Italian Dinner al Fresco Menu with Free Printables

Italian Dinner al Fresco Menu with Free Printables

Pregnancy cravings are no joke. Add to that my desire to entertain… well, a simple craving for an Italian meal turned into a multi-course extravaganza. I researched formal Italian meal courses and found out that Italians, they know how to dine! Out of my research (and cravings) came a 9 course meal that lasted four hours long!

I can’t say that the entire inspiration for this party was my pregnancy cravings… though, they certainly took a big role! The other inspiration was Kohl’s. When Kohl’s asked me  how I celebrate summer I knew the answer was “Dinner al Fresco” and went shopping with that in mind. After coming across the Bobby Flay Home collection of melamine tableware I knew that I’d be serving an outdoor Italian feast.

Read on for my Italian dinner al fresco menu, table decor resources AND free printables so you can throw your own outdoor Italian feast!

Italian themed dinner menu and free printables — A Well Crafted Party

Italian themed dinner menu and free printables

Free Printable Wine Tag

Resource List

  • Bobby Flay Home Collection Melamine tableware from Kohl’s in the medallion print and teal. I used both the 11 inch dinner plates and the 9 inch salad plates. I also purchased the serving platter and salad server set from this collection.
  • DIY Dip Dyed Napkins 
  • Sonoma Life + Style Melamine Old Fashion Glasses in shades of teal from Kohl’s.
  • Square Melamine dipping dishes from Fred Meyer purchased on a sale in their outdoor living section which is seasonal.
  • Printable coasters & menus made by me and offered here for FREE!
  • White plant pots from Ikea & succulents were found in the garden section of Fred Meyer
  • Sanoma outdoors Button Reversible Throw Pillow in teal from Kohl’s
  • White DIY table 
  • Candles via World Market

Menu for an Italian Dinner al Fresco

Italian Dinner al Fresco:

In my massive craving for Italian food I went on a research binge to find out different ideas for a coursed out Italian meal. What I discovered is that Italians LOVE their food! A formal Italian meal has several different courses to it. Now, typically they wouldn’t list the aperitivo course on a menu because it is meant as a sort of opening to the meal. But, I just love a big full menu, so I included it. Below is what I did for our Italian meal. Please note that I am not Italian, nor have I had the pleasure of going to Italy. I wrote my Italian menu from researching different ideas and coming up with recipes. They may or may not be authentic Italian food. However, the menu items are delicious. Also, I used Google Translate to help me figure out how to word the menu items on the menu I created.

Apertivo Ideas for Italian Dinner


The opening course that usually features a cocktail, Prosecco, champagne, wine  or sparkling water may also be accompanied by light appetizers. I served Prosecco, Italian Olives & Caprese Bites.

parmesan stuffed grilled artichokes


The antipasto course is slightly heavier than the apertivio course. Sometimes you’ll see either an aperirtivo or antipasto course offered at restaurants, but I went all in and did both. I chose to serve my garlic and parmesan stuffed grilled artichokes for this course.

Primo or first course in Italian meal


The primo course is a heavier course than the antipasto, but lighter than the secondo course that comes next and is often served hot. Typically it is a pasta dish, risotto or soup. I chose to serve a clam spaghetti or Spaghetti alla Vongole. I’ll be sharing my recipe for this soon because I make my Spaghetti alla Vongole a tad different than other people out there, but in the meantime you should check out the Spaghetti Vongole from Jamie Oliver! YUM.

Secondo or second course in Italian meal is usually the meat course.


The secondo course is quite a bit heavier than the primo course and is typically the meat dish. It is often served alongside a contorno which is a vegetable side, either cooked or raw. An insalata (salad) can be served with this or after this course. I chose to serve my meat on top of my insalata or contorno (whichever you please) with a beautiful grilled flank steak served on a bed of arugula with freshly shaved parmesan and lemon. (Recipe coming soon!)

Italian inspired fruit and cheese plate

Formaggi e frutta:

A cheese and fruit plate comes next in this extravagant meal. While most of our meal was served family style I prepped individual plates for the cheese and fruit course. I served a beautiful Italian gorgonzola and fontina cheese alongside grapes and grilled figs that were drizzled in honey. Just so you know… figs and gorgonzola are beautiful together.

Dolce Course or dessert course is one of the most important courses in my opinion.


One of my dear guests asked if she could bring anything to the event and I happily took her up on making a dessert because she is one of the best people in the world to ask to bring dessert. She never disappoints and didn’t disappoint on this lovely evening. She brought locally baked shortcakes to top with local strawberries and fresh whipped cream. Such a nice way to round out the meal.


