Meeting outdoors is still going to be the norm for quite a while as we slowly emerge from Lockdown. If all goes according to plan we will be able to meet up with one other household or up to 6 people outdoors from the 29th March but will still be weeks away from being able to meet up indoors.
We have all missed social gatherings with friends and family and want to make the most of getting together as soon as we can so how about turning your garden into an outdoor ‘meet up’ venue. It doesn’t take much effort and with a bit of thought on how to go about it you can make your space safe to relax and enjoy the time you have together. With Easter on the horizon it would be lovely to have a ‘Garden Cafe’ ready to roll,
First is furniture – have a look at what you have and give it a clean and spruce up. Chairs are best though you can use benches for members of the same household. A collection of different chairs can be brought together easily by using a few coordinating cushions. Some throws or easily accessible blankets will also be a good addition. You don’t want to cut short precious time together just because you are chilly – it’s still not that warm even though the evenings are getting longer. Upturned empty planters and large plant pots can double up as tables so everyone has their own space for a drink or plate of nibbles.
Food and Drink
Bigger tables can double up as a bar for hot and cold drinks – a good flask will keep things hot so you don’t have to dash in and out all the time. If you are serving food its probably safer to keep that separate from drinks to reduce contact, and make sure you have plenty of space around the tables. Plates and cutlery can be wrapped in paper napkins to reduce points of contact and clean up sticky fingers, a bottle of hand sanitiser would be a good idea too. Most people travel with a bottle but making it easily available is always a plus.
Deciding who is going to be the official barkeeper is probably sensible as that way bottles etc are only handled by one person. If you decide to have a BBQ try and avoid the traditional huddle round the coals and appoint a chef. Choose food that is portioned to minimise handling or set up a tasting plate for each guest with a little bit of everything – but do check with your guests for allergies first and carefully label any plates that are set up for a specific person.
Heat and Light
Keeping warm is important, nothing is more of a damper on an outdoor event than being cold. As well as a supply of blankets or throws that can be washed, a fire pit or patio heater is a good investment that will still be useful even when we don’t have so many rules to follow. You can always ask guests to bring their own blankets to cut down on prep and clear up time.
Lighting is also important – solar lights are brilliant as they can be moved around, it’s a good idea to put a light by any trip hazards such as small steps or changes in ground level. If you do take electric lights outdoors make sure you are using a safe power supply and that trailing cables are clearly visible. Suitable candles are always lovely – and Citronella is perfect if the midges come out!
Weather can be a bit of an issue so dust off your parasols – they keep the rain off as well as the sun! If you need something with a bit more space look at a freestanding pergola that will keep you sheltered from wind and rain a well as the sun when summer comes. Sails are ideal in lots of situations as well.
It’s not likely that you will need much entertainment, despite best efforts with social media, Zoom and so on everyone will have a lot of catching up to do so conversation will flow. If necessary garden games are good to keep younger ones entertained – pick ones that don’t involve contact such as Croquet, Swingball and the like. Try and avoid anything where equipment is passed from hand to hand and have a s supply of antibacterial wipes to give things a quick clean up.
If you have music playing just be aware of the neighbours – we have all got used to our world being a lot quieter than it was!
Just a few simple preparations and a little bit of thought and your garden can become a comfortable and safe entertaining space for those precious meetings we are all looking forward to so much.