ad collaborative post // Summer is finally here! After a long wait, temperatures have begun to climb, and we’re enjoying more sunny, blue-sky days in the UK. As COVID restrictions continue to ease, albeit more slowly than many of us had hoped, you may have started planning your first social events of the season. With social distancing still in place, what better way to safely spend time with friends and family than by hosting a small summer party in your garden?
Check out our top tips on how to host a garden party that your guests will be talking about for weeks to come:
Play by the Rules
This may not be the most exciting part of party planning, but it’s essential that you check government guidance on social distancing before organising an event in the current climate.
Currently, outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people are permitted. But the advice and regulations can change regularly, so check the gov.uk website to make sure that you stay within the law and perhaps more importantly, keep people safe. The police can take action against anyone who breaks the rules. And remember, overnight guests must be kept to six people from two households or larger groups if several households are in a bubble.
Make Your Guests Comfortable
Think about who you have invited and make sure that you cater to their needs. Planning a picnic-style event where your guests laze on the grass may be a great idea if everyone attending is young and fit, but less so if you expect elderly or disabled people to show up. Likewise, you might be a sun-worshipper, but some of your guests may appreciate the shade.
Consider providing a variety of seating, setting up umbrellas for shade, creating a chilled water station and leaving blankets out if your event is likely to run into the evening.
Choose Your Menu with Care
The food you serve should be appropriate for the tone of the event, the dining arrangements and the season. Few people opt for a formal sit-down meal at a garden party but if you’re providing a buffet or a picnic-style meal, make sure that the food you serve can be easily eaten while standing up or sitting on the floor.
Finger food is a great choice, and you can order a lot of fantastic products online, saving you considerable time and hassle. Choose a selection of charcuterie boards or cheese and wine hampers for a simple yet classy feel. Keep food cool and protected from flies using hampers with chilled compartments and food covers.
You’ll also need to consider the dietary requirements of your guests. Few people will expect you to cater to the specific needs of every person, but it’s always a good idea to provide a few vegetarian and vegan options as well as several that are free from common allergens such as wheat. If you’re hosting an informal party for friends and family, the chances are you’ll know who can eat what and can cater accordingly.
Set a Party Theme
Giving your garden party a theme is a fun way to set the tone of your event. A theme doesn’t have to mean fancy dress, although it certainly can if that appeals to you and your guests.
A theme helps to tie all the strands of your party together to create an ambience. The menu, decorations and your recommendations for appropriate dress should all reflect the theme. Serve cocktails in pineapples, play reggae tunes and invite your guests to wear Hawaiian shirts for a funky summer vibe. Or host a “day at the races” with dainty sandwiches, horse racing games and smart attire for a more formal, classic event. Your imagination should have no limits when it comes to creating a party theme!
Plan Some Entertainment
If you’re planning an event that will last longer than it takes to consume the food provided, a choice of entertainment and games will help to keep your guests in the party spirit.
This could be as simple as playing some music or displaying photos of you having a blast with your guests. Or you could really go to town and create a range of games, for example, a piñata, outdoor skittles or garden boules. Make sure the entertainment you provide fits with your theme (if you have one) and is suitable for the guests you’ve invited.
Have a Plan B
The weather in the UK is known for its unpredictability. Even the most stunning summer’s morning can turn into a deluge of rain by the afternoon. Make sure that you have a contingency plan in place to keep your guests dry and happy if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
This is more of a challenge while social distancing measures remain in place, because the number of people you can invite into your home is severely restricted. A marquee is the easiest way to provide temporary cover from both extreme heat and rain — more than half of it must be open to comply with government guidance.
You should also consider contingency plans for unexpected events besides the weather. What will you do if extra people turn up? Or if only a small percentage of those invited actually arrive? Are your plans for food and games flexible enough to accommodate these changes?
Do you have a first aid kit to hand in case someone is injured or becomes ill? You can’t plan for every eventuality, but having a backup plan in place for the changes that are most likely to occur will help things run smoothly — and make sure that you stay in control.
A summer garden party is a fun way to spend time with your loved ones. With a little planning, you can create a fantastic event that will lift your guests’ spirits after a challenging year.
With months of summer ahead, you have plenty of time to perfect your hosting skills — why limit yourself to just one party? Make the most of your chance to socialise in the sunshine and ask your guests to save the dates now!