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Here in the UK, especially in the North, we all know that the weather can be somewhat varied and unpredictable. Looking at a weather forecast is futile and guaranteed to bring disappointment in some form. Whether it be the crushing disappointment at seeing little animated rain clouds next to every day of the week (especially weekends), or the horrible feeling of being spectacularly let down when it promises sunshine, only to dash your hopes when you plan a barbecue a week in advance and it pours down on you, your disgruntled friends and your sausages!
Winter is easy. It’s cold, it rains. Party indoors and everyone stays safe. But Summer is different. We are all striving for that Holy Grail: the perfect summer party. Balmy evenings, fine wine, good friends and endless fun in the sun. A night you’ll never forget, mainly because you won’t have another like it for about four years!
When you get so little of something, it’s only natural to want to make the most of it. Once temperatures hit higher than 25°C in the UK, anything is fair game. Pulling a sickie from work is no longer taboo, it’s expected of you (your boss wants to play out too, you know!). Kids are allowed to play out later, clothing is optional rather than mandatory (even in some town centres, although this could be specific to Lancashire…) and mid week partying in some form is absolutely expected. No one wants to be that person sat indoors looking at everyone else’s sunny good times on Facebook, while watching soaps and prepping for an early night. In the UK, sunny days are a blessing, and we should treat them as such. “Make the most of it.” they say, “It won’t last!” And although that may be considered a pessimistic view, it is most definitely true. As I sit here writing this, basking in 32°C heat in Chorley (yep, that’s Chorley Lancashire, you did hear me correctly), I can hear the weather report on the radio telling me that tonight brings a storm that will dump 3 months worth of rainfall in 24 hours. I look up at the clear blue sky, not a cloud in sight, and find it hard to believe. But I do believe because this is England, and sometimes Summer really does only last for one day. So it’s even more important to seize that day and show how grateful we really are, and also to gloat to my Australian family who are currently experiencing their Winter (don’t feel too bad, it’s still 17°C and sort of sunny over there!)
Never knowing when our day in the sun is coming means we can do very little to plan ahead, but over time I’ve found some little ways to make those hurriedly planned, impromptu celebrations turn into a night to remember. So whether it’s a barbecue with friends, an al fresco dinner, a night in the beer garden, a full blown garden party, or a picnic in the park, break out these simple ideas to give it a finishing touch to turn it from a hastily organised dinner into a spectacular summer evening….
Well, it had to be didn’t it? Ever since the famous Kilner Drinks Dispenser was introduced in 2013, it has been a must have accessory for any party. But it is especially great for a summer party. No one wants to be to and fro-ing from the kitchen to the patio for drinks all the time when the aim of the game is to relax and have fun. Load it up with ice, and a cocktail or juice of your choice and while away the evening without ever having to shift your bum off your sun lounger.
Since the launch of the classic 8 Litre Dispenser, we have seen a variety of different shapes and sizes hit the market. They all look fantastic and are sure to make it look like you’ve gone the extra mile to make a good evening absolutely great!
Have a look at all our dispensers in the Drinks Dispenser section.
Match your drink ware to your dispenser with these great Kilner handled jars. You may not always want to be risking your finest stemware outdoors, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to serve in style. Keeping a handful of these bad boys in your cupboards is a simple but effective way to impress guests. The handled jars are tough and durable, dishwasher safe so your clean up is easy, and the matching lids help to keep out dust and insects. They are also suitable for all drinks so whether your guests prefer cocktails, beer or soft drinks, you only need one type of glassware.
For the full collection of handled jars, including coloured versions (do not put them in the dishwasher or you might as well just buy clear ones), vintage shapes and miniatures, check out our Handled Drinking Jars section.
Stay stylish without risking your crockery with lightweight enamelware. Enamel is so hot right now and absolutely perfect for picnics and al fresco dining. Originally designed with camping in mind, retro enamelware has made a huge comeback and is now seen in trendy restaurants and bars across the country. Keeping a handy stash of enamelware means no need for flimsy, ugly paper plates. This retro style dinnerware range offers plates, bowls, mugs, trays and pie dishes so you can make sure al fresco table is dressed to impress. And if you’re going on a picnic? This lightweight crockery is way easier to transport than hefty ceramics, and it is all dishwasher safe so still easy to clean up.
For our full range of gorgeous enamelware, check out the Living Nostalgia Vintage Enamel section.
Okay so this is a bit of a cheat, because these items are a must-have for any dinner party, not just a summer one, but the fact remains, these are a fantastic little finishing touch to keep in the cupboard at all times, ready to break out and impress your guests. There is something about food being served in miniature pots that we as humans just adore. Restaurants and gastro pubs focus more than ever on presentation these days, serving on slates, wooden boards, in glass jars and miniature serving pieces. I use the robust Master Class Artesa 6.5cm Copper Mini Saucepans with brass handles to serve up sauces, vegetables, starters or anything I can think of, and trust me, it goes down a storm every single time!
There is a vast array of different shapes and sizes to choose from, so have a look at what would suit you best in our Mini Serving Pans section.
And the pièce de résistance: the Steak Stone! The sun’s out, your friends are coming for an unplanned dinner, you’re at work and have no time to prep. Fear not! SteakStones are a simple but seriously effective way of creating the perfect outdoor meal without too much fuss on your part. All you really have to do is buy the meat. The stones can even be heated on a barbecue if you want to really make the most of being outdoors.
Once hot, your guests can then cook their own steak to their liking, at the table. Not only is the pressure off you, but it makes for an entertaining dining experience that won’t be forgotten in a hurry! I used my SteakStones for a Come Dine With Me evening once and was afraid my friends would accuse me of cheating because technically I wasn’t cooking. Once we got started, however, they seemed to forget we were ever in competition and now turn up with the finest cuts of steak every time they come over, demanding that we repeat the experience. I can’t guarantee you’ll be treated to expensive cuts of meat on a regular basis, but I can guarantee you’ll be a sure fire hit!
Just be sure to purchase the SafeHands gloves if you’re handling hot lava stones. Burning through an oven glove or tea towel does not always make for the most impressive party trick!
So there you have it: my top five ways to cheat my way into making it look like I’ve gone to a lot of effort when actually, I’ve been sat enjoying the sun for most of the day. Well….got to make the most of it haven’t we? 🙂
Lancashire Summer 2016: 18.07.16 – 19.07.16