Meals in the garden are simultaneously liberating and fun. Entertaining family and friends takes on a more chilled dimension when you sit beneath a tree, children and animals run around your feet and the light gradually dims. The only rules about eating alfresco is that there are no rules: the more relaxed and informal the better.
- Put on a buffet: ideal for larger groups of people who can heap up their plates with your delicious food and then settle on rugs to eat it.
- Use brown paper instead of a tablecloth. Then scrunch up and dispose of it when everyone has gone home.
- Keep tableware relaxed. Nobody wants elaborate settings when they are eating in their shorts.
- Invest in a garden parasol to keep sun and rain at bay.
- Platters of cold meat, bowls of salad, chunks of cheese, bread on boards and jugs of drink (alcoholic and non) are probably all that’s required, food-wise.
- Stock up a drinks trolley with glasses, drinks and trappings, then wheel back in when stocks run low. Have lots of ice handy to keep drinks cool.
- Pick pretty flowers, foliage or fresh herbs from the garden and add to small bud vases or recycled glass jars and scatter them around the table for a more elegant feel.