The mercury is rising, and Britain is enjoying one of its rare heatwaves. This is barbecue and garden party season, and it’s time to start planning.
But if you want to host the perfect outdoor event, you will need to start preparations well in advance. From preparing the barbecue to planning entertainment, getting ready for a garden party can be tricky. So here’s some tips to help you on your way.
1. PREPARE YOUR GARDEN
A wet and wild winter may have left your garden looking a little shabby, so your first job is to prepare it for your guests.
Pick up any leaves, litter and general debris that is lying around your garden. Once you’ve done this, you can start the important task of preparing the area for your event. You’ll need to plan several tasks, including:
- Planting some attractive flowers
- Mowing the lawn
- Weeding and cleaning patios and paving
Once you have spruced up your garden, you’ll have a blank canvas on which to plan the layout of your party. You’ll need to decide where to position your food, drinks, gazebos, socialising areas, furniture and everything else that will make your event extra special.
Draw a rough outline of where you want everything to go – based on the shape and size of the space.
2. PREPARE YOUR FURNITURE
You will most likely want somewhere for your guests to sit, as well as a little cover in case the infamous British weather takes a turn for the worse.
If you’re buying new furniture, keep it stored inside so it looks pristine on the day. But if you’re using furniture you already have, you’ll probably need to spend a little time cleaning and preparing it.
If you have wooden tables and chairs that remain outside throughout the year, it might be a good idea to paint or treat them. However, if your furniture is made from plastic, you’ll be able to use your Shark Lift-Away Professional Steam Pocket Mop to remove the dirt, grime and bugs that always seem to accumulate on garden furniture.
If possible, throw any soft covers and cushions into the washing machine, or give them a thorough wipe-down if they’re plastic. Again, the power of a Shark steam cleaner can be used to clean upholstered garden furniture quickly and effectively.
Consider draping blankets over benches, using scatter cushions to create a relaxing ambience and covering tables with cloths to create a warm, welcoming environment for your guests.
Think about where to position your furniture logically. There should be tables for cutlery, condiments and crockery near your food. You will need to position chairs, benches and tables in areas that allow people to move around freely. You may also want to keep an area clear for games or socialising.
3. GET THE BARBECUE READY
Most average garden parties in the UK rely on the humble barbecue for delivering a constant supply of food. So you need to make sure yours is fit for purpose. Consider the following points before selecting the right barbecue for your party
- How many people are invited to your garden party?
- How much space do you have?
- What is on the menu?
- How much do you want to spend?
- Are you offering vegetarian options?
If your event is going to be a relatively small affair, a simple charcoal barbecue should do the job. However, if you’re planning a more lavish event with lots of guests, you might want to consider something a little more powerful. A gas-powered barbecue with a rotisserie, plate warmer, double grill and chopping board will allow you to cook food in large quantities. And let’s face it; the food you’ll be serving will be crucial to the success of your event.
If you’ve decided to pull the old barbecue out of storage, you’ll need to spend some time cleaning it. Grease, carbonised food and dirt can may prove very difficult to remove. However, the Shark Handheld Steamer will deliver a jet of superheated steam that will cut through last year’s grease and food with ease.
4. FOOD AND DRINK
The world is your oyster when it comes to the food and drink you’ll be offering at your party. However, it’s important to plan your shopping in advance. Consider the following points when compiling your garden party shopping list.
- How many guests have been invited?
- How many vegetarians do you need to cater for?
- What foods will fit in with the theme of your party?
- Children’s food options
- Beers and spirits
- Cocktail ingredients
- Table displays
You will also need to decide whether or not you’ll be using real crockery. A safer option would be to use paper plates, but they may not set the right tone for your event. Whatever you decide, make sure you include sundries – including napkins, cups, plates, eating utensils and serving bowls – on your shopping list.
5. CHOOSE A THEME
Every great garden party has a theme. There are thousands of potential themes to choose from, but some of the most popular include:
- Pirates and princesses
- Fancy dress
- Pool party
- Sports day/back to school
- Classic movies
- Beach party
- Royal banquet
The theme of your party will probably dictate the furniture you need, as well as the food and drink on your shopping list. But ask yourself the question: do I want people sitting down to food or enjoying a less formal barbecue or buffet? Once you know the answer, you’ll be able to choose the theme that works best for you.
6. GAMES AND ACTIVITIES
A group activity is a great way to break the ice and get people mixing. There are some great lawn game sets to choose from, including croquet, boules, skittles, swingball, garden Jenga and Giant Connect Four. Choose a game that suits your theme, and schedule it after your food has been served.
7. LIGHTING AND DECORATIONS
Don’t forget to add decorations to your shopping list. Of course, if you’ve taken the time to add a splash of colour to your flowerbeds, your garden will already look fantastic. However, by adding ceramic ornaments, chimes, bunting and art, you can create a truly idyllic setting for your event.
All great summer parties carry on into the night, so prepare some outside lighting in advance. Fairy lights and lanterns positioned strategically around your garden will create a magical ambience when the sun finally sets. Wrap outdoor lights around tree trunks, fencing, static furniture and gazebos to create a wonderful setting at night. And carefully place some scented candles in key areas to enhance the atmosphere.
Top tip: Citrus, oil-infused candles are great at keeping insects away.
8. CREATE A SCHEDULE
While it’s always a good idea to keep proceedings relaxed, creating a rough schedule of events will ensure that nothing is left to chance on the big day. Plan key activities in advance, give them an approximate time slot, and decide roughly how long they will last. Of course, these plans could quickly go by the wayside, but making them will give your event the best possible chance of success.
Don’t let a rare British heatwave go by without celebrating it with a garden party. Get organised and prepared, and your event in the summer sun should live long in the memory.