Tag Archives: outdoor entertaining

Just landed – new collection in-store and online now

Just landed – new collection in-store and online now. The Outdoor Living Direct spring/summer 2015-’16 collection has just landed in-store and online. With beautiful pieces inspired by recent travels to Europe and Asia, we’re sure you’ll find something special to fill your outdoor area with this upcoming season.

As a team, we are passionate about outdoor living and entertaining. We believe in our products, that’s why we only source high quality items that offer the finest in comfort, style, durability and convenience. We understand that furnishing an outdoor area is about more than just acquiring objects: it’s about enjoying the good life outdoors. It’s about making the most of great weather and the best of company. We do our bit to make this experience all that it can be and believe our newest collection embodies all of this plus more! John Strahan, the owner here at Outdoor Living Direct, travels regularly sourcing the latest in outdoor trends and ideas, “We’re not just about being on-trend,” he says. “We’re also big on comfort and durability, and choose only those pieces we’d be happy to have in our own backyard. We even give every piece of furniture the ‘sit’ test, making sure all our items are truly comfortable. There’s nothing worse than having a bit of furniture that looks good but is a pain in the backside to sit in.”

Saba 4 piece lounge with in-built cushion storage

Designed with practicality and style in mind the Saba 4 piece lounge setting with cushion storage, is a must have this season! Complete with a left hand love seat, a right hand love seat, a corner storage box and a coffee table/storage unit the Saba is the ideal setting for any garden or patio area and the perfect entertaining piece for the upcoming warmer weather.

Saba – driftwood/dark taupe

The included built in storage is a practical and convenient addition. When the sets not being used, choose to store the cushions within the corner storage unit and the coffee table. Both have been built with lids that lift up to reveal deep cushion storage space. Convenience, practicality and style all rolled into one – you can’t go past the Saba when it comes to outdoor lounging this season.

1080x530_saba_grey_charcoal2    1080x530_saba_grey_charcoal3
Saba – grey/charcoal

Connect dining range

For a contemporary outdoor dining solution you can’t go past our new Connect aluminium dining range. Available in a 5, 7, 9 and 11 piece the Connect has been designed to suit various sized outdoor areas and is the perfect piece to entertain with this spring/summer season.

Connect 5 piece
Connect 7 piece
Connect 9 piece
Connect 11 piece

Sahara 3 piece modular lounge

Lounge in comfort and style this season thanks to the Sahara 3 piece lounge setting. Complete with two love seats and an ottoman the Sahara is extremely comfortable and is sure to look great in any outdoor space. Sleek, stylish and guranteed to please.

Driftwood/dark taupe

Jabiru hanging chair

For the ultimate in relaxation you can’t go past the Jabiru hanging chair. The ideal companion for long lazy days by the pool, the Jabiru hanging chair offers it all and more!

Supremely comfortable due to its ergonomic design, the Jabiru comes in two colour variations – black/black and brown/mushroom. With an upright back and luxurious cushion the Jabiru is sure to leave you wanting more.


Jetson 4 piece lounge

Designed with comfort and style in mind, the Jetson 4 piece lounge setting combines sleek, contemporary lines with plush cushioning for the ultimate in outdoor lounging.


Featuring a generous sized 2 seater lounge, two single arm chairs and a glass topped coffee table, the Jetson is the ideal setting for any garden or patio area and the perfect entertaining piece.

The tapered acacia timber legs complement the modernised design allowing for a total contemporary look. Treating these timber legs with a quality outdoor timber oil will help to maintain the honey colour and ensure they’ll last indefinitely.

Theme Ideas for Your Next Outdoor Get-Together or party

Theme ideas for your next outdoor get-together

Not every backyard party needs a theme.  It can be enough just for people to get together to enjoy each other’s company in a relaxed, convivial atmosphere.  Add some snacks, a few drinks, some tunes.. you’re set!  Sometimes, though, it’s a bit of fun to give your party a theme.  Here are a few theme ideas for your next outdoor get-together or party.


