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Tips for entertaining outdoors

By Aileen Scoular 24/07/2013

A few simple touches can turn your garden into the perfect space for elegant al fresco evenings.

Sweet sounds

Camouflage traffic noise from neighbouring roads with pots of long-limbed bamboos and other ‘swishy’-leaved plants positioned to catch the breeze near where you’re entertaining.

Light your way

No outdoor power source? Set the mood with tea-lights, candle-filled lanterns and solar-powered fairy lights, taking care with naked flames around children. Don’t forget to install your solar lights a week or so before your party, so the battery has time to charge in daylight.

Top tables

Create pretty table decorations by floating the heads of summer flowers in shallow bowls of water. Cactus dahlia varieties, such as ‘Mel’s Orange Marmalade’, ‘Purple Gem’ and ‘Nuit d’Ete’, look delicate and dramatic.

Cut your own greens

Introduce a fun DIY element with a build-your-own salad bar. A month or so before your garden party, sow seeds of salad leaves (try red-leaved lettuce, rocket and mizuna) into medium-sized pots. Dot the pots with some scissors, mini watering cans and colanders, around the tables and let your guests cut and rinse their own salad.

Garnish with flowers

Create rainbow-coloured party salads with a sprinkling of edible flowers. Violas, nasturtiums and calendula (marigolds) can all be used to add colour and flavour.

Herby flavours

Add extra flavour to your barbecue by using the sturdy stems from rosemary plants as kebab skewers. Remove the leaves before you thread on the meat or chunks of veg, then finely chop the leaves and add them to the marinade.

N-ice surprise

Create party drinks with a difference by suspending edible flowers or mint leaves in your ice cubes. Using filtered water that has been boiled and then cooled, fill an ice-cube tray a quarter of the way up. Add the flowers face down (try viola, a sprig of lavender, calendula, or mint leaves) then freeze. Add more water to fill halfway, then freeze again. Fill to the top, and freeze for a final time. Boiling the water first ensures clearer ice cubes.

Final tips

We hope we have given you some inspiration for your own garden. If you plan to give it a makeover and buy any expensive items, check your home insurance policy extends to any contents in your garden.

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.

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