Um, where has Summer gone exactly? It seems we’re in for a wet August and I am not at all happy about it to be honest. I’ve really enjoyed summer this year, and even though I’m normally a bit of an autumn and winter kinda gal, I’m feeling really reluctant to say goodbye to the sunshine this time around. Perhaps it’s because we now have Evie so summer days out are way more fun and also because I know that endlessly walking the streets to try and get a baby to sleep in the pouring rain/freezing cold isn’t going to be nearly as fun as it is currently – daundering around, iced frappe in hand taking in the sights.
Also as this is our first summer in our new house, we’ve been truly making the most of having a garden for the first time ever. We’ve turned green fingers ang got obsessed with what plants will spread and which will survive the winter, we’ve been spending time outdoors, eating outdoors and throwing parties in our new extended green space.
Last week I talked about the at home picnic, and this week it’s all about the summer garden party – yup we’ve been doing a lot of eating and entertaining of late and I’m loving it! Our latest obsession is the pizza party and that’s thanks to Amazon’s #NowitsSummer shop – a revolutionary new store as part of Amazon’s online offering which displays weather reactive products based on the customer’s location. Fun right? So while we were enjoying a fair few heatwaves of late, my personalised page was full of everything from fake tans to sunglasses to BBQ’s and Pizza ovens. And because the British weather is known to be pretty changeable, now that the clouds and rain have arrived, I’m now seeing umbrellas, wellies and anoraks. Plus if you have Prime, you can also take advantage of the new 1 hour delivery so you don’t need to worry about getting caught out by the weather this summer.
When it comes to summer entertaining the humble BBQ is always a winner, but right now wood fired pizza oven’s are also having a bit of a moment and when thinking about what food to serve when planning a summer garden party to celebrate Evie’s arrival into the world with all of our friends and family, we thought a pizza party would be lots of fun.
Thanks to the #NowitsSummer shop, we were able to browse through Amazon’s large range of pizza oven’s easily, and welcomed this La Hacienda multi function oven into our garden. The great thing about this oven is that it can be used as both BBQ and pizza oven and takes either wood or charcoal so you’re not limited to only pizzas, you can also have a traditional BBQ too, smoke meats and even bake bread in there. Thanks to the addition of the hot stone plate, it made making homemade wood fired pizzas an absolute doddle. The oven heated up super fast, pizzas were crispy, hot and smoky within around 4 mins and they tasted delicious.
Our pizza party was a roaring success, even if we did have the odd thunderstorm in between, and hey at least the oven kept us all warm! We had toppings galore, with everything from Mac n Cheese pizzas to Nutella pizzas being trialed, and since then we’ve been resisting the urge to have pizza alfresco for dinner every night because it’s just so easy!
I can’t wait to throw more garden parties before the summer is out (although just maybe not in August) so I thought I’d put together a few tips on how to throw the ultimate garden party.
Set the Scene
If you’re anything like me, preparing for a party is almost just as much fun as the party itself. Planning decorations and colour schemes and how you’re going to lay everything out allows me to indulge my creative side and I had lots of fun picking out stripy picnic blankets, dressing our cute new garden furniture with lanterns and candles and making up large baskets full of summer blooms. To create the summer party atmosphere, dress up your garden with lots of colour, add outdoor lights, bunting and flowers and get creative.
Keep the food simple
There’s no point creating a three course menu for an outdoor soiree – people generally turn up at different times, pop in an out and want easy food they can eat while lounging around the garden, chatting and (hopefully) enjoying the sunshine so it’s best to keep it simple. We asked guests to bring pizza toppings of their choice (and as a result we ended up with a table overflowing with everything from meats to veg to sauces), we made large batches of homemade pizza dough the day before and then people were able to have fun rolling out their dough and getting creative with a pizza flavour of their choosing. Making small thin crust pizzas meant they were cooked in a few minutes in our oven and people weren’t kept waiting. Other than that we made a few salads, and had plenty of yummy desserts and drinks and that was it. Easy for everyone to dip in and out of, and thankfully meant things could keep running even when the rain came.
Indulge the Tablescape (or Blanketscape)
I love a good table setting, but when it comes to a garden party, things like cutlery and place settings aren’t needed so instead opt for a more casual ‘blanketscape’ with large sharing plates and trays full of food, and giant bowls of salad. Add a few bold printed cushions, some cute lanterns and your outdoor table setting soon starts to resemble a cool Morroccan inspired dinner party.
Run with the weather
Frantically checking your weather app the week previous to your planned party? Yup I hear ya, I was doing the same but in the end realised I really couldn’t do anything about the weather so just ran with it anyway. We had a gorgeous start to the day with beautiful sunshine, before a few almighty rain showers in the afternoon and even some thunder and lightning. But no-one minded one bit, everyone was great at running to bring things indoors that might get damaged like cushions, blankets and open bottles of Prosecco (ahem), the pizza oven was under cover so food kept flowing and we all hung out in the kitchen eating desserts until the rain passed. No biggie.
Get green fingered
Surely one of the best parts of a garden party is to show off your garden to it’s best and get a little green fingered. Having a party planned gave us the impetus to turn our overgrown mess into somewhere people could sit and something nice to look out to. We spent the month beforehand strimming grass, weeding and planting flowers and shrubs. We turned old watering cans into plant pots and started growing our own chillies and I have to admit it has given me the gardening bug. But if you’re not into gardening, then cheat with fake greenery and flowers and line baskets and vases with this instead to make your garden look the part. Those flowers pictured in the basket – yup a fair few of them are fake. But would you have known if I hadn’t of mentioned it? By mixing them in with a few real sunflowers you can totally get away with it, and I hear that all things fake foliage is bang on trend right now.
So if you’re planning on throwing a garden party, do check out Amazon’s NowitsSummer shop for everything you need to make it a success, come rain or shine. And I’ll be here waiting for the sun to return so we can fire up the pizza oven again.