Planning on entertaining this summer? Throw open the doors and embrace outdoor living during the festive season. Whether you are planning Christmas lunch, a New Year celebration or an end-of-year catch up, long summer days are perfect for outdoor entertaining. To get you in the mood for an outdoor celebration, we’ve put together a list of tips for hosting a summer soiree.
When decorating your outdoor area, apply the same tactics you would use indoors. Rugs, cushions, accessories and the right lighting all create character and set the scene for a party. Serious entertainers can invest in outdoor rugs and cushions, or you can utilise some of your favourite pieces from inside.
For a sophisticated outdoor dining experience, don’t be afraid to use items such as linen napkins, fine glassware, candelabras and decorative crockery. These pieces add a feeling of opulence when dining outdoors.
Using foliage from your garden for a table centerpiece is a great way to create a sense of cohesiveness. At this time of year, choose lush, green and red foliage for a festive look. Either arrange it in a vase or scatter it across the table for a rustic feel. You can also use garden foliage to create your own living wreath – Gardenista has a tutorial you can adapt with whatever you have on hand, or try this wreath made from succulent cuttings.
If your outdoor setting is looking tired, cover the table with an outdoor tablecloth. These are easy to clean and can be dressed with placemats, centerpieces and other decorations to suit the theme of your party. When using a tablecloth, be sure to use weights to hold it in place.
We always start with styling because it is the fun part, but there are some practical considerations to be made as well. These include:
Create an outdoor drinks station so your guests aren’t tempted to wander indoors.
Have plenty of jugs of iced water, especially on hot days.
Try to prepare food ahead of time so you can spend more time outside with your guests.
Cook part of the meal using your barbecue, wood-fired oven or whatever else you have outdoors. This involves guests in the preparation of the meal and the smokey flavours from an outdoor grill are perfect for warm days.
Check the gas bottle and clean the barbecue at least one day before the party.
Stock up on citronella candles when planning a party that will continue after dark.
If you don’t have adequate lighting, consider how you can brighten a space by using fairy lights, candles, lanterns or solar garden lights. Stringing lights or lanterns over a table creates a whimsical setting.
For safety reasons, ensure paths and stairs are well lit.
Use a fan to keep air flowing and repel insects.
If there isn’t enough shade in your outdoor area, consider erecting an umbrella or putting up a shadecloth.
Think ahead: water the garden a few hours before the party to ensure grass and paths are dry, and avoid using odorous mulches and compost on the garden prior to a party.
When setting up areas such as drinks stations, consider how these will affect the flow of your space. Areas such as this will attract congregations of people, so place them away from paths, cooking areas and dining tables. If space permits, try to create a lounging area separate to the dining space. This will give guests a place to relax before and after a meal. If you aren’t planning on hosting a sit-down meal, put the table away and use an outdoor sofa or clusters of chairs instead.
Summer recipe ideas
Want something other than traditional Christmas food on your table? Here are some delicious summer-inspired recipes to try.