How to be a great host, outdoors
The vision of a simple garden dinner with friends and family kept many of us going through months of “cocooning”. At last, the wait is over. We can have a conversation with a loved one that isn’t punctuated with “you’re on mute” and “I can’t see you” – something worth celebrating indeed. Noticing flights of people enjoying life to the full again, flitting from street cafes to shops to picnics, is heartening, to say the least. Snapshots of groups happily wrapped up in pub gardens, grazing on long-craved-for delicacies. With the in-person gathering making its glorious return, we’ve collated outdoor entertaining tips in case there’s anything that might be overlooked amid the excitement. Whether you’ve marked the local park or your back garden as a prime spot for hosting, we hope these pointers serve you well this summer.
Elevate your Garden
After countless weekends at home, your garden may already be landscaped to perfection (who else was mesmerised by the north London-dwelling elephant hedge?). If this isn’t the case, the current sun-dappled but mild weather and soil presents an ideal time to get your garden in shape; mow the lawn, prune shrubs and plant seeds, such as poppies and cosmos, for an eruption of stunning, colourful flowers come summer. You’ll find faux versions of these blooms in our collection – arrange them in vases on an outdoor table if the gardening gloves are off.
It’s likely your garden furniture will have been hibernating for some time, too; clean away any dust and dirt. A big garden may volunteer you as the official host of postponed family celebrations. Before sending invitations, check you have enough seating for guests (footstools or even cushions can be easily fetched from indoors should you need something last minute). With your stage set, think about what accessories will best bring that personal touch to your great outdoors. Throws are useful to have close by (just remember to retrieve them when it’s time for bed); we’re not basking in peak ice-cream weather quite yet, so give guests something to wrap themselves in if there’s a breeze; lanterns and LED candles are also lifesavers because they’re easy to display creatively and achieve a romantic atmosphere that’s hard to beat.
Elevate your Balcony
A beautiful balcony, overlooking an ocean or breath-taking topography, is what we generally look for in a hotel room. We took this into account as we deliberated how to turn barely used apartment balconies into cosy nooks, to help you bring the holiday feeling home. Even if you’re styling your scheme with vitamin D-fuelled WFH days in mind, similar elements can be incorporated. Clear space for comfortable seating, a small table and planters by the dozen – ones that hang, sit and stand. Position your chair so you’re catching the rays or playing it cool in the shade (depending on how you want to use the area). Place a basket nearby for storing notebooks or easy reads. Finally, make sure your home bar is teeming with glasses for happy hour cocktails. It’s nearly Aperol season, after all – this zingy aperitif tastes way better outdoors. Balcony dates may be on the cards although this depends on the dynamic of your home; welcome visitors by dressing your bistro table with candles, flowers and pretty china.
Elevate your Picnic
Many of us mastered our picnic playbook last year. Perhaps yours looked a little like this? Weather app, sun cream, blanket, hamper full of delicious food and any other secret ingredients. To take the picnics of this year to pastures new, pack a wine cooler or portable ice bucket – imagine toasting your freedom with a perfectly chilled beverage against the glowing backdrop of a midseason sunset.
If you’re going to be serving lots of dishes, why leave the condiments at home? The OKA carries allow for easy transportation and hold cutlery and napkins. Other occasionally overlooked essentials comprise thermos flasks and chopping boards. We will all be playing catch-up as far as face-to-face birthdays are concerned. We envision there being lots of cakes to cut, and we can’t wait.
Unless you’re picnicking somewhere remote, don’t feel obliged to plan too heavily in advance. Sometimes, the best picnics are the simple ones, the minimal medleys of supermarket crisps, dips, olives and fruit. Delicious. Also, if you’re walking before feasting, check the weight of your hamper (don’t make it too heavy).
Soon, we’ll be able to enjoy more activities, which we’ll never take for granted again. While it’s great seeing those nearby after so long, we still miss loved ones who live further afield. Hang in there. Think of the cake-cutting, the hugs and the mini-breaks that don’t feel too far away now. In the interim, make the most of sun-kissed soirées in the company of some of your favourite people.