6 tips for hosting a fabulous summer party
With summer well and truly underway and the post-Covid return of the dinner party in our diaries, it’s a good time to think about how to make a celebration something a bit special.
Whether it’s a table at a street party, a full-on dining room party or just a group of friends and family in the garden, part of the fun is setting the scene and setting the table!
It doesn’t always have to be bunting and balloons. Less is often more striking and the little touches are the ones that can make the biggest difference - and be the easiest to achieve. A wonderful vase of flowers as a centrepiece may well have the wow factor but if it leaves your guests peering through the foliage to hold a conversation across the table then it’s not always so practical.
Here are some gorgeous and simple tips for a celebration to remember, whether it’s inside or out.
1. Food for thought
Never mind if you aren’t in the running for the Platinum Pudding Challenge, you can still produce a spread that’s fit for royalty! There are many ways to put a different spin on party food.
Set a theme, whether it be a variation on the great British BBQ with everyone bringing their own take on homemade kebabs, or an al-fresco meal Italian style - it’ll be a huge bonus if you’ve got a pizza oven in your garden. Start early with a glass of fizz and get everyone to have a go at the dough.
It could be a help-yourself, tuck-in-and-share potluck around the kitchen table. Instead of wine (OK, as well as) ask your guests to bring an unusual jar of pickle or chutney.
You could, of course, go traditional with an afternoon tea and ask people to bring their baked goods (homemade or surreptitiously shop-bought).
Or, it could be strictly local produce only for a sharing board. A joint effort with your guests will ensure a feast for your eyes and your taste buds and a lot of fun along the way.
2. Leaf it out
For a beautiful living centrepiece, put a line of fresh herbs along the centre of the table, or in a central group. These can be alive and well in little pots ready for re-planting outside, snippings from your garden or fresh bunches from the supermarket in little jars of water. Invite your guests to pick off the leaves to scatter them on whatever you’re serving. Pretty, practical, perfect.
3. Rule of three
Instead of one vase of flowers that looks lovely but takes up table space, put a single flower or just some aromatic edible greenery in a mini-bottle next to each guest’s wine and water glass. A simple trio of glasses each with its own purpose. It’s a great way to disprove the saying that ‘two’s company, three’s a crowd’ and three is rule number one in an interior designer’s bible!
4. The perfect match
Wimbledon is hot on the heels of the Jubilee Weekend and with that in mind, you can play your own perfect match when it comes to tableware. It doesn’t have to mean everything the same - mix and match plates and bowls with the same style but different colours, or go fully mismatched for a colourful and characterful look. If you’re short on dishes, take a trip to your local charity shop and see if anything catches your eye.
5. Let there be light
We know there’s nothing new about using pretty lights all year round but how about weaving a delicate strand of tiny battery-operated lights (no cable from socket to table to trip on) in amongst the plates, glasses and serving bowls. The whole table will sparkle as the evening draws in. Another way to make light work of an atmospheric gathering is to use a single Moroccan style lantern that will sprinkle a pattern of light across the whole table, guests and all.
6. Spice it up
Here’s another way to bring colour to your table. How about a spicy alternative to a floral decoration? If you happen to be preparing a curry, create a decorative colour scheme of spices, seeds and nuts in a handful of tiny shallow bowls in the middle of the table. It’ll get your guests talking about your recipe for sure. Warn them not to take a spoonful though!
Of course, at the end of the day it’s your guests who will make the event a success – you’re just adding a great atmosphere to their good company.
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