After the social washout of 2020 this summer looks to be one to remember.  The Lockdown Roadmap is on track and from 17th May (if it all continues to go well) the restrictions on the number of people you can socialise with under distancing rules will be increased to 30.  Still no hugging just yet with families outside your household but hey, that won’t stop the fun!

Summer 2021 is perfect to get your thinking caps on and plan an intimate gathering of friends and family and it doesn’t need to cost the earth. 

Garden parties were once thought of an event for the upper classes where grand marquees and sumptuous banquets would be provided, we‘re all familiar with the Queen’s annual event hosting thousands!  Who needs that?  Think of the clearing up!  You could double up and have a garden based housewarming or baby shower, all you need to do is theme your décor and the hints below will keep it financially on track!

Work Out Your Budget:

Think about how many people you can comfortably accommodate in the garden, remember for the most part we will still have to socially distance so don’t cram people in.  A few close friends can often create a much better atmosphere than dozens of people who might not necessarily know each other, and of course it all costs.  The more people you invite the more food and drink you need to prepare and remember always do more food than you think you’ll need.  There is nothing worse than hungry guests. 

The ultimate in summer dining of course is the BBQ.  Much of this can be prepared in advance and we all know every BBQ has several experts happy to share their tricks and tips!  Why not ask your guests to bring a dish, someone brings the salad, another the bread, chips and dips, this helps share the financial burden and it’s not all left to the host. 

Think about your drinks budget too, it can get out of hand if you’re a fan of Champagne, so scale back.  Supermarkets do great deals on cases and of course it’s not rude if you are doing the catering to ask people to bring their own drink of choice, after all to cater for everyone’s taste could be expensive.  If your guests BYO then you can have a smaller selection on offer, a couple of bottles of fizz, wine and mixers and don’t forget your drinks cabinet, there is always something in there that can be put on show!


Have you got sufficient chairs for everyone?  Many people do like to stand and chat but want to sit down to eat.  If you haven’t got chairs, invest in some rugs, big cushions or beanbags.  You may have some in the house that you can use so you don’t have to buy new.

Get Weather Proofed:

A typical British summer day can be a mix of all seasons so whether you have a gazebo or a large weather proof parasol, it’s wise to have some form of rain-proofing organised, especially if we are still in the “guests outdoors” situation.  That said remember to have plenty of hand gel and wipes for the “smallest room”, you can’t really expect your guests to hold on so you will need to ask them to be more vigilant and to wipe door handles and surfaces after they’ve “paid a call”.  Back to the shelter, you can buy large waterproof sheets from DIY outlets which can be strung up to provide a Pop Up shelter or gather as many large brollies as possible, “just in case”. 

As the night draws in and the temperatures drop a patio heater will be a bonus but if you don’t have one, there are always the rugs from earlier in the day to wrap around your guests, just be sure to keep them in their bubbles until June 21st but to be honest, us Brits are well aware that we’ll need an extra layer as the sun goes down so your guests are likely to have prepared.


Try and go sustainable if you can and stay away from the Chinese Lanterns, they can wreak havoc with livestock and crops.  Maybe dig out your Christmas tree lights and string those up for a fairy glow after dark (dry weather permitting) or save glass jars and pop in some tea lights for a lovely table decoration alongside sprigs of lavender or rosemary tied with ribbon, both beautifully scented and cheap. 

A garden party is not complete without bunting and there are plenty of outlets that sell themed ready-made versions or kits if you are feeling creative and want to make your own.  Hang them between trees or along the wall of the house to create a lovely colourful display.

So all we need now is a dry, hot summer and a continuation of the easing of lockdown. Fingers crossed gardens across the UK will be filled with laughter and merriment over the coming months.

If you’re guests are looking to bring a thank you for all your efforts, why not ask them to take a look at our Party Time collection gift boxes, here you’ll find a selection of Gin Gift Boxes, Wine and Whisky Lovers gifts.  Luxury gifts that will look very grand at your party.

Enjoy! Love OohBox

April 27, 2021 — Julie Selby