Christmas Picnic (& other outdoor decoration ideas)

Christmas in Australia is very much an outdoor affair. I’m sharing tips on setting up a portable Christmas space for the backyard or park.  I’ve listed below how I put it together and other general tips I’ve gleaned from eating outdoors on many camping trips.

Make a portable Christmas space to take out in the backyard or beyond - beafunmum.com

Eating outdoors at Christmastime -- beafunmum.com

When it comes to any sort of decorating, I like to utilise everyday items and add accents to make it festive. That’s why the star item this week is the humble picnic mat.

I got this huge 3 metre by 3 metre picnic mat (pictured below) from BIG W. It’s perfect for a dozen sprawled children. Great family Christmas present idea too.

outdoor christmas ideas - picnic mat and a small tree - beafunmum.com


A regular tablecloth works well, but I like the idea of using a picnic mat or rug as a tablecloth outdoors.  A traditional tartan picnic mat looks fabulously Christmassy in this setting.  For the table covering here, I used a red and white picnic mat I already owned.

Outdoor Christmas Ideas - use a picnic mat as a tablecloth - beafunmum.com

Colour Theme

As a general rule, I pick two main colours then a third (and sometimes fourth) as highlights. So the main theme here is the red and white, and then bottle green as a highlight. 

Wood Rounds

I found someone to cut untreated logs to size for a rustic look.  The beauty of this is it’s heavy so the table covering won’t budge.

Outdoor Christmas Ideas -- wood rounds for a table centrepiece - beafunmum.com

Tip: Other items that can be used to layer the table if wood rounds are hard to secure: placemats, table runner, long piece of wood that runs the length of the table.

Holly Garland

I added a strand of holly garland and finished off with a scatter of collected pine cones.

Outdoor Christmas - holly and pine cones - beafunmum.com


For the centrepiece I went for something simple, easy and outdoor friendly.

Plastic Wine Centrepiece

3 Plastic Wine Glasses

Small baubles (colour of choice)

3 battery-operated candles (use blu-tack to attach)

Outdoor Christmas Ideas - Plastic Wine Glass Centrepiece - beafunmum.com
Outdoor Christmas Ideas - Plastic Wine Glass Centrepiece - beafunmum.com

Outdoor Christmas Ideas - Plastic Wine Glass Centrepiece - beafunmum.com

Side Feature

To add to the glass look-a-like theme, I added an upside down tumbler with two battery-operated candles to give more light.  Although never as good as the real thing, these candles can give off a surprisingly decent amount of light.

Tumbler Candle

Plastic tumbler

Battery operated tea light


  • Use the tumbler upright with one tea light inside
  • Place a Christmas decoration or mini-tree underneath the plastic up instead of the light for a different look

Outdoor Christmas Ideas - Plastic Centrepiece - beafunmum.com

Outdoor Christmas Ideas - Plastic Centrepiece - beafunmum.com


No outdoor Christmas setting is truly complete without the sparkle of lights.  If you have access to electricity, a heap of outdoor lights hung around a patio or in a nearby tree creates a lovely atmosphere.

Battery-operated LED lights are portable.  Just pop a few batteries in and hang from wherever you like.  This is what I used to create a backdrop for the outdoor setting.

Outdoor Christmas Idea - Use lights in a tree - beafunmum.com

Christmas Tree

This small Christmas Tree costs $5 and can be set up anywhere.  Gifts can be placed under the tree or inside a dedicated tub or box (to keep them from accidently being kicked around the place).

Tip: this size tree works as a table centrepiece too.

Outdoor Christmas Ideas - a small tree and a picnic mat - beafunmum.com

Outdoor Dining

We camp as a family so have learned many tips and tricks for eating outside, some of which I’m sharing below.

Outdoor Christmas Ideas - plastic white tableware - beafunmum.com

1. Outdoor friendly tableware

Plastic plates and cups go a long way in aiding a stress-free experience, especially if there are a lot of people and family around.  This really helps with pack up too: throw everything in a big tub and cart it to where you need it when finished.

2. Create spaces

Think in spaces, even when it comes to food and drink.  For example:

– a large mat on the ground for lounging

– fold-up chairs for sitting

– drinks in an esky or tubs filled with ice

– a table for food and another for sitting if you can (fold-up tables are brilliant for this type of thing)

– Have a bin available: line a large rubber tub with a plastic bag

3. Food & drink tips

– While a little more expensive, drinks in serving size — cans, poppers and bottles — make things easy when outside. Place in an esky or container filled with ice and guests can help themselves without the need for cups.  This saves having bottles clogging up the table too.

