One of the things that we love most about a British summer is the chance to be outside, enjoying long days and light evenings with friends and family. From the fun of styling your garden through to welcoming your guests and enjoying their company until the time comes to say goodbye again, a garden party is a true British summer staple.
There's something about that moment as the heat of the day fades and the sky starts to deepen to an inky colour that is so much better when shared with those we love. This summer, no matter how large or small your party (or your garden), we want to share with you some of the things that we have found that will make these moments even more magical.
For the long-awaited get-together
When entertaining your nearest and dearest in the garden, the focus should be on the small details to add to the sense of occasion. If you have the space, opting for a larger table and chair set means that you will have plenty of room, not only to style your place settings but also for those who might be a little nervous about returning to socialising.
As for what to put on the table - start with some beautiful linen. Things don’t have to match so don’t be afraid to use a bold tablecloth, alongside some plain napkins.
Add some bud vases filled with stems cut from the garden or fresh herbs in pots, dotted amongst candles to really bring the garden party to your table. Tea lights in lanterns or glass votives are always a good choice but on calmer days don't be afraid to use bright and bold tall candles as the added height will make a great impact.
For the food, it will look all the more delicious served up on Bordallo Pinheiro's range of nature-inspired tableware or Majolica-style platters from Maxwell & Williams at Dunelm, inspired by a technique that was popular in Renaissance Italy.
For a centrepiece, as this is a party, you are definitely going to need an ice bucket for keeping those drinks cool (the larger the better - as host you want to be enjoying the party too, not dashing back and forth to the kitchen). This stunner from John Lewis looks far more impressive than its price tag suggests and will look equally impressive filled with flowers once the guests have gone.
Finally, as the light fades, solar-charged lights dotted around your garden will allow you to linger and enjoy these moments without having to rush about lighting candles whilst still providing the same cosy glow.
For a large barbeque party
If smaller parties are all about the detail, large parties should be all about the fun. Away go the beautiful linens that might not survive, the show-stopping crockery that might get broken and out comes the barbecue, the unbreakable plates, the washable rugs and perhaps, even, the tiki bar!
First, to set the party mood, it is a good idea to invest in an outdoor speaker. There are some fantastic waterproof models now available and even ones that combine with lights, offering you the chance to sync your lighting to your bpm. Speaking of lights, having solar powered lanterns dotted around your garden means that as the sun goes down, your party won’t need to end.
Next, think about zoning your space so that people gravitate to different areas. This is where the tiki bar comes in or, if you are looking for something that works as well in your home as in the garden, any of the smart drinks trolleys available from Cox & Cox, set up with ice, garnish and a selection of drinks will be a brilliant option. This will encourage your guests to move around ensuring that not everyone is clustered around the barbecue.
Also think about providing different types of seating in different areas, not just dining table and chair outdoor sets. Obviously, you could use outdoor sofas or benches to provide more relaxed areas but why not embrace a Moroccan souk vibe and layer cushions on top of outdoor rugs? Nestle some of these seating areas right up against your plants so that your guests can really enjoy being outdoors.
When it comes to serving up food and drinks, the stylish and sustainable choice now is to opt for reusable melamine tableware rather than disposable options. Kate Spade and Leon, both available at John Lewis & Partners, have great, vibrant options that will bring sunshine and brightness to your party, even if the British weather does not oblige. Meanwhile, the selection of acrylic glassware at Amara is so impressive that you are going to want to use it all year round.
And to keep the fun going, no matter the age of your guests, how about having an outdoor game or two? Who can resist a game of boules, giant jenga or even croquet! Again, you can use these game areas to keep your guests moving around your garden
Patio areas with Topps Tiles
Another consideration before planning your garden party is how equipped your garden is for your guests. The addition of a patio area allows your space to be multifunctional as well as avoiding any soggy shoes from the grass after a mid-summer shower or two!
Set up your outdoor area for entertaining by creating your ideal garden space with our friends at Topps Tiles. A large patio area is great for hosting guests whether it’s a sit-down lunch, a few drinks around the fire pit or gathering around the pizza oven.
The Everscape range from Topps Tiles is the perfect patio solution for year-round garden landscaping. It’s stain and mould proof, fade resistant plus slip resistant so it’s safe for all the family to use whatever the British weather brings.
Available in a range of designs, we love the terrazzo finish of Thira and the sleek surface design of Sandstone. These versatile designs work in any setting, from contemporary to country, just accessorise it with the right furniture to create the perfect atmosphere for your guests.
We think it’s important to balance hard landscaping with lots of planting to encourage wildlife and in turn, create a leafy oasis for you and your friends to escape to. Everscape creates the perfect foundation for recreating a night out on the tiles in the comfort of your backyard.
However you celebrate this summer, large or small, we hope that these ideas help you to enjoy your time outside with those who are special to you.
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