Warm weather is here and luring city folk out of the concrete jungle toward cozy country cottages and serene lakeside views. But if you don’t have your own chalet or any weekend invites, why not have friends and family over for a cottage-style backyard gathering? Here are some tips to help you create that comfy cottage feel.
With spring officially here and the hot days of summer just around the corner, now is the perfect time to start sending out invitations for your outdoor soiree. Keep patterns light and breezy.
Whether you plan to make your own invitations or purchase them, select warm colors such as soft oranges or yellows, as well as earthy tones. Try printing your party details on fun cards with nautical or nature-inspired motifs.
Decorations & Accessories
Start with the most essential items, tables and chairs. Make sure you scrub down the patio furniture. An inexpensive way to doll up patio chairs is with a piece of lightweight fabric or with huge comfy cushions. Casual tablecloths and paper napkins matching your color theme are best and definitely convey a low-key cottage feel. If you’re throwing an evening party, lighting is obviously essential. A combination of torches, candles, patio lanterns and even white Christmas lights will help you light and define different areas. Citronella candles and torches serve double duty with their insect repellant capabilities. Hang lanterns from trees and outline the patio with lights at the ground level to create a separate party space.
Flowers give an instant air of charm to any outdoor setting so use your garden as your own backyard bling. Pick blooms from your yard and put them in metal buckets or watering cans for dainty table centre pieces.
Your playlist should be subtle but not boring. Easy listening artists such as: Corinne Bailey Rae, Nora Jones and Diana Krall are just a few that are guaranteed to provide the perfect backdrop to your party.
Cocktail and Menu Ideas
Whether you decide to grill on the deck or cook indoors, plan your meal around fresh, seasonal ingredients. Think of finger foods that are fun and easy to eat like shrimp on a skewer or grilled pesto pizzas. Or, create a simple cottage themed meal like grilled garlic chicken along with customary coleslaw.
When it comes to the dessert, never feel guilty about browsing the local bakery. Many store-bought desserts can be deliciously dressed up with fresh fruit — coffee cake sprinkled with raspberries or gourmet cookies with a blueberry, strawberry medley. If you have an outdoor fireplace grab wooden skewers and marshmallows for an authentic cottage treat.
If space permits, pull out a ping pong table for some fun action, or pitch a tent on open grass giving younger guests an area to romp. Playing cards and dominoes are relaxed, entertaining and relatively easy to get going — and they definitely have a cottage feel.
Parting Gift Ideas
Send your guests home happy with a packet of your favourite flower seeds, or a small fresh flower bouquet. Or show off your gardening work and give them each a paper bag of home-grown vegetables.