Enter Your Suburb or Postcode so to show your nearest Swimart

Summer entertaining

01 January 2012 swimart

Summer entertaining

Summer entertaining

Follow these simple pool party tips for a stylish soiree!

Planning a pool party can be just as enjoyable as going to one, especially when you're equipped with a few tricks up your sleeve. Your summer soiree can be as fancy or carefree as you like, but a little bit of planning will go a long way whatever your desired outcome.

Here we look at four key ingredients – food, music, lighting, furniture – and the role they each play in a successful garden party.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
As more and more casual entertaining is held outdoors, the alfresco kitchen is becoming just as important as its indoor counterpart.

Although not as stringent with planning rules and regulations as the indoor kitchen, it makes sense that your outdoor entertainment area has everything on hand to allow guests and family to be involved in the cooking process.

Your outdoor kitchen can be as simple or as elaborate as you want (or can afford). Options range from wall mounted barbeque plates for small balconies to a complete package featuring a tepanyaki plate, dishwasher, bar area, sink, fridge, and pizza oven.

As the growth of indoor/outdoor living continues to advance, so too does the technology involved in the design and manufacturing of homeware. Just as the humble, brick barbecue has evolved into a fully functioning, all weather kitchen, so too has the soggy paper plate been replaced by outdoor-friendly homeware.

Childlike plastic plates and utensils have also been given the flick in lieu of boldly coloured accessories made from high tech materials like melamine, polypropylene and silicone rubber.

SETTING THE SCENE
Music, lighting and furniture are three key ingredients that will help transform your backyard into party central. Think subtle, style and comfort and you're bound to impress even the fussiest of family and friends!

Creating a memorable pool party involves good music that fits in with the style of food you're serving. Whether you're planning an elegant cocktail party or a boisterous family barbecue, it's a good idea to select the songs well before your guests start arriving.

Start with something mellow like lounge or ambient genres so people don't like feel like they're walking into a dance party when they first arrive. Compilations are good, as are pre-determined play lists on your MP3 player, so they transition easily into one another without you running back to the CD player every five minutes.

Enliven the mood once the party moves into second and third gear, ensuring that people can still mingle and eat comfortably. Party music should enhance the atmosphere, not distract from it so make sure the volume isn't too loud. A simple way to get everyone dancing is to choose albums from their school years or "best of" hits that get everyone singing along.

SETTING THE SCENE
Without adequate illumination, your party is at risk from fading into oblivion once the sun sets, so use low voltage garden lights to help maintain the desired ambiance. Just illuminate your table setting and food platters – and we recommend you keep to the less is more rule by using soft lighting rather than harsh floodlights.

It's a good idea to conceal the light source where possible and direct lights towards garden hotspots such as water features, sculptures, architectural plants, and other areas of interest. For added safety and security, place lights along pathways, driveways, decking and steps.

When it comes to outdoor furniture, you definitely want a balance between style and substance. There's no point buying something that looks amazing if it isn't comfortable to sit on or rusts at the slightest hint of rain.

Furniture and accessories made for outdoor environments are generally fashioned from hardy materials like timber, fabric, wicker, wrought iron, stainless steel and resin. Look out for weatherproof fabrics and lightweight, rust-free metal frames that you can easily move from one spot to another.

CHIC FINGER FOOD
Cooking outdoors is also a great way to entertain family and friends without committing to an elaborate menu. Instead, you can opt for bite-size snacks that are light on the palate and easy to handle.

Here are three simple tips:

  • A cocktail party is a great way to entertain lots of guests, especially if they don't know each other very well. Handing food around and sipping cocktails will help people to mingle and get the conversation going
  • Start by serving savoury canapés with your cocktails, wine or champagne and try to bring out a new dish every 20 minutes or so – timing is everything, because you don't want to overwhelm your guests
  • Be creative when choosing serving plates – think old glass mirrors, banana leaves, antique spoons or espresso cups

As you can see, it only takes a few simple ingredients to put together a garden party that ensures both you and your guests have a great time.