Lifestyle

How To Organize Great Garden Parties

Hosting a get-together in your garden is a fabulous way to entertain friends and family, and it is ideal for celebrating special events such as birthdays, anniversaries or graduations.Having an event outdoors is much more relaxed for everyone, and with a few preparations beforehand,you can let the party take care of itself. Here are some of the aspects you should think about in the run-up to your celebration.

Planning and Preparation

If you’re sending out invitations, allow people plenty of notice, especially in the summer to avoid clashing with vacation plans. Ask guests to let you know if they’re coming by a particular date, so you’ll be able to plan menus and numbers accordingly.Your invitations should explain if there is a theme to your party or why you are having a celebration, for example. Most people will be willing to help out a little if you ask them to bring a plate of food or a couple of garden chairs. If you decide you’d rather not have gifts,say so at the time you invite your guests.

If you’re planning a child’s birthday party, you might want to check that you have plenty of party bags in your kitchen cupboards just in case there is any birthday cake left over at the end of the event. Get family members on board so that the tasks can be shared, with someone in charge of the drinks, someone else handling the food, and another helper preparing your table and chairs. Encourage them to stay until the party ends and to help you with the cleanup, although you may have other volunteers from among your invited guests.

Food and Drink

Refreshments are a key element to any kind of party, and eating in the garden is surprisingly easy to manage. If you like to barbecue or have a partner who does, you can cook outdoors or start things off indoors and finish on the barbecue grill. Make sure your grill is cleaned up if it hasn’t been used for a while, and stock your freezer with the food you prefer. As long as you have a variety of ingredients – such as meat, fish and vegetables – you should be able to cater for all preferences.

If you’re planning a more intimate dinner for just a few people, it can be useful to pre-cook your courses if they’re meant to be served hot so they can be reheated just as your guests are arriving. Cold dishes can be made earlier in the day and chilled in the refrigerator.

Summer parties are a great excuse to make lemonade, and perhaps also Pimm’s for the grown-ups. Make sure you have plenty of garnishes, such as cucumbers, strawberries and lots of ice. Beer and white wine should be thoroughly chilled.

Décor

You need to think about how your garden is presented to your guests. Cut the grass a few days before the event, but be aware that if you do it too far in advance, it may have to be done again. If you have fencing, string some colored solar lights along it so they will sparkle cheerfully as the evening sets in. You can also add bright bunting and hunt for some ceramic decorations to put on fence posts.Flamingo ornaments are popular right now and look great in the garden.

Clean up your garden furniture and decide which tableware you will use. Paper plates and cups are very convenient, particularly when feeding children, but you may want to go a little more upmarket for the adults and use porcelain. You can also make some pretty table decorations by floating flowers in little cups or bowls. Place several together in the middle of your table as a centerpiece. When it comes to seating,consider adding a few new pieces in pretty pastel colors to complement your existing garden furniture.

One lovely way to really make an impact is to erect a gazebo to provide some shade if the weather is really hot or serve as shelter in the case of a sudden shower. You can place some seating inside and some outside so that your guests have a choice. It’s a great location for your table, too, and if you use decorative covers, it’s easy to protect your party food from insects. You can also keep an eye on how much is being consumedso you can replenish supplies when needed. Check out the range of elegant gazebo sizes, styles and colors on Gazebo NZ and choose one that you feel will look best in your garden.

Entertainment

If you have children coming, you might want to pick up a few fun garden toys for them to play with. Depending on their ages and the size of your garden, it is best to avoid anything heavy that has to be thrown or hit with a bat because it’s easy for some real damage to be done if things gets a bit lively. Badminton is ideal, or any of the “giant” versions of board games. Plastic skittles with a light plastic ball is fine as long as an adult keeps an eye on the fun.

Music for the grown-ups can be a selection of your favorite easy listening tracks. Put your sound system or iPod dock safely under cover in a corner of the gazebo in case of showers. Of course, you might just find that the adults at your party fancy having a little play with the garden toys themselves, so organize a few teams and let them have a mini tournament to add to the fun.

Sit back, relax and enjoy

Remember to enjoy the time spent with family and friends. You are bound to get lots of compliments about the trouble you’ve taken to entertain everyone, and you should accept these graciously and savor the admiration for a change. Most people will offer to help tidy up, and it does no harm to accept their offer.

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