Make the most of your outdoor space with a garden gathering this summer
With all the work we put into our gardens all year round, it’s such a great feeling to be able to just sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of our labour. Better still is the enjoyment of the garden with close friends and family – it can’t be beaten! I’m looking forward to hosting a couple of garden parties this year, inviting my nearest and dearest to enjoy some food, drink and good times in the great outdoors.
With a little bit of preparation, your garden can be transformed into the party spot of your dreams, and it needn’t cost an arm and a leg! Here, I’ll share my tips for transforming your plot into a summery sensation that’ll get your guests in the party spirit.
Plant up some colourful bedding
Some pretty plants will transport your guests to a tropical paradise, and they can be picked up for a song at your local garden centre. Colourful blooms like geraniums, begonias, petunias and Busy Lizzies will add vibrancy to your outdoor space, and they’re relatively hardy too.
Perfect your entertainment area
If you’re going to be eating and drinking outside, try to arrange your seating area so it’s relatively close to the house! This means you won’t have to take loads of trips with laden trays up and down the garden. Bring the indoors outside, adding patterned cushions, blankets and even a rug for guests to make themselves comfy on. A parasol or umbrella is a great idea over a table, as eating in the beating sunshine can be a bit unpleasant (and the shade helps to keep your glass of wine cool!). On the table, try a colourful tablecloth and real napkins, as well as real plates and glasses to reduce waste. For when the night draws in, huddle round a fire pit, chiminea or patio heater and keep the conversation flowing into the night!
Set the right atmosphere
I’m a big believer in getting a great sense of atmosphere in the garden – read my blog on garden lighting design here. Creative use of lighting will boost your outdoor space after night falls, giving a lovely festive feel. Solar lights are nice and easy with no wiring to install, and are portable so can be placed wherever you fancy. Tiki torches and storm lanterns give a beautiful natural glow, though just be careful to keep an eye on open flames! Light lovely citrus-scented citronella candles to keep mozzies at bay.
Wireless speakers are a godsend for any gathering too, and there are loads of great party playlists to set the mood on platforms like Youtube and Spotify.
Eat, drink and be merry!
It’s important to make sure your guests are well fed and watered at any party. Fill a cool box, paddling pool or other container with ice and cold water, and let guests help themselves to beers and soft drinks. Garden parties don’t necessarily need to mean slaving over a smoking barbecue all afternoon, though. I love to prepare simple salads beforehand with beans, lentils and fresh vegetables and herbs. These can marinate in the fridge overnight, and don’t need to be served chilled. Some cooked meats or fish can be served in foil and guests can help themselves, buffet-style.
However you decide to feed the masses, don’t feel you have to take it all on yourself – don’t be afraid to ask your guests for a food or drink contribution. One friend’s delicious homemade brownies and another’s great wine knowledge will elevate your gathering to the next level, and most good pals are more than happy to lend a hand!
Keep the kids amused
If your guests will be bringing their little ones along, it’s a good idea to provide something to keep them occupied. Bring some toys and games into the garden and set a designated corner where the kids can congregate and play. Blankets, sticks and household objects can be used to create a lovely den that will keep little hands and minds busy, so the grown ups can have a catch up!
Enjoy your summertime soiree! Katie x