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
    November 29, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    Hi the easiest way to turn outdoors into Xmas is to hang red and silver babbles in a tree. Easy to do and looks wonderful.

  • Reply
    November 30, 2013 at 9:14 am

    A free range organic ham is my essential food item. It’s a once a year treat which enhances a simple salad-based menu.

  • Reply
    Kelly Walter
    November 30, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Turkey, Have to have Turkey for Christmas Lunch!! without the turkey doesnt feel like christmas day lunch! And we try not to decorate outside .. wish we could tho 🙁 the reason we dont decorate outside is people around here like to spoil the fun. for example down the street this guy had this blow up santa and somebody put a Dart through it.

  • Reply
    November 30, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Best way to decorate outside is outdoor twinkle lights.
    Favourite food item I have to have is rum balls! Husband loves them!

  • Reply
    Kasey Houzaifi
    November 30, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    The Christmas food that we can never go without is the pork
    Crackerling OMG nom nom nom just not Christmas without Crackerling!!! Omg love also ty for doing these giveaways it really does help us mummies with lots if babies <3

  • Reply
    November 30, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    My deliciously rich fruit cake has become a family tradition, even when we have overindulged someone always asks for a piece!

  • Reply
    November 30, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    The one thing we absolutely have to have on the Christmas table is turkey. Doesn’t feel like Christmas without it. And need to have christmas pudding just because it’s yum!

  • Reply
    November 30, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    I’m nor sure which question I’m meant to answer, so I’ll do both.

    My best tip for decorating outside at Christmas time is to make sure it’s securely attached – this goes for anything from tablecloths to house lights! Light breezes, gentle rain, or severe summer storms – make sure your decorations are not going to end up in your neighbour’s backyard!

    The one food I have to have on my Christmas table is not food – it’s a drink and it’s my family-famous non-alcoholic Christmas punch. Everyone loves it!

  • Reply
    Karen Bogle
    November 30, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Pretty colored solar lights bring the Christmas feeling outdoors and citronella candles are gorgeous too – and they keep bugs away!

  • Reply
    Virginia Mason
    November 30, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    My outside decorating tip is to fill several terracotta pots (or plastic tub) with pine cones, green pine branches and some red baubles. This decorated either on the table if they were small or any where in the backyard would give the instant look, feel and smell of Christmas! My other tip is not to forget to incorporate some Christmas games to keep every one entertained – how about spraying the grass for games like Twister/Hopscotch. Very easy and cheap!

    • Reply
      Virginia Mason
      November 30, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      I saw there was another part to this question – the one food we love to have at Christmas is a big bowl of cherries. It looks gorgeous and makes for instant decoration. If I get time dipping the cherries in white chocolate is even better!

  • Reply
    November 30, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Prawns are a must on our Christmas table.. In Qld it is nearly compulsory to have prawns on christmas day..

  • Reply
    November 30, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Decorating is easy at Christmas, a bit of red. Baubles, candles, table clothes. Then it will surely feel like christmas.

  • Reply
    Nicole W
    November 30, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    ~ Make use of your garden by decorating trees and garden beds with lights, baubles and ornaments and at nighttime light some lanterns using soft candles.

  • Reply
    November 30, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    I love that mat!! So big and awesome! Your space is beautiful! My one favourite thing to decorate outdoors is fairy lights..they make any space look so pretty!

  • Reply
    Stephanie Veljanovska
    November 30, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    We decorate the Backyard with White solar fairy lights on the backyard trees and on the roof of our Alfresco and on my Outdoor table we have a large Jar filled with Baubles.

  • Reply
    November 30, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Silver and blue lights look great outside – they don’t get lost in the green.

  • Reply
    Karina W
    November 30, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Stick an oversized blow up Santa on your lawn. Ta-da.

  • Reply
    Jade Gower
    December 1, 2013 at 10:50 am

    My tip for decorating outside- Lots of shade!
    It gets so hot at Xmas time so make sure you have plenty of shade to sit under!

  • Reply
    December 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Keep it simple and stylish, not overdone so it looks tacky.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Child friendly decorations all the way, because little fingers are drawn instantly to Christmas bling and you don’t want anyone ending up hurt or decorations getting broken.

  • Reply
    Jennifer B.
    December 1, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    Set up under a big market umbrella!
    Not only is it Sunsmart, but you can then also hang decorations from it. We dangle numerous red Chinese lanterns but tinsel or baubles look great too!

  • Reply
    Tanya Clarke
    December 2, 2013 at 6:41 am

    I think lights are always great to dress up outdoors. Coloured lights at Christmas make outdoor parties especially magical.

  • Reply
    December 2, 2013 at 7:41 am

    I love to hang christmas lights outside and sit outside at dusk and watch them light up the night sky.

  • Reply
    December 2, 2013 at 10:00 am

    We love to brighten up the outdoors with festive solar lights!

