Do you also miss the summer? With a bit of luck, the upcoming spring will soon be warm enough to welcome guests outside. Entertaining outdoors is one of the joys of warm weather, giving proud gardeners the chance to show off the flourishing results of their hard work. If you plan to host a garden party this season, there are some simple guidelines that will help you and your guests capitalise on the winning combination of glorious weather and excellent company.
Furniture should be placed at the edge of the patio or deck area, leaving the centre unobstructed. In addition to small groupings of benches and seats, include informal seating in the form of floor pillows and outdoor rugs. These will provide additional spaces in which people can lounge and chat, with the added benefit of being easy to relocate should you wish to reorganise the set-up later on.
Illuminate the proceedings
Simple fairy lights strung through the trees create a magical atmosphere when set against a summer twilight, while citronella candles serve both a practical and presentational purpose, keeping insects at bay while adding an air of romance. Present your candles inside lanterns or glass containers, to protect them from any breezes that might extinguish the flames.
Dress your table
Outdoor dining lends itself well to a relaxed, bohemian aesthetic that makes full use of natural elements. As such, your garden party is unlikely to be an event meriting the best china; instead, use mismatched crockery, with centrepieces of wildflowers chosen for both their colour and their scent. Keep the natural wood of your table exposed, with colourful linen runners and napkins that echo the hues of the surrounding flora.
Bring the bar outside
Ensure that guests aren't tempted to linger in your kitchen by bringing the bar to them, stocking a serving cart with beverages, glasses, garnishes and a shaker. Have plenty of ice on hand to keep drinks chilled, running regular checks on the levels and replenishing supplies as needed. If you have a large garden, prepare multiple drink stations and place them strategically to encourage guests to circulate.
If you choose not to book a live band for your party, set up wireless speakers to provide a relaxing soundtrack. Lawn games such as croquet will keep both children and adults engaged, and can help promote a flow of movement that encompasses the whole garden.
Barbecues are summer staples, but do require a high level of maintenance. Set up a barbecue station well in advance with ample supples of charcoal and firelighters, with tongs, serving trays and crockery immediately at hand. Alternatively, a buffet table allows guests to graze as they choose and can often be largely prepared in advance, leaving you free to concentrate on hosting.
Allow for shade and sun
If the sun is strong on the day of your party, be sure to place sunscreen, insect repellent and spare sun hats on a table and encourage everyone to help themselves. Parasols and gazebos will ensure that guests who wilt under hot temperatures can make use of cooler areas in which to enjoy the party.
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