You may be missing the summer party and festival scene this summer, as the majority of events have been cancelled due to coronavirus.
But a festival doesn’t just mean standing in front of a stage with a big crowd, and can equally be about relaxing and getting comfortable with friends and family while enjoying barbecue and pizzas, star-gazing and playing games.
With this in mind, it’s possible to recreate a tiny part of a festival atmosphere in your own back garden, just for your household amid the lockdown – especially apt given the hot weather.
Setting the scene: These outdoor lights are available from John Lewis and cost £52
The £52 lights from John Lewis are perfect for garden parties that run late into the evening
It comes ahead of the easing of the lockdown next week when households are allowed a bit more freedom to mix.
It opens the prospect of reunions for family and friends – although they will still be told to obey social distancing rules.
Here, we show how you can set the scene for your own garden party, with the help of some stylists tips about how to add some ‘intimate’ spaces that are full of ‘charm’.
We’ve selected some key items of garden furniture that will help to set the scene – and you don’t need a huge budget to get started.
They include items starting from a Wilko barbecue costing only £25, along with some alternatives for those who want to splash the cash.
The more expensive items include a dining set with a corner sofa sofa and a large coffee table featuring a charcoal fire pit that also doubles up as a drinks cooler. The complete set from Moda Furnishings costs £3,695.
And we also highlight some accessories, including a Bose SoundLink Revolve Speaker costing £169, an outdoor bean bag costing £85 and a recycled plastic outdoor rug from £138 – these three are all available from John Lewis, which is also selling an outdoor firepit costing £189 and outdoor lights costing £52.
Making guests comfortable
Etiquette Hanson William Hanson
While setting the scene with furniture and barbecues can help, what really matters is making your guests feel comfortable, according to etiquette experts.
William Hanson, who runs the etiquette institute called The English Manner, explained: ‘With any form of hospitality in the modern world there is always a danger that style overshadows substance.
‘By all means make it look pretty and perfect the shot for Instagram but this is not as important as making sure your guests feel comfortable once they arrive.
‘A gathering can be just as enjoyable if things are not looking picture perfect – it can help, of course, but is not always a given.
‘With the global pandemic, hosts now should pay extra attention to the distance between guests from different households and hygiene.
‘This may give the initial feeling a party is not as intimate as it could be, but if the conversation and mix of personalities is well balanced this feeling should only be temporary.’
With the pandemic in mind, he recommends having two or three jugs of water, squash or punch to pass round rather than one
‘The same applies for plates and platters of food: have many smaller ones with the food rather than fewer bigger plates,’ he added.
‘Set some anti-bar wipes or gel around, too, so guests can wipe down anything they would like to and feel reassured their host is looking out for them.’
Family fun: This black Weber outdoor firepit from John Lewis costs £189
Pictured from left: A Wilko barbecue costing £25 and a Lidl pizza oven costing £99.99
Bethan Harwood, a stylist at John Lewis, said: ‘Accessories can help bring your vision for a garden gala to life.’
She suggests picking wildflowers and arranging them in jam jars or making bunting out of ribbons to add charm.
‘Try and group displays together for maximum impact and experiment with adding objects to your outdoor plants,’ she added.
‘Layering outdoor rugs and adding bean bags as seating will create an intimate space to relax in the evening.
‘I would also bring items from inside to layer the space. Cushions and blankets will make sure you are cosy for when the sun goes down.’
Garden accessories from John Lewis (pictured, clockwise from top left): Bose SoundLink Revolve Speaker £169, outdoor bean bag £85 and recycled plastic outdoor rug from £138
Katy Higgins, of Wilko, said: ‘Although the festival season won’t be going ahead as planned this year, there’s no reason why families can’t recreate all the fun and atmosphere at home in their own garden.
‘Light up the barbecue and invite your household to join you in the garden, allocate someone to play those classic festival tunes and enjoy a responsible drink or two as the sun sets.
‘For extra festival vibes, source some bunting, bedsheets and solar powered outdoor lights for a bo-ho inspired evening set-up that you can enjoy as a family – and all without breaking the bank.’
Eating in style: This dining set is from Moda Furnishings and costs £3,695
It includes a coffee table with an inbuilt charcoal fire pit that doubles up as a drinks cooler
Alternatively, if you’re on a tighter budget, this chair and tables set costs £75 from Wilko