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Entertaining in the garden requires planning to enable you and your guests enjoy the party. If you want your garden looking it’s best for your summer party you need to start your preparation a number of weeks in advance.

All good plans start with a list of what needs to be done. For example, paint the wall, treat the garden furniture, and put weed killer on the patio, plant herbs and bedding plants. Prepare a shopping list so you only have to make one trip to the shops.

You need to have your plants in for a few weeks to have them looking their best. If you have them in too long they may be coming to the end of their flowering time.

When inviting people to a party it is a good idea to state both a start time and an end time, for example 3-7pm, people know when they expected to arrive and leave. Make out your guest list. Your guest list could include all age groups from babies to seniors and this should be reflected in your menu.

Given the unpredictable nature of the Irish weather you should have a plan B to serve your food indoors. Some people may prefer to dine indoors anyway. This is where knowing your guests and their needs is important and not an after thought on the day. Guests should be able to easily mingle indoor and outdoor.

If you choose to Barbeque you need to make sure you have enough supplies (gas charcoal) to cook all the food. You need an experienced person in charge of the Barbeque who ensures food is cooked thoroughly. You can part cook food in the oven and finish on the Barbeque. The more preparation you have done in advance the smoother the day will go.

Decide on the crockery, cutlery and glassware you are going to use. It is not a dinner party so everything doesn’t need to match but it is essential that everything is spotless and not chipped. If you haven’t enough of your own stuff consider borrowing from friends or family. There are many companies who offer “party hire”.

The main thing is have a plan, know what you are going to do and avoid last minute panic. Plan where you are going to setup the Food and the Bar. Plan your entertainment. Bouncy castle, games, music etc

Get your shopping in early. Many off licences will do sale or return for parties. Choosing dishes that you can prepare in advance are always a good idea. A nice fruity chicken curry could be prepared a couple of days ahead. A honey roast ham could also be prepared in advance and sliced on the day. Keep deserts simple, fresh fruit salad is always good in summer provided you use a good mix of fruit. Flans, Meringues and Trifles are all good options that can be made ahead.

Your guests will arrive through your front door that is the first impression they get of your home. Make sure the area around your door is neat and tidy. Adding some potted greenery or flowers can enhance the front door area. Paint the door if needed.

Fresh Cut Flowers in the hallway create a very welcoming atmosphere and set the tone for your party.

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