10 Must-Have Outdoor Dining Accessories for 2017


When it comes to outdoor dining then there are two types of ‘things’ you can have.

Firstly, there are ‘things’ that add to an outdoor experience. Things that are critical, perhaps, to it’s success – think :-

  • table,
  • chair,
  • umbrella,
  • cushions,
  • food,
  • wine…
  • lots of wine.

(For my top ten outdoor dining table set reviews click HERE.)

Then there are the ‘other things’. The things that :-

  • you might need,
  • you could need,
  • you would never need,
  • look pretty,
  • look pretty awful,
  • are a perfect useless gift for that person who has just about everything
  • will spend their lives in the back of the shed.

This second group of things are often found under the term ‘accessories’ and that’s where I have found this selection of ‘things’. I’ve included the good, the bad, the useful, the useless and the just plain ‘why?’.

So, without further preamble, let’s look at my list of “Must Have Patio Accessories that you Really don’t Need.”

Note : I am totally independent in my opinions as no-one is sponsoring me. If you wish to buy any of them, or anything different, then please do your own research as well.

1. Umbrella / Parasol Mosquito Net

Perfect for keeping the bugs away from your food and your skin, particularly for those times when your meal goes into the night and your table lighting attracts unwelcome attention.

Dining outdoors sounds like a romantic and relaxing time, but it’s not so luxurious if you spend most of your time swatting bugs or picking ants out of your dinner. These mosquito nets are designed to hang from your table umbrella / parasol and protect your dining area from pests (the bug type – not your neighbours!).

There are various sizes available to fit your patio table area. In most models, the net is weighted all around the base to keep the netting taut and also to stop bugs from crawling in underneath the netting. There is a door opening which can be sealed shut when everyone is inside. Cozy!

My concerns are that you need a central table parasol to hang the netting off, and it needs to be big enough to clearly cover the outdoor table and chairs – otherwise a bit of Granny or Dad might not fit within the shelter of the netting.

It is also not so easy to put the netting over the parasol if you are lacking in height, and would be easier with two-people erecting the mosquito net.

This netting is a great idea, and is also necessary in areas of high bug bites, etc. Personally, though, if I have to eat inside a tent when eating outside, I’d rather just eat inside in the first place.

2. Table-cloth Clamps

A relaxing meal isn’t quite so chilled-out if the table cloth is flapping around and threatening to flip the beautifully prepared food and it’s plates onto the floor. If you live in a windier region of the world and this is a concern, then table-cloth clamps will save your dinner from flying away.

These rust resistant stainless steel clamps simply push onto the edge of the table, clamping the table-cloth to the table top. They are easily moved on and off and do not leave any long term marks on the table surface.

Table clamps come in many different designs, some of which are quite complicated in appearance. This set has 20 clamps in it and are useful, practical and simple to use. I know that I am always loosing things like this so the fact that there are 20 gives me confidence that I will at least be able to find a handful whenever I need them.

Their use does not have to be limited to table-cloths. They would also be useful in holding down paper whilst your young artists are doing outdoor creations… and for attaching things to other things, like loose covers to a dining chair.

A perfect addition to your patio accessories if you are in an area prone to high winds and you like to use table-cloths.

3. Solar Powered Glass Ball Garden Light

As evening closes in and the last sun-rays fade away, artificial light can come into full effect. This stunning multi-colored glass light is more than just light, it’s a dramatic center-piece for your table dressing.

There are lights, and then there are Lights. This light consists of a bowl of glass pieces that are lit from inside either as constant white light, or as a variable color display of red / green / blue. The unit is solar-powered and requires approximately 6 hours of sunlight for a full charge, so it needs to be placed in a sunnier position during the day-time.

It has a photo- sensor so will come on at dusk and turn off at dawn (if you leave it on that is!). It is claimed to be waterproof and weatherproof although I would be tempted to store it inside in the worst of the winter weather. It is approximately 7 inches in diameter, so will not take up too much table space.

If you want a light that is less to ‘see-by’ and more ‘to-be-seen’ then this unit is a beautiful addition to any outdoor entertainment area. Don’t be surprised if it is admired and talked about by all your guests. My toddler is a lover of lights so this will keep him occupied for hours – as well as amusing the cat!

4. Tiered Tabletop Fountain with Candles

Every gardener knows that every garden needs a water feature. If you only have the tiniest of terrace, decking or patio space, you too can now have a water-fall as this one fits onto your table top.

This table-top water feature stands at 11 inches high. It has six pillars of varying heights. Three of these pillars form the water fall, with the water being pumped into the top tier and then cascading via two more of the pillars, through spouts, down to the black basin at the bottom. The other three pillars accommodate tea-light candles (not included).

This table-top waterfall ornament is constructed from resin and designed to imitate weathered stone. The basin it stands in is only 9 inches in diameter, so this will fit on most tables or other exterior surfaces. It has a six foot connection power cord, so it’s position will be restricted by it’s need for a power source.

If you are looking for something a bit different then this water feature could be what you are looking for. It provides that natural flowing water calming effect by day, whilst the candle lights add a soft romantic tone as dusk falls and beyond. However, after giving birth to children, sitting next to a trickling water-fall for any period of time would require me to often leave the area for a ‘comfort’ break, if you get my meaning!

