Summer parties at home

Summer parties at home

It’s time to enjoy your outside space and spend long, lighter evenings with friends and family. Lynnette offers some home, garden and recipe inspiration

Having some outdoor space is a luxury, be it a small balcony, medium-sized patio or ultra large garden. The pleasure, in the warmer months, is being able to simply sit outside, relax and enjoy being at one with the world – hosting some friends for a Saturday afternoon soiree or family for a birthday dinner under the stars. It could be a chance to catch up with grandchildren for a Sunday picnic in your garden or a romantic weekend lunch date alfresco. I have plenty of tips to help you enjoy your leisure time this summer in your outdoor space.

Getting ready to entertain

Outdoor entertaining is not about perfection, but fun and convenience.

  • Decant all food out of its original packaging and put in a mixture of mismatched teacups, ramekins, melamine plates and assorted bowls.
  • Arrange these bowls and cups down the length of the table so everyone can reach something.
  • For drinks, forget using your best crystal glasses and instead opt for colourful plastic cups and beakers. That way everyone can relax.
  • To keep your ice bucket icy, add cold water and some table salt – the salt lowers the temperature so the ice takes longer to melt. Simple.
  • Get damp paper towels ready, sprinkled with lemon juice, and roll them and place on the table for guests to wipe sticky fingers.

Dressing your garden

Whether you have colourful flowerbeds or just a few green bushes, you can set the perfect backdrop for your gathering.

  • Add large outdoor mirrors to reflect the light, give an illusion of space and make the garden look more inviting.
  • If young children are likely to visit, instead of potentially dangerous mirrors, place outdoor fairly lights across tree branches. (Pick solar powered lights, not ones that need plugging in.)
  • Buy hurricane lanterns or use old jam jars and add flameless candles to them. For evening, candlelight is always the most flattering light!
  • Create table centerpieces from garden foliage, use oil cloth as an outdoor tablecloth that can be simply wiped clean.
  • Scatter old cushions and beanbags around that won’t be used inside anymore. Comfort is key when entertaining outside as much as it is inside. My garden (or backyard oasis as I call it) is currently bedecked with fairy lights, vintage bunting (everywhere), old chairs of various shapes and sizes with outdoor cushions on, a bench that opens up so you can keep garden tools and toys in it, bird feeders, painted gnomes (courtesy of two small children) and owl-shaped solar lamps. It certainly looks fun and is a talking point for guests.

Quick outdoor food ideas

Whether you like to stock up at the supermarket or you’re a whizz in the kitchen, here are some ideas for food that’s easy to enjoy without sitting with a knife and fork.

  • Spanish ham with olives and orange slices on toasted bread
  • Herb-rubbed pittas
  • Stuffed peppers or mushrooms with various soft cheeses
  • Bacon wrapped dates or nuts
  • Peanut chicken satay on sticks
  • Fried chickpeas
  • Potato pancakes with smoked salmon and dill
  • Melon with honey yoghurt
  • Chocolate-dipped strawberries

Keeping children amused

Children are fabulously catered for now, so it’s not too hard to invite them to feel a real part of the feast.

  • Get a toy picnic set – complete with wicker picnic basket, thermos, table cloth and wooden picnic food and accessories. Places like the Great Little Trading Co stock these, for example.
  • Also stock up on outdoor games such as giant snakes and ladders, animal golf set, ping pong and piñatas all available at party suppliers and party shops.
  • Once you’ve finished eating, get out lots of pieces of paper and a big pot of crayons. Most children will draw away happily for hours.
  • How about making an outdoor photo booth? Get a large sheet pegged to a line across a tree, add bunting and put out a large basket on the floor filled with silly sunglasses, hats and feather boas. Then just invite the children to strike some poses and snap away – you will probably find the adults getting involved too!

For something more ambitious

Outdoor fireplaces, pizza ovens and even full kitchens are very of the moment – if you are happy to spend time and money then these are a very sociable way to entertain outside all summer long. These trends have come from the Caribbean and the USA so do think about how often you might actually cook and sit outside, due to the UK weather, before investing.

Or how about statement garden lighting? It’s possible to have customised outdoor lighting installed – from chandeliers to large lamps. There really is something for everyone now available. That way you really can bring the inside outside.

 

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Being disabled

Anthony 20/07/2017

I have moved into my present address 04.11.16.This has been the 1st time in 20yrs that I've had a garden to enjoy. I've had Fibromyalgia for 21yrs but it's only been the past 10yrs it's made me stop working begrudgingly ! In the past 11yrs I've moved 4 times.But finally due to my last home being knocked down because of a council regeneration project I now live in a brand new house with a lovely manageable garden thats a total blank canvice to be able to finally enjoy.

You could

Pauline 19/02/2017

When we had a gathering round last year and the evening where starting to dark little earlier . I got a lot of of flat stones given to me so I painted them with alumanus paint down the edges of the pathways and it looked rather nice . Also painted some glass globes with same sort of paint and just put them here and there in the flower beds . We do have a fair size garden so it was not clutter . Pauline x

Garden get togethers

Dee 29/06/2016

Brilliant tips, I'm always looking for different ideas to add to our parties when the weather picks up round about now, and I love the tips for children too because we always have something set up for the children, we love to make the most out of the weather here in scotland

Love being outdoors

Coco 20/06/2016

Thank you for your tips, the family and I spend as much time as we can outdoors, mainly barbecues and playing table tennis.

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