How to throw the best garden party ever

How to throw the best garden party ever

28th June 2016

There’s nothing nicer than having fun in the sun at a brilliant garden party, especially now that we’ve reached the magical midsummer point of the year… so here are some top tips and clever ideas to make your next garden gathering the talk of the town!

Preparation, preparation

There’s no point in inviting everyone to your garden if it’s not up to scratch, so before you send out the invites, there are a few simple housekeeping (surely we mean gardenkeeping?) tasks to check off your list:

  1. Make sure your lawn is in good condition (if not, start adding some lawn feed each time you water it), and pick a dry day just before the party to give it its last haircut. Don’t do it on the day itself or you’ll have lots of cut grass tramped through your home as people come and go.
  2. Clean and spruce up any decking or patio areas – a good pressure washer should remove most of the dirt and moss.
  3. Weed your flowers beds, and if they’re looking a little sparse, get some pretty perennials to fill in the gaps and provide a splash of summer colour.
  4. Do a ‘hazard’ sweep: you might know to avoid the patch of brambles or keep away from the slightly rickety part of the fence, but your friends and neighbours won’t, so either block off these areas or put up some ‘keep away’ signs.


Set the scene

So what’s your theme? Well, it could be anything but we’d suggest keeping it simple and stylish for maximum impact… Here are two of our summer favourites.

Red, white and blue

This colour combo always works well in British gardens, so why not get out the bunting and pop up some patriotic poms poms. Extend this theme to your dining table by copying this great idea we found on and popping coloured napkins and cutlery in jam jars so your guests can help themselves when it’s time to eat.

Midsummer magic 

To pull off this fairy-glade look, start with lots of pale, floaty fabric to drape around the garden to create magical seating and dining areas, giving the impression of ‘secret’ nooks and ‘hidden’ spots. If your garden doesn’t lend itself to such floatiness, then drape your table in plenty of chiffon-style fabric before setting it for a fairytastic outdoor dining space.

You’ll also need some (and by some we mean lots) of twinkly lights. Hang jars filled with tealights from branches of trees – for a real wow factor, intersperse them with colourful ribbons too, like this amazing display from

Add wow to your garden with this cute idea from

Bright streamers and twinkle lights = a magical garden

Finishing touches

Now you’ve got the theme and the location nailed, here are some simple ways to add an extra dash of pizzazz to your party…

Play time

Simple garden games such a croquet, skittles or even swingball will get your guests up and mingling… if you really want to get that competitive spirit going, make it a knock-out competition with a prize for the eventual winner.

Wrap up

If your party’s going to continue when the sun goes down (and with that many tealights set out, we really hope it does!), then don’t forget to provide some throws and blankets for your guests to wrap up in if it gets a little chilly. Why not bring a rug outdoors to take a cosey on!


Serve-yourself bar

OK, so you’re the host but you don’t want to be spending all your time refreshing glasses, so set up a drinks bar where guests can help themselves. Just make sure you have plenty of good-quality plastic glasses for them to drink from, and lots of ice and slices of lemon and lime, and you’re good to go. Or be bang-on-trend and serve ready mixed drinks in oversize Kilner jars, like these ones we found at

Beautiful drinks served beautifully from

Help yourself in style with these Kilner jar-style drinks dispensers

The garden gang

DFS has a fabulous selection of outdoor furniture to suit all budgets and spaces… here are some of our current favourites.

Two’s company

Looking for the perfect little bistro table and two comfy outdoor chairs? Well, you’ve found it with the Sarasota

The Roseville set from DFS

Outdoor dining made stylish

The more the merrier

Entertaining the crowds? The Naples seats eight comfortably.

The Naples outdoor dining set from DFS

A little piece of Italy in your garden

Looking for more outdoor inspiration head over to our Pinterest profile for the latest in creating your perfect 'Outdoor Oasis' or your own fun 'perfect picnic party'. 

