First and foremost I like to make sure my guests will be comfortable. Bench seats are a practical way to seat large numbers, my favourite is the Skagerak Drachmann Bench 165 but they do need lots of cushions to make them really inviting. A pile of throws or blankets nearby will also be appreciated when the evening cools. Early evening can sometimes be quite sunny so a parasol will block any glaring sun and it will keep off a few drops of rain too, while a brazier or patio heater will provide much needed heat if the party goes on well into the night.
Lighting is also important. A few illuminated planters along a path is very welcoming and shows guests the way. I love the Skyline colour changing outdoor planter light but a few nightlights in holders will do the job just as well. Groups of lanterns look very effective dotted around the patio and I love to place small hurricane lamps down the table to create some real ambience.
Part of the fun of entertaining for me is styling the table. That’s the fun bit. Lots of linen, wood, basketware and chunky glass. Wine glasses and plates need to be more robust than usual but other than that I just use what’s in the kitchen cupboard, and things from around the garden can come in quite handy too. The potting table can be used for serving or for keeping the herbs and condiments handy, planters and buckets can be put to use chilling the wine and wooden crates can be ideal for ferrying food and utensils from the kitchen.
All that’s left is to pile the table with rustic French food and pour the wine!
With thanks to Carole King, Dear Designer