Make the most of your outdoor space and entertain friends and family al fresco.
Summer has officially arrived and it’s time to dust off the deckchairs, sweep down the decking and get your garden in tip-top condition for the warmer months.
Whether you’re looking to hold a quiet cocktail evening with friends or a fun-filled party going into the early hours, we’ve rounded up some great ideas to make sure your outside space will impress guests and set the scene for a perfect summer soiree.
1. Spruce up
The first point of call for any outdoor hosting should be to make sure your garden is clean and tidy; removed dead-heads off any flowers, mow the lawn in neat stripes, de-weed the patio and hide away any toys or gardening tools.
Giving yourself a tidy area to decorate will allow you to see the space in a clearer light.
2. Sitting pretty
Calculate the number of guests you are expecting and make sure there is enough seating provided.
If it’s a daytime party, people are likely to stand up and wander around, whereas, for an evening or dinner party, you’ll need to make sure there are enough seats for everyone.
Purchasing new garden chairs can be expensive, so consider buying some stacking stools from IKEA that are easy to store when not in use, or think creatively and make an informal seating area from old wooden pallets and large floor cushions.
Read more: 15 barbeque hacks you definitely need to try
3. Beat the heat
Providing a shaded area is key if the weather forecast is set to be warm and sunny. A large parasol above a table will shade any food and drink but consider where your guests can take shelter too.
Why not use a large sheet to create a sail above a patio or part of the lawn that can be rigged up when the temperature rises?
Read more: 5 tips for a healthier summer barbeque
4. Summer sounds
No party is complete without some music to set the scene and get your guests into the summer spirit.
Invest in a portable speaker with Bluetooth so it can be hooked up to your phone or a friend’s playlist. Check out the Aglow Bluetooth speaker, £94.95, from Cuckooland which doubles-up as an LED light.
5. Bright idea
Allsorts string bulb lights, £13.99, Talking Tables
Transform your garden as dusk falls and switch on some decorative lights to set the mood. Hang a string of outdoor festoons along the fence or scatter a series of lanterns on the decking with long-burn candles inside.
Alternatively, decorate the lawn with some garden torches holding citronella candles to help repel mosquitos and midges, too.
6. Dress to impress
Any summer party needs a beautifully styled table for food and drink; choose a theme, such as tropical, coastal or pastel tea party, and decorate your table top with coordinating plates (melamine is a great option for outdoor entertaining), napkins and serving bowls to tie the look together.
Opt for a PVC tablecloth where possible so it can easily be wiped down and reused.
7. Cocktail hour
Kilner blue five-litre drinks dispenser, £20; eight-litre drinks dispenser, £30; Home Collection basics white starburst hi-ball glasses, £6 for four, all Debenhams
For adults-only parties, consider setting up a bar area in the garden to make and serve a series of summer tipples. Act as a bar tender yourself or allow guests to get stuck in and mix their own concoctions!
Style the bar area with fun glassware (or plastic alternatives), colourful straws and novelty cocktail stirrers, as well as bowls of sliced fresh fruit to garnish drinks with.
Read more: 10 Hydrating non-alcoholic drinks for summer
8. Playful touches
Have fun decorating your outdoor space and invest in some novelty accessories to really help set the scene.
Think blow-up flamingos or palm trees for a tropical island vibe, or blue and red striped deckchairs for a nostalgic nautical touch.
9. Garden games
Keep guests entertained by supplying some fun activities for them to enjoy throughout the day. Games such as quoits, giant Jenga or boules are great for both kids and adults or set up a mini sports day with egg and spoon or three-legged races for younger children.
Treasure hunts are another great idea to keep kids entertained—hide tokens around the garden and let them trade them in for fun prizes like water pistols or tasty treats.
10. Evening breeze
Pedestal fire pit, £59.99; bamboo cookware range, from £1.49; red LED camping lantern, £7.99, all Dobbies
Keep out the chill as the evening draws in and provide guests with light throws to wrap around their shoulders. IKEA sell blankets from only £1.75 so you can pick up several without breaking the bank.
For a more permanent feature, invest in a stylish fire pit and keep the coals burning throughout the evening to give off heat and a warming glow (don’t forget to toast marshmallows over it as a midnight snack, too!).
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