Now that we’re allowed to host small groups outside, those of us lucky enough to have a garden will be shaking out our picnic rugs and buffing our barbeque tongs in anticipation of a summer of al fresco entertaining. But a lack of in-person interaction over the last couple of months, combined with evolving guidelines around social distancing, may mean your first foray back into hosting friends is far from relaxing. Here’s our advice for making the most of that long-awaited reunion:
- Be discreet
You may be thrilled that the six-person maximum gives you an excuse to see only the people you actually like, but keep that exclusive invitation quiet if you want to avoid causing offence. Resist posting photos of your gathering on Instagram or Facebook – lockdown easing means FOMO is back, and it’s worse than ever.
- Acknowledge the awkward
You’re terrified that your guests might attempt to hug you, while they have no idea whether or not it’s OK to use your loo. There’s plenty to feel awkward about right now, but addressing it from the outset can alleviate the cringe-factor. Greeting your guests with ‘I wish I could give you a hug’ lets them know to keep their distance, while saying ‘Feel free to use the bathroom’ might have seemed ludicrous this time last year, but has become an imperative now.
- Keep it simple
We get it – it’s been months since you last hosted friends, and it’s tempting to celebrate with a six-course extravaganza and matching wines. But if your culinary tasklist keeps you indoors while your guests are stuck outside, it defeats the point of being able to socialise again. Do as much as possible in advance or keep it simple by offering fresh salads, breads and cheeses (or a few meat and veggie options for the barbeque) to maximise the time you can spend with your guests.
- Prepare for all weathers
If it’s warm, help your guests to stay the course by providing shady seating where possible. Have sun cream on standby, as well as plenty of water and soft drinks in addition to alcohol. If the forecast is looking cool, suggest people bring extra jumpers and coats for the evening. Without the option to move inside, any rain will inevitably call a halt to your gathering, but having a few umbrellas on standby will mean guests can at least finish their drinks before saying their goodbyes.