So, six friends in the garden, is it? Or was that six different households? Can they stay the night? Will everyone just be relieving themselves in the hedges? What if I don’t have a garden, can we sojourn to the street? Oh, forget it.
We’re starting to consider the logistics of our first post-lockdown party, once we’re allowed to gather safely again. Since we may still have plenty of time to plan it, make your first party after lockdown the best you’ve ever had by laying the ground work now, at least logistically. Something fun, free spirited and outdoors, we think; here are our 6 tips on planning your first post-lockdown garden party.
Ample seating is important when it comes to any party. After all this time apart, consider a large sociable table for dining and drinking. Create different zones where people can sit, take stock and enjoy a moment’s peace from the buzz of the party for a quiet catchup. No outdoor furniture? No problem. Vamp up your lawn with blankets, rugs, cushions and throws for that effortlessly comfortable, inviting look.
The best garden parties start early, with guests basking in the summer sun, and last late. As such, lighting is required for the latter stages of the event, when people are likely a little tipsy and in need of illumination.
It’s not only a practical concern; well-judged lighting can create a certain mood and energy, particularly in the outdoor setting. Indeed, you’d be surprised just how much impact lighting has on people.
Go for something lowkey, which blends with its surroundings. You could string fairy lights throughout the garden, wrapping them around trees, a pergola or any other structure you may have outside. Or have some fun with neon lighting, instead.
Candles are perennially popular when setting the mood but may not be practical with the temperamental British weather. Placing them (real or fake) inside outdoor lanterns to add some decorative and romantic lighting addresses this issue with flickering, fancified results.
GO ALL-OUT WITH PRIVATE BAR HIRE
If you’re planning a particularly special event within the framework of the ‘new normal’, you may want to explore a private bar hire option, so the distribution of drinks is more organised, safe and sanitary. Not to mention the touch of glamour it’ll bring to proceedings!
Often reserved for corporate events, weddings and large-scale occasions, private mobile bar hire can prove to be a fantastic addition that adds the extra excitement of professional mixologists, (once permitted by scientific advice, of course) not to mention the abundance of delicious, intriguing cocktails.
Not only does it ensure that your drinks menu for the evening is impressive, but it also means that both you and your guests will have more time to socialise and enjoy each other’s company; something that we are all desperate to do after lockdown, right?
SET UP A TEMPORARY OUTDOOR KITCHEN
The perfect host is one who is facilitating conversation when required, introducing people, pouring drinks, cracking jokes and generally making people smile. None of this is possible when they’re chained to the stoves inside, whilst the party goes on outdoors and without them.
So, consider setting up an outdoor kitchen, so you can socialise, sauté and serve, all at once. You did say you were a skilled multitasker, right? You can invest in pre-made outdoor kitchen islands, which offer the amenities of a regular kitchen including worktops, sinks and even cabinets, just outside. Or, consider making your own as an upcycling project.
That, or you could simply put your faith in us Brits favourite cooking vehicle (no, not the microwave). Yep, summer barbeques are what it’s all about and are a great focal point for a garden party; just make sure you set up a couple of side tables and prep stations for seamless, stress free cooking.
Though we’re all hopelessly devoted to the barbeque, there are still ways to elevate the most ancient of cooking methods. Consider investing in an outdoor pizza oven as the centrepiece to your party. These guys are surprisingly inexpensive (starting at around £70) and can simply be placed on top of your standard BBQ, cooking a fresh pie in minutes with that blistered, burnished look that the connoisseurs covet.
That, or you could undertake a lockdown leaving project and build your own! Check our article on how to build your own pizza oven in your garden in 5 simple steps, IDEAL for those who love the flavour of something wood-fired.
HUNGRY GUESTS ARE NOT HAPPY ONES
When it comes to party planning, most people will focus more on drinks than they will on food, but hungry guests most definitely are not happy ones. They are, in fact, rowdy, raucous, rule breaking ones. Do make sure, then, that proper stomach lining is provided, unless you want your party to go south, fast.
If you’re planning a bigger event or simply don’t fancy the effort of building your own pizza oven(!), do bear in mind outside catering; these guys will have been hit hard by COVID-19 and will need support within the community to get going again. What’s more, professionals will be able to provide the highest levels of hygiene; reassuring in these times, we think.
With government advice so sketchy and open to interpretation, we’d recommend exercising a great deal of caution in organising gatherings for now. Take pleasure in planning a party for the future months, rather than rushing to throw one right away, when the situation is a little clearer. Always check in with latest UK lockdown measures and advice before proceeding with your party.