– A large container with water sitting on the edge of a table is ideal

– Think of food in categories. This makes it easy when allocating who brings what at Christmastime.

a) meat or protein

b) side items: salad or vegetables

c) carbohydrates: bread rolls, potato, rice

d) dessert

e) condiments: butter, tomato sauce, salt & pepper

Blow up buffet

I saw this blow up picnic buffet and though it a brilliant idea ($10). Simply blow up, fill with ice and place food containers inside.

inflatable blow up buffet - perfect for outdoor Christmas - beafunmum.com

Ice or Scrap Bucket for table

Make your own table bucket (ideal for seafood scraps) to go with a colour chosen theme.  Use a hot glue gun to attach a ribbon around the top of a small metal bucket.

Scrap bucket for Christmas Table - dress up a bucket with a themed ribbon - beafunmum.com

Drink tubs

Rubber tubs are fantastic for all kids of outdoor use, including drinks.

Outdoor Christmas - use rubber tubs filled with ice for drinks - beafunmum.com

Set up

I set up this space in a matter of minutes. Hooray for Christmas picnics is all I have to say at the end.

Other ideas for outdoor Christmas decorating

– Hang a wreath on the front door. Love this door decoration from Seven Cherubs

– Citronella candle

– Jars with tea lights to line the driveway

– Outdoor lights

– Pots filled with holly and pine cones

– Decorate an outdoor tree with baubles

– Hang pine cones from ribbon along the windows

Make a nature garland


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  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Fairy lights!

  • Reply
    Brooke Gordon
    December 6, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Home made decorations with the kids hanging on the balcony and in the pot plants and trees!

  • Reply
    Justine Graham
    December 6, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    I love how you used the wine glasses and baubles! very classy and creative 🙂 I like a few random scattered decorations with a few hidden ones also. adds that bit of sparkle around the garden and doubles as a decoration hunt for the kids afterwards also 🙂

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    I have a toddler so I find places that are out of her reach to put up tinsel and baubles like our bigger trees and pergola :o)

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    This looks divine!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Use solar powered fairy lights to string along the back deck, or in a tree in the backyard. Instant mood setting!

  • Reply
    Louise Davison
    December 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Love these decorating Ideas, Especially the wine glasses..genius! Thanks for posting 🙂

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Get together with your neighbours and theme decorate your street, also a great way to get to know people!

  • Reply
    Sarah V
    December 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Flowers from the garden and a long table with a festive table runner for the family lunch.

  • Reply
    Tara fitzgerald
    December 6, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    We picnic lots during spring and summer. We have chopped half the length off the legs of a card table, makes it a great height to put good and drinks on! Also, use the battery opened flickering tea light candles, put turn in glass jars, looks do pretty and they won’t keep blowing out!

  • Reply
    Simone Hull
    December 6, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Always have a few decorations in the garden, something to make it feel like Xmas somewhere else besides the dining table, some baubles in the trees in the garden & even some tinsel for some extra sparkle. This is also great for children to go exploring!! 🙂
    And for the table an upside down wine glass with a candle on top of the base always looks good, get a white candle & get the children to decorate with glitter/tinsel, looks great! 🙂

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Use lots of different sized citronella candles to create a Christmasy look whilst repelling the bugs! Gotta love a good old Aussie Christmas!!

  • Reply
    Gemma Westacott
    December 6, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    We have made an amazing outdoor Christmas Tree using three branches tied into a pyramid/tree shape with jute, and a few sticks across ways to brace it all. We’ve then strung a string of solar star lights around it and a few cheap, wooden reindeer decorations I got from Big W. Looks awesome both day and night (Even if I do say so myself!) And we had heaps of fun making it, and it cost hardly anything!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    A small, intimate setting with fairy lights and simplistic decoration. Family is all that’s required to make it perfect!

  • Reply
    Louise Romanis
    December 6, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Use citronella candles to keep those pesky mozzies away

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    No matter where you are or what you are eating, a table cloth and some little tablecloth weights turn any place into a party

  • Reply
    lara morello
    December 6, 2013 at 7:53 pm


  • Reply
    Lyssa Row
    December 6, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    We go with the old school “Stop here Santa” Sign, Christmas lights, decorate one of our trees and of course a wreath on the front door.