Themes for Childrens’ Parties

The backyard can be the perfect place for a kid’s birthday party: at some point after a few red cordials there might be a bit of chaos and bedlam, and it’s a good idea to keep that away from the antiques.


Every boy of a certain age understands that robots are awesome!  Decorations should be metallic, grey and silver in colour, festooned with nuts and bolts.

What to serve: Use a robot shaped cookie cutter to make robot biscuits.  Cola can be served as “mineral oil”.  Marshmallows of different sizes can be assembled using toothpicks into marshmallow robots.

What to do: Use cardboard boxes and foil to have the kids dress up as robots when they enter the party.  You can turn this into a competition, with a prize for the best robot costume.  “Simon says” can be played as “robot says”.  “Pin the tail on the donkey” can become “pin the arms on the robot”.  Have “robot races” where legs have to be kept straight at all times – first to the finish line wins!

Bubbles and Balloons

This one’s great for toddlers, though I think that deep down, if we’re truly honest with ourselves, we all love bubbles and balloons.

What to serve: Gumballs, meatballs, rumballs, stuffed potato balls, and delicious round food of any type.  Bubble tea.  Fill balloons with helium and anchor them down by tyeing them with string to pieces of raspberry coconut slice wrapped in parchment paper.

What to do: Show the kids how to make their own bubble wands using pipe cleaners.  Have a competition for who can blow the largest bubble.  Hold a “balloon race” where two or more teams of equal size all stand in a row and pass the balloon from the from the front to the back – when the balloon gets to the end, the kid at the back runs to the front and then the balloon gets passed back again – the first team to run through every member so that the kid who started at the front is back there again, is the winner.  Popping balloons can be fun, but be careful that this doesn’t happen near to anybody’s ears or eyes.

For the Grown-Ups

No need for the kids to have all the fun!

Tropical party

There’s no better way to pass away a hot summer night than with a tropical party in the backyard.

What to serve: Cocktails.  Woohoo!  Yeah, cocktails!  Mai Tais, mojitos, frozen daiquiris, margaritas, pina coladas, getting caught in the rain.. these all fit the bill for a tropical party.  Don’t forget to serve a few alcohol-free “mocktails” for the non-tipplers and those who have to drive.  Tropical fruit platters are a great food idea, as are skewers and mini hawaiian pizzas.  Click here for more finger food ideas.

What to do: Man, do the limbo!  How low can you go?  Have a hula hoop competition – whoever can hula the longest, wins.  Don’t forget to grab a few hammocks for your guests so they can recline in true tropical style.

Classic Afternoon Tea

Elegant and refined, civilised and traditional.  Initially arising in 19th century Britain amongst hungry highborn ladies of Queen Victoria’s court as an informal stopgap “mini meal” between a midday lunch and a dinner not scheduled until 8:30pm, afternoon tea became a distinctly formal affair once the queen herself got involved.  Afternoon tea parties would go for hours and might host hundreds of guests.  Once a daily ritual for the idle rich, afternoon tea is generally enjoyed in modern times as a rare treat to mark a special occasion, such as a birthday or baby shower.

Fine manners and finer china are optional, but highly encouraged.

What to serve:  Tea!  Loose leaf tea, ideally.  Some seven decades on from its initial publication, George Orwell’s seminal essay ‘A Nice Cup of Tea‘ still serves well as a guide to brewing a great cuppa.  Additionally, champagne, prosecco or other sparkling white wine can be served.

Afternoon tea also requires some food:  pastries, cakes, slices, small finger sandwiches, biscuits, and scones are all very strong options.  Bruschetta or chicken caesar salad are far less traditional menu items, but no less tasty.  You should aim for a balance between savoury and sweet.

What to do:  Converse in a genteel, leisurely fashion.

All Ages

What about family dos, and other occasions for children and adults together?  Keep reading!

