Garden Entertaining

To transform your outdoor space into a place where friends and family will love to gather this summer, there is a lot to consider from coaxing plants and flowers into aesthetically pleasing containers; refreshing your terrace, patio or garden; figuring out the design details and how handle seating arrangements; to figuring out the perfect menu. Try these worry-free useful tips and make your next gathering one to remember.


Transform Your Outdoor Space

Once you’ve spruced up your foliage — got rid of dead leaves, watered the garden, and added pretty summer flowers and pot plants, move onto the setting. An umbrella not only provides shade, but helps define your outdoor dining room.

 As for seating arrangements, thick, comfortable cushions on chairs encourages guests to linger at the table. On the other hand, setting up tables in separate areas ― say, drinks in one spot, dessert in another ― encourages guests to roam about and mingle.

 If you don’t have enough seating, repurpose indoor furniture to create an outdoor “room.” For example, a cot covered with pillows can double for a settee. Guests can sink into sturdy wicker chairs, perfect for lolling in on a lazy summer night. Create cozy seating areas (you can even add indoor furniture to the mix ― even tree stumps will do just fine) to encourage conversation.

 Regarding the table setting, instead of a tablecloth, lay brown craft paper across for a laid-back look―and super-easy cleanup. Or, if wind is an issue, skip the tablecloth for a rustic feel (even if you don’t have one of those stunning rustic wood tables).


Complementary colors also add a nice touch to your table. Decorate it with greenery for a casual chic look, such as floating peonies and gardenias for a pretty centerpiece. Continue with the theme by adding accents, such as plates and napkins that incorporate the same green hues — even disposable dishes, cutlery and cups come in different shades and save on washing up afterwards. An eclectic mix of crockery and cutlery also feels more casual than digging out your best china.

 Creating the Ambience

Here are some creative lighting ideas:

·Add a touch of romance to the night with a chandelier made of fairy lights.

·Lend an ethereal effect to a backyard with solar lights, which run on energy gathered during the day and snap on as darkness falls.

·Hang glowing lanterns on low branches (be sure handles are long enough that the flames sit about 12 inches from leaves and branches).

·Twinkling festival strands add instant atmosphere to any evening party. You can even intertwine them with foliage. Just make sure you secure with plastic hooks as nails and staples can pierce the wire.

·Circle your party area with citronella candles or incense sticks to light when night falls. For vigilant hosts there are battery-operated candles that deliver the same warm light without the worry of wind or dripping wax.

·To provide the crackle of a campfire without the need to rough it, set up a fire pit on grass or a stone patio. Even when nights grow cooler, a patio fire pit lets you entertain outside.


What’s on the Menu?

On a steamy night, your guests will be happy with simple fare: sparkling drinks and savory little bites, like fancied-up crudités. You can greet your guest with small bowls of fresh fruit set out on the table. The most important thing is to keep the menu modest and relaxed — think backyard picnic: cold soups, finger food, lots of salads, salads cut into strips for easy snacking, country-style health bread, scones, pastries, and chilled dairy-based dips chilled. For desert, fresh fruit, fruit salad, homemade ice cream, light fluffy cakes or cupcakes (easier to eat), and why not homemade biscuits. Drinks are important, especially cold drinks. Set up a lemonade stand to keep guests hydrated on hot afternoons or evenings. Place glasses within easy reach on a dessert stand. Keep alcoholic beverages fun — punch and sparkling wines or champaign keep things light.

Remember, a successful garden party doesn’t require anything elaborate ― just a relaxed and welcoming setting, great company, and simple food. Of course you could save yourself the hassle and simply while away a summer day reading a good book in a shady lounger!

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