  • Reply
    Sussan Cherry
    December 6, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    My tip for decorating out doors this Christmas is to invest in food bug covers for day and citronella candles for night and you will have a great Aussie Christmas!

  • Reply
    Tennille Dumbell
    December 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    A simple string of fairy lights, red and white décor, a big aluminium ice bucket, and plenty of warm BBQ food is perfect for a Summer Christmas…oh and food covers to keep the flies away!

  • Reply
    Cassie Reed
    December 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    I love hanging bead strings with baubles and other random tree decorations off our makeshift rope clothes line in our car port (overhead). It made for an elegant Xmas feel in an otherwise weathered area

  • Reply
    Kimberley Gray
    December 6, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Keep it simple but elegant. Don’t go overboard with the decorations and stick to a theme

  • Reply
    karen Robertson
    December 6, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    There’s no such thing as too many fairy lights and everybody loves bubbles (our bubble blowing machine from BigW goes for hours at every party we have).

  • Reply
    Kaz C
    December 6, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Decorate the table with things from the garden – one of my favourites is to cut some small bendy cherry tree branches, twist them around the bottom of a vase & hold in place with wire. Put some garden flowers, a bunch of herbs or Christmas baubles into the vase.

  • Reply
    Helen Young
    December 6, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Garlands of tinsel instead of party hats that blow away 🙂

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    I always buy an assortment of tree decorating baubles & get extras in all sizes to use them as a centrepiece (indoors I place them in fishbowl vases of varying sizes & outdoors placing a pile on a melamine or Tupperware tray. We always save the smallest ones and tie them onto coloured ribbon to use as glass savers/markers so no one loses their bubblies!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Michelle Haworth
    December 6, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Chinese lanterns

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    lots and lots of natural touches like holly and mistletoe, making sure to keep the lights simple to let the decorations glow!

  • Reply
    Christine Krahforst
    December 6, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Waterproof fairylights (-:

  • Reply
    Charise Sell
    December 6, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    My outside decorating tip is to use what you have in your garden and yard. Fresh flowers on the table, using a tree to decorate as a Christmas tree, and fairy light from tree to tree to make them look like little stars at night.

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Paper lanterns and fairy lights

  • Reply
    Kara Smith
    December 6, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    I love home grown christmas bush to make into a garland or to run down the centre of the table as a decoration.
    An old branch that you find in the garden placed in a vase is perfect to hang baubles or decorations off. I also use red and green apples in a glass vase as a beautiful centrepiece. So cheap and simple to set up and it doesn’t matter if the kids get into it.
    Parasols are great during the day to provide a bit of shade and fairy lights at night for a bit of mood lighting.

  • Reply
    Estella T
    December 6, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Lots of tinsels, easy and effective around the house!

  • Reply
    Danae Barnes
    December 6, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Last year I got my daughter to decorate some plain wooden pegs with glue and lots of glitter, and we then pegged these to weight the tablecloth down (with the added bonus of more sparkle to our decorations)! Each guest could then take home a handmade gift;)

  • Reply
    Michelle Dash
    December 6, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Lights, lights and more lights lots of tinsel and of coarse a couple of fans to fight the heat

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    Awesome ideas 🙂

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Make it easy, being outside is about being relaxed

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    I put elastic on the corners of outdoor tablecloths (like a fitted sheet) this stops accidents if kids are running around and stops them blowing away 🙂

  • Reply
    December 6, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    We keep it minimal. Christmas table cloths, a small tree, Christmas crackers and our traditional cold meat and salad lunch. We make sure the blow up pool is full of water and under the shade. Nothing says Christmas to me like spending the day in the pool with the family (kids, grandparents, nieces and nephews).

  • Reply
    Hazel MacDonald
    December 6, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Keep it simple, and always add a touch of sparkle. From fairly lights to glittery baubles as centre pieces, and ALWAYS have mozzy repellent! Happy Christmas x

  • Reply
    December 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    red and white paper lanterns, fairy lights and plenty of MELAMINE cups and plates! with the lanterns and fairy lights the evening can be enjoyed outdoors and it provides such a nice atmosphere!

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