  • Reply
    December 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    I;m a fan of fairy lights… everywhere!!! They always make me think of Christmas! Chuck a red table cloth on the table and turn on the Christmas music and you are ready to party!
    By the way I just adore the use of the big tree cookies in your table decoration – they’d be great for resting hot platters on too!

  • Reply
    Debs- Learn with Play at Home
    December 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    I too love the big wood rounds! I want some!! (So good for parties!)
    For outside entertaining I love hanging bunting around. It’s so quick and easy but instantly gives it a festive/party type feel.

  • Reply
    Jane Summertime
    December 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Love this idea!! Definitely going to try making a centrepiece with rustic wood as the base, so natural and lovely 🙂

  • Reply
    December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    love all the ideas and tips shared by you..so simple but yet it makes a great statement…

  • Reply
    December 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Remember the flies! Always have a pretty fly netting available!

  • Reply
    Bianca Moore
    December 2, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    This year we are excited to have the family come to our house on Christmas Day so we have decorated the front of the house with LOTS of fairy lights, icicle lights and rope light shapes (all from BigW). The backyard will be decorated with a red and silver theme with table linen and bon bons (bought from BigW) and table centres that I have made myself.

  • Reply
    Kasey Evans
    December 2, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Solar fairy lights hanging up, looks fantastic but doesn’t chew into the power bill.

  • Reply
    Christie Palmer
    December 3, 2013 at 12:08 am

    Practicalities are boring so I’m going straight for aesthetics!! The best tip for decorating outside and especially on Christmas Day is to draw attention to the otherwise ‘over looked’ and under appreciated things in life. I like to stick to nature but whatever it is use it as the centre piece and go all out. Last year I went to the beach and collected these naturally formed grass/debris balls and spinifex grasses and integrated a bit if red/white check with neutrals and a deep green. No glitter or tinsel here!! This year I am going totally outback 😉

  • Reply
    Jacqueline Collins
    December 3, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Plan out where they will go before dragging decorations out and also make sure they are hard to steal as it seems to be a habit for young kids trying to “look” cool

  • Reply
    Cathy Stone
    December 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Best decorating tip for outside (especially on your front lawn) at Christmas is use to use bright, colourful, sparkling fairy lights, Christmas light reindeers, blow up Santa, and nativity scene creating a magical display that is visually appealing, it will make a impact, yet simple. People going by will love the sights, bringing joy and laughter, squeals of happiness from excited kids too, and you will have embraced and brought Christmas outdoors.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth rideout
    December 4, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Have lots of lights and wreaths

  • Reply
    Karen Viller
    December 4, 2013 at 10:09 am

    A big flexi tub filled with ice, fresh prawns and a bottle of white!

  • Reply
    December 4, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Keep it simple! a nice table cloth and a few table decorations and the trusty bon bon, goes a long way 🙂

  • Reply
    Courtney Paine
    December 4, 2013 at 10:11 am

    My best christmas tip is to use coloured LED lights to brighten up the place adding christmas cheer as well as to use old bottles as candle holders. They really set the mood.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Big natural wreaths made from whatever vegetation is in hand and threaded with solar lights so the Christmas joy can twinkle on after sunset!

  • Reply
    alison briggs
    December 4, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Natural products and simple elegance works wonders. We love candles, bon bons and baubles to add a spice of colour.

  • Reply
    Catherine Free
    December 4, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Keep it simple and don’t go overboard outside. You never know if a summer storm could come rolling through.

  • Reply
    Sharon Johnson
    December 4, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Love to adorn trees in the garden with lanterns and solar lights to make things bright. Spirit of Xmas set free with a few little additions of colour.

  • Reply
    connie bellam
    December 4, 2013 at 10:17 am

    home made goodies wrapped up with special ribbon is lovely on the table.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Embrace your surroundings, add some decorations to
    The trees, hedge or clothes line and some solar lights.
    Keep the table centerpiece fairly sime and add a nice striped or spotted table cloth.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Be prepared for weather change is something i always think about when entertaining outdoors.I always have tablecloth weights when outdoors and food covers. Using dinnerware that won’t blow away if the wind picks up is a good idea. other things i keep in mind are If it is far away from shelter i always take a few umbrellas and i also like to take a first aid kit with mozzie repellant, sunscreen and of course band aids. I know these are not decorating tips

  • Reply
    Cathie Bennett
    December 4, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Use decorations that compliment the natural environment outside, also add some fairy lights to enhance the beauty of what we have

  • Reply
    Glen Fieldy
    December 4, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Decorate garden plants with ornaments, keep out of the wind, bring the inside outside and relax and enjoy.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2013 at 10:21 am

    A great outdoor Christmas tip is to hang silver and blue or red and gold baubles every so often from a string of solar lights around your outside entertaining area. The lights twinkle off the surface of the balls and make a real showpiece. You could always go with green/gold baubles for a real Aussie Christmas!!

  • Reply
    December 4, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Fairy lights. Twinkling fairy lights.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2013 at 10:25 am

    these ideas look amazing!

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