If you’d like to make yours the event that people are still talking about weeks later (for the right reasons!) then read on for our guide to how to throw the perfect alfresco bash. At the moment, the focus still has to be on small and intimate rather than large gatherings so it’s worth going to a little trouble to create the right atmosphere.
Throwing a party outdoors in the UK, even in the summer, comes with its own attendant uncertainties. You need to think about what you’re going to do if the heavens suddenly decide to open. You could consider offering some sort of shelter such as a gazebo, or just warning guests that the date may be subject to change!
Create an outdoor room
There’s always a novelty about seeing indoor furniture, such as chairs and tables, pressed into service outdoors. It gives a slightly fantastical air to the party – and who wouldn’t want that? Plain wooden furniture won’t take any harm outdoors as long as it’s dry (see above), but make sure any cushions or throws that you decide to use are washable, or at least wipeable.
To finish the look, there are some fantastic indoor/outdoor rugs available now made from recycled plastic bottles that can just be hosed down after use. Mix indoor furniture with outdoor garden furniture for an eclectic look. If you don’t have enough chairs (or room for enough chairs!) then make it a casual dress code and ask guests to be lounge on picnic blankets and floor cushions. Simple jugs of garden flowers or plants in pots are enough to finish off the look.
Add another room
If you have the space available, then creating a seating area that’s separate to the dining area gives a real sense of luxury and relaxation. More informal seating, blankets and little side tables will help give a relaxed vibe.
Light it up
Depending on the time of day you’re holding your party, then you might want to think about adding fairy lights or candles to take you into the evening. There are some very pretty fairy lights out there at the moment, which look just as good unlit as lit and act as extra decorations. You could also try putting tealights in jam jars – tie string firmly round the neck and hang them from sturdy tree branches so there’s no chance of them getting knocked over. If you think that the insects might make uninvited guests, then use tealights with added citronella as a deterrent. Keep a little spray bottle of insect repellent at hand in case the bugs come out to play at twilight.
Use the real thing
For an outdoors party with an elegant edge, use glassware and china crockery rather than picnicware. If you don’t like to risk your best dinner service, then scour charity shops for pretty plates and put together a mismatched ‘set’. Linen napkins add a sense of luxury that paper alternatives just can’t match. Keep food simple and serve things that can be pre-prepared ahead of time as much as possible – you want to enjoy yourself too! A pretty pitcher of punch or cocktail such as Pimm’s always goes down well on a summer evening, too.
Featured image credit – Pixabay