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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I added a strand of holly garland and finished off with a scatter of collected pine cones.
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)
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.
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
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.
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.
We camp as a family so have learned many tips and tricks for eating outside, some of which I’m sharing below.
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
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.
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.
Rubber tubs are fantastic for all kids of outdoor use, including drinks.
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