Summer is in full swing so make the most of the sunny days and balmy evenings by throwing a garden party.
Here’s our top tips on how to bring alfresco elegance to your next social gathering.
Plan for all weathers
The Great British weather can be volatile so it’s worth having a contingency plan just in case the forecast takes a turn for the worse. For this reason, when creating the guest list, consider how many people you can reasonably entertain indoors just in case you have to bring the party inside. If this isn’t an option and wet weather is predicted, clear out the summerhouse in readiness or invest in a gazebo or to keep your guests dry.
A good menu will set the tone for the rest of the party and become a talking point among guests so it’s worth deciding early on what type of food you want to serve. Cooking outdoors, whether it’s a barbecue or authentic Spanish paella, creates a real sense of theatre and anticipation. If the forecast looks threatening, consider a theme that can easily make the transition indoors. An afternoon tea for example, can be moved inside at a moment’s notice and, with much of the preparation done before hand, leaves you free to socialise as soon as your guests arrive. Whatever menu you choose don’t forget that summer is also the perfect opportunity to showcase British grown ingredients. Radishes, tomatoes, strawberries and raspberries are at their best at this time of year- even better if they’ve come from your own garden!
Whether it’s your prized peony bush or topiary skills, a garden party is a chance to show off your beautiful outdoor space. Enhance your garden’s natural beauty by choosing a co-ordinating party theme or colour. Deck the fences or hedgerow with bunting, choose tableware that echoes the colours of neighbouring shrubs and create cosy corners by layering up rugs, blankets and throws. Cut flowers from the garden look lovely displayed in coloured glassware or ask your florist to create a show-stopping arrangement as a focal point for the celebrations.
Light it up
Good lighting is essential for an ambient garden party. Create the perfect setting by stringing festoon bulbs from tree branches or introducing solar powered lights to flowerbeds – not only will they give your garden a gorgeous glow, they’ll also highlight its best features. If you’re planning on partying the night away introduce flickering candlelight to create a cosy atmosphere. Walkways and steps look beautiful when lined with candle-filled lanterns and will provide after-dark safety too.
A garden party is not really a garden party without a summer cocktail. Pimms or Sangria are both real crowd pleasers and look great in the hand when the glass is filled with fruit. Be considerate of those acting as chauffeurs and make sure there are plenty of soft drink options too. If you’re hosting for a large group, take the pressure off having to serve drinks all night by investing in a drinks dispenser and making glasses readily available for guests to help themselves.