Summer Outdoor Entertaining
Summer Outdoor Entertaining
Entertaining large groups of people outdoors can be stressful to plan, especially when there are so many factors to consider. Nicola Macnaughton, author of The Bonnie Gardener blog, gave us a few tips on how to prepare your home and garden for barbecues and parties in the summer months:
Summer is here, meaning it’s the perfect time to plan how you can use your garden or outside living area for entertaining friends and family. Whether you have a small patio, a medium-sized lawn, or a large meadow on your doorstep, outdoor parties are whole lot of fun for everyone, and with a bit of forward planning, shouldn’t be affected by the temperamental British weather.
First things first, before you send out the invitations it’s important to assess your outside space and take a look at both your outdoor and indoor furniture. If you’re planning a formal al fresco dinner for 15 but only have five patio chairs, the easiest and cheapest thing to do is bring your interior dining chairs and stools outdoors.
The chairs may be slightly mismatched so why not create some beautiful table decorations to draw the attention of your guests? These can range from beautiful cut flower arrangements from the garden, elegant candle displays or pretty hanging lanterns. Alternatively, you could rent some fold-away chairs from a local supplier for the occasion.
If informal dining is more your style, a good option is to create a variety of seating areas around the garden. This will solve your seating problems and give your guests a choice where to sit and who to sit with. Dining chairs, stools and pretty quilts spread across the ground will work for adults and children alike, as well as helping to get guests to mingle. Buffets, barbecues and a self-service drinks table will encourage people to help themselves, rather than wait to be served. It will also give you more time as the host to enjoy yourself, and allow your guests to relax in an informal atmosphere.
For evening parties, it is essential that you think about lighting in advance to ensure your guests can see one another and don’t walk all over your flower beds. Hang strings of fairy lights up over railings, fences and tree branches or light some candles, lanterns and tea lights. If it’s a hot evening and you’re worried about midges, burn some citronella candles to keep them at bay.
Consider the children
Catering for both adults and children sounds trickier than it is. The best thing to do is to make sure there are lots of activities to keep everyone entertained. Outdoor bowls, a paddling pool, tennis bats, footballs and even skipping ropes can be excellent sources of entertainment – no doubt the adults will want to join in too!
Entertaining in all weathers
Worried about the Scottish weather? Don’t be. If it’s too hot, put up some giant umbrellas to offer a shield from the direct sun. If there’s risk of rain, it’s good to have a contingency plan like renting a gazebo or asking your guests to bring along some tents for a camping party. If you have a summer house or a conservatory, set up tables and chairs indoors and host the event inside. Your guests will be happy wherever they are and will definitely thank you for putting on such a fantastic occasion!
The most important thing to remember when entertaining is to enjoy yourself- and make the most of the outdoors while the sun is still shining!