I decided back in spring that I wanted to hold an annual party at our house. It would start off kinda small and then by 2027 it would include some elaborate ice sculptures, a hog roast and some kind of amazing super-size hot tub, obvs.
I wanted an opportunity to bring all of our favourite people together – relatives and work colleagues and school friends and uni friends and new friends and old friends.
And also, and this is going to sound like a weird Desperate Housewives kinda thing to say – but I wanted people to think I’m a good hostess. It’s one of my secret life goals. I want people to go away and say corr Hannah makes some mean nachos and those cocktails, blinkin’ heck and WHEN CAN WE BE INVITED ROUND THERE AGAIN PLZ.
And so I’ve spent months putting together ideas on a Pinterest board and attempting to work out how the freakin’ hell we turn our pit of a garden into something that y’know, doesn’t make my guests want to cry and go home as soon as they enter it.
So yeah, I thought I’d share 13 of my top tips with you gals. Even though yeah alright, it’s going to get too cold for a garden party soon, but there’s always next year and the year after and you get the idea.
OH and also, soz about the lack of photos, I got too caught up in y’know, drinking and sharing stories and playing games to even pick up my phone (or camera) all evening. Hashtag smug prick.
1. Dedicate an afternoon to doing some serious weeding. I think between the two of us it took about three hours to transform the garden from barren waste land to blank canvas. My top tip would be stick on your trackies, pull your hair into a messy bun and get yourself a pair of £2 gardening gloves from B&Q. Oh and whack on some serious tunes whilst you get to pulling out stinging nettles from your patio. Eek.
2. Invest in a gazebo. Chris bought ours for around £20 from eBay and I won’t lie to you, I actually pulled a strop because it didn’t fit with my carefully constructed creative vision. Lol, what a diva. Anyway, it rained solidly throughout our entire party and the gazebo was the only damn thing keeping us dry and allowing us to stay outside. Plus, y’know, it did make a cute place to hang decorations from.
3. We don’t have a garden table and chairs, and even if we did, it wouldn’t have been enough to fit our 12 guests round. So instead I searched Gumtree and Ebay for free wooden shipping pallets. We snapped up two small ones from an industrial estate and then found the supersize one we used as the top layer of our table from a newsagent around the corner from our house who were throwing it out. Chris had to carry it home because it wouldn’t fit in the car, what a champ.
4. To create a cosy hygge vibe I dragged every single cushion and blanket I could find in the house, outside. It didn’t cost a thing because it was all stuff I already had – and alright, none of it exactly went together colour and pattern-wise, but I think that’s part of the charm, right? If you don’t own more than a handful, ask your pals to bring some with them.
5. For decorations I bought three bunches of cheap flowers (although you could also have a good nosey in the reduced bucket) and mixed and matched them between a few different vases to add a splash of colour to the garden because lol, not one of the bulbs I planted earlier this year has grown into a flower. Big sad face.
6. I bought balloons and bright coloured bunting from Sainsbury’s and Tiger for a couple of quid a pop. The bright palm tree and flower ones you can see in the photos are from Tiger, whilst the hot pink pom poms I hung from the trees are from Sainsbury’s, but you can get them in 5647856478 colours on eBay.
7. I also bought out a few candles from the house and put them in the middle of our table to help create that super chilled out vibe – I also have some Moroccan tea glasses I picked up about five years ago, so put some tea lights in those, but you could use jars too!
8. Fairy lights are obviously a cute lil addition. I snapped up some £5 solar panel ones from B&M which, despite the dark sky and rain, still worked. As soon as it got dark, they lit up like little blue dancing fairies inside the gazebo roof. Chris also pulled an extension lead out to create a phone-charging station, but you could do something similar to plug in fairy lights, or opt for those clever lil battery operated ones.
9. I wasn’t sure that I’d have enough decent glasses for everyone so I emptied all the jars in the fridge that had half eaten food in them – olives, jam, pesto, sundried tomatoes, curry paste – you get the idea. Then I washed them all up, soaked the smellier ones, and used a scourer to get the labels off. And then hello super lame hipster jar glasses for everyone. I bought some gold striped straws from Tiger and everyone kept the same glass for the whole evening.
10. Obviously most people brought their own alcohol but I wanted to have a little extra to keep everyone going so I bought a crate of beers, some cans of Coke and Diet Coke and bottled water which I kept in an ice bucket, and then some additional bottles of cheap prosecco because always prosecco <3 Then I gave everyone an arrival drink a *bit* like a wedding. Chris found a DELICIOUS recipe on Buzzfeed Food called Frose. You blend frozen rose wine (pour it into tupperware and freeze overnight) with a glug of grenadine, a squeeze of lemon juice and a few fresh strawberries. JUST DIVINE AND I WISH I HAD SOME RIGHT NOW. (I don’t reaaaaaally like rose, but this was seriously good, and pretty cheap for a homemade cocktail too!).
11. Food-wise we had crisps and dips on the table and then when it got dark and people were drunk and hungry we bought out pizzas, wedges and homemade nachos which were pretty much inhaled tbh. I ALWAYS go over the top with buffet food, so we kept it simple and ahem, cheap.
12. I also filled a box with sweatshirts, hoodies and big ol’ cardigans for when the temperature dropped so that we could stay outside a bit longer and enjoy our cosy set-up.
13. Chris was worried we didn’t have enough to entertain people, but actually, just sitting around having drinks and chats took up most of the afternoon/evening (people arrived from 3pm onwards). So I wouldn’t bother trying to organise fancy activities, unless said fancy activities are beer pong or Cards Against Humanity.
Has anyone got any babin’ tips for next year’s summer party?