ideas outdoor entertaining

Simple ideas for effortless outdoor entertaining

16th May 2016

The weather’s warming up so it’s time to move the party into the garden with our easy ideas for outdoor entertaining

Spring has definitely sprung, and the warmer days and lighter nights are the perfect excuse to gather family and friends together for a fantastic garden party.
Get out of here!
Nothing beats hosting an outdoor party on a (hopefully) sunny weekend – good food, good company and a gorgeously styled space in which to kick back and relax. So here are a few of our top outdoor entertaining ideas to make sure your garden party goes with a swing.
Garden furniture for all spaces
While we’d all like to be Simon Cowell (‘Hmm, which lawn shall I host today’s party on?’), the reality is that most of us only have one area for outdoor entertaining, and that’s our garden. But with a little planning, some style hacks and some gorgeous garden furniture, you can turn any outdoor space into party central.
  • Room to manoeuvre Think of your garden as an outdoor room and plan your entertaining space that way: a table for eating, some sofa-style chairs for relaxing (we love the contemporary curved lines of this Cayon sofa set) and a firepit or chiminea for warmth (it can get a bit chilly in early May when the sun goes down).
   
Cayon contemporary outdoor furniture

Comfy outdoor sofas are the perfect place to chill

 
  • Rug-ged good looks Really define your outdoor entertaining area with a rug (as long as there’s no rain forecast!). This helps to reinforce the sense of an outdoor room whether you set it up on the deck, the patio or the lawn. A striking design, such as the Jack, would make a great focal point.
The Jack rug works well in outdoor spaces

Define your outdoor space with a large rug

 
  • Shades of summer A parasol, such as the Largo, can also be used to separate and define areas, and provide some much-needed shade from the sun.
 
Largo parasol for outdoor entertaining

Define your outdoor entertaining space with a large parasol

 
  • Weather beaters Be smart about the outdoor furniture you choose and it will last you for years. Go for weather-resistant materials such as PU rattan, toughened glass tabletops and shower-proof, wipeable cushions. If you’re short on space, a sofa-style dining set, like the stylish Estepona, will double up as somewhere to both relax and eat.
 
Estepona gives the wow factor to outdoor entertaining spaces

A sofa-style set doubles up as a place to both dine and relax

 
  • Small(er) and perfectly formed Size doesn’t matter when it comes to eating outdoors. Even a smaller bistro-style table, such as the Souri, can easily host four chairs, perfect for al fresco dining.
 
Outdoor patio set Souri bistro table, perfect for 2, 3 or even 4

Bistro-style tables fit beautifully into the smallest of outdoor spaces

 

Table decorating 101

A garden party or al fresco feast is the perfect excuse to go to town on simple, yet effective, outdoor decorations, especially where the main event – the table – is concerned.
Candles in lanterns on patio dining table with place settings

Candles in lanterns on patio dining table with place settings

 
  • While it might seem easier to use disposable plates and cutlery, paper and plastic doesn’t give the same sense of occasion. So bring your favourite glassware, china and cutlery outdoors for a real dinner party feel. Your outdoor table will look stunning and your guests will appreciate the extra effort you’ve gone to.
  • For more formal entertaining, take a silver pen and write your guests names on stones, laurel leaves or even luggage labels; tie cutlery together with bright coloured raffia or ribbon for unusual place settings.
  • Fresh flower heads and petals make beautiful outdoor table top decorations, as do vases full of whatever garden glories are available – from single stems to vases bursting with peonies or hydrangeas.
  • Instead of your usual tablecloth, try a silk sari instead. The bright colours will pop in the sunlight, and when the sun goes down, the glint of the gold thread will sparkle under the lanterns or fairy lights.
 

DIY dining

One of the beauties of outdoor entertaining is that it lends itself to either a formal or relaxed vibe. So while a four-course meal is great for more traditional occasions, for a more chilled get-together why not save on the stress with a build-your-own burger bar, as suggested by blogger Annalise at completelydelicious.com. Set up a side table piled with a selection of toppings: coleslaw, bacon, cheese, avocado… whatever takes your fancy. Then fire up the barbie, cook the burgers to order, then let everyone top their own. Easy or what!
Set up a table with toppings for burgers, from completelydelicious.com

Build your own burger bar – effortless entertaining

 

Get your party started with our great wine offer

We’ve teamed up with the lovely chaps at Virgin Wines to offer you a fabulous spring deal on 12 delicious wines for only £49.99 – that’s just £4.17 a bottle; a massive saving of over £57! Wine offer Order now and we’ll also send you a delicious bottle of premium fizz absolutely free (worth £10.99!). Click here to order now (Terms and Conditions apply)

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