Books for garden loafing

8 books to read before they hit the big screen

3rd June 2016

If like us, you’re fed up of your friends (especially Game of Thrones lovers!) always telling you how much better the book is than the movie or the TV show, then here’s your chance to get one up on them.With summer fast approaching, and sun loungers in gardens everywhere calling out our names, we’ve compiled a list of some great reads for summer 2016 – for adults, teens and kids – to get stuck into now, so by the time the film’s released, you’ve been there, done it and had time to get the T-shirt printed! Enjoy…

Books for kids and teens

Roald Dahl – The BFG


The Big Friendly Giant (or BFG to his pals) is one of Dahl’s most-loved children’s books. It’s the story of Sophie who lives in an orphanage run by the nasty Miss Clonkers. Sophie is befriended by the BFG who, unlike other giants, doesn’t eat children (bonus!), and the unlikely pair team up to keep England’s kids safe from all the other giants, with a little help from the Queen! Book suitable for: 7+ as the concept of being eaten could be a little scary for younger kids

Published by: Penguin Books

Film release date: 22 July 2016


JK Rowling – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic beasts

Book suitable for: 9+The Muggle guide to all the magical, fabulous and, ok then, fantastic creatures in the schoolbooks studied by Harry Potter and his pals at Hogwarts. A must-read for all HP fans, this is the perfect complement to the existing series of mystical adventures, and the ‘graffiti’ in the book’s margins from Hermione, Ron and Harry ‘The Chosen One’ Potter himself adds an unexpected fun twist.

Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing

Film release date: 18 November 2016


A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

Monster calls

Award-winning author Patrick Ness is one of the best YA (young adult) authors, and you can see why when you delve into this moving book. Thirteen-year-old Conor has been plagued by the same dream every night since his mum fell ill… but this night, when he wakes from the nightmare, there’s something at his bedroom window, and this monster isn’t going to be satisfied with anything less than the truth.

Book suitable for: 12+

Published by: Walker Books

Film release date: 21 October 2016


Ransom Riggs – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss P

Jacob, 16, idolised his grandfather who used to tell him tales of invisible boys, super-strong girls and kids who can make fire in their hands. After his granddad is killed in front of him by, well, something not quite of this world, he goes with his dad to an out-of-the-way island where he discovers the ruins of what was Miss Peregrine’s Home, along with a stash of photos of some very peculiar children indeed. And Jacob starts to think that maybe his granddad was telling the truth all along.

Book suitable for: 14+

Published by: Quirk Books

Film release date: 30 September 2016


Books for grown-ups                         

Jojo Moyes – Me Before You

Me before you

If you’re looking for a book that you’ll read in one sitting, that will have you feeling warm and fuzzy one minute and sobbing the next, then the deeply poignant, bittersweet story of the unlikely relationship that develops between Lou Clarke and paralysed Will Traynor after she becomes his carer, hits every nail right on the head.

Published by: Penguin Books

Film release date: 3 June 2016


Paula Hawkins – The Girl on the Train

Girl on train

High-functioning alcoholic Rachel Watson gets the same train to work at the same time every day. To pass the time, she makes up stories about the people around her, and creates her ‘perfect couple’, who she names Jess and Jason. But all isn’t as perfect as it seems – ‘Jess’ or Megan, as she really is, is having an affair, and when she disappears, Rachel decides to help her husband find out what’s going on. But is she prepared for what she uncovers?

Published by: Penguin Books

Film release date: 7 October 2016


Dan Brown – Inferno


The fourth of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon books (The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, The Lost Symbol), opens with our super-sleuth professor waking up in a hospital bed in Florence having lost his memory. When his life is threatened, he and his doctor Sienna set off on a literary-fuelled adventure around the city, following the clues and decoding the mystery with help from Dante’s masterpiece Inferno.

Published by: Transworld Publishers

Film release date: 14 October 2016

Ben Fountain – Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Billy Lynn

This book is a day in the life of 19-year-old war hero Billy Lynn who is about to return to Iraq. He and the other survivors from his Bravo Squad are on the last day of victory tour designed by the Bush administration to garner public support for the war. During the course of the day, Billy rubs shoulders with the rich and famous, and is lauded by his fellow Americans, but also has to face up to the truth about his life, his family and his honest feelings about his imminent return to the battle zone.

Published by: Canongate Books

Film release date: 11 November 2016


Let’s get outside

Looking for something to loaf on while you’re reading one of these brilliant summer books? Never fear, we’re here with a selection of loungers and recliners so comfy you’ll never want the day to end.

Looking for more inspiration?

Check out our newest Style Sourcebook, online now. It’s packed with style advice and ideas on the latest looks for your home, including a piece on How to Take the Inside Out, along with some top tips for evening entertaining in style.

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Outdoor entertaining

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 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

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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