'Tis the season for garden parties and barbecues. If you've got a bit of outdoor space, now's the time to invite friends and family round and show it off a little. After all, nothing says summer like an al fresco lunch with your nearest and dearest. Here's how to give your garden the atmosphere of a hidden Spanish patio ready for an outdoor extravaganza.
Decorate like it's a dinner party
Turning your garden into a welcoming place to host your guests is all about the atmosphere. Lay the table properly, using good quality plastic plates instead of disposable paper ones. Take a cue from Martha Stewart by gathering some flowers from your garden and popping them in small vases on the table to brighten it up. If your flowerbeds aren't quite ready yet, use a few bowls of lemons and limes instead (handy for garnishing drinks, too).
Light it up
You'll want your guests to keep chatting even as twilight starts to fall, so bring the inside out and hang some solar-powered fairy lights on your fences. These will transform your garden into a sparkling grotto as the sun begins to set. Equally, pop some citronella candles around your patio to both keep biting bugs at bay and give your yard a warm glow. A fire pit is also an inviting place for your guests to gather, especially if you have marshmallows for toasting.
Bring out some entertainment
Once you've got the seating area and barbecue sorted, it's time to add some activities to entertain your family and friends. Lawn games like croquet and boules are perfect for this time of year, but who wouldn't be happy with a simple kick about? If you've got younger guests coming along, you might want to add a paddling pool (and follow our tips onkeeping kids safe in the garden).
Plan ahead for poor weather
British summer time is nothing if not unpredictable, so it's worth having a backup plan. Have your indoor dining table ready to go in case a sudden shower forces everyone inside, and make sure your living room is tidy and welcoming, too. Even if it doesn't rain, it can get chilly after dark, so pop a few blankets on your outdoor chairs so people can snuggle up.