How to entertain in a small garden

Thinking about inviting friends and family over for a garden party this summer but worried about space? Entertaining in a small garden may seem like a challenge, but follow these few tips and you’ll be hosting a party to be remembered.

Plan 

Start by thinking about what you want to do in your garden, dancing, dining, will there be a bar? How about a big screen? Plan the space. How many people will fit comfortably? What about seating? How many chairs do you have access to?  It’s easy to forget about leg room and corridors to move in and out of the house (to the loo). Work out where the food will go, and perhaps where you will fit the BBQ. 

Access

If your house has an open plan kitchen with bifold doors opening onto the patio, then the transition between home and garden is seamless. Moving from inside to outside space can be seamless, great for any party.  But for many of us access to the rear garden isn’t quite so straightforward. You may have a side entrance that gives you access from the street, then give it a tidy and consider decorating the side wall with climbing plants, the theme of your party or simply fairy lights to create a beautiful welcome for your visitors.


Shelter

Suitable screening, both on the boundaries and possibly within the garden is important – not just to give privacy, but also to break the force of the wind, provide shade and help rid the garden of cold drafts. Could that beach windbreaker be dusted down and put to good use? Is there a gap you could position a bamboo panel in front of? 

Styling

Do you prefer Contemporary or Traditional? It’s always a good idea not to mix too many styles in a small garden. Remember, you can use furniture, colour and soft furnishings to express your individual style, layering these with individual touches will make it your space. Bring the inside out and do your best to make it cosy.


Electricity

Save yourself the hassle of hunting around for those extension leads and consider having one outdoor waterproof plug fitted. This time of year, outdoor electricals are in high demand so consider checking what is in stock at your local homeware store. Lighting the garden can create drama at night. And it can be used to extend living and entertaining after sunset all year round, it’ll be well worth the investment. Did someone mention sport on the big screen? Will you be hosting for the UEFA European Championships? Wimbledon? The Olympics?


Music

This hotly debated topic can make or break the party. Your guests will always have an opinion and it may not be possible to please everyone. If it's sunny, something relaxed, melodic, maybe acoustic, at a low enough volume for people not to have to raise their voices could be ideal. Or you could spice it up and create a dedicated Spotify playlist, ask your guests to contribute. No matter what happens, the DJ will always get requests, so make sure your wifi is running well, password available. If you're more of an old-school kind of person, get that record collection out, it always makes for a great conversation piece.

Cooking

Isn't summer the best time of year for food? Fresh salads and the smell of grilled goodies wafting through the air. Just because your garden is a little on the snug side, it doesn't mean you can't cook alfresco. There are some great products and hacks available out there. Take the Big Green Egg for example, available in small, big and gargantuan sizes, it gives you total control over your alfresco cooking and won't leave you guests zipping about trying to avoid windy plooms of smoke.  


Pizza?

Surely the hottest culinary topic right now. A perfect, customisable bite for most dietary requirements, cooking pizza used to be a freezer to oven job but not anymore. What better way to surprise your guests than with an Ooni. Get everyone involved by inviting them to create their own dinner and then put your mini pizza oven to work to do the rest.

Drinks

We've found a way to prevent any drinks from being spilled! If only eh. No, it's more than likely there will be a few spillages, especially if you and your guests are getting tipsy. Those bottles that you have hidden away in a cupboard can also double up as a great display. Consider creating some bar shelves for your favourite tonics. The one in the picture below uses a drawbridge style fold down to keep it tucked away and maximise space when it's not in use.


What if it rains? 

If you can fit it, a pop-up gazebo will allow you to continue with your garden entertaining if a light shower is forecast. If a gazebo is too big, your next best option is a garden umbrella, just make sure it is fastened down and don’t forget to set it up before the guests arrive! You could even borrow a couple and create a stylish al-fresco setting, more fairy lights?


Consider those around you 

Using the garden to entertain during the daytime has several advantages over evening. Sitting and eating in the sunshine is informal and pleasant. Entertaining during the day means you don’t have to worry about heating and lighting. In addition, hosting guests during the day means you won’t disturb your neighbours later, especially considerate if they have small children or they’re regularly up for work early the next day, this is particularly important during summer months when bedroom windows are left open. 

Imagine the feeling when the last guest says goodbye. A quick clear away, wash up and still plenty of time to relax before going to bed! Phew, what a day!

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