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Summer Backyard Dining Elevated

Upgrade your summertime dining experience with creative ideas for your table and food

Article by Connie Hernandez

Photography by Shannon Liebrock, Liebrock Photography

Originally published in Ahwatukee City Lifestyle

Summer dining doesn’t always have to mean using paper plates and hot dogs, although those have their rightful place. Get inspired and treat your family and friends to a sublime experience with creative table settings as well as a simple, yet elevated food and drink menu. You can put your twist on these seasonal meals and enjoy making new memories with those you love most—in your backyard or even indoors. Bring color in using a variety of colorful table items, dishes, or drinks with fruit and veggies, and incredible flower arrangements. Be adventurous!

You raise the bar even higher by hiring a party planner and a caterer to do all the work for you so you can kick back and enjoy an incredible event.

Sydney Crimmins of Garden Party Girls specializes in high-end home and corporate parties, as well as art and floral installations. She provides all aspects of the incredible table setting: linens, plates, glasses, flatware, and the beautiful florals and décor.

For a personally inspired experience leave it to the food gurus like Tom & Lin Catering, a full-service business that can do it all for you. Having fresh, delicious food delivered, served, and cleaned up is a luxurious experience that will leave you feeling like royalty.

Elevating dining experiences is Tom & Lin Catering's (TLC) specialty. "We love to combine great quality farm-fresh food with amazing flavors." Whether it be a special occasion or a backyard BBQ, food is a common ground that brings people together, why not make it delicious? 

Tom and Lin feature locally sourced premium ingredients and share some of their favorite partners below.

TLC's watermelon salad and cocktail/mocktail recipes certainly add a refreshing element to your summer dinner and drink menu as well as beautiful color to your table setup.

TLC Watermelon Salad

1 bamboo watermelon- diced
1 small ripe pineapple – diced
6 oz torn Rhiba Farms roselle leaves (arugula is a good substitute)
4 oz Crow’s Dairy peppercorn feta
4 oz shaved Agritopia fennel
2 oz shaved red onion
2 oz minced fresh ginger

2 oz chopped fresh ginger
2 oz honey
2 oz EVOO
2 oz apple cider vinegar

Blend until smooth. Toss chopped veggies with vinaigrette and chill before serving.

TLC Signature Cocktails

Pineapple Delight
Van Gogh vodka
Pressed pineapple juice
Vanilla thyme simple syrup

Summer Berry Breeze                                                                                
Fraise des Bois
Blackberry syrup                                                                                           
Pressed and strained strawberries                                                                     
Lime juice | IG: @TasteTheTLC | | | | (brisket)

Sydney’s Tips for Elevating your Table 

1 Add Textures and Layers to Your Table

Stack different placemats and chargers on top of each other. Don’t be afraid to mix materials, metals, and patterns.

2 Set a Formal Table Setting

Use all your best plates, serving pieces, salad bowls, and utensils. It isn’t every day that we set our tables formally and use every piece as it’s intended. The formal table setting gives a special occasion feel on even the most typical days. 

3 Don’t Be Afraid of Color

Pick a few items to put on your table that add a pop of color. Using floral arrangements is the easiest way to add a lot of color in a very elegant and simple way. I also love to use colored drinking glasses or cloth napkins to give that extra pop.

4 Add Fresh Flowers and Candles

Purchase a beautiful arrangement to add to your table. Flowers bring texture, color, and tradition to your table. Adorning it with flowers goes all the way back to the Roman Empire where they would add extravagant bouquets to the large banquet tables. There is also something elegant and inviting about lighting candles at the table while you eat. The tall, sleek, simple candlesticks are my favorite. 

5 Pick a Theme for your Table

There are an infinite number of themes and ways to style your table. Choose one that is different from your normal decor. For example, choose a theme like Havana Nights with large tropical greenery for your table, bright colors, and bamboo/woven materials. You can also decorate for the season. 

6 Plate Your Food on the Table 

Pick your favorite serving trays and place all your BBQ, colorful salads, and roasted veggies on the table to be passed around and served. Food can be the most beautiful table decor. It’s all about presentation! | IG: @GardenPartyGirls

  • Sydney Crimmins