Outdoor Fiesta

Food, drinks, and games are all part of the fun of a south-of-the-border themed fiesta.

What to serve: Nachos, tacos, enchiladas, salsa dip with corn chips, beans and rice, guacamole, sweet churros, mezcal, Tecate, and agua fresca.

What to do: Hold a chilli eating competition, break open piñata, or enjoy siesta.



Halloween is growing in popularity in Australia, and in many parts of the country, the end of October is when the weather starts to get nice again, so it’s a great time to take your Halloween party outdoors.  Costumes and novelties make it a great time with a little something to offer people of all ages.

What to serve: Snacks.  Creepy, ghoulish snacks.  Spookier the better!

With a little ingenuity, tasty treats can manifest as macabre, menacing, monstrously morbid morsels.  Rum balls can be dipped in white chocolate and decorated with a chocolate chip and red icing to become bloodshot eyeballs.  Cupcakes can be topped with thick zigzags of light orange icing to become braincakes.  Bruschetta pieces can be placed into guacamole vertically in rows, as tombstones, to create a chips and dip graveyard.  Juice can be frozen inside a rubber glove – you can then cut the glove away to create a severed hand to place inside a bowl of sangria or punch.  Cocktails can be served with black licorice sticks as stirrers.

What to do: The key to making a Halloween party for all ages work is to include something for everyone.  A Halloween scavenger hunt is a great way to make things fun for the kids, while keeping them occupied and getting them out of the way.  For the “groan-ups”, there’s probably little need of organised activities as they no doubt already know what to do at a party.  For all ages, costumes are to be non-negotiable.  This is a Halloween party, after all!

The Good Old Aussie Barbecue

An evergreen favourite.  Though there’s nothing uniquely Australian about barbecueing, we’ve been more than happy to put our own spin on it and adopt it as a national icon.  And why not?  The Aussie barbecue is a wonderful institution unifying people of all ages and from many walks of life.

What to serve: Beer is the traditional beverage of choice at the aussie barbie.  Well chilled pale lagers work well with the weather and the food, although crisper tasting ales like Cooper’s Sparkling are also worth considering.

Meat, fish and seafood are the traditional barbecue fare.  Prawns and sausages are both popular for a reason, but there’s no reason to limit yourself: shish kebabs, lamb cutlets in tandoori marinade, crispy barbecued pork belly, whole baby snapper, pulled pork, swordfish steaks, salt and pepper squid, yabbie skewers.. you can even cook pizza on the barbie.

It’s good to barbecue some vegetarian food as well, and not simply to cater to guests who don’t want meat; you don’t need to be completely herbivorous to find your mouth watering at the sight and scent of barbecued stuffed capsicums, barbecued portobello mushrooms, or barbecued corn on the cob.  Bananas and pineapple rings can both be barbecued as well, for a delicious dessert.

It’s a terrible idea to put your salads on the barbecue, but they work great as a side dish at any Aussie barbie.

What to do: Crank some tunes.  Play backyard cricket.  Keep in the shade when the sun’s at its hottest, and kick back and have a yarn with friends and family.

Finger Food Ideas for Outdoor Entertaining

Finger Food Ideas for Outdoor Entertaining

When planning an outdoor soirée get-together, at some point your thoughts are going to turn to the question of what snacks to serve.  Here are a few ideas to make sure your guests don’t go short of some delicious, fuss-free nibbles.


Dips are a popular choice for garden parties, and it’s easy to see why: they’re delicious, easy to make, don’t require your guests to use any cutlery or crockery, and combine exceedingly well with a chilled beverage.  Served up right, they can also be very appealing visually: they taste great before you’ve even tasted them.


