Late summer/early autumn is a lovely time of year – the weather is still warm (but not too hot) and there’s plenty of plants still blooming in the garden. This combination makes it an ideal time for outdoor entertaining so here are some tips to make sure your gathering is cosy and fun…
At this time of year we often get some unseasonably good weather – including late heatwaves – and probably more sun than we’ve had this whole summer! So, now is a great time to make the most of your garden and host an outdoor gathering before it gets too chilly.
1 OUTDOOR DRINKS
If you’re having visitors and you know that you’ll be busy preparing food, it’s a good ideal to let guests help themselves to drinks rather than you having to rush around topping up everyone’s glasses. I previously made a light-up outdoor bar from old pallets (here’s the DIY project if you want to make one yourself) and it’s a really useful hub for your friends to gather around and serve their own drinks.
All you need to do is stock your bar with drinks and mixers and provide some non-breakable tumblers so that guests can relax without worrying about breaking your crystal wine glasses if they drop them in the garden. To make pouring drinks even easier provide beer dispenser kegs and boxes of wine or cider with taps. That way visitors can refill their glasses with just the push of a button.
2 OUTDOOR FOOD
It may seem an obvious choice but a BBQ is always a winner for outdoor entertaining. We all opt for BBQs in the summer but we rarely dig them out in the autumn – but why not? They help to fill the air with the scent of grilling food and they even provide a pocket of warmth in the garden if the temperature drops. Plus, we all want to eat something warm when we’re outdoors in the autumn, don’t we?
You don’t have to serve up the usual BBQ fare of burgers and salad for your autumn party – but here are some recipes for vegan, veggie and homemade burgers if you do. Instead, you could wrap some potatoes in foil to bake them in the embers of the BBQ and have a pre-prepared pot of chilli bubbling on the top of the hotplate. Grill sweetcorn, heat soup and warm bread rolls inside a kettle barbeque – all of which will go down a treat with your guests.
3 OUTDOOR WARMTH
For any autumn garden party, you’re going to need a source of heat. It might be lovely and warm during the daytime but when the sun sets it’s going to get chilly. Be prepared by putting out plenty of blankets that your guests can wrap around themselves if they start to feel cold. This ensures that the party can carry on later into the evening rather than your visitors rushing off at sundown.
You can also light a firepit to provide warmth in the evening. This also creates a focal point in your garden and is somewhere that guests will gather around to chat, eat and to stay warm. Plus, you can make it part of your dessert plans if you provide marshmallows for your friends to toast over the open flames.
4 OUTDOOR AMBIENCE
Even though it’s still quite light outdoors during the evening in early autumn, it’s still a lovely idea to string up some outdoor fairy lights to create a cosy glow around the garden. You can use outdoor lights to spotlight trees and bushes (much like a stately home!) – even though you might not be using the lighting for visibility, it’ll certainly create a feeling of warmth outdoors.
Don’t forget to light some citronella candles. This not only adds more twinkling light to your outdoor table, it’ll also deter bugs so you won’t have to worry about your guests being bitten while they’re enjoying your outdoor gathering. And, if the party really carries on into the night, you can turn on floodlights to help you guests see each other and you can add solar-powered lights to pick out paths around the garden.
5 OUTDOOR SHELTER
You can never count on the weather at the best of times and it’s particularly changeable in the autumn. So make sure you’re prepared in case it starts to drizzle. You can pop up a parasol over the garden table or you could even erect a small gazebo in advance so that your guests can take shelter if needed. At the very least, you can always have a couple of umbrellas handy!
The final thing is to tell your guests to be ready for all weathers by bringing some cosy layers and a waterproof coat. That way you can all enjoy the evening’s entertainment without the weather or temperature putting a stop to proceedings.
Let me know what else you would do for your autumn outdoor gathering in the comments below, I’d love to hear what you would prepare and what food and drinks you would serve. 🙂
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