All you need is a pair of picnic benches, according to Living style editor-at-large Naomi deMañana.

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wooden picnic table with checkered cloth
Credit: Nico Schinco

Once summer comes along, we all want to spend more time in the backyard or on the patio. Outdoor entertaining is especially popular during the outdoor season, but if you don't have the necessary furniture, figuring out how to host an open-air gathering can be tricky. For impromptu outdoor dining that's more elevated than a blanket, push two picnic benches together to make a pop-up table.

Opt for a cohesive duo, such as from DutchCrafters Amish Pine-Wood Table and Bench Patio Furniture Set ($395, dutchcrafters.com)—they're lighter to move around the yard and into the shade than the whole shebang, and offer a steady surface for all (kids in wet swimsuits included) to perch plates and drinks. Once you've found a picture-perfect spot and unloaded your precious cargo, just add floor pillows—we like Heather Taylor Home's Goldenrod "Amalfi" Small Pillows ($125 each, heathertaylorhome.com) and Round Natural-Weave Straw Handmade Pillows ($35 each, bigworld19.etsy.com)—then sink into a movable feast.

As for what's arranged at these place settings? For the length of the "table," our editors rolled out Heather Taylor Home's Goldenrod Small Gingham Tablecloth ($186, heathertaylorhome.com). Stacked at one end for guests to grab and serve themselves, buffet-style, we set out Xenia Taler Coco Check Side Plates ($40 for four, xeniataler.com), Ikea "Vardagen" Glasses ($4 for six, ikea.com), and Ikea "Korken" Bottles used for condiments ($3 for three, ikea.com).

Eco-friendly options are always a good choice when it comes to partyware, which is why we offered The Clear Conscious Small Round Palm-Leaf Plates ($15 for 25, facebook.com) and Wamery Bamboo Cutlery Set ($18 for 18 pieces, amazon.com). They're also more durable for toting to the park (no clattering china here) as well as the elements in the event of a flash rainstorm.

Styling by Naomi deMañana

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