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The Perfect Summer Garden Party

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Summer is here. Long hazy days and warm balmy evenings are perfect for outside entertaining. Whether it’s a fun filled family BBQ or a relaxed dinner party with friends, spending time in your garden is the ideal way to get the most out of our Great British Summer.

So why not brush off your patio furniture and stoke up the charcoal ready for a get-together? Our handy checklist will get you ready in a jiffy. Go on...make the most of that sun!

Have a (belated) Spring Clean

It’s never too late to spruce up your outside space. It doesn’t have to be a mammoth effort – just enough to wipe away those Winter cobwebs. Invest in a stiff brush (or a broom head would do) and give your outside furniture a good scrub with warm salty water. Time to spare? Give your patio, decking and paths the once over as well.

Bring out the BBQ

Chances are your BBQ hasn't seen the light of day since last year. Whether it’s been under a cover or stashed in the shed, now’s a great time to dig it out for a bit of TLC. If it’s a charcoal BBQ, empty out the coals. Discard them safely. Remove the grill and soak in a bucket of hot soapy water. We hear a dash of vinegar helps too! Scrub thoroughly with a wire brush and rinse. Allow to dry. (Top tip coat the grill in oil for easier cleaning after the party!)

Set the mood

Music is a great way to set the scene for any gathering. Create a fun feel with Summer party tunes or create a relaxed evening atmosphere with jazz. Set up an iPod dock or a sound system (somewhere undercover just in case!) ready for when your guest arrive. Why not be a DJ for the day and create your own playlist?

Love lighting

Alongside scene setting tunes, use lighting to really build an atmosphere. Choose fairy lights for a soft fun feel or candles for a sophisticated evening ambiance. We love using old jam jams. Collect from friends & family, and then soak in water to get clean and sparkling. Pop in tea lights (real or battery powered, as preferred). Use to light pathways, tables and garden features. You can even use garden wire to create hanging lanterns. Environmentally friendly and fabulous!

Decorate; get creative!

Brighten up your party with some pretty homemade decorations. How about some retro paper chains or simple bunting? Or decorate your table with simple flower arrangements and pretty napkins. Social pinboard Pinterest has lots of great, crafting ideas.

Nobble some nibbles

We love arriving to a party to find nibbles waiting for us! Welcome your guests with a few tasty bites; it’ll whet their appetites and get conversations flowing. Go all healthy with sticks of pepper, cucumber and carrot with a minted yoghurt dip. Or go for a perennial favourite – chips and salsa. Check out our recipes section for delicious Salsa suggestion.

Whip up a tasty marinade

Once you've got your BBQ shipshape, whip up a marinade. We recommend...

- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 4 Spring onions, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Freshly ground salt and pepper

This recipe is perfect for all kinds of grilled goodies including vegetable kebabs and chicken. A simply delicious all-rounder!

Make lemonade

Everyone loves old fashioned, homemade lemonade. It’s true! Check out our Recipes section for a recipe.

...and Pimms?

For the adults, why not also consider a jug of Pimms – a staple Summer special. For a fully traditional tipple, add some sliced cucumber, strawberries and orange into a large jug. Add some springs of mint and a generous handful or two of ice. Pour in 1 part Pimms and 3 parts chilled lemonade. Give it a gentle stir and enjoy in tall glasses.

Minimise washing up

The downside to entertaining is the washing up. Avoid piles of dirty dishes by using sturdy biodegradable plates and cutlery. Marinade meat in bags. You can also keep mess to a minimum by strategically placing bins around your party.

Bring a plate

Love entertaining but find it hard work? Why not ask your friends and family to bring a something with them. Suggest a meat for the BBQ, a side salad or perhaps tasty coleslaw and sauces. Or task your guests with bringing a dessert – creating your very own sweet table for people to sample and enjoy.

Have a backup plan!

Last but not least, it’s always good to have a backup plan in case the good old British weather takes a turn for the worst. Consider where you could put your food and guests should it rain. A tent or gazebo is a good emergency option. Invest in an umbrella for your BBQ chef. Have no fear - the food will still taste great and your guests will still have fun whatever the weather!