Ultimate Guide: Outdoor Cooking & Entertaining for Special Occasions

Image by Claudia Sonnemans from Pixabay

Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining Ideas for Special Occasions 

It is where memories are made, and personal bonds grow deeper. It is also an ideal space to hold family events, create an area of relaxation, or embrace your inner chef.

Of course, we are talking about your own personal outdoor area. Whether big or small, these are spaces that hold so much potential. There is even an ongoing trend of people holding their most special events within their outdoor areas. 

For instance, Hello Magazine ran this article about the trend of holding garden weddings. And why not; after all, many of us see our garden as a special place, so where better to tie the knot? 

Your outdoor space may not be appropriate for a wedding, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not the ideal space to celebrate birthdays, and anniversaries, or just to wine and dine with family and friends. 

During this article, we will look at the general benefits of outdoor cooking and entertaining, as well as touch upon some ideas for making the best of your own space. We will examine specific events and why they may be more suitable for outdoors. 

Image by G.C. from Pixabay

Benefits of Outdoor Cooking & Entertaining 

The benefits of cooking and entertaining outdoors are obvious. However, if you can’t put your finger on why you should go through the trouble, we have made a list of some of our favourite elements. 

Deepens Connections Between Friends and Family 

Think back over your summer memories of years gone by. Now picture your most special moments with friends and family. We guarantee that most of you will be picturing at least a few events held in your outdoor space. 

The truth is that there is something special about an event in the garden on a summer’s day, with the barbecue going and the drinks flowing. It’s a thing of beauty and there is something about the open space of the outdoors that encourages open conversation and connection.

A Unique Experience Compared to Traditional Indoor Gatherings  

It’s also worth considering how many forgettable indoor events you have attended during those previous years. Going to hotel weddings, or visiting a local restaurant for a birthday, or a bar for New Year’s Eve can become stale and a little boring. 

Of course, it’s not just the location that makes an event – it’s the people, the occasion, and much, much more. However, holding your special event in an area that not everybody else does adds intrigue and can create a unique experience. 

Experience The Beauty of the Outdoors 

It’s easy to take the UK’s beautiful scenery for granted, as it’s always on our doorstep. However, when you hold an event in an outdoor space, you can fully appreciate all the wild and scenic wonders it has to offer. 

Even if you’re living in a crowded area, the city lights can be a beautiful thing to witness from the sanctuary of your own outdoor space. 

Save Money 

When you hold your event in an external property, you usually must pay for that space. You might also have to pay for staff, and you don’t have the control of deciding when the event finishes, or what type of food can be served. 

Whereas, if you are cooking and entertaining in your own outdoor space, you control the variables. Of course, you may incur a cost for new furniture or cooking equipment, but when the event is done, you will own those items and be able to use them at future events. 

Image by -Rita-👩🍳 und 📷 mit from Pixabay

Outdoor Cooking Ideas for Special Occasions 

One perceived drawback of cooking and holding events outdoors is a lack of variety in the type of food you can serve. However, we use the word ‘perceived’ in a deliberate fashion there because that is in fact a myth.

Gone are the days when you’re only outdoor cooking option is the barbecue. There’s much more to outdoor cooking than just burgers and sausages that have been cremated on the hot coals. Here are some of your options. 

Barbecue Grilling

Now, before we get into the alternatives, let’s talk about traditional barbecue and how it’s more versatile than you may think. Of course, we love the old-school burgers, chicken, and veg skewers that go so well on this brilliant device. 

However, it’s also worth noting that barbecues offer so much more than that. Some of the finest recipes on the planet use a barbecue as the cooking apparatus of choice. For instance, if you haven’t barbecued salmon, then you really need to try it. Even lobster is beautiful when coming off the grill. 

Barbecue Smoking 

Speaking of cooking fish on the barbecue, if you haven’t tried smoked barbecue fish then you are missing out. Smoking food on the barbecue is a relatively new phenomenon in the UK, but Americans have been doing it for years. 

Thus, you will be able to grab a whole host of smoked fish, veggies, and meat recipes online and it’s a really great way to cook outdoors. It’s also a brilliant conversation starter for your outdoor special event. 

Open-fire Cooking 

The author of this article was recently at a gathering where they cooked meat over an open fire using a rotary device. In truth, it was epic and something that he won’t ever forget. 

If you want to have a similar effect on your guests at a special event, then you can always consider open-fire cooking. It is atmospheric and great fun, but it must be done correctly for it to work, so discuss it with an expert. You should also consider safety when setting up your cooking space. Onlookers should be a certain distance back and the food should always be kept in a clean, safe area. 

Outdoor Ovens 

In recent years, there is a growing trend for outdoor ovens, particularly pizza ovens and we absolutely love it! These ovens can be fuelled by gas, firewood, or some other type of fuel and they create a delicious meal, as well as some special ambiance. 

It’s a beautiful way to create a meal outdoors, as they make wonderful food, and they actually look pretty good too. 

Cook Inside/ Dine Outside 

However, if you don’t like the idea of cooking outside for your special occasion or event, then note that you don’t have to. An outdoor dining experience isn’t made or lost by where the food is cooked. 

It’s a lot of fun cooking outside and you can make brilliant dishes there, but if it’s not for you, then it’s not for you. That doesn’t mean that you should be put off holding your event outdoors, as there are many options for keeping the grub that you have cooked at the right temperature once you leave the kitchen. 

