Warm breeze. Balmy afternoons that seamlessly shift into evening. Simple food packed full of flavour. Laughter filled conversation that hums around you. There’s nothing like summer garden parties to make you feel content with life. With young children around, the unplanned nights out that start with a quick drink and turn into a late night catch up, quickly become a thing of the past; there’s nothing quite like the thought of wrestling an overtired toddler around the next day to make you want to stick to bedtime routines. But in it’s place, something else blossoms; an enjoyment of seeing friends and family at home, at pulling together last minute gatherings stocked with those quick dashes to the supermarket, safe in the knowledge that whilst the adults re-charge, the children are happily destroying the garden or giggling away in bed.
After the last few years, with various restrictions on our ability to come together, I’ve found I appreciate it even more. Trust me, I never thought I’d be the person to willingly invite people over, but somehow, I now prefer it to going out. Whether it’s daytime or night time, this summer I am ALL about the impromptu get togethers, the beach barbecues, the play dates, the lunches, the Friday evenings after a busy week. I want to soak it all up, invite them all in and revel in the togetherness of great company… and great food, of course! I know from experience that having people around can feel overwhelming, but once you find what works for you and your family, it’s a light bulb moment. BloomLocal, the online floral arrangement provider and providers of flower deliveries UK, asked us to share some of our summer garden party advice so we’ve pulled together our favourite tips to help you feel confident with parties and get-togethers in your home this summer.
Now, before we get going, let’s start with a disclaimer. In true British weather style, you can guarantee that it will always turn grey when you’ve got plans. So, whilst the weather may not have been on our side with this one, we chose to bring the outdoors in – something which is infinitely easier thanks to a wall of bi-fold doors. However, we’d be doing the same thing outside if it had been on our side… it would have just meant lifting our table a couple of metres out of the dining area and on to the patio… true indoor outdoor living at it’s finest!
Keep Food & Drink Simple
I get it. The thought of having people in your home can feel like a lot of decisions! What food should you serve? How much? What about drinks? Options? Allergies? In my opinion, simple is always better. Who wants to be faffing around in the kitchen all night when you could be in amongst the conversation, drink in hand? The best thing about summer is that you have so many options when it comes to simple foods that needn’t take ages to prepare or break the bank. For groups, picking from various dishes gives your guests freedom to choose; so a picnic style event nicely laid up can be really helpful. Think cold cut meats and fish, big bowls of green salads (a bag salad from the supermarket jazzed up with some baby tomatoes does the job in seconds!) and piles of freshly cut french bread with lashings of butter. For more variety you could pick up some pre-made side dishes such as coleslaw, bean or beetroot salad to go alongside as well as a selection of cheeses. Don’t forget the soft fruits for dessert – there’s nothing that screams summer more than piles of British strawberries!
Your House Is Perfect, Just As It Is
Whenever we have people coming over, I have an urge to clean my entire house. And garden. Which is ridiculous because I am not a good cleaner! I even caught Dave weeding the back flowerbed before our son’s last birthday party – just in case the parents fancied a little gardening judgement whilst the kids went wild. But the reality is that you are going to be far more critical of your home than others and… spoiler alert, your friends and family are there to see you not to fill in a report card on the cleanliness of your home. These days I try to stick to a brief wipe down in the kitchen (the downside of open plan living) and a clean loo (granted, that’s mostly for my mum’s sake!). The piles of kids toys or the footprint coated floor? They’re a sign that we live in this home! I know when I go into other homes, I’m not there running a finger along the shelves for dust or tutting over the upturned toy basket… these people are here for your company, so spend your energy before hand making sure you’re able to relax and enjoy yourself rather than worn out after a frantic sorting session! And if having a super neat and clean house is what allows you to do that, that’s just as okay… could you come and live with me as well?!
Flowers For The Finishing Touch
We’ve talked about keeping it simple and relaxed but if you want to elevate your summer get togethers, we thoroughly recommend the addition of a floral centrepiece. Not only will a bouquet draw the attention but it gives instant glamour that will work perfectly whether you’re going for laid back and simple or a more glamorous affair. Left it to the last minute? Step away from the drab supermarket bunches and opt for an online floral provider such as BloomLocal. With a dedicated national network of professionally trained florists and creative floral designers, they ensure that you get the finest hand-tied flowers as affordably and quickly as possible – there’s even options for same day flowers! I’m a big believer that flower arrangements aren’t just for inside either, they work even better outside in an alfresco setting and they can be brought in to the house later to make them multi-functional. To tie your table and the bouquet together, we really like to use either some stems from the arrangement or some spare foliage on the table to weave in and around plates – eucalyptus works really nicely for this and helps bring everything together.
Relax & Enjoy
The best tip for a summer garden party? Have fun! Whether you’re blessed with good weather or dodging the rain, munching on a picnic style buffet or a multi-course extravaganza, whatever you end up with, the best thing you can do is sit back and enjoy. Put some music on, grab a drink and sink into a chair to soak it all up… the washing up can absolutely wait.
This post is written in conjunction with BloomLocal. You can find their ‘Summer Glow’ arrangement in the images throughout the article – we think it’s stunning, even more so nearly a week later! BloomLocal have kindly offered our readers a discount code for 20% off, just use the code devonmama20 at the checkout.