An Easy Guide to Throwing an Elegant Stress-Free Summer Garden PartyOnce the weather gets warmer, there’s nothing better than spending time with friends and loved ones in the sun. Why not make the most of your garden by entertaining guests al fresco?
Throwing an elegant garden party may seem like a tall order but it doesn’t have to be. Whatever the size of your outdoor space, an al fresco get together is a joy, and the best approach is a laid-back, informal affair.
Follow our seven simple tips and you’ll be on your way to throwing an elegant and stress-free garden party this summer.
1. Invest in Great Outdoor Furniture
A welcoming outside space is the foundation of any good garden party, and the key to this is great garden furniture. However big or small your garden, this starts with tables and chairs.
The options for outdoor tables are all but endless, so do your research and take into account everything from size and materials to shape and style. And think about how and when you will use it. If you’re short on space, something that can be folded away when you’re not entertaining is a great idea.
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Chairs are the next thing to consider. You may not be able to seat everyone at once, and the beauty of a relaxed garden party is that you don’t always have to. But you should aim to seat the majority.
Perhaps you already have a few chairs, but not quite enough? Think about foldable or stackable chairs that can be stored when not in use. Metal or plastic options are great because they can be used indoors or out.
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2. Comfort Is KeyThe ideal outdoor area will allow your guests to enjoy the summer air in perfect comfort.
A parasol offers guests respite from the sun and is especially handy if there will be children among your guests. If your party will go on into the evening, make sure your garden has ample lighting and consider investing in an outdoor heater. Your guests will thank you!
Cushions, throws and blankets are smaller additions but can still make a real difference to your guests’ comfort. They can also be used to create makeshift seating areas if you end up with more visitors than chairs.
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3. Get DecoratingYou might feel like it’s too much hassle to decorate for a garden party, but the key is to keep it simple and work with what you already have. Small touches are all you need to make your garden feel transformed.
Choosing a colour is one option, and can be guided by your garden itself. Perhaps you have furniture or accessories in a shade you love and want to highlight them with matching balloons. If you’re a keen gardener, pick some flowers and arrange them simply in vases or mason jars.
If your outdoor space has a rustic feel, embrace it. Hang some bunting or arrange tea lights in jam jars. If it’s modern, stick to a minimal theme. Small details will show your guests you have put thought into your party, which will instantly make them feel welcome.
4. Keep the menu simpleFeeding a crowd doesn’t have to be stressful. Plan ahead and choose the right dishes and you’ll be surprised how easy it can be.
Keep it simple in terms of both flavours and preparation. Laid-back dishes will fit perfectly with the laid-back vibe of the party.
Opt for dishes you know and love and are comfortable making. Choose familiar ingredients that are likely to please a most tastes. A Vegetarian menu – at least in part – is a great way to ensure that everyone will have something to eat.
Select dishes that you can prepare ahead of time and that can be served cold or at room temperature. And unless cooking is your absolute passion, mix a few shop-bought items into your homemade spread. Nibbles and dips can always be decanted into your own ceramics, and no one will turn their nose up at a beautiful cake bought from your local bakery.
Buffet-style dining is the best option for garden parties. Invest in some stylish trays for both aesthetic and practical purposes. If you love to entertain, a stylish set of plastic dinnerware and cutlery is an eco-friendly alternative to disposable options.
5. Get Your Grill OnThe garden barbecue is a British institution – and with good reason! Nothing says summer quite like cooking outside on a grill.
While burgers and sausages will always be classics, there is so much more you can cook on a barbecue. Frome prime cuts of meat to fresh fish to all manner of vegetables, a grill can be used to cook far more than you might think.
Surprise your guests with something both elegant and delicious. Top salmon fillets with herbs and lemon slices, wrap in foil and grill for a mouth-watering pescatarian option. Make the most of summer produce by loading chunky veg onto skewers with anything from steak or chicken to halloumi or tofu. Prepare ahead of time and it’s just a case of cooking them once your guests arrive.
Pair your grilled goods with your made-ahead dishes and you’ll have maximum taste and impact for minimal effort.
5. Keep the drinks flowingWant to know the best way to make sure your guests have the drinks they want? Ask them to bring their own!
You may think it sounds like lazy hosting, but chances are most guests will offer to bring something, and ‘bring a bottle’ or ‘bring what you want to drink’ is highly unlikely to offend. It will certainly take some of the pressure off you as host.
Whether or not you decide on this, you’ll still need to have at least some drinks to hand. A range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic is a good idea, and you can cater the balance to your guests’ tastes.
If the weather is good (and of course you hope it will be!), jugs of water infused with fruits, herbs or slices of cucumber are an easy yet sophisticated soft option.
Another handy tip is to keep a bucket of ice, or at least cold water, so that guests can keep their drinks cool without having to traipse indoors. If you have time, frozen water balloons are a fun and colourful alternative to ice.
6. PlaylistA soundtrack of chilled-out songs will be a great accompaniment to your party. Consider choosing one that’s longer than the time you expect your guests to stay for. That way you can press play as they arrive and not have to think about it for the rest of the day.
If you’re not someone with endless personal playlists already to hand, remember that services such as Spotify allow you to browse themed playlists. Someone out there has likely done all the hard work for you.
7. Relax...They key to great hosting is putting people at ease, and the best way to make your guests feel relaxed is to be relaxed yourself.
Plan and do as much as you can ahead of time, don’t take on more than you can handle, and don’t be afraid to ask for a little help here and there.
And remember, your guests are there to spend time with you and with each other. As long as they’re comfy and the conversation is flowing, they’ll have a good time.