Image by stokpic from Pixabay

Special Occasion-Themed Menus 

If you do decide to host a special event outdoors, you may be wondering what the best thing to serve your guests is. Of course, this will come down to personal preference. 

However, to give you a helping hand, we have put together three courses we would present if we were in similar circumstances. Bon appetite! 

Birthday Parties

When throwing an outdoor birthday party, you will want to serve food that is simple, easy, and convenient to eat without too much hassle. Thus, in our imaginary outdoor birthday ‘Come Dine With Me’, we would serve barbecued fajita skewers and barbecued halloumi skewers for our starters.

For the main course, we would fire up the outdoor pizza oven and make a selection of slices to suit all tastes. And then for dessert, a scrumptious barbecued pineapple and cheesecake. 


For an anniversary, we would go all out and serve barbecue lamb & courgette salad for a starter, followed by barbecued brisket for the main. Those are two delicious dishes and ones that are sure to impress your loved one. 

From there, we would make wood-fired tarte tatin for dessert. Paired with a nice bottle of red wine, you and your partner will be in foodie heaven. 

Summer Garden Parties 

For summer garden parties, you shouldn’t discount the traditional barbecued burger and ribs. After all, there is nothing wrong with a good old barbecue with a drink or two in good company. When paired with a delicious salad, there are few things better. 

Speaking of tradition, s’mores may be more closely associated with the USA, but they are a dessert that is really making its mark known here in the UK. They are ideal for summer barbecues and always a welcome early evening treat. 

Your Outdoor Event 

Although it sounds like an obvious point, food is only a small part of holding an outdoor event. You should also consider the setting and have a few ideas for entertaining at hand. 

If you are drawing a blank on this front, then lucky for you that we have a few ideas listed for you. Without further ado… 

Creative Decoration 

Depending on the event, you will want to decorate your outdoor space as is suitable. For instance, if you’re holding an outdoor wedding, you should personalise your outdoor space as appropriate. If you’re simply having a few friends over for food and a party, then your decorations don’t have to be as elaborate. However, it is always nice to have a few items that show off your personality throughout the garden. Some people love water features, while others prefer subtle hints at their profession or hobby. Your own personal taste should dictate what you choose. 

The Dining Space 

No matter what your taste, we have dining furniture to suit your event. If you are just having a special one-on-one anniversary evening, there are perfect two-seaters that could be a good match. However, if you are planning something much bigger, then our furniture sets can hold eight or more people. 

It’s also worth considering the British weather. The last thing you want is for your outdoor event to suffer from a torrential downfall, or alternatively in the summer, for it to be the victim of sunburn-inducing heat. We currently have an array of stylish shade screens that can save you from either of these outcomes. 


Before you hold an outdoor event, it’s always worth considering what you can do to boost the atmosphere at various stages throughout the evening. Of course, music is always an excellent choice. However, have you also considered interactive entertainment, such as games and even karaoke? You could even have an outdoor bar, where your guests can enjoy the atmosphere of their local beer garden. 

Some events will call for a more chilled atmosphere, where the conversation takes centre stage. For those evenings, you should make sure you have the correct lighting in place. With all the solar options now available, you don’t need a power socket to create a welcoming ambiance on a dark night. 

To ensure your guests are comfortable enough to enjoy the conversation and any other entertainment you provide, you might also want to consider options for heating your outdoor area. Chimineas and fire pits can be a brilliant option when used safely, as can gas heaters.

Image by Hans from Pixabay

Sustainability in Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining

It has never been more important to consider your carbon footprint when conducting everyday activities. And that’s as true when cooking and entertaining outdoors as it is anywhere else. Luckily, there is an abundance of options for you and your guests when looking into how you can be sustainable in this instance. 

You can minimise your environmental impact by practicing zero-waste cooking, where you carefully select the amounts, you are going to cook and reuse and recycle any uneaten food. When it comes to food, you should also do your best to use locally sourced ingredients. By doing this, you are not supporting industries that ship huge amounts of stock overseas. 

Where possible, you should also look to use sustainable cooking fuels and always be mindful of how you are disposing of your waste. When it comes to decorating, heating, and lighting, sustainability should always be at the forefront of your decision-making. 

For instance, eco-friendly decorative options should be considered, as should solar lighting where appropriate. When it comes to outdoor heating, smokeless fuel is preferred. 

Final Thoughts on Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining 

Holding an outdoor event offers more flexibility today than it ever has before. You can achieve all the goals you would have for an indoor event, without much of the hassle of hiring a space in a building or turning the inside of your home into an event location. It can also be a great deal cheaper, where any money you do spend ends up being invested in items you own rather than paid to an external event holder. 

Instead, you can create an airy-atmospheric event space that is both at one with nature, but immune from the elements. There are now options to shade your guests from rain, heat, and cold. 

The key to doing this is preparation and having the right elements for both cooking and hosting. Of course, a small amount of creativity is also hugely beneficial. This is especially true when you are considering the menus for your event. 

The good news is that the list of ways to cook outdoors is also endless. And if you would prefer to make food inside, you can just bring that grub to your guests. You have all the options and how you use them is up to you. 

If you are struggling to tailor your outdoor space to a particular event, then do not hesitate to contact us today, where we can help guide you on your process.