Summer means one thing and one thing only – the delicious scent of cooking food in the air! Everyone loves a barbecue, but the difference between simply eating your dinner outside, and having a stylish, fun, memorable barbecue is down to the finer details.

If you’re looking to host a summer shindig for friends and families, here’s a few hints and tips on how to make your al-fresco dining not only fun, but stylish too.

Space planning

Obviously you need to check the weather, and be prepared for all eventualities, but you need to plan your space carefully too. You need an even mix of sun and shade, and if you have children attending then you need a little open space for them to play in, well away from the barbecue and eating area. Make sure you have enough seating available, and place the table somewhere central, but not in the way. Work with the space you have and figure out a plan that suits your garden to maximum effect. Tidy up the general area of course!

A stylish space too

Once you have the basic space figured out, funk it up with cushions, table settings, scented candles and fairy lights. Keep a bin nearby for mess, to keep the space tidy, and if you have decking, make sure the food area is on this point, as it’s always easier than grass. You don’t want a stuffy setting, but you want something that oozes class instead. Our friends over at MADE.COM have their amazing outdoor range that we’d recommend!

Think food

Obviously the centre-point of any barbecue is the food, and you want this to be something everyone is raving about at the end! Make sure you have enough condiments to go with the meat, and have a few vegetarian options for those non-meat eaters. Why not throw in a few twists on recipes, for instance, make burgers a little different by using home-made ones instead of pre-packed, and throwing in a few different ingredients for taste. It’s the smaller details that give a real taste explosion! Keep it as a ‘serve yourself’ kind of vibe, to keep the atmosphere chilled-out.

Have fun with it

Have fun with how you serve food and how you set out your table. Use brightly coloured, co-ordinating place mats and serviettes, and maybe use brightly coloured plastic cutlery to cut down on the endless need for more knives and forks. Make a big bowl of Pimms or punch and have it as the centre-point of your table, and serve in glass jars rather than glasses for a fun twist. Basically, think outside the box for style.

A summer barbecue should be fun but also laid-back. You’re not planning a three course dinner party, so the atmosphere and general ambiance should reflect this. It’s summer, so keep everything lightly coloured and avoid dark colour schemes.

All that’s left to do is throw the food on the barbecue, pour the drinks, turn on the music, and enjoy your summer al-fresco dining experience!

Photography by Christopher Craig