We organized an outdoor dinner party for a few of our friends recently- while we are patiently waiting to throw one indoors! The weather in Texas happened to be perfect over the weekend, so we took advantage of it, and dined outside in a field behind my parents property, while watching the gorgeous sunset. I teamed up with Vagabond House to display their beautiful majestic forest collection for our winter white foraged party. The decor across the table was all harvested from my grandma’s backyard, and we used little medicine bottles to display the spray of foliage. The menu is so simple and the decor, totally affordable! Learn how to throw an outdoor winter dinner party!
Setting the Scene
We wanted to keep the theme all white, with natural foraged elements from around the backyard. I went out with my foraging scissors and clipped seed pods, wheat, and some white sage for an aromatic addition. I bought little glass bottles from Michaels for two dollars each, and arranged the pieces in there and included some faux white flowers from Afloral. Pampas grass works really well too, but make sure it doesn’t block the person across from you. Always keep it below eye height so you can lock eyes with the person across from you.
As for the table- you may be wondering how did you carry a table in the middle of a field? This one is a foldable table with a handle for carrying, and legs that are adjustable. It seats four people very comfortably and is only $40! We carried our wooden dining room chairs, and draped some faux fur over them in case someone got cold. I fell in love with the soft linen tablecloth from Piglet. I stumbled upon them after a google search typing in “soft cozy linens.” It was so hard not to buy every color! I love how soft the table cloth feels, and draping it all the way to the ground gives a more elegant look.
The napkins are from Fern Studio. I found them on Etsy while searching hand dyed napkins. I loved the greyish blue color and soft gauzy look. Vagabond House makes these acorn and oak leaf napkin rings to nestle the napkins into. The napkin rings brought the table together and fit perfectly with the foraged theme. To mirror the napkin rings, I foraged some bur acorns (they are so big!) to scatter across the center of the table.
The menu was printed on Martha Stewart’s paper collection at Michaels. I attempted a calligraphy course during quarantine, even bought this fancy pen and ink, and after one letter, I was over it. So I found a font that looked like calligraphy, and printed them from home on hard cardstock.
On The Menu
To maintain the all white theme, I chose all white foods to serve! Surprise surprise. For a starter, we had cream of wild mushroom soup made with oyster mushrooms and pios mushrooms to garnish. Oyster mushrooms are high in protein with plenty of B vitamins! They make the perfect soup with so much flavor. My favorite place to source organic mushrooms is a company in Austin called Hi-Fi Mycology.
They even have grow bags where you can grow your own mushrooms. Technically I foraged these from my living room just clipping them off the grow bag. I love using heavy cream for the soup, but it does make it very rich. Swapping out a can coconut cream instead is just as delicious if you’re sensitive to too much dairy. You can make the soup the day before, and just reheat it right before in a sauce pan. Honestly it tastes better after a night of marinating in the fridge.
Following the soup, we served Chilean sea bass with parsnip purée. You can’t go wrong with this delicate fish. We bake it for 15 minutes and it’s complete! While baking it, make the herbal creamed sauce by whisking some mayonnaise, lemon, and fresh dill. We’ve been growng dill in our Click n’ Grow garden, and it comes in handy for fancy little garnishes. For the parsip purée, we roasted five large parsnips with skin on for added texture and then blended them in a Vitamix with some almond milk to make them extra creamy. You can also use leftover heavy cream from the soup. Add a little salt and pepper to taste and a squeeze of lemon. Something I picked up from cooking school was to always wipe the edge around the plate to frame the food better.
For dessert we served gingerbread and white chocolate mousse parfaits. you can pre-make these the night before to eliminate more things to do the night of. Just crumble up a gingerbread cake into cordial glasses, dollop on the mousse, and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Before serving, dust with cinnamon and add little spoons on the dessert plates. I found the little dessert leaf plates at Goodwill of all places.
Include a bottle of nice white wine on the table. We love a good Chablis from Louis Jadot. It’s light, and complements the fish so well! Drape a few faux fur blankets over the chairs if anyone gets chilly, and have a few extra utensils in case someone drops it into the grass! We love listening to the sounds of nature out in the country, but if you’d like a little moody dinner music, bring a portable speaker and just put it next to the table. I hope you throw an outdoor winter dinner party for your friends! Bon Appétit!!