Mediterranean Dinner Party

Turn your backyard into a seaside utopia inspired by the romantic coastal towns, whitewashed houses and azure sea backdrop of the Greek islands.

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Party in Five: Mediterranean Dinner Party

Turn your backyard into a seaside utopia inspired by the romantic coastal towns, whitewashed houses and azure sea of the Greek islands.

To host this party, you'll need just five essential ingredients: ouzo cocktails, lemons, a hand-painted table runner, jarred marinated olives and Greek meze.

The Big Picture

Set a clean, modern table with white and neutral linens, and incorporate bright-blue accents to bring in those quintessential shades of the Greek landscape. Keep it casual for alfresco dining by making an easy-to-assemble centerpiece using seasonal elements and serving everything family style.

On the Run

In just two easy steps, transform a neutral table into something fabulous using inexpensive materials. Purchase some lightweight canvas from a local fabric store, and cut it to the length and approximately half the width of your table. Using bright-blue acrylic paint, draw freehand a geometric pattern. Don’t worry about making your design too perfect –– handmade touches will make your summer table look effortless.

The Blues

Take a cue from the gorgeous vistas in Greece, and style your table using any and every shade of blue –– cerulean, cyan, teal and navy are all fair game. These electric accents set against a neutral background add the perfect pop of color and bring the table to life.

Embrace Your Surroundings

Though native to South America, the vibrant, heart-shaped flowers of the bougainvillea plant are iconic backdrops to many cultural scenes, including this popular vignette: cascading over the whitewashed buildings and trellises on the Greek isles. The plant has a high drought tolerance, making it a great choice for coastal, summery climates. Pick some up at your local nursery for a colorful background all season long, or make the most of any blooming flowers in your garden to set the scene.

Plenty of Meze

A meze spread (the Greek equivalent of antipasti) is a small selection of flavorful dishes served before the main course. Arrange a spread of pita, feta cheese, dates, honey, olives, roasted red peppers, almonds and any other foods you’d like on a wooden cutting board for a colorful and mouthwatering start to your dinner. Then let guests assemble their own small plates.

A Bowl Full of Lemons

The perfect centerpiece doesn’t have to come from a florist shop. Take an unexpected, thematic route by creating simple decor out of lemons and fresh greenery. Arrange them in low bowls for an organic and summery display. Create as many of these centerpieces as your table will allow using a mixture of different bowls.

Pretty (Tasty) Pasta

For a light side dish that incorporates authentic Greek flavors, seasonal ingredients and a balance of sweet, salty and peppery flavors, combine orzo pasta with arugula, feta, dried cherries and fresh basil. (Diced fresh cherries would be equally delicious.) 

Get the Recipe: Tri-Colore Orzo

Simple Skewers

These Mediterranean-Middle Eastern fusion kabobs will bring plenty of exotic spice –– and authentic flavor –– to your dinner table. Serve them hot off the grill alongside a stack of fresh pitas and garlic tahini for a satisfying main dish. Leave out the meze to allow guests to customize their perfect pita wraps.

Get the Recipe: Grilled Kebabs


Ouzo is generally served as an aperitif or as an after-dinner drink, but there's never a wrong time to enjoy this classic Greek libation. Serve these Ouzo Lemon Spritzers –– which combine refreshing citrus and mint with the anise-flavored liquor ––upon guests' arrival and refill as needed throughout dinner.

Get the Recipe: Ouzo Lemon Spritzer

Seaside Sweets

Seal the meal by treating guests to a refreshing summer dessert. Serve this delicious Lemon Sorbet for a light palate cleanser, and garnish each bowl with a sprig or two of fresh mint for added color and zest. If you’re interested in serving a dessert course that’s a bit richer yet still on-theme with your cuisine, you could also opt to make Classic Greek Baklava.

Get the Recipe: Lemon Sorbet

Party Flavors

Dinner may be over, but hopefully you've inspired your guests to continue the Mediterranean journey in their own homes. Give each guest a container (or two) of tangy, marinated olives like these thyme and garlic or rosemary and red chili recipes. Download and print these Grecian-inspired labels; cut and insert at the top of each Mason jar to identify its filling. Set on each place setting, the jars make cute table accents.

Get the recipes:

Marinated Olives with Rosemary, Red Chili, Orange and Paprika

Olives Marinated in Thyme and Garlic

Download the printable jar labels here.