Unlike more formal dinner parties, the relaxed atmosphere of BBQs means that you can get away with a relaxed garden too, which makes decorating your outside space a real joy for all the family to be involved in. So instead of perfectly aligning your best silver cutlery and polishing glasses all afternoon, use the opportunity to embrace mis-matched furniture, quirky table decorations and strings of fairy lights to your heart’s content!
We’ve compiled a handy list of decorative ideas that are ideal for outside space and creating a fun BBQ party atmosphere.
Get your hands on garden furniture and lots of it! You’ll need to set up a table or two around your BBQ area and cloth them ready for your sides, salads and dips. If you don’t want to use your best tablecloths, picnic blankets will be perfect. Setting up tables will not only give you a good bit of space to organise your grilling tools but also allows guests to help themselves to plates and cutlery (which should be paper or plastic in the true spirit of a Great British BBQ!)
The finger food nature of BBQs means that tables to sit down and eat at are luckily less necessary, but you will ideally need a chair per guest which is where the mis-matching of furniture comes in. Once you’ve used up all of your own garden furniture, it’s time to dig out your deckchairs and begin a borrowing spree from friends, family and neighbours! Try to arrange them in small clusters around the garden and around any spare tables you do have.
If you’ve managed to find a table or two for guests, it’s always nice to have to a centrepiece table decoration. A jam jar filled with fresh herbs or flowers from your garden will do the trick nicely or alternatively you could get the kids doing some rock painting for cute homemade table decorations. If your BBQ is likely to trail off into the evening, tea lights are a cheap way to create some light and decoration. Either scatter them on their own or paint small jam jars to hold the lit tea lights for a colourful centrepiece.
Even if you already have garden overhead lighting or spotlights, the use of additional outdoor fairy lights or LED rope lights create a real party atmosphere on a summer evening. To save buying more, dust off your outdoor Christmas lights (as long as they aren’t themed!) and hang them around your fence and in trees. Why not also bring a few mirrors into the garden too and hang them on your fencing and trellis? This will reflect the light further and give guests the illusion of a bigger space.
Save running back and forth between the front door and back garden every 5 minutes by welcoming guests with a fun chalkboard message. By standing a chalkboard in your front garden or by your front door, you can ask your guests to walk straight through to the garden in a friendly way. This is ideal for when you’re supervising the hot BBQ around kids. Write your personal message with coloured chalk for a lively hello! If you’re holding the BBQ to celebrate a special event, you can even decorate the chalkboard and front of your house with balloons and bunting.
Even during the height of British Summer we find ourselves threatened with wind, rain and chilly evenings, and when you’re the host of a BBQ you can hardly blame it on the weatherman. So consider this when decorating your garden.
Setting up a marquee and an outdoor heater are ideal solutions, but if you can’t get your hands on them or are barbecuing on a budget, there are easy alternatives!
Drape some blankets and cushions on the chairs you’ve found to fill your garden. This will not only make your guests feel at home but will look decorative and provide a bit of warmth for them when the night starts to cool off.
Another idea when there’s a risk of rain is keeping all your umbrellas handy to hand out to guests, or put a tent or two in your garden full of blankets and cushions for some urgent shelter if (or when) its needed.