5. Aluminium Lazy Susan

When dining outdoors with the umbrella up to protect you from the shade, there comes the difficult times when stretching across the table for the sauce bottles or salt pots becomes a bit of an interference to your otherwise relaxing meal. This Lazy Susan has been designed to fit around the umbrella pole and allow ease of service to the whole table.

The traditional Lazy Susan is a raised small circular table that stands on a normal table top surface. It rotates through 360 degrees and so allows smaller items to be passed around the table without the need for stretching over or disturbing other guests. Outdoor Lazy Susan’s serve the same purpose and often accommodate the fact that patio tables sometimes have umbrellas through the middle.

This Lazy Susan is 30 inches in diameter, and has a central hole to put a table umbrella through. The Susan is constructed from aluminium cast in an open weave pattern. Perfect to suit your patio table.

The reviews on this item are really positive – well-constructed, looking gorgeous as well as being fit for purpose. A perfect purchase for a family that doesn’t like to stretch much. I guess it’s called a ‘Lazy’ Susan for a reason!

6. Picnic Table Condiment Holder

If you want to add some humor to your outdoor dining space, or get a gift for that person who has everything, then this picnic table designed condiment holder might be what you want – or not!

Designed to look like a traditional wooden picnic table, this condiment holder comes with mustard bottle, salt and pepper pots and a sauce bottle. These bottles all fit in the holes that are in the ‘table top’. This is a well bought accessory with many reviews, but would perhaps be more at home in a cafe / restaurant garden than your own back yard.

If you want something different, this is certainly it. It is approximately nine inches in width and height. The reviews all claim that it is pretty brittle and possibly even useless, but it looks really cute. So, if you want a cutesy addition to your outdoor entertainment area rather than something practical… Personally, I think it is something for the back of the shed that would never see daylight but maybe that’s just me!

7. Colorful String of Globe Lights

If your event will be stretching into the dark-hours, then lighting is a must. These colored globe lights can be hung around your dining area, adding softer and prettier light tones than standard white bulbs.

This light string consists of 30 foot of cable with 10 hanging colored globe lights. The general comment in the reviews is that this provides a serious amount of light if you use normal light bulbs. It is suggested that you either plug the lights into a dimmer switch or else use very low light emitting bulbs.

These outdoor lamps would be ideal around the patio / terrace and equally at home around a camping awning. Where-ever you plan to use them, they will either provide a soft relaxing glow mood-light or else light-up your outside entertainment area for everyone to see, including passing planes, depending on your choice of bulb.

Whichever you desire, the rainbow of colors will be a beautiful addition to your outdoor dining space.

8. Umbrella Light and Bluetooth Speaker System

When you are dining outside, it’s nice to have background lighting and music. This accessory provides both by clipping onto the top of your umbrella / parasol pole, or any other convenient pole or post nearby.

Looking a bit like a UFO, this system consists of a circular 8 inch diameter speaker system with 8 LED lights. The stereo is blue-tooth so will play any of your selected music from a blue-tooth device. The LEDs provide a powerful light source which will brighten your table to full effect – perfect for those outdoor late night card games but not, perhaps, for something a little more intimate.

It attaches to the umbrella pole so will be centrally located at your table, or you can attach it to most surfaces using the straps provided. It is said to be splash resistant so will be ok if outdoors in a storm, although it is best kept inside when not in use.

This is probably my ‘favorite’ of all the accessories I have chosen. Bright lights and music playing – just like being indoors only outdoors… and all the while feeling like you are sat under an incoming UFO!

9. Wicker Table-top Organiser

Eating outside might be relaxing, but carrying everything outside can be a chore – but not with this designed-for-purpose wicker table-top organizer.

This rattan and wire carrying basket has been designed to accommodate all of your outdoor dining needs. It has spaces for cutlery, plates, condiments and napkins, or bottles and glasses depending on your requirements!

It is a perfect solution to the tedious journeys back and forward to the house to carry everything outside. The alternative is the well-practiced balancing act of ‘stuff’ that never goes quite as well as you imagine it will.

This is a fantastic, practical product that also looks really nice, so you won’t have to hide it away whilst you are eating.

10. Beach View Patio Backdrop

There is nothing to ruin a lovely relaxing outdoor meal than looking at a stone wall, a pile of garden debris or any other outdoor disaster zone. This backdrop screen is made to conceal it all from view and replace it with a more tranquil alternative.

Instead of spending time and effort erecting some type of trellis, and then growing plants up it, you can now obscure your garden eye-sores by simply erecting a poly-mesh printed screen over the disaster area.

This review is for a pre-printed screen approximately 12 foot by 9 foot in size. The screen has grommets at 2 foot intervals so you can attach it to a wall, fence or onto posts. This, then, obscures any ugly or undesirable garden features and replaces them with a more tranquil and peaceful view.

This particular screen is printed with a beach scene. Other designs are available so there will be something to suit most tastes. The screens are treated to be weather proof and fade resistant.

For me though, I think I would spend my time looking not at the tranquil picture of the screen, but wondering what it was hiding. This screen could also be a problem to those with poorer vision when they decide to wander down the ‘garden’ or ‘to the beach’ and end up walking into a wall instead!

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