CHAIR-A chair or bench invites someone to pause, and then sit. You can direct traffic through your outdoor rooms with carefully placed sitting areas. You can even attempt to control the amount of time that guests sit by keeping comfort, or lack thereof, in mind. A soft lounging chair says “Stay as long as you want and relax” and a barstool or hard chair says, “Perch a few moments and talk”. A chair by itself indicates, “Move around and be social or sit and be alone.”
TABLE– A round table’s edges are more soothing to the eye. A round table also encourages socialization. A square table also serves a purpose by usually seating more people and allowing people to keep more of a personal space (“bubble” as my kids call it) around them. Ever notice at an event that people are more hesitant to join a stranger at a round table than a square one? Surfaces speak as well. Glass is more elegant. Wood is more casual. Plastic is seen as more kid-friendly. And what is on your table also speaks. Make it inviting. A too-crowded table is not inviting. Consider placing food on one table and seating at another.
ACCESSORIES– A well placed bouquet or accessory can impede socialization (for instance a too tall centerpiece in the middle of a table) or can become a touch on the shoulder that invites a pause (when placed on a side table near a chair). An outdoor rug or mat can spice up your space, or be in the way. An outdoor heater or grill may be useful and appreciated, but not pleasing to the eye. If possible, tuck the heater where it can do its job but where it doesn’t draw the eye, and keep the grill away from the seating and eating areas.
Talk it up, and talk it well. It is part of the overall experience for your family and guests.