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Hosting outside: garden party

Hosting a successful party outside in your garden requires exceptional planning skills. From finding a theme that will fit seamlessly into the surroundings, to having everything ready to go as your guests arrive, to contingency plans should the weather let you down. A garden party can be tricky to put together - more so than a dinner party - but regardless of your theme, it should always feel effortless.

FIinding a theme

The starting point for any outdoor gathering should be deciding on a theme as it will inform the rest of your planning. Simplicity is best here, so pick a single word, such as ‘chic’, ‘hip’ or ‘relaxed’ and decide on a few key ways of getting this idea across. Our tip is to start with the main three elements of your party: the décor (naturally), the food, and a well thought-out selection of drinks.

Comestibles & drinkables

Once you’ve had a think about décor, your theme should filter down into the food and drink. If you’re after a relaxed tone with lighter, canapé-style dishes, you’ll want drinks to match; something easy drinking with a bold personality. Try a new world sauvignon blanc or pinot noir such as those from Cloudy Bay or if you’re adding some sparkle, Moët Brut Impérial looks the part without coming across as ‘over the top’. If your friendship circle (and your theme) is more trendy however, make sure you throw in something a little different, such as the intense and expressive Bodega Numanthia Termanthia from Spain. You could also ramp up the champagne choice to Krug for ultimate cool kid points.

If you’re planning an understated, stylish theme, then a cocktail starter is also a must. Aim for a champagne punch like the Punch Royal, which can be handily prepared in advance, before moving on to a sophisticated chardonnay or Bordeaux blend. While chic, you’ll want the flavours to stand out, so new world versions with their bolder fruit will work best here. Try the Cheval des Andes Bordeaux blend or the Newton Vineyard Unfiltered Chardonnay to get the tone just right for those richer, exquisitely presented nibbles.

Forward thinking

You’ve chosen the theme, you’ve designed your food and drinks menu but you’re not done yet! A big party no-no is for the host to spend half of their time in the kitchen. With a garden party, avoiding this is even more essential as you’ll have the added complication of ferrying dishes outside. If your guests see you do this, they will offer to help, which is not what you invited them there for. Plan ahead to having all the food, crockery, glasses, and drinks outside and ready to go before the first guest arrives. Chill your bottles in a large ice bucket to avoid back and forth trips to the fridge. If your hosting is relaxed, your guests will be relaxed. And what else is a party for?