Just when you think you are done… there is more! The caffè course is typically served last unless followed by an ammazzacaffè. I got this part wrong on my menu originally but fixed this for the printable. I put the digestivo after the caffè. It honestly didn’t make much of a difference though. We served a nice rich espresso. For all those non-Italian palates in the room (everyone) we had some whipped cream to top the strong coffee and sweeten it a bit.

Digestivo or Ammazzacaffè:

The digestivo is a drink to conclude the meal. It is typically a liqueur of some sort. We served Limoncello.

To say we were full after this evening would be an extreme understatement.


Dinner al Fresco menu and free printables

Free Italian Dinner Printables:

If you’ve been reading long then you know that I’m obsessed with the ease of printables. This party was no different. I created up some fun Italian-inspired printables to bring together the table. Today I’m giving them away… for free! If you like free printables then please take a moment to sign up for my newsletter. All of my newsletters promise never before seen content, goodies, opportunities or printables for subscribers ONLY. And, of course, if you use some of my free printables I’d love to see them in action! #awellcraftedparty on any social media images so I can see and share. Now… onto the goodies:

Instructions are listed on the printables. To download, click on your selected printable, hit download, and save to your computer. Print according to instructions. Printables are for personal use only.

Free Printable Wine Tag



A big thank you to Kohl’s for asking me how I celebrate Summer. This was a lot of fun to put together. Kohl’s provided me with a gift card to help in celebrating summer. Thank you for reading posts that help support this blog. I only talk about companies that I have used, liked and feel that my readers would benefit from knowing in my blog posts. I regularly shop at Kohl’s for their great selection and prices. Please refer to my policies for more information. 


DIY Dip Dyed Linens – DIY Porch Projects Pt 3

DIY Dip Dyed Linens – DIY Porch Projects Pt 3

I don’t know if there is any DIY I love more than dying fabric. I have used the technique on a variety of projects including party backdrops, napkins, curtains and clothing up-cycles. It is a quick, inexpensive and super easy way to make an impact.

For my Summer porch makeover I knew that I would want to have cloth napkins for the many parties that I would be having in my new space. They already had a space on the bookshelf that houses all my entertaining supplies, but I didn’t have exactly what I wanted on hand. I wanted a fairly durable but inexpensive cloth napkin, ideally in a bright yellow or ombre yellow. People get messy in the back yard and BBQ meals don’t really lend themselves to the really nice cloth napkins due to staining. I needed something that could get messy and wash up easily, but wouldn’t be terrible to move into my cleaning cloth pile if stained. After searching unsuccessfully at all my favorite stores I landed on DIYing the napkins out of flour sack towels.

At the very last minute I also decided that we needed curtains for our porch area. One trip to Ikea and I came home with inexpensive white curtains that I was able to dip dye to coordinate with the napkins. The curtains are seriously my favorite part of the whole space and I hadn’t even planned on doing them!

dip dyed napkins and curtains via A Well Crafted Party

DIY Dip Dyed Linens

I used the same process on both my DIY Dip Dyed Napkins and my DIY Dip Dyed Curtains. The curtains were a slightly different material than the napkins so the dye didn’t soak in quite as well and get the bright yellow look, but I loved the paler ombre look nonetheless. That is the joy of dying cloth… you never quite know what you are going to get!

(Some of the below links are affiliate links. Affiliate links help support this blog with no cost to you the reader.)


  • Linens of choice in WHITE! For the napkins I purchased 12 Flour Sack Towels via Amazon for just about $22. The curtains I got at Ikea for $10!
  • — Rit Dye of Choice. Personally I have used the powder and liquid Rit Dyes for dying linens and have had good results both times. The biggest thing to remember when using the powdered dye is that you really need to mix in the powder well because if it isn’t mixed in well you will get speckled results on your final product. Follow the directions on the Rit bottle. They are there for a reason and they really do help! I used the Golden Yellow liquid dye and one 8oz bottle was enough for all 12 napkins and two curtains with some to spare.
  • — Large pot for stove or bucket for dying fabrics. I used my canning pot for this project because it is huge and I can put it on my stove top to make sure the water stays hot enough. The package directions also gives options for large buckets or the washing machine, but the stove top has always been my choice of dying method.

