How to choose products for outdoor entertaining

Make the most of your garden and turn it into a space for entertaining with this selection of outdoor accessories, furnishings and dining tools

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Your garden is a space to be lived in and should be made the most of, just like any other room in the house. It is a versatile area that can be used as multiple rooms at once. With the right furniture, equipment and accessories, your garden can function as a kitchen-diner and living area, so there is no reason that you shouldn’t be using it whenever you can.


The most important thing to think about when choosing your outdoor furniture is material.

  • Wood can fit perfectly into almost any garden design, be it contemporary or traditional. It is hardwearing, but should be protected with a water resistant treatment if there is chance that it will be rained on.
  • Rattan effect furniture is incredibly popular. Again, this fits into most designs. It is also much lighter and easier to clean than wood as it is constructed from woven fibres of treated plastic.
  • Metal furniture can be found in both contemporary and traditional gardens. It can often be folded for ease of storage and is highly damage resistant. However, if it is kept outside, it may need to be protected against rust.
  • Plastic is the cheapest of the furniture choices and is durable and easy to maintain. It is a good choice for families because it is lightweight and easy to store. Although it is usually inexpensive, there are some really stylish options available and it can be environmentally friendly if you look out for versions made from recycled plastics.

Protection from the elements

There is no guarantee that your garden party will be safe from adverse weather conditions, especially during the English summer. Whether you need to guard yourself from a sudden shower, or if you’re hiding in the shade from the sun, the protection is much the same. A waterproof gazebo could provide that protection all year round, or a parasol can be popped up and down whenever it is needed. Sun sails are another versatile option that can be easily constructed, and stored when not in use.

Cooking and dining

The heart of a garden party is undoubtedly the food (if not the Pimms jug), and barbecues are the ultimate social occassion. If you’re hold frequent barbecues, then a more permanent gas fuelled or brick built grill might be something that you want to invest in. If you’re a barbecue traditionalist, then large solid fuel barbecues are available. Smaller charcoal barbecues, that can be easily stored away, are the best option if you’re someone that will just cook a couple of burgers when the sun comes out.

When it comes to serving your feast, plastic or melamine tableware is safest — especially if there are children about. If you want your guests to dine off something a little more refined, look out for bamboo and wooden serving bowls and tougher glasses or plates made from porcelain. Finally, although it means extra dinnerware, cutlery and utensils to store, having a dedicated set for your garden means you aren’t going to lose any of your finest silverware and china in a garden party tumble.