One of the great things about writing an entertaining column for Tasting Table is that I don't have to have all the answers. Some topics (like "How to Plan a Perfect Menu" and "How to Entertain in a Small Kitchen") I can write with my eyes closed, but other topics – like cocktails or floral design – I prefer to weigh in with the exerts. Today's column is all about outdoor entertaining, and I don't know anybody who does a better job of this than my friend Megan Gilger.


Megan – the blogger behind The Fresh Exchange and co-founder of the creative studio Wild Measure – is both a good friend and a creative kindred spirit. You've seen her a bunch on the blog as we've collaborated on several projects together (like here, here, and here). Megan loves gathering people around the table just as much as me, and she and her husband Mike host a series of beautiful dinner parties around the country called A Simple Evening. They collaborate with creative friends of theirs (chefs, artists, farmers, stylists, DJ's) to create intimate evenings – often outdoors – which they document on their blog. "I had a desire to bring together the creative people in our life we felt inspired by," says Megan. "The goal is to celebrate community, creative talent, and the importance of gathering around the table. These [dinners] aren't meant to be showy or perfect but real, honest, and beautiful."

I've had the privilege of attending several of these evenings, and even collaborating on a few of them (like this one near Raleigh), and they are truly special events. One important thing Megan has taught me is that when it comes to outdoor entertaining, you have to roll with the punches. Though you'd never know it in these pictures, it started pouring rain right after she had set this lovely picnic-style table. Instead of panicking, she grabbed tarps and quickly covered everything. Just before the guests arrived, the skies cleared. Disaster averted. "No matter how perfect a dinner looks on Pinterest," says Megan, "I am 100% certain something did not go at all as planned, and yet it can still turn out beautifully!"


I asked Megan to share her tips for surviving the elements (from rain to bugs) and creating a simple, yet pretty, outdoor tablescape. Click here to read the full story on Tasting Table.

P.S. Yesterday on Instagram I said I'd be featuring our Seattle dinner party on the blog today. Sorry for the scheduling will be up Friday!

(Photos by Mike Gilger)