By Phoebe Cherry, Director and Hostess with the Mostess at Smart LIVE.
AS OUR HATS AND GLOVES ARE FIRMLY SHELVED AND THE SUN STARTS TO GENTLY TEMPT US INTO WEARING OPEN TOE SHOES, WE THOUGHT WE WOULD SHARE OUR TIPS FOR HOSTING THE PERFECT SUMMER GARDEN PARTY.
Step one is to prep your garden. I advise getting the man in your life to assist with this element. A ride on lawn mower is a man’s toy, and with any luck he’ll enjoy the responsibility and might even do a bit of weeding in the process. Job done. Then add a bit of colour and style, with some lanterns or candles, jam jars with tea lights work very well for a low cost, DIY option.
Did I mention drinks, yes I did, hurrah! Now everyone knows that Pimms is a summer party must, although why not try something a little different and make your own Pimms ice lollies. Or replace the lemonade in the traditional recipe, with Prosecco or Champagne to make turbo Pimms! *Not advised on a school night*.
Another of my favourites at the moment is Kings Ginger, a crisp and spicy liqueur that livens up a glass of Prosecco. I first discovered this during the winter months, but it’s so good that I believe it deserves all year round attention. Serve this simple cocktail to your guests on arrival to spice things up.
And finally, if you’re serving gin and tonics, why wouldn’t you to be honest, freeze slices of lemons and limes for an all in one ice cube.
My kind of party is very relaxed, with a sort of open door policy, although avoid being too vague otherwise your guests may arrive very late in a bid not to be the first there. Suggest an arrival time, but let them know that the drinks will be flowing and the barbeque will be alight all afternoon.
Moving on to the food, strongly advised if you’re serving turbo Pimms...
Everyone has had sausages and burgers countless times, and whilst you can’t go wrong with these classics, I like the idea of having some exciting food that stands out from the crowd. Something I have yet to try myself is a homemade hog roast, there is nothing like a bit of theatrical cooking at ones summer party. My explanation could not do it justice so best to watch Jimmy Doherty of Jamie Oliver fame here for details. Even if you are not interested in the hog, Jimmy is worth watching anyway! If you do not have the time or inclination to source aluminium sheets and a packing crate, then a large pre-marinated joint of beef cooked on the BBQ and carved in front of your guests will still be as visually impressive!
For a fruity finish to impressive your guests, this watermelon barbeque is well worth the effort. And any party of mine would not be complete without the obligatory vodka jelly shots; coloured plastic shot glasses, with a mixture of flavours, 50% water, 50% vodka and I don’t remember what happens next…
Finally, background music for the afternoon is essential and here are two of my favourite suggestions. For some chilled out latin American vibes – Buena Vista Social Club, or if you’re feeling more in the party mood then some lazy house music such as the Hot Creations, Hot Highlights album will get everyone toe tapping and eager to leave the garden and head for the clubs.