There’s something about the sun that puts us all in a better mood.
Think about it - when the weather is good, everyone seems to be happier, friendlier and more inclined to do things. In Scotland, we’ve had a good run of sunny days recently, which provides the perfect backdrop for summer barbecues and parties.
Of course, us Brits know better than to plan around the weather - remember that barbecue you planned that got rained off? That’s why it’s best to throw a party that works just as well indoors as it will outdoors, and with that, here’s a few tips for throwing a great summer party, regardless of the weather.
Food, glorious food
Whether you consider yourself a domestic goddess or a kitchen calamity, a key part of any party is the food. A good place to start is to think really carefully about your guests. If your friends are bringing their children, opting for old-fashioned party food is a good approach – kids aren’t the only ones who love sausage rolls! Go retro themed and add a little theatre with things like mini fish and chips and mini burgers, which will have the adults feeling nostalgic and even the fussiest of kids with full tummies. Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury’s have great ranges that cater to this theme.
If you prefer to make your own, nothing beats barbecue food. Head to your local butcher and get some premium sausages to grill and grab a selection of nice chutneys – these soon elevate a roll and sausage. You can also make kebabs, both meat and veggie. I’ve taken to loading skewers with chicken that I’ve marinated in harissa, interspersed with courgettes and peppers. Put a selection of these meats out with some green salads and you’ll have some very happy party people. If the weather does turn against you, bring everyone indoors and do all of these dishes on the grill. There’s no rules against staging a faux barbeque indoors.
Pitchers of drinks are a great idea for parties. It adds a little theatre and making one huge jug of something is so much quicker and easier than making lots of individual drinks. I tend to make an alcohol-free, kid-friendly version of whatever cocktail I’m making, as the kids love the idea of drinking the same as the adults. Mixing fruit juices with sparkling water is always a great start if you’re new to mocktails.
You can get large pitcher-style jugs in the likes of Tesco and Asda for a very reasonable price. I would also buy a bag of ice while you are there. It saves the stress of running out before you make your next jug. When it comes to making your cocktails, go easy on your base spirit at first – you can always add more later if need be. And don't be afraid to experiment. Think of some of your favourite flavour combinations and search Google for any recipes that feature them. It’s a great way to start, plus when your friends see jugs of homemade cocktails, they’ll definitely be impressed.
Play it again
Music is a huge part of any event, so I recommend making a playlist before your guests arrive. It means the tunes will keep playing in the background, while you and your friends have a great time. I’ve recently invested in a portable bluetooth speaker – the Bose SoundLink Mini II – which means I can carry the music from room to room and even outside, without having to play it so loud that I annoy my neighbours.
I’m a big kid at heart and I love games. If we’re outside, Swingball is a firm favourite, and my friends love it just as much as their kids do. If we’re inside, then it’s Scrabble, Cranium or Operation. You’re never too old to play games, and they suddenly become so much harder than you remember, especially following those cocktail pitchers.
So come rain or shine, if you follow these tips, you're sure to have a great summer party.
Chiara is an editor who likes the simple things in life; a cup of tea by the fire, travel, and spending time with friends and family. She also can’t resist the lure of Scandinavian decor and has a penchant for anything warm and cosy. You can find out more about Chiara and follow her adventures on her blog, Wine and Olives.