After struggling to easily find the right items to furnish her own apartment, Kuldea Co-Founder, Deirdre Mc Gettrick, was inspired to create an online platform to make home shopping as straightforward, efficient and fulfilling as possible. As summer approaches, she shares her top preparation tips for the outdoor party season.
There’s no better way to enjoy a beautiful sunny day than getting outside in the garden, inviting friends and family around, firing up the BBQ and sharing some food and drinks together.
Whether your garden is large or small, some simple touches and outdoor styling can create the perfect setting for entertaining, transforming your gathering from an average get-together to a really impressive summer celebration.
So, to help make your next party extra special, here’s my top tips for kitting out your garden and hosting a BBQ banquet that everyone will remember.
Top tip 1) Furniture and seating
Whether you are having a sit-down meal or help-yourself BBQ buffet, making sure there are plenty of places for your guests to sit and relax is key to a successful outdoor party.
There’s a huge range of outdoor dining and seating options available, from the full table and chair sets to armchairs, sofas, daybeds, deckchairs and benches. The great thing about alfresco entertaining is guests tend to feel less constrained and more likely to utilise different locations for seating; this means you can introduce various options for visual interest as well as practicality. Hammocks, canopies and hanging chairs are a great idea to add quirkiness. Not only do they provide extra seating but they also give your garden an instant look of tranquility.
Your main table and seating area will always be the focal point of your party and demarcate where the food will be served, so make sure there is enough table-top space to accommodate everyone, serve food and spread out. Side tables look so stylish outdoors and are also a great way to gain extra surface area to place dips, condiments or drinks.
Remember to keep an eye on the weather forecast in the lead up to your party. If rain or showers are predicted then a gazebo, pop-up garden tent or large free-standing parasol will mean you can still enjoy the outdoors. These can work just as well to protect your guests from the sun on a bright day too.
Top tip 2) Tableware
Eating outside is the perfect opportunity to have some fun with your tableware and really embrace the summer season.
Bamboo or melamine dinnerware is perfect for outdoor dining; it’s hard-wearing, lightweight and available in a huge range of colourful summer prints and designs. With everything from plates to salad bowls, trays and coasters, your BBQ table can coordinate perfectly so your guests eat out in seasonal style.
If you want to brighten up your seating area, even more, weatherproof table cloths, placemats, napkins and ring holders all emulate the ‘inside-outside’ for a highly designed look. Read our tableware guide here.
Don’t forget drinks too – for seamless hosting make glasses, cups, jugs, pitchers and other bar accessories easily accessible so you don’t have to run around after people all the time. Again these are available in break-proof materials and, as they are often very cost-effective, you can be more playful with the colours, shapes and styles.
Top tip 3) Lighting
When the sun starts to go in, lighting makes your party come alive and is the perfect way to enhance any outdoor space at night. Using a combination of lanterns, string lights, tea lights and solar-powered outdoor lamps will create a cosy, Arabian-night vibe allowing your day-BBQ to transition effortlessly into summer evening drinks.
Outdoor lighting can be draped over trees, across dining areas and along the edges of buildings. You could also line paths and borders with bollard or pedestal lights to highlight additional seating locations for guests. A great investment piece for outside entertaining is a fire pit or chimenea. A focal point of your patio, these are great for keeping warm once the sun goes down and providing additional illumination. Many can double up as a grill or oven to barbecue food or roast marshmallows – always the best way to end a garden party!
Top tip 4) Furnishings and accessories
Gardens, just like our homes, are massively enhanced by colour, texture and interesting items that add individualism. When you entertain outside, touches like this won’t go unnoticed so make sure you incorporate these elements into your outdoor party prep.
Colour could be added in the form of something really inexpensive but effective such as bunting, vases, candle holders or cut flowers to offer a beautiful finish for any summer dining area. To create a homely ambience, vamp up your furniture with soft furnishings such as cushions, throws, outdoor rugs and blankets for when it gets cooler in the evening. These all add comfort to your party configuration, allowing guests to feel relaxed, settled and ready to enjoy every second of being outdoors.
Whatever accessories you go for, remember that the perfect summer party set-up lies in the detail, so have a colour palette in mind and shop accordingly. Yellow, orange and pink blend beautifully together to create a Moroccan feel, whereas, for something more sophisticated, a fresh white and blue palette will complement the earthy tones of the garden. For a fun, punchy look, bright botanical prints will inject a tropical flavour guaranteed to get everyone in the holiday mood!
Top tip 5) Food and drink
Imperative to any outdoor party, of course, is an abundance of great food and drink. As well as traditional BBQ food, summer menus allow guests to graze as they socialise. Food options are endless, but generally, as long as you offer a mix of meat and veggie, sweet and savoury, hot and cold, with child-friendly options if needed, you can’t go wrong!
The ultimate way to cater to a garden party is to think beyond the BBQ in isolation and create an outdoor kitchen set up. This can be a permanent fixture if you have the luxury of space, but you can easily make a temporary one by arranging side tables and drinks trolleys to form a designated food prep and serving area. Not only will this make cooking a much easier and streamlined process, but it also accentuates the visual cooking experience of the BBQ.
To keep the drinks flowing, cool buckets are essential for outdoor parties, and can easily be made by filling any plastic or steel container with ice. Or, some garden furniture has ingenuously concealed ice buckets for outstanding practicality – and sure to become a talking point!
For a really sophisticated feel, you could even create a full-on bar in the garden, complete with a counter and stools, for the ultimate outdoor summer soiree!
Kuldea makes finding outdoor furnishing for the summer party season even easier – browse hundreds of styles from the UK’s best retailers, all here in one place! For more top tips and inspiration, click here.