There really is nothing quite like a summer garden party – as long as the weather is playing ball! It’s the perfect excuse to get your friends and family together to enjoy some food, drink and sunshine (with any luck!) without the hustle and bustle of a night on the town. If you’re a busy parent like me, then it’s a great option for entertaining other parents without the worry of expensive childcare – BYOB (bring your own baby!). Of course, it goes without saying that you have a well-deserved glass of Pimm’s, but as is the case with any type of party, the planning stage is perhaps the most important part. Here are just a few tips to help your summer party go off with a bang!
The Darling Buds of May, may well have sold the great British summertime as being a sunny care-free affair, but unfortunately you can’t guarantee that the rain will hold off on the day of the event. To combat the inevitability of soggy tuna and cucumber sandwiches (sans crusts, or course), perhaps the most important thing you could do is to buy, borrow or hire a gazebo or marquee. It may seem a little cautious, but it will help to prevent having to move your guests and their muddy shoes and sticky fingers into your living room – trust me, it’s an investment worth making.
No matter how young your guests, no one wants to be stuck standing up from start to finish of your party, and so, making sure you have plenty of seating dotting around your outdoor space is an absolute must. You’re likely to already have plenty of indoor seating that you can bring out for the occasion, but it’s worth investing in some garden furniture too – benches, camping chairs, deck chairs or even stylish rattan furniture would all do just perfectly, and there’s something to suit every budget. Alternatively, why not ask your guests to bring a chair or two along with them?
Having a few set up in the backyard is a great way to keep your guests entertained and can be a fantastic way to help break the ice, especially if attendees don’t necessarily know each other particularly well. Bowls, croquet, skittles or even outdoor Twister are just a few suggestions, and if you do decide to invite children along, why not hand out some colourful chunky chalk and let them create a masterpiece or two on the paving slabs/concrete? Don’t worry about the mess, the rain will wash away any residue for you later.
Food & Drink Station
Food & Drink Station
Rather than having a BBQ (save yourself the hassle of timing everything perfectly), why not set up a food and drinks station for people to help themselves. Buffet-style eating is fuss free and can be pre-pared to allow you to relax and enjoy yourself when the party is in full swing. Dessert tables are growing to be more and more popular and you can have a lot of fun with setting these up to suit your style. Remember to set these tables up in the shade and preferably under a shelter to help save the food from spoiling in the sun.
No party is complete without music, so why not create a summer themed playlist to add a little background noise to your shindig? It’s important to make sure it’s age-friendly - not everyone will be happy if their five year old goes home with a newly found love of Slipknot lyrics, no matter how much you might love them. Wireless speakers are a fantastic way to play out your song choices outdoors and will help everyone to relax – just make sure to be considerate of your neighbours if you’re not inviting them along.
Remember the days of the party bag? Well, let’s be honest, even us grownups are a fan of a token gift to take home with them, but try to avoid the football stickers and slice of cake option. There are plenty of clever ideas for you to consider, why not send everyone home with a tipple or two to enjoy later? Places such as are a great place to pick up mini-versions of your favourite spirits or wines – and they can be personalised too. Alternatively, a small box of fancy chocolates often goes down well too.