Stylish picnic sets for al fresco dining

Sara Miller melamine picnic set

Now, the temperature’s rising and summer is officially here, I want to eat outside more than ever. So, I’ve been looking for super stylish, ‘unbreakable’ picnic sets to help me on my way. Here’s the thing… the husband is working on building a new patio in the garden as the old one really wasn’t fit for purpose! So, you may be following our progress on my Insta feed and I’m literally crossing my fingers that he’ll complete it by mid-July. Once it’s finished, this means I’ll be ready to invite friends and family to our garden again. In fact, I’ve currently got my eye on melamine picnic sets, which look upmarket and are damage-resistant, too. So, join me on my quest to source the ultimate picnic set and maybe you’ll find something to suit your needs, too!

Melamine

The reason why melamine appeals to me so much is because it’s virtually unbreakable. Now that’s a good thing as our patio is located around 50ft from the back of our open-plan kitchen. So, I need something which will look good but, if I drop it on my way to or from the table, I won’t have to worry about breakages! If these picnic sets are well-made, you shouldn’t really notice it’s not ceramic till you touch it.

Melamine is a thermoset plastic resin, which is made from organic compounds. In fact, it’s very difficult to chip or crack with normal use too, which makes it perfect for outdoor entertaining. For me, this form of dining is always about considering the practicalities and blending this with the ultimate style. And the fact this type of crockery is so lightweight is yet another benefit. This way, it’s portable so you can easily carry it to the park in a bag for al fresco dining further afield.

I think melamine is an eco-friendly option, as it’s reusable and should last year after year. This material is actually heat and scratch-resistant. In addition, some picnic sets can go through the dishwasher, which is a distinct advantage. Are there any down-sides? Well, I wouldn’t use them to heat food in a microwave or oven. Not only will this damage the crockery but the melamine could contaminate the food you’re serving.

Picnic sets with pops of colour

Lisa Todd Designs picnic set
Lisa Todd Designs’ set of four Ammazulu plates, which each feature a distinctive pattern, cost £60. I think these are absolutely gorgeous – ideal if you want to make a statement when dining al fresco with guests

I just love Lisa Todd Designs’ exquisite Ubuntu collection, which I think suits outdoor dining perfectly. In fact, Lisa is an interior designer and artist, whose patterns and prints have been inspired by growing up in South Africa. She cleverly hand-paints each design before the factory, which actually made Bakelite in the 1940s, prints the designs onto melamine. So, check out her Ubuntu collection above! The melamine plates are made in the UK, each with a 25cm diameter.

Picnic sets summer brights Graham & Green
Graham & Green’s Summer Brights Melamine features a set of six of the following: bowls, £55, medium bowls, £38, medium cups, £19.95, espresso cups, £16.95, tea spoons, £8.95, and cake forks, £7.95

If you’re looking to make a bold statement with your picnic set, I think you’ll agree Summer Brights could be perfect. From Graham & Green, I absolutely love the fun assorted pops of colour in this collection. You can pick from a selection of bowls, espresso cups, tea spoons and cake forks. The melamine is food-safe and this picnic set is not dishwasher or microwave safe.

Nautical picnic sets

Shellomar blue coral picnic sets collection
Shellomar’s blue Coral collection is absolutely gorgeous don’t you agree? The dinner plate, £24, side plate, £20 and small bowl, £20, also come in vibrant red

I don’t live far from the coast and I really enjoy my walks along the beach, whether I’m with friends, family or just after some ‘me time’. So, I’ve always been a fan of coastal homewares and, when I first saw Shellomar’s Coral collection, I did a double-take. It really looks like fine bone china but I can guarantee it is, in fact, made from melamine. I just love the coral detailing on this sophisticated picnic set, which I hear Italian designer Mario Luca Giusti created. You can also put it in the dishwasher after use!

M&S nautical picnic set
Marks & Spencer has come up trumps with this pretty picnic set! These come in sets of four: dinner plates, 28cm, £17.50 (for four), small (cereal) bowls, £15 , pasta bowls, £17.50, and large fish picnic platter, £12.50. The side plates are currently not in stock

Made from a blend of melamine and bamboo, this picnic set consists of a collection of different, bold nautical designs and I love it. These are lightweight and perfect for use in the great outdoors. I think these look creative and are cost-effective too. You can also throw them in the dishwasher after use, saving you time after entertaining.

Floral picnic sets

You can buy the Sara Miller London Peony Melamine dining set, £120, or even pick separates, such as four side plates, £29, to create your own picnic set. I love this design – it’s so uplifting and perfect for everyday and occasion wear!

Fans of florals will absolutely love the new Sara Miller London Portmeirion Peony 16-piece picnic set. I know I do! This collection of melamine dinner plates, side plates, bowls and beakers not only look super stylish but they will work for every occasion from family lunches to al fresco barbecues with friends. I think bold prints always work well for tableware in the garden and this peony flower makes such a style statement. It’s BPA-free, melamine and dishwasher safe too! For me however, it’s the colours Sara Miller has used which make it look so special.

Sara Miller tells me: “We are so delighted to be celebrating Summer with the launch of our brand new Peony Dining Collection. Enjoying time with friends and family again is so precious and we wanted to design something perfect for a celebratory alfresco dining table.”

floral picnic set Lakeland
Lakeland’s Hana Garden melamine serving set, £27.46 for one bowl, plate, small serving dish and napkin

For those who prefer more muted tones and enjoy garden dinner parties for the grown-ups, this is the collection for you. The exclusive Hana Garden picnic set allows you to mix and match from a selection of tableware. So this way, you can create your own personalised dining ensemble.

I also love the inspiration behind this range and it’s really affordable. Hana derives from the Japanese word for ‘flower’. In fact, this creation has been inspired by Japanese ink paintings, showcasing a subtle combination of lighter and darker shades. I hear Lakeland’s in-house design team hand-painted original watercolours to create these prints too – so creative!

Floral with a touch of tropical

Wayfair Huan 12 Piece Melamine Dinnerware Set, Service for 4 - £94.99
The Huan 12-piece melamine picnic set, £95.99, for four dinner plates, four salad plates and four bowls from Wayfair – it’s perfect if you’re looking for a more tropical vibe when dining in the great outdoors

If you love the colour green as much as I do, then I think you’ll adore the above. It’s Wayfair’s Huan 12-piece melamine dinnerware collection. This picnic set features butterflies in vibrant shades against a backdrop of tropical flora. It serves four and has been specifically designed to mimic the aesthetic of ceramic. However it’s shatterproof, dishwasher safe and highly durable. These are 100% melamine and have been coated with a food-safe LG coating which protects the gloss finish.

I asked Wayfair’s resident style advisor, Nadia McCowan Hill for some tips on how to style your outdoor table this summer: “With the sizzle of summer on the horizon, and temperatures on the rise, we are welcoming the happy return of gatherings in private outdoor spaces. Channel the sun-kissed colours of far-flung climes with your brightest, boldest tableware. Then settle into an al fresco evening at home.”

Want to know how to create garden privacy screens so you can entertain in style and absolute comfort with family and friends? Then read my blog with top tips here!

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