Summer is finally here and, as the weather warms up, we spend more time socialising outside. From casual barbecues to al fresco cocktail evenings, there is no better time to host an event in the fragrant setting of your own back garden.
If you are planning an outdoor party we have some etiquette tips to ensure that your event runs without a hitch.
Do not dispense with the invitations
Outdoor gatherings are often more casual affairs than traditional dinner parties but you still want to retain control over the guest list. Do not be tempted to rely on verbal invitations as it is easy to forget not only how many people you have invited, but also who has accepted or declined.
If you don’t want send out written invitations, you could email the guests or set up a WhatsApp group for the event. Make sure that you include all the relevant information, such as the start time and any dress code. If the party is running over a number of hours, you may want to stipulate what time the food will be served.
Get the catering right
Keep a close eye on the head count to make sure that you have enough food and drink for everyone. It is a good idea to err on the generous side when you are planning the shopping list as there is nothing worse than running out of wine/beer/burgers. Find out if your guests have any food allergies and offer plenty of non-alcoholic and vegetarian options.
Do not leave your guests standing
You probably do not want to bother with a formal seating plan but do provide seats for all your guests. If you do not have sufficient tables and chairs, either borrow some from friend or put some picnic rugs on the lawn. If the budget allows, you could also consider renting extra furniture. It goes without saying that any older or mobility-restricted guests should be guaranteed a chair to sit on.
Follow the scout motto and be Prepared
For any outdoor event you need to have a “rainy day plan”. We all know that the weather can be unpredictable so make sure that you are prepared for all eventualities. Check the forecast and make alternative arrangements in case it rains. If your party runs into the evening, the temperature will drop once the sun goes down. It is a lovely and thoughtful gesture to provide blankets or throws for your guests.
Prepare a first aid kit that can be used in case anyone gets stung by a wasp or burns themselves on the barbecue. It is also a good idea to have some insect repellent to hand to ward off pesky uninvited guests in the form of bugs and insects.
Be a considerate neighbour
Outdoor parties can be disruptive for those living next door. If you are on friendly terms with your neighbours, you may want to extend the invitation to them. At the very least you should let them know that you are planning an outdoor event. The last thing you want are complaints about noise or inconsiderate parking so make sure nobody parks across a driveway and turn the music down after 9pm.
Have some games up your sleeve
Plan some activities to keep the guests entertained. If many of the them are meeting for the first time, you can include some icebreaker games to get the conversations rolling. Provided there is room in the garden, you can also set up a badminton net or croquet set in case anyone fancies an impromptu game.