Dip Dyed Napkins via A Well Crafted Party

After our Summer Porch Makeover - A Well Crafted Party

How to Dip Dye Linens:

  1. Prep your dye according to package instructions. My dye required super hot water and some salt because I was dying cotton items. It only took a few minutes to really get this all set up, the heating of the water taking the most time! As the water was heating I prepped my linens.
  2. Prep linens by wetting them and ringing out. I’ve dyed things from dry before and just do not like the results as much as I like the results of dying from wet. I wet all of my linens and rung them out prior to dying.
  3. Slowly dip linens into prepared dye. I am not one to take a lot of time in DIY projects. I just don’t have the patience. So, instead of dip dying these one at a time I chose to do them all at once. I put each of the napkins in with about an inch of the fabric in the dye water. I let sit for about 5 minutes and then lowered each one more into the water. I continued this process until the first dipped ends were in for about 30 minutes. You can choose to not dye the very ends at all if you’d like the ombre look to go into a full-on white, or dip the ends in the dye for just a moment. I chose to have the entire napkin be covered in the dye with the top ends being slightly lighter.  The ombre on my napkins is very subtle. The ombre on my curtains is much more pronounced because of the difference in fabric. The fabric was a polyester blend and didn’t soak in the dye quite as much as the cotton flour sacks.
  4. Rinse and dry as directed on dye package directions. After rinsing out the dye in the sink a bit I threw in the washer for a good rinse cycle. I then dried the linens in the dryer.

I love how these came out and with the napkins costing around $2 each I could not have gotten the same results for the same price any where else. I was able to do the entire process in one evening as well, so that is my kind of DIY!

Summer Porch DIY Projects - A Well Crafted Party

Check out my other Summer Porch DIYs:

Other great Linen DIYs from around the web:

Have you ever dyed fabric for a project? Comment below telling me all about the project! Links welcome.


Tips for Attending a Networking Event and WOWing the Room

Tips for Attending a Networking Event and WOWing the Room

Yesterday I shared tips on how to throw a great networking event, but what most people want to know is how to really wow at networking events. How do you make yourself stand out amongst the other people in attendance at a networking event? How can you move the shy inner person aside and share the inner rockstar with the room? Or for people like me, how do you decrease the anxiety enough to not come off as a hyperventilating, sweaty palmed super-fan when meeting someone for the first time?

After hosting many networking events with my networking group Portland Bloggers, and attending even more, I’ve come up with a few tips that help me get through a networking event fairly unscathed and with a lot of great connections.

(Big thanks to Portland-local event, food and family photographer Aubrie LeGault for taking these amazing photos!)

Networking works

Before I get to the tips though, let me say that networking REALLY works. You’ve heard the saying before, “It’s all about who you know!” While I don’t believe that is what it is all about, I do believe that there is something to it. You don’t have to know the most powerful player in town to find a connection that will lead you to your next career, opportunity or best friend. I’ve seen several people (including myself) create careers and land jobs or amazing opportunities from taking the time to network with others. It isn’t just about meeting another person either, it is about showing what you can do once you have the opportunity, but making the opportunity to show what you’ve got arrive is all in the networking.

Wow the room with these tips for networking event - A Well Crafted Party

Tips for Attending a Networking Event that Make the Room Say WOW

Okay, so you believe me that networking works. You’ve seen it happen or see where it might work for you. You are ready to take the next step and meet someone that you can really show what you’ve got, but how do you make that opportunity arrive? How do you make the most out of a networking event? Simply follow these easy tips and see all the connections you make!

Networking Tip 1: Pick your networking events with purpose.

There is no point going to a networking event that doesn’t meet your needs in some way or another. Go to an event with the people you want to connect with or with people that can help you meet the people you want to connect with at some point. Thinking about your purpose and the type of people you want to connect with prior to choosing your networking events will help you narrow down your options and utilize your time and efforts in the best way possible.

What does that mean? It means that if you are a blogger looking to connect with brands you want to look for networking events that will put you directly with brands or with other bloggers in a similar niche with brand development in a place that you want your blog to be at. If you are wanting to collaborate on projects or learn from other bloggers then go to an event that puts you with bloggers who may want to do the same thing. Networking with people in an industry that you want to work is great for job connections!

The bloggers that attended the recent Portland Bloggers’ event got the opportunity to meet other bloggers from a variety of niches and sizes. They were able to ask specific questions about monetizing, photography, design, marketing, content creation and more. It was a great event for bloggers looking to connect with collaboration partners as well as learn more about their craft. Personally, I found out about two new ad networks that I later looked into and signed up for!

How do you find your purpose? Decide what you want to accomplish with the networking event by examining your goals and the types of people you want to meet to help you get closer to your goals. For instance: I have a goal to finish my ebook and launch it in September. My last networking events I specifically went with a purpose in mind to connect and get to know bloggers who I feel would be great people to send my ebook to prior to launch to get feedback and possibly help promote. My purpose was to connect and get to know local influencers in a way that would let me know if they’d be the right person to help me reach my goal. In addition, my purpose was to help other bloggers reach their goals. Networking is not a one way street after all!

