Landscape designers say that when lighting an outdoor conversation area, it is best to try to mimic natural sources of light. This light is both flattering and reduces eyestrain. While placing a large spotlight in a tree might be a project for a professional, here are some other options you can do on your own.
To add soft lighting to an outdoor seating area, use strands of twinkling lights, which mimic the stars. Multicolored light strands say holidays, so use them appropriately, but white lights can be used any time of year to create an intimate setting.
There is no more natural light than fire, so for an impromptu gathering have some candles ready to take outside with you. If bugs are a problem, keep a citronella candle handy to scare them off.
For an outdoor area that sees a lot of entertaining, it is worth considering permanent light fixtures. Solar powered lights are easy to install because they need no wiring. There are many beautiful designs and easy to use options, so consult with a lighting retailer.