Let’s be honest – it’s too hot. We love the summer, but 33 degrees celsius is too high for these British Isles. So, we look to shade and the cooler evenings to make the most of our gardens. Then we add an ironic firepit when it gets too cold.

Coretn steel firepit, aflame
Toasty irony

Here’s some tips on how to upgrade your garden dining game, creating a cosy outdoor dinner party your guests will remember for ages. Until the next time you have them round at least!

The set in these shots is our reclining Hadleigh 6 seater – this one’s grey, but it’s available in several different colours to suit your style. And the fire pit is corten steel, but there’s plenty of others that will give the same effect.

1. Throw Shade

It’s easy to set up for dining outdoors, but a bit of preparation is key. A parasol is a near necessity if you’re day-dining into the evening, unless you can guarantee shade, as otherwise your guests or family are going to be served a side of sunburn along with whatever delicious meals you’ve cooked. 

Hadleigh Parasol above a garden dining set


Several of our dining sets have a parasol included so you don’t even need to think about where to get one. If you’re in the mood for something fancier a sail shades also a great solution for broader shade. There’s loads of sail solutions – read on here for a comprehensive shade solution list!

2. Let there be light

If you’re going to avoid the sun like the opening of this article suggested, then add a bit of boho to set a charming scene as the light gets lower. Table lanterns, string lights and candles are all great options to line up for longer evenings, and go for something solar to have them turn on automatically when the sun’s almost gone.

Hanging solar light on a string of lights
Beautiful Solar Boho

Candles are perfect for a touch of twinkly light, and candle holders will keep guests safe from brushing against any flames. Why not try out the Grigio Wooden Candle Lamp to add some sophisticated lighting to your outdoor space?

Candle holders with candles in them
It definitely wasn’t because we had no batteries to hand on the day

3. Creature Comforts

Throws will turn from decoration to cosy blankets for guests to use as they choose once the summer heat evaporates into the night, while adding a bit of extra comfort during dinner. You can go for complementing or contrasting colours (as we’ve done here), but try and avoid clashing colours. Most guests won’t care and just be thankful for the later warmth, but you just know someone’ll walk away thinking about your style instead of your meal. And do the same with any scatter cushions you add too.

Throws and cushions on hadleigh garden dining furniture
There’s no such thing as ‘too jazzy’, Barbara

4. Coaster-ing through

If your tabletop’s glass (as it is across the entire Hectare range), you’ll want to get some coasters and placemats out. (We don’t sell them, but any number of homeware retailers will see you right). They’re still a classy touch on wood and other tabletop surfaces, but you’ll be glad to get them involved during dinner. The tempered glass is designed to resist shattering, but that doesn’t stop it making a clattery sound every time someone puts their wine glass down or moves their plate a bit. 

Trust us on this one – this photoshoot would have been a much louder affair if we hadn’t!

Wine being poured into a glass on a coaster on an outdoor dining table
Wine optional, and also great

All together now

Put all the evening bits together and you’ve got an effect like this, a cosy garden dining room to keep guests cosy through the evening and into the night. We’ve got the seats upright for stimulating conversation, but you could just as easily recline back for some nightly stargazing. Just go easy on the wine if that’s your plan – it’s a bit hard to focus on them after a glass too many.

Hadleigh furniture set up in style around a lit firepit

The morning after, once all guests have gone and you’re feeling like continuing the vibe for yourself, grab a coffee table and a couple of chairs and get yourself a slice of cafe chic in your own garden.

Hadleigh chairs set up in a bistro-set style (a chair either side of a coffee table)


Want some garden dining for yourself? See the whole Hectare range at Primrose.co.uk