According to Amazon.co.uk a quarter of us Brits see our patios as the perfect place for a garden party, while 60% of us have tried to spend more time improving our outdoor space rather than the inside of their homes this summer.
With the recent spell of great weather, I bet we’ve all turned our attentions to our outdoor spaces in one way or another.
For me, a new BBQ was long overdue, so I upgraded to a Weber Summit® Charcoal Grill. I’ve always wanted one but I was put off by the price. My only regret is I didn’t purchase it sooner. Incredible!
Over the last couple of months, we’ve all pulled the patio furniture out of the garage, wiped down the garden table, and fired up our BBQ’s.
And you could argue it is a little late in the summer for a garden party post, it certainly looks like we’ve seen the last of sun the as I sit and type this.
However, I’ve had the idea for this article in my head for a few months, and if nothing else it will have us garden party ready for next summer. Plus, many of these tips can be transferred to an indoor party too.
What is a garden party?
Around the globe us Brits are known for the more traditional style garden party. And what is more quintessentially British than high tea? It’s popularity with tourists in London is testament to their appeal. Not to mention the prices some places get away with charging.
But I digress. How many of us have thrown a proper garden party? And I don’t mean a few friends round for a casual BBQ and a glass of wine or two. How many of us actually know how to host a proper outdoor party?
The garden party is the highlight of the summer social calendar, finger sandwiches, cake and tea. It is a tradition that dates back to the 1860’s, and we have Queen Victoria and the Royal Family to thank for it.
However, what started with Royalty is now enjoyed by the many, thanks to the palace’s decision to extend their invitations beyond the nobility. And we have embraced this tradition, taking it from the palace lawn and into gardens across Britain.
How to host a garden party the Lazy Susan way
Now I don’t want to fill this post with correct tea party etiquette. The do’s and dont’s of hosting them etc. I don’t know enough about it to be brutally honest with you, and they are not my idea of a good party.
However, what I do know is a few things about planning and hosting a good outdoor party. Be it a wedding, birthday party or simply a large BBQ for family and friends.
Through the Lazy Susan Trade side, we have been involved in many garden parties, supplying our furniture for a wide variety of events, we’ve picked up a few tricks of the trade as they say.
So, in this post I wanted to share a few of those tips. How to host a truly stress-free garden party. One you and your guests can both enjoy.
Keep the pests away
Summer 2018 has been a scorcher. And with all that warm weather came a rise in insect numbers. My garden (and house for that matter) has been full of flies and wasps. And if you want to entertain outside, then you don’t want your guests bothered by them.
Bug lamps are a great way to keep pests away, and Amazon.co.uk has an extensive range of camping style zappers. If these are a little too, how shall we put it, uncouth for your party, then a torch style lamp may work better.
Flies and wasps hate smoke. Burn citronella oil or candles. The Lazy Susan Garden Flame (pictured below) has also proven to be a popular pest deterrent at several outdoor weddings we’ve supplied with furniture over the summer months.
Candles will also work, and what you get with them and our flame that you don’t get with a zapper, is stylish looks and added ambience when the sun goes down.
Your lawnmower will go a long way in keeping bugs away too. Insects are attracted to tall grass and weeds, so cut the grass a day or two before the party. Also avoid watering it for a few days as damp grass will also attract them too.
Specify a time that food will be served
One thing I’ve noticed with several garden parties we’ve been involved with is that the majority of people will arrive on time, but a small percentage will drift in later.
A buffet is one way to ensure that food will be available for a prolonged period, as long as its not left out too long.
However, if you’re hosting a large BBQ, you don’t want to keep firing up the grill and cooking the whole time. So specify a time slot on the invitation.
When it comes to party food, it is all about what works for you. What will please your guests is important too, but not if it becomes difficult for you. Organisation is the key. A planned approach is the key to throwing a a stress-free party.
A cold buffet menu is easier than a BBQ for example. It can be prepared in advance leaving you free to talk to guests. However, a BBQ delivers on wow factor and taste. For larger events, hire in caters in. Whatever, works for you.
If you do take on the task yourself, you need to ensure you have prep and storage space in the fridge etc. You have the right equipment to prep the food and serve.
Plan carefully and work out the quantities of food you’ll need, and remember its always better to have more than to run out. And lastly, think about food hygiene.
Take food out of the fridge just before serving. If people are picking over a buffet for a longer period, then put out smaller quantities and replenish when they run low.
If you’re serving hot food, ensure it stays hot while you’re serving it. And when the party is over, if food has been out for a few hours, bin it.
Be prepared. Plan for bad weather
The boy scout motto. It just pays to have a Plan B. For me a A 20+ person BBQ at my house is happening come rain or shine. We’ll set the gazebo up. Cook outside. Eat inside.
However, if the party is a larger more formal affair, then you need to think ahead and cover for all eventualities. Outdoor parties come with weather risks, so having a Plan B is essential.
Whether it’s relocating inside, or setting up a marquee, optional indoor space is a must when hosting an outdoor party. Hiring a marquee can be expensive, but if it is your only option, then that cost is better than everybody getting wet.
Inform your guests it’s a garden party in advance so they can plan and dress accordingly. Think about any guests that might have health conditions or a disability, make sure it is accessible for all.
And it’s not just rain. We get our fair share of blustery weather too. Make sure any decorations you set up outside etc are safe and secure.
Or if you’re lucky enough to get some of the great weather we had this summer, then it is essential you make sure there is plenty of water to keep your guests hydrated. Maybe even some suncream to pass around.
Don’t try to forecast ahead though. For a starter it will drive you mad. Just plan for all types of weather and simply embrace whatever comes your way.
Have Enough Seats
A 4 piece Lazy Susan garden furniture set isn’t going to cut it if you’ve got 20+ people over for a garden party. Seating is important, yes many will like to stand, but it is best to have seat for every bum. Especially if it is a more formal to do.
If you’re keeping things casual, then you could bring dining chairs outside, borrow from friends and relatives etc. Alternatively, you could spread picnic blankets on the ground.
Renting is cheaper than you think and the way to go for larger events such as wedding. You can hire folding chairs and tables for very little and they can easily be dressed up.
In fact you can rent pretty much everything you need from additional refrigeration to speakers and large commercial grills. Most hire companies will even drop off and pick up before and after the event too.
If, however, you’re a business looking to a hire stylish cast aluminium garden furniture, then look no further than Lazy Susan Trade. Sorry, shameless plug.
How about a DIY BBQ buffet
This summer we supplied several large outdoor dining sets for an outdoor wedding where they had a Do-It-Yourself BBQ buffet. And I appreciate this isn’t one for everybody, it was incredibly well received at this particular wedding.
They’d pretty much set it up like a street food market. You could make your own pizza’s in a large wood-fired pizza oven, there was a hog roast. Everyone could dress their own gourmet burgers. There was something for everybody, vegans and meat eaters.
Think about lighting when the sun goes down
If you want to stay outside when the sun goes down, don’t leave guests in the dark. A little ambient lighting is essential.
Be prepared for a temperature dip too. Fire pits, patio heaters etc are always a great option and will keep the party going long into the evening.
If you need to run power cables into your garden then ensure they are safe and secure. You don’t want to create any trip hazards or electrocute anybody. Seek advice if you’re not 100% sure what you’re doing is safe!
And last but by no means least, our final piece of advice if you’re hosting a party in your garden. Think of your neighbours. Warn them in advance, or better yet, invite them over.