Ideas to help you entertain friends and family
When the weather’s good, it’s fun to get outside with your friends and family and make the most of the sun. And any outdoor space can be transformed into a social hub, be it for informal barbecues or elegant summer parties.
So whether you’re starting your garden from scratch, or just want to add a few bits to your current set-up, our top ten tips are here to help you create the ideal space to entertain come the warmer weather.
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Our top tips
1. Get planning
Take a look at your space and work out how much of it you want to allocate to socialising – this should help you decide what goes into your garden. Then think about the type of entertaining you want to do. It’s no good creating a sophisticated space for after hours dining and dancing, if in reality you’re going to be tucking into a burger and a beer to watch the sun go down.
It’s also worth considering who’s most likely to attend your soirees. Will it be your neighbours and their children wandering over when they smell the barbecue? If so, you’ll probably want to buy the biggest dining table you can comfortably fit to keep everyone together when they eat. Whereas, if you’re more likely to have an adults only cocktail party, you may prefer a few benches alongside an outdoor bar to evoke holiday memories of beach clubs.
2. Choose your landscape
The unpredictable British weather can sometimes put a dampener on a get together. But once the rain stops, the right choice underfoot can mean you’re back to enjoying that holiday feeling sooner than you think.
A wet lawn can take several hours to dry out and could see your guests sinking into it as they socialise. Why not introduce an area of decking or paving? These harder surfaces ensure the party get's going as soon as the sun starts shining again.
Paving is robust, requires almost no maintenance once fitted and will last for years. Alternatively, decking can be fitted with decking lights to add extra illumination. Stamp your own personality on both types - on paving through its arrangement and decking through exterior paint, to suit your garden's style and create a talking point.
If you don’t have the space for hard landscaping as well as grass, or you'd prefer the main part of your garden to be lawn, consider artificial grass. This gives you a lush-looking lawn all year round, plus it dries very quickly if there’s been an unexpected shower. Artificial grass will last a whole summer of dancing and mingling, as well as having tables and chairs on it, without turning brown or becoming patchy making it ideal for garden get togethers.
3. Take a seat
Are you and your guests likely to be sat around a table dining al fresco? Or are you more likely to want somewhere to lounge while having a drink and chat? Either way, we’ve got stylish and comfortable options for you to choose from.
If eating outdoors, think about how many people you’ll be hosting. Our ranges come with a maximum of six chairs, and if you need more, grab some of our individual seats. If there's a chance that you might need to squeeze a few extra bodies around the dining table, opt for a square rather than a round one. Alternatively, for smaller, more intimate groups, go for a round table as everyone can easily see each other.
Stretch out and relax with our garden coffee collections, or for larger groups bring the comfort of indoors out with our Kington seven seater sofa set. Make space for dancing or garden games with our benches - arrange them around your space for your guests to take a break. And offer refreshments in style with our outdoors bars.
4. Fire up the grill
If you have a passion for outdoor cooking, consider a masonry barbecue. Not only are these charcoal barbecues an attractive and permanent fixture in your garden that will last for years to come, they also help create the feel of an outdoor kitchen. Why not grow a nearby herb garden so that they're easily accessible (always staying safe)? Or create a space to hang your utensils for a real taste of al fresco living.
For smaller spaces without room for these permanent fixtures, opt for one of our many portable barbecues. Most of our range of both charcoal and gas barbecues are fitted with wheels so you can easily move them to any spot that suits – just beware of placing your BBQ too close to trees or low-hanging plants. And once it’s done with you can put away in your shed or garage.
5. Stay safe in the sun
Be sure to offer your guests – children in particular – shade from the summer sun. Parasols are a quick and easy way to block out harmful rays and can move to where you need protection the most in the garden. Look out for overhanging parasols that offer even greater coverage.
If a particular area of your garden is a suntrap, consider a larger structure like a gazebo. Available made from wood or fabric on a metal frame, gazebos look great when decorated with outdoor string lights and double up as shelter from the rain should the weather turn bad.
6. Pick the right plants
The right plants are an important part of creating a welcoming garden for your friends and family. For a bit of colour, as well as a talking point with your guests, flowers are always popular. Choose pretty perennials and they’ll add a splash of colour every year without requiring much maintenance. Or, if you’d rather refresh your garden's look each year, plant annual flowers.
Pots are a quick and easy way to add a floral touch to your decked or paving areas, and our lightweight options allow you to easily move them out of the way should you need extra space for socialising. If space is scant, add height with climbers that grow up and over walls or trellis. And choose sweet-smelling varieties like jasmine. It’s not only pretty but also smells heavenly - creating a sensual delight for all.
Don't forget that it’s not just in the summer months that you'll want to enjoy a bit of greenery. You might want to take your Halloween party outside or feast on a winter barbecue, so be sure to include some evergreen options in your selection. Once planted, they’re a low maintenance option that will prevent your garden from looking bare once summer's over.
7. Make a decorative statement
Adding a few features makes an ideal way to finish off your garden’s look. They don’t have to be massive to make an impact - simply position in the right spot and they can make an eye-catching addition to any space.
Why not opt for a water feature to bring a dash of drama? It doesn’t matter if you don’t already have a natural water source in your garden, as they can be introduced relatively easily. You could consider a pool or waterfall, or add a pebble fountain to your decking or paved areas.
Ornaments or statues are another way to express your personal style. They can be traditional or contemporary, a bit of fun or quite serious – it’s up to you. Get creative and make your own, with found and reclaimed objects a hot trend in outdoor upcycling. Driftwood that’s been bleached by the sun and sea can be laid on gravel or shingle. Or why not grow some bright flowers in an old chimney pot? Let your imagination run wild and you’ll have a great conversation starter.
If you’ve added any structures, furniture or decking, personalise them with our range of exterior paints and stains. Cool shades like white, blue and grey work well in contemporary gardens, while the warmth of terracotta creates a Mediterranean feeling. Or inject a sense of fun with a cheerful colour palette that brightens the garden - even when the weather doesn't.
8, Let there be light
Don't let the party stop when the sun goes down. Add some lighting to your outdoor space to keep the fun going for hours.
When it comes to entertaining, a little goes a long way. So instead of flooding the areas with light, dot some here and there. Table lamps and lanterns add a relaxed mood to dining areas, while solar-powered stake lights can easily be added to illuminate pathways with no wiring required.
If planning decking, consider adding decking lights (pictured) to light up the landscaping and alert your guests to any steps. And for a final touch, add a touch of festive ambience to your outdoor entertaining space with our garden party lighting.
9. Turn up the heat
Is there a bit of a nip in the air? Don’t have your guests scurrying indoors – check out our outdoor heating range for the perfect fire pit or chimenea for your garden. They're portable so you can move them around as needed, as well as store them out of the way when not in use.
Chimineas offer the greatest amount of heat and so are perfect for large parties or big gardens, while many fire pits feature a grill for toasting marshmallows and other late night treats. Throw a woody herb like thyme, lavender or rosemary onto the fire to fill your garden with scent as you and your guests talk into the evening.
Always remember to stay safe when handling. Place on a hard, level surface away from anything flammable, and, if children are present, don't leave unattended at any point.
10. Add some power
A party isn't a party without some music and lights and these can often be made easier with an external power supply. It may also be helpful if you use any power tools to clean or maintain your garden, and if you want to add something like a water feature to your space - that’s going to need power too. While some products are available charged by batteries and solar power, others will need mains power. Read our how to guide for more information on how to install.Shop outdoor power How to add an external power supply