As winter is (finally) on its way out, guess what is on its way in: party season! Whether you’re a veteran hosting pro or are just dipping your toes into entertaining, the prospect of a meal (or just drinks — no judgment) with a few, or many, good friends is always exciting. Sure, there are some pitfalls and challenges unique to hosting. But that’s what we’re here for. See some of our pointers, tips and tricks for the perfect occasion.
Location, location, location
For a successful brunch or dinner in the open air, location is the perhaps most important consideration. Where you choose to accommodate your guests, as well as the seating or dining arrangements themselves, are key to a perfect time. Loungers or stools? Did you plan for a sit-down barbecue with a dining table, or is it a finger-food situation with a serving tray passed around? Consider everything well in advance.
Deco & mood lighting
Next on the list is, of course, the mood. And there’s no better way to get that right than with mood lighting. Whether string lights, a sea of candles or a chic fire pit doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you have an idea before you start decorating and that you consider everything with your guests in mind. Keep in mind that picking either deco or lights to be the star, to avoid overcrowding the place, is probably a good idea.
The food: prep is your friend
An elegant dinner with matching serve & glassware may sound great, and it is if you can pull it off, but the advantage of outdoor meals is that there is a lot more leeway for comfort and laidback solutions. This doesn’t mean you should go for paper or plastic plates, but even if you do, make sure that you supply metal cutlery and proper glassware — it’s ok to keep things casual, but a touch of class is always a good choice. Remember that prepping whatever you can in advance (even a day or two ahead) is going to save you a headache when the time comes.
The best part of any outdoor party is, unsurprisingly, the drinks. Drinks are much easier and less stressful to set and clean up, universally popular and, let’s face it, fun for all. You can either make it a DIY thing with a bespoke cocktail mix, or, if that works with your schedule and skills, set up a proper bar with a cocktail menu. Here, too, keeping it simple is the more worthwhile, not to mention easier option. Everyone loves a good gin & tonic, so don’t stress.
Cardinal rule: relax
Remember: any party is more about the mood than it is about the food and drinks. So rule number one remains, as always: don’t panic, and don’t forget you decided to throw this party because you wanted to have fun. It’s much better to have a burnt roast and laugh about it than a perfect meal and awkward silence. Ease up and let your hair down!