Guacamole was originally an Aztec recipe, meaning that it has similar pre-Columbian origins to the hammock.  Guacamole can be purchased ready-made at the supermarket.  Homemade guacamole tastes so much better, however, and it’s so simple and easy to make that there’s really no reason not to.  The real trick to making great guacamole is to use good, ripe avocados.  Supermarkets and green grocers tend to sell their avocados rather firm, so that they can keep longer.  This means if you buy your avocados on the same day as you wish to use them then they might not be ready yet.  To check an avocado for ripeness, gently press the outside.  A ripe avocado should be a little bit soft and have a bit of give.  If the avocado is still hard then it needs more time to ripen and should be left on a window sill for a day or two.  If the avocado is very soft then it may be over-ripe and no longer good.


To make great guacamole, take two fresh avocados, remove the skin and the seeds, and then mash in a mortar and pestle if you have one, or otherwise using a fork and mixing bowl.  Add a little bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some chopped up chillis to taste.  Then add half a chopped red onion, some chopped coriander leaves, squeeze the juice from half a lime, and a little salt and crushed black pepper to taste, and stir through.  This guacamole can be kept in the refrigerator for later – cover it with plastic wrap directly touching the surface of the dip to prevent oxidation sending it an unsightly grey colour.  When you’re to serve, chop up the tomatoes and mix through the guacamole.

Many variations on this theme are possible – except for the avocado, most of these ingredients can be safely omitted if you don’t want them or just don’t have them around.  Guacamole is a great way to cater for vegan or vegetarian guests while still serving up something even the most commited carnivore will love.  If using animal products is not an issue, however, you can some pecorino cheese, coarsely chopped anchovy fillets or fried-up bacon bits and mix them through for a more salty/savoury flavour.

Yoghurt Based Dip

Yoghurt based dips are a breeze to make, can taste incredible, and look superb.  Unsweetened natural yoghurt is the perfect base for a dip and it’s not too difficult to put something superb together in a matter of minutes.  Making great dip from natural yoghurt can be as simple as stirring in some pesto sauce, olive oil and minced garlic – that right there is a great dip taking all of about 40 seconds.  Other yoghurt based dips of varying difficulty that you could consider include tzatziki, spinach dip, feta and roasted capsicum dip, haydari, and palak ka raita.

If you’re going to be making a few of these yoghurt based dips then it can be well worth your while to invest in a small jar of an inexpensive spice called sumac, readily available from supermarkets and grocery stores.  Ground sumac is a middle eastern spice with a tart, acidic flavour, and a gorgeous deep red colour, making it the perfect garnish for these sort of dips.  For the best visual effect, sprinkle the sumac on top after the rest of the dip has been made, and don’t mix it in – the flavour is fairly mild so you can heap on a lot of it.  This will give your dips that restaurant quality look that will stun your guests, and it tastes great too.

Pita Bread Chips and Crostini

If you’re serving up a plate of dips then you’ll no doubt want to serve up something to dip into them.  There’s really not a lot wrong with the traditional route of just buying a few packets of corn chips.  If, however, you’re thinking of a healthier alternative, or just want to try something different, then you have plenty of other options.

Pita bread chips are incredibly simple and inexpensive to make, look and smell enticing, and have a wonderful crunch when you bite into them.  At their simplest, all you need are some whole rounds of pita bread, brushed with olive oil and lightly salted before cutting into eighths, and then placed into a preheated 200 degree oven for ten minutes or so – you can tell when they’re done because they’re golden brown and crisp.  Great ways to vary this recipe include sprinkling sesame seeds and dried parsley on top prior to cooking, or brush some minced garlic on the chips when they’re half way done.

Crostini is just Italian for “little toasts” and toasting some 1cm slices of ciabatta bread in the oven is really all that’s involved.  Brush the slices of bread with olive oil, minced garlic, and herbs to taste, and then place in a preheated 180 degree oven for 6 minutes.

Other dipping alternatives include mini breadsticks, celery and carrot sticks, or if you’re entertaining a real caveman crowd you could even try pork rinds.


Skewers are an obvious finger food to serve up if you’re going to be barbecuing, and still a great choice when you’re not.  For those pressed for time, there are no shortage of ready-to-cook options available from supermarkets, butcher’s shops and delis, and many of these taste great.

