With summer in full swing, there’s no better way to enjoy the sunshine than inviting friends and family around and making the most of your garden. Al fresco gatherings are an excellent way to socialize safely this summer. If you’re looking to plan a garden party, here’s everything you need to make your event a success.
Backyard prep and maintenance
If you have a small group of friends popping round, or you are inviting relatives to your home for the first time in months, it’s understandable to want your home to look the part. Before you start making grand plans and sending out invitations, spend a little time getting your garden ready. Mow the lawn on a dry day, taking care to cover every inch of turf, and trim the edges. Remove weeds from patios and flower beds, prune trees and plants and check your paving and pathways. If you have damaged stones, or the surface is uneven, it’s worth carrying out running repairs before you host your event to enhance the aesthetic of your yard and reduce the risk of accidents. Apply a coat of varnish to protect decking and fencing and add plants to inject color and vibrancy. If you don’t have much space to plant flowers in beds, you can use pots and planters or adorn the exterior of your home with hanging baskets or window boxes.
Catering to the conditions
Some of us are fortunate enough to live in areas where blue skies and sunshine are guaranteed, but for others, there will always be a risk of a cool breeze or a sudden shower. One of the most important considerations for any outdoor event, no matter how big or small, is the weather. You can’t always count on conditions being perfect, so it’s a good idea to cover all bases. If you have an awning, or you invest in a gazebo or a pop up canopy tent, you can provide shade on hot days and shelter from downpours if the weather isn’t playing ball. It’s also a great idea to make use of tents or a covered patio area to keep food and drinks out of direct sunlight. Check the weather forecast before your party. If you’re hosting a gathering in the evening, you can use patio heaters or a fire pit to add warmth or provide blankets and throws to keep warm.
Food and drink
If you love to entertain, food and drink are probably top of your list of priorities. Before you start planning a menu or putting a shopping list together for the grocery store, think carefully about your guest list. Ask about allergies and food intolerances and make sure you’re aware of dietary requirements. Once you know who is coming and what kind of food you want to serve, you can start deciding which dishes you want to make or buy. There are myriad options when it comes to al fresco dining. You can serve a hot or cold buffet, you can fire up the barbeque, you could serve afternoon tea or brunch or you could elevate a picnic to the next level by serving canapes, sharing platters and finger food with a fine dining edge. There are some incredible ideas for recipes online, and you’ll also find some fabulous examples of ways to present your dishes. When it comes to stocking up on drinks, it’s best to serve a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to cater to the preferences of your guests. Some people might not drink and some may be driving, so make sure you have mocktails and soft drinks available. If you want to provide alcohol, you could set up your own bar with buckets of cool beers and wine on ice and an array of spirits and mixers. You could also make jugs of fruit punch or conjure up exotic cocktails.
If you have a theme for your event, for example, a tropical pool party or a rustic, Alice in Wonderland style tea party, match the food and drink to the theme. Pots of tea, cakes and delicate sandwiches are ideally suited to vintage style tea parties, while fruity cocktails and barbeque food are perfect for beach and pool parties. You can also channel your theme in the decorations and the tableware you choose.
If you’re inviting friends or relatives over, you want them to have a good time. As well as spending quality time together and chatting, it’s a good idea to provide entertainment. Depending on the theme of the gathering and the guests you’ve invited, this may include setting up an inflatable hot tub, playing music or getting the garden games out. Use outdoor lighting to enable you to stay in the garden once the sun has set and add ambiance, and create a playlist in advance. Choose songs and tracks that will set the right mood. Get the party started with dance floor classics or create a chilled-out vibe with mellow background music.
It’s always a good idea to make sure you have enough space for everyone before you start welcoming guests to your backyard and offering drinks and nibbles. If you don’t have enough seating, you can easily create comfortable spacesfor friends and family using floor cushions, blankets and foldable outdoor chairs. If you have got people sitting on mats on the ground, provide blankets and throws for extra comfort and serve food you can eat with your fingers.
Many of us are looking forward to being more sociable in the weeks and months ahead. If you’re eager to get friends together, or you want to catch up with family members, organizing a garden gathering is a great way to see people and stay safe at the same time. If you’ve got a small group coming over for a party, get your garden ready, plan a menu, think about what kinds of drinks you want to serve and make sure you’ve got seating sorted. Use portable shelters or awnings to provide shade or respite from showers, make a playlist and ensure everyone knows what to wear if there is a theme.