Entertaining outdoors has come a long way since the Enid Blyton school of gingham table cloths and wicker baskets (lashings of ginger beer, anyone?). Making the most of your outside space and moving your gatherings out of the house needn't mean compromising on your exacting standards - you wouldn't dream of serving your guests food on paper plates indoors, would you? Of course not. So whether its a picnic or drinks in the garden, pimp your outdoor party with these stylish additions and throw an al fresco bash that'll go down in history for all the right reasons…
1. Get the party started
Turn an ordinary al fresco event into a feisty fiesta with party accessories brand Talking Tables’ new range of party tricks, Tropical Fiesta (above). From mini pom-pom skewers to paper lanterns, it has everything you need to switch your party up a notch. We’re especially taken with the ombre wooden cutlery – it’s almost too pretty to use (almost). Tropical Fiesta Cutlery, £5.50 per pack.
2. Picnic plates just got chic
Soggy paper plates just don’t cut it anymore – especially when there are so many stylish and reusable alternatives around. Our favourites include Tesco's Melamine Side Plate (£2.50) which has a glazed ceramic look; Rockett St George's set of three on-trend Marble-Effect Melamine Plates (£14) and Marks and Spencer's tie-dyed effect Melamine Dinner Plate (£3.20, was £4).
3. Put a lid on it
Still using tupperware? Do keep up! It’s all about preserving jars – the chic way to present your salads, parfaits and puds. Layer up your ingredients to create dishes that look beautiful as well as taste fresh – jars work particularly well for dishes that you’ll be eating with a fork, such as rice or grains (nobody wants to be chasing rice around a plate with a fork in the wind). Here’s a tip: if you’re using them for salads, put the dressing at the bottom, layering up ingredients and leaving salad leaves for the very top, thus avoiding soggy lettuce. Shake to serve (lid on, of course). Image via Pinterest.
4. Sound of summer
No party would be complete without music, so take your summer soundtrack outdoors with a portable speaker. We love this Giant Gem Speaker (£25.24, Ban.do) – it'll keep the party going for three hours before you'll need to recharge it.
5. On a roll
You can do better than kitchen roll. Pick up one of My Drap's chic disposable cotton napkin rolls, which come in an array of colours (and patterns) for every conceivable scheme. They're easy to pack, too. Your party has just gone from pedestrian to posh. From £12 for 12, Selfridges.
6. Ground control
No matter how much you try and flatten the grass, drinks will inevitably fall over. The solution? Whip up some drinks holders that fix into the ground, saving you spillages and, most importantly, wasted beverages! Cover old cans with spare fabric or paint them using our Made by me range, fixing a rod to the underside with some simple DIY equipment, and hey-presto, your drinks are safe from harm's way.
See all the steps in detail via our Pinterest board.