If you’re making your own and you choose to use bamboo skewers, don’t forget to soak the skewers beforehand so that they don’t burn.  For a more gourmet presentation and variation on flavour you can consider soaking the skewers in wine or juice instead of water.

Skewers are very often used to cook meat but there’s plenty else they can be used for.  Fish or prawns can work very well, as can vegetarian skewers.  Sticking different coloured capsicums on skewers can create a lot of chromatic contrast, making the skewers look amazing.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Vietnamese spring rolls are a little more involved than many of the other finger food ideas outlined here, but they go great in outdoor party when the weather’s really hot.  Click here for a great recipe.

Vietnamese spring rolls are best enjoyed with fresh lettuce, Vietnamese mint, and a spicy fish sauce and vinegar dipping sauce.  The spring roll is placed with a mint leaf inside a leaf of crunchy lettuce, which the wrapped around it and dipped in the sauce.  This makes the spring roll taste wonderfully fresh and crunchy – once you’ve eaten them this way, just eating them plain will seem boring by comparison.

Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are remarkably filling and have a surprisingly long history dating all the way back to ancient Rome.

To make deviled eggs, first hard boil the eggs, carefully remove the shells, then halve each egg lengthwise using a sharp kitchen knife.  Gently scoop the yolks out into a bowl, taking care to leave the whites intact.  Mash the yolks up and then mix in the condiments of your choice – hot sauce, mustard and finely chopped shallots are one good option here – then scoop the yolk mixture back into the egg white halves.

Other ingredients you can try in deviled eggs are coriander leaves, cayenne pepper, capers, turmeric, vinegar, paprika, poppy seed, mayonnaise, garlic, wasabi, sour cream or cheese.  To give your garden party a slightly more exotic touch, consider using duck eggs instead of chicken eggs.

Fruit Tray

Fruit is refreshing and delicious, and neutralises the palate to better appreciate other snacks or drinks.  As a nice little bonus, it’s about the healthiest kind of finger food you can serve.  The freshest and best tasting fruits will be the ones that are local and in season.

fruit and cheese platter

Presentation will make the difference between a good fruit tray and an excellent one.  Think about colours, and how you can combine them.  The inedible parts of the fruit can also be used to good effect in presenting the fruit – a hollowed-out watermelon or pineapple can be filled with other fruit pieces.

This is finger food, remember, so be sure to cut the fruit into bite sized pieces, and provide some toothpicks as well, to minimise finger stickiness.

Cheese and Crackers

This is about as simple as it gets but you’re unlikely to hear anyone complaining about that.  Cheese and crackers can be the perfect accompaniment to a wide range of alcoholic beverages – the key to making this work is to choose the right cheese to match the drinks being served.  Generally you want to match mild flavoured cheeses to mild flavoured drinks, and intensely flavoured cheeses to intensely flavoured drinks – that way nothing overwhelms the other.

Here are a few ideas for ways you can pair cheese and drinks:

  • Mild Cheddar – Brown ales, full bodied dry reds, port.
  • Goat’s Cheese – Hefeweizen, witbier, saison, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay.
  • Blue Cheese – Stout, imperial stout, traminer, port.
  • Pecorino – Pilsner and other pale lager, full Italian reds.

Remember, there are no hard and fast rules here – if it tastes good, it is good.

Chocolate Rum Balls

If you’re looking for more of a dessert style take on some outdoor entertaining finger food, it can be hard to go past chocolate rum balls.  Traditional rum balls require no baking, and are perfect for our hot southern hemisphere christmases.  Same exquisite – if slightly sinful – variations on the traditional rum ball recipe are apricot rum balls and white chocolate rum balls.

Need a Table to Serve Your Finger Food on?

Nowhere to place these delicious finger-food items?  We can sort you out!  Check out our range of dining tables and outdoor settings for all your outdoor entertaining needs.