It feels like we’ve waited a long time, but finally summer is here! And though the British weather may not always allow for an entirely sunny summer holiday, it is not quite as bad as its reputation may have you believe. We get lovely long days and light evenings, with the occasional sunny spells (and possibly the odd downpour too- but life would be boring without variety!) One lovely, and very British, way to spend a summer day is throwing a garden party for friends and family! For those of us lucky enough to have a decent amount of outside space, and keen to enjoy the good weather while it’s here- here are some tips on throwing a fantastic garden party.

Lighting

Summer skies are wonderful, but not always consistent and many a garden party has run on from the day and into the evening. Have plenty of lighting to be sure your space is well lit, especially if there are stairs or a pool (I wish!) with children running around. Lanterns and candles provide great evening lighting and even help bring everyone together/inspire story telling. If you want a cute and inexpensive option, tea lights placed in glass jars make for an affordable lantern and provide a really pretty whimsical look to the party!

Weather- Hope for the best but prepare for the worst

With all the preparation and scheduling that goes into a garden party, the last thing you want throwing your plans for a loop is the weather! The best thing to do is to plan for the worst so you and your guests are able to enjoy, no matter what the weather is! For example, as an alternative to umbrellas, garden sails like those made by Unopiu are great to protect guests and/or a barbecue from downpours or perhaps even too much of sun, without the risk of blowing away with the wind. They’re also fire retardant meaning you can use them to protect whatever food you might have on the grill.

Don’t forget outdoor heating!

When it comes to summer evenings, who knows what the weather may be like! Whether a slight chill or breeze comes in to play or you simply want to create a cozy atmosphere, outdoor heating is a great way to be sure guests feel comfortable and at home. It’s also a sure way to make sure guests don’t move inside or worse, leave early! If you have an outdoor fire pit, be sure that is cleaned out and ready for some use. Otherwise, patio heaters and cozy blankets are great options.

Have something for the kids

If you are throwing a family-friendly garden party, you will all sorts of energy running around! So that everyone can enjoy their time together, but kids can feel like kids and adults can enjoy some down time as well, have kid-friendly activities planned ahead and kid-proof the garden party. Perhaps consider putting items inside if you don’t want them broken, for example. For kid-friendly games, human-sized jenga, twister mats and classic hula-hoops are great fun and easy to set up.

Food prep as much as possible the night before

Having people over can be stressful for the hosts, but it does not have to be! If it’s a casual garden party, consider a potluck style where everyone brings over a certain part of the menu. Or if you want to take on all the food/drink, plan well in advance so you can prep as much as possible the day/night before and only focus on the necessary day-of items. Try to choose simple party foods that suit a buffet style party. Try not to choose food that has to be cooked there and then or requires constant stirring or supervision- guests will appreciate simple food so long as they can also enjoy your company.

While there is so much to do and exciting things to try for a garden party, preparation in advance will let you relax all the more during the party, which is sometimes hard for the host to do. That way, whatever the weather may be, hosts can be sure to enjoy, set up a few fun games and have enough seating for those who won’t be comfortable on their feet for too long.

Guest post by Emily Jones.