Bring business cards that stand out to wow the crowd at your next networking event - A Well Crafted Party

Networking Tip 2: Bring business cards that stand out.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many networking events that I’ve attended where people do not have business cards. I can’t even count the times that I’ve made this mistake myself! They are printing, I forgot them, I didn’t have enough on me… I’ve got all the excuses covered. If you really want to wow a room you need to have business cards that stand out. At the end of an event the people that talked to you probably talked to at least five other people with which they exchanged cards. Your card needs to stand out and make your memorable.

At our last event one of the attendees, Yvonne from Dress this Nest & King Cream, brought little individual ice creams to hand out to guests as they left. Do you think anyone forgot her business cards that day? Nope!

And, no, I don’t suggest you figure out a way to bring ice cream to everyone at an event. But, I am suggesting you take time to have business cards that speaks about you in a way that people will remember that it was YOU that gave it to them. My business cards use the same color scheme and photos that are on my blog.

Wow the room with these tips for networking event - A Well Crafted Party

Networking Tip 3: Think of yourself as a brand.

This tip goes for anyone who attends a networking event—not just bloggers. Thinking of yourself and what you have to offer as a brand and presenting yourself in a professional, unique way (as brands have to do) will set you apart from the crowd.

Three things you should know about your “brand” to help you make the most of networking:

  • Know what you have to offer each person that you meet. What is your brand’s value?
  • Know who you help with your offerings—your readers, customers, potential employers.
  • How do you provide this value in a unique way?

READ: Five tips for presenting your brand in a party situation & free printable!

Prepare to talk about yourself at a networking event - Networking Tips from A Well Crafted Party

Networking Tip 4: Prepare to talk about yourself.

At a networking event you will have to talk about yourself at one point or another. You will need to talk about yourself in a way that is authentic, concise and interesting. This trait comes to some people naturally. If so, kudos for you!

However, if you are like me and instead end up a rambling machine that doesn’t ever come to the point and ends up talking about themselves WAY too much or giving a little too much information then you’ll want to take care to not skip this step and PREPARE.

Thinking of yourself like a brand helps with this step a lot. Take the time to answer the above three questions, write them down, and practice talking about them with specific examples.

Networking isn't about you, but it will help you reach your goals. Networking Tips via A Well Crafted Party

Networking Tip 5: Know that it isn’t about you. No really, it isn’t.

So, yes, you will need to talk about yourself at a networking event. And, yes, you’ll basically be selling your “brand” to people you meet with the hopes of meeting YOUR purpose. However, it still isn’t about you.

If you go to a networking event and only talk about yourself (a sin I’ve done on many occasions because I get so nervous that all I can do is babble about what I know) then you’ll leave with no real connections and not one ounce closer to your goals.

However, if you go with the purpose of getting to know OTHERS and how the value that you offer can be beneficial to those people then you will come out of the networking event a total networking rockstar. You will find connections with people that can help you meet your purpose all the while helping them reach their goals.

Networking Tip 6: Take notes as soon as the event is over.

This may seem incredibly nerdy, but I promise that if you do this then you will not regret it. I learned this at a recent marketing symposium from a Washington based marketing team called Delphis Creative. The owner of the marketing business suggested that as soon as you get out of every meeting with someone you connect with take the time to take notes on what you talked about, notes about the person and your thoughts about the connection. Take a little time as soon as an event is over (or heck, even on a bathroom break!) to write a few notes about who you met and what you’ve learned.

One cool way to keep track of all of these is to create Evernote notebooks for each event you go to, take a snap shot of the business cards you receive, and write your notes about the person saved with that card. Then, as you develop your relationship you can add to that note. You can also create some cross referencing with tags as you think of ways that you can provide value to that person, or ways they might be able to help you reach your goals.

Don't forget to connect with people AFTER your networking event is over! Networking tips from A Well Crafted Party

Networking Tip 7: Connect after the event.

Networking events do not end when the door closes and the last glass of wine has been dumped and racked for cleaning. Now days the events can go on and on with the addition of social networking. Take your notebook and purposefully connect with those people with whom you met and started a connection. Connect over social media or email. Just connect.

Did I leave any tips out? What have you learned from your own networking successes and failures? Comment below!

Thank you to the sponsors of the Portland Bloggers Speed Networking Event:

A big, big thank you goes out to all the awesome sponsors that helped make the recent Portland Bloggers’ networking event possible. I appreciate the support of local Portland bloggers and hope that you do too! Please check out the websites of these awesome supporters of Portland blogs and connect with them online:

Host: Passionfruit | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Photographer: Aubrie LeGault Photography | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Bagels: Bowery Bagels | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Coffee: Black Rock Coffee Bar | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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