected -- I like to hang solar lanterns from bird-feeder hooks in trees. If you ask me, formal table settings are overrated. A weathered cotton painter's tarp makes a great tablecloth. I don't do fresh flowers, but I do cover a cake stand with moss from the yard. When I want to be extra-chic, I pull out my Le Creuset cookware. I splurge on organic produce, but never on expensive candles. I often rely on gourmet condiments when I cook. Stonewall Kitchen chutneys are my entertaining secret weapons. One of my favorite alfresco dinner menus includes Farm-Stand-Vegetable Green Curry. I like to assign easy tasks to get guests mingling. During the big event, I always relax and I never clean up.
Danny's eco-friendly outdoor party tips are anything but obvious.
Fire It Up
Instead of chemical fire starters, I use dryer lint. It's repurposing what you have on hand, and it gets the fire going.
Save your good plates and get a stash of cheap ones at a thrift store. (Wash them first.) If you must go disposable, try bamboo plates.
The Perfect Foil
Bottles and cans are obvious, but people forget that aluminum foil is recyclable, too. Give it a rinse to remove residual food.
Everything Is Illuminated
Everyone loves clear holiday lights for a festive touch, but the LED ones use a fraction of the energy -- and last longer!
Rock, Paper, Scissors
I live on the Delaware River, so my "place cards" are river rocks with guests' names on them. Landlocked? Try leaves.