Fab summer party themes
This makes a great change from a regular barbecue for an outdoor gathering. Everyone has to wear something bright and flowery (get the kids to make tissue paper garlands for those who arrive too sensibly dressed!); mix pineapple-based cocktails and serve pork dishes and ‘Huli-huli chicken’ (grilled, with a glaze mix of soy sauce, brown sugar, sherry, ginger, garlic and a squeeze of ketchup), and fresh pineapple and coconut puddings. Scatter out a bag of sand on your patio, too.
Midsummer night’s dream
You don’t have to know your Shakespeare to enjoy a late-night, outdoor chill-out! Dress code – floaty, fairy chic (the guys can come as they fancy). Give the drinks magical names and serve light buffet foods on star-shaped plates. Dig out all your big cushions and rugs to create a cosy boudoir in your garden and light candles or hang lanterns about to create a wonderful glow.
The grown-ups don’t have to stand around in their swimming gear (!) but if the weather’s ultra hot, give the children a couple of inflatable beach balls to play with and get the garden sprinklers on.
When you want to keep drinks cool, don’t fill a bucket with too many bags of ice. One bag of ice and some cold water will do the job just as well and is much less hassle.
Pass it on – make the most of summer nights
As the nights begin to cool, outdoor parties often break up too soon. Before guests arrive throw a few blankets over the backs of chairs for late-evening snuggling.