Many of us don’t live in a climate where November is time for “outdoor living” — but if you’re fortunate enough to be in a place where it is, consider this: holidays don’t have to mean stiff, formal meals indoors if you don’t want them to. You can set up a cozy table under a spreading oak, or a picnic bench amongst the autumn leaves, and enjoy the fresh air as much as you enjoy each other. Enjoy contemporary style? Take your orange-and-chrome chairs outside, set up a rectangular table with a dark wood “runner” at its center, and arrange pumpkins or small flowers down the middle. A long table with petrified-wood or lumber-look “plates” is both rustic and fun — or use green-trimmed china, a burlap runner, and tiny pumpkins for color.
Striped tablecloths go great with plain chrome or aluminum, while light blue or white tablecloths “pop” next to bright orange kitchen chairs. You can even improvise seating: fabric-covered stools and a work table with an oversized tablecloth make a “dining room” out of any green area! Use a wonderful wrap-around porch as the site for a table with classic dishes — or casual stoneware. Chairs don’t have to match: use picnic benches, camp seating, even plump ottomans for the extra people. And if you’ve got a real mob coming, long banquet tables with crisp white cloths, set up on your own prairie, could be a party just waiting to happen. These tables, large and small, can give you inspiration; if Mother Nature cooperates, don’t hesitate to take the feast outdoors.