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How to host the perfect garden party

From tablescapes to outfits that impress, consider this your cheat sheet on hosting an unforgettable garden party.

We’re finally able to welcome friends and family into our gardens. Whether you’re throwing a socially distanced BBQ or an intimate garden party with the members of your home, this is your ultimate etiquette guide for entertaining al fresco.


Design an Instagram-worthy tablescape

After months apart, now is the time to make gatherings a truly special occasion. Pull out all the stops with stylish homeware updates – think cloth napkins, towering candlesticks and blooming bouquets.

For a natural look, draw inspiration for your table from the surrounding area, says artist Clare Ormerod, owner of Huntington Castle & Gardens in Ireland. “Gather as much as you can from the garden and wilderness where there is always an abundance of material.”

Florist Mark Grehan, who recently worked with Kildare Village near Dublin, advises keeping designs simple and relaxed: “Think hyacinths or lavender, and use a mixture of vase shapes and sizes,” he adds.

TIP: You don’t always need one centrepiece – a series of bud vases arranged down the length of a rectangular table makes a statement without obscuring the view of your fellow diners. The White Company has a great selection of glass options.


Dress the part(y)

While we might not be allowed to actually travel, there’s no reason we can’t embrace the holiday spirit. Simply imagine you’re strolling along the white sandy shores of the Indian Ocean, exploring cobbled streets in Santorini or stretching out on terracotta tiles in a Spanish villa… now dress the part.

Waft around the garden in an elegant flowing dress paired with summer’s minimal sandals – look to BOSS and Sandro for pretty prints.

Gentlemen, turn to Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger for smart shorts, lightweight shirts and T-shirts in an array of colours. This season sneakers are big news too – and comfortable for dancing under the stars.

TIP: Take it up a notch with this season’s must-have look: a tailored short suit. “You can buy an elegant tailored suit in pastel shades, and wear it with a blouse for a touch of extravagance,” says Bicester Village personal stylist Laura Stanley.


Choose a mouth-watering menu

Take inspiration from the Italians, whose traditional multi-course meal structure is a masterclass in how best to enjoy food and company. Start with your aperitivo while guests mingle, before serving platters of antipasti, sharing bowls of contorni and insalata, and plates of seafood, meats and cheeses – guaranteed to have your guests lingering over the table long into the evening.

This also gives you an opportunity to make the most of your special silverware – table setting needn’t be complicated say the cutlery experts at Zwilling. Simply start at the outside and work your way in, mimicking the progression of the meal.

When it comes to your main course, make life easier for yourself by opting for a one-pot dish. Le Creuset’s iconic oven-to-table casserole pots come in a vast range of jewel-bright colours to brighten up your dinner table.


Show your appreciation

If it’s not you entertaining this weekend, channel old-school elegance with a thoughtful token of your appreciation.

TIP: Yes, the obvious will do: flowers, plants or a bottle of wine. Or you could find something a little more personal. Browse Rituals, L’Occitane or The Body Shop for pampering presents that say a genuine “thank you”.