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Julia SiBun

Don’t forget to put out masses of tealights and candles on all your tables as well. Hang crazy coloured bunting around the teepees – it’s easy to make and looks great blowing in the wind.

FESTIVALS ARE ALL ABOUT THE FOOD, SO CREATING SOME EYE-CATCHING FOOD DISPLAYS WILL REALLY MAKE YOUR SUMMER PARTY STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD. THE KEY IS TO KEEP IT SIMPLE YET UNUSUAL.

How about erecting your own festival flags? It is easy to purchase your own 2m brightly coloured flags on spikes or streamer banner flags – install them all around your garden (the more the merrier)! They truly look terrific, enticing people to come in (and they also sound amazing when they are blowing in the wind). Be kind to your local farmer and ask if you can buy some small straw or hay bales – it’s the perfect way to assemble quick, festival seating around the garden. Cover the bales in brightly coloured picnic rugs. Also: why not make one giant straw bale sofa that the children will climb over all day long? A quick way to create a festival vibe with seating is to put out lots of old fashioned stripey deck chairs – store them in a pile and let guests grab a deck chair and pop them up themselves wherever they want to sit in your garden – it all adds to their relaxed day out. Open fires are very important to add to the magic of the day. One large bonfire either in a brazier or a kadai fire bowl located in front of the tents becomes the central focus of the party. Guests will sit round the warmth of a fire forever! They add atmosphere and warmth – and if you have a traditional kadai bowl you can actually place a grill over the top and start the cooking from here. Festivals are all about the food, so creating some eye-catching food displays will really make your summer party stand out from the crowd. The key is to keep it simple yet unusual. The mouth-watering smell of outdoor cooking is a vital part of the festival experience – make sure everybody is catered for with joints of meat cooking over the fire, big bowls of salads and fresh fruit. Why not try making and serving a huge paella from a giant paella pan? Also popular are pulled pork joints, cones of chips, homemade burgers and locally reared traditional sausages, spatchcock chickens and marinated skewered prawns. But you can go another step further by involving your guests. Why not embrace another idea of outside catering and ask everyone to make their own pizzas and bake them in an outside pizza oven, or toast marshmallows over the roaring fire pit? If you have an unused garden shed or wendy house you could transform it into a late night pudding and coffee station serving homemade chocolate brownies, hot chocolate, baileys and coffee. After all the dancing your guests might need a little boost of energy. Make a sweet stop by filling an old fashioned wooden wheelbarrow with a selection of pick and mix…and don’t forget to hand round baskets of ice creams and ice lollies during the evening – for the adults as well as the children!

At festivals, drinks are usually served in plastic cups – however, I suggest you try and come up with some novel drinks ideas to really make your party one to remember. If you have a water fountain fill it with ice and serve your beer bottles straight from the fountain, and look out for some large clear glass water containers and fill with refreshing flavoured waters, such as lemon, cucumber and strawberry-flavoured waters. Another way to get in to the true festival spirit is to bring in kegs of your local beer, ale and cider – set up on a simple wooden trestle table they look fab, and guests can help themselves to their local favourite. If you really want to push the boat out you could have a whisky- and a gin-tasting station – or even hire a vodka luge and get your guests to drink straight off the ice! Introduce lots of outdoor activities for the children – trampolines, skittles, croquet, giant games such as Jenga, snakes & ladders and dominoes (and don’t forget a bouncy castle). Set up a flower-crownmaking competition as well as face-painting which is a must for the children. And why should the adults have all the musical

fun? Let the children unleash their inner rock star with an air guitar dance-off – you can buy blow-up guitars for as little as a pound – whoever has the best moves wins! And let’s not forget another quintessential festival item that shouldn’t be missed: why not get guests to adorn themselves in glow sticks for the ultimate festival of light? If you have access to a brick wall, set up a massive projection and broadcast blackand-white movies or music videos all night long! When the sun goes down your garden party can glow long into the night with the perfect festival lighting. Rig up some outdoor candles and fairy lights for that picturesque sparkle – hang glass jars of tealights by fishing wire from the low branches of the trees in the garden, and put out garden flares to mark all the routes home when it is time for your guests to gently start departing. Remember: the key to creating the perfect festivalthemed party is to use what you have around you. Turn everyday items into your very own festival features! With a little imagination, you’ll be the one to host the next festival that everybody can’t stop talking about. www.cotswold-homes.com

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