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How to plan a chic summer picnic according to an expert hostess

Brand consultant and tableware designer Rosanna Falconer tells us everything you need to know to host the best picnic of 2023...

a chic picnic in a restic english garden with cushions and wild flowers by Rosanna Falconer
Lauren Ramsay
Online Writer
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Anybody who has hosted over 100 dinner parties (successfully) is entitled to hold the rank of 'professional host'. It also means that Rosanna Falconer knows a thing or two about creating a feast for the eyes before the food even arrives. 

The brand consultant, creative and self-titled 'lover of all things colourful' started her tablescaping journey in 2018, after realising in her thirties, that her social life was less dynamic than it used to be. "My husband and I made a New Year's Resolution to host a dinner party every month to introduce new friends," she tells Hello! Fashion. "Fast forward a year and the menu was often forgotten in favour of the flowers!"

MORE: How to update your interiors for summer 2023 according to your fashion aesthetic 

READ: 12 pairs of hoop earrings to add into your summer 2023 jewellery collection

Rosanna Falconer in Jaipur next to tablescape on pink terrace
Rosanna in Jaipur

Rosanna's ethos as a beginner is a good one to follow, if the art of tablescaping is something you're keen to study, "a tablescape creates a scene that brings joy and delight to guests".

Five years later and of course, she's had plenty of practice. But despite honing her technique and investing in a floritsty course to perfect her craft, there's one thing she says has stayed the same since the very beginning, "my love of colour and textures was a constant."

Rosanna has recently translated her passion for bright colours, intricate patterns and textural layering into a her first table linens collection. The exquisite 'Jaipur Bloom' range pays homage to the Pink City of Jaipur, India, where she lived for six months. The ultra chic, limited edition tablecloths, napkins and cushions combine her paintings with the ancient art of block printing. And they're guaranteed to provide an extra sprinkle of joy for those wholesome summer al fresco get togethers.

Jaipur Bloom - Napkins (set of two)© Rosanna Falconer
Jaipur Bloom - Napkins (set of two)

Alas, the summer has arrived in the UK. And for Rosanna, that makes dining with loved ones all the more special. "Even if you get rained on, I feel like the outdoors makes the laughter louder, the food tastier and the joy more profound."

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Rosanna shares her ultimate guide to al fresco tablescaping this summer:

What is your favourite thing about outdoor picnics?

"The expectation versus the reality. The moment the temperatures rise above 16 degrees, I’m straight outside, whether it’s for a cup of tea or a full dinner party. I once subjected friends to a picnic in March, I was so keen to get the season started! Picnics conjure up visions of Édouard Manet, Brideshead Revisited and Emma Woodhouse. Heady, hazy sunshine with butterflies flitting by and skylarks overhead."

"The reality is always far from this: someone spills the prosecco over the sandwiches and a shower is usually lingering on the horizon. But that contrast is half the fun. Everyone just relaxes so much more lounging on a few cushions than sitting up straight with a starched napkin on their laps indoors."

Rosanna's 'Jaipur Bloom' linens are beautiful
Rosanna's 'Jaipur Bloom' linens are beautiful

What’s on your picnic menu?

"For years I’ve turned to a salad that gets better the longer it infuses with its dressing like Jamie Oliver's pasta salad (so easy it's one of the first recipes I ever made) or Melissa Hemsley's panzanella. But my recent trip to Jaipur has me craving the flavourful spices and chutneys of Jaipur so this summer I’m going to be trying this rice salad by Meera Sodha."

"Other than that, I keep it simple: fresh bread, homemade hummus and a really good cheese that won’t melt. British strawberries take some beating but if I have time to bake, I’ll pack some of my signature salted chocolate brownies. They add the perfect bitter kick to go alongside fresh summer fruits."

A chic summer picnic in 5 easy steps:

1. Tables are a must

"Whether lying on a blanket or sitting cross-legged, I find some sort of table makes eating much easier, especially if you’re wanting to while away the hours long into the afternoon. I made this one (below) by placing a piece of wood across two laundry baskets (who knew?!) I never bother lugging around picnic chairs but a few cushions are heavenly, particularly if you feel like drifting off for a nap in the sun... is there anything better?"

Wild flowers are must for a chic picnic© rosanna falconer
Tables are a 'must' for a chic picnic

2. Leave the china plates indoors

"Even for a special occasion, I don't take china plates outdoors (cumbersome and risky), especially when there’s such a range of pretty melamine or enamelled tin options. They are light to carry too. I always prefer proper cutlery and glasses though -the sustainability factor of disposable plastic is a big no-go for me... Wrap them in napkins and I’ve never had a breakage!"

3. Table linens and napkins

"I love to use table linens and napkins; they can just go in the wash when you get home. A large tablecloth can sub in for a picnic rug and become the basis for a bit of a ‘picnicscape’"

One of Rosanna's al fresco tablescapes
One of Rosanna's al fresco tablescapes

4. Wild flowers

"I keep the flowers wild and worthy of a meadow: in this case, cow parsley, canadian poppies and soloman's seal tumbling out of clay jugs and jam jars." 

5. Comfort is crucial

"Comfort is crucial or you will all want to leave early: rugs for warmth, lots of tupperware to prevent wasps and a gorgeous, colourful parasol to protect you from the sun (we can but hope!)"

Rosanna's heavenly picnic setup
Rosanna's heavenly picnic setup

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