Looking for outdoor entertaining ideas? Want to host friends in your garden? We’ve come up with plenty of ways to create an event to remember with our alfresco entertaining ideas. Create a makeshift bar, invest in a pizza oven or build your own fire pit for toasting s’mores. Try our ideas below then check out our picnic food recipes and BBQ recipes.
Best outdoor entertaining ideas
BBQ from scratch
Take your BBQ to the next level by pre-making your own condiments and serving in hand-labelled bottles and jars. Try our homemade BBQ sauce, homemade sriracha, BBQ marinades, aïoli and hot pepper jelly. Other creative ideas include a build-your-own kebab stand and a pick ‘n’ mix wing station (try making a combination of BBQ chicken wings, BBQ fish sauce wings and vegan cauliflower buffalo wings).
Outdoor afternoon tea
A homemade afternoon tea makes the most picturesque picnic. Invite your friends or family round for tea and surprise them with an elaborate spread of sandwiches, scones, patisseries and cakes. Our favourite al fresco afternoon tea picnic recipes include apricot cheesecake bars, rocky roads and muffuletta squares, but you can pick and choose from our best afternoon tea recipes. If you don’t have an outdoor table, give a wooden crate a clean and turn upside down for a rustic look, or invest in a sturdy picnic blanket.
Gin and tonic garden bar
Make like Café Öbergskain Gothenburg, and set up your own DIY gin bar in the garden. Check out our guide for how to make the perfect gin and tonic, including perfect serves – which tonic water to match to each type of gin, from spiced to citrus, floral to juniper-forward, along with garnishes that bring out particular botanicals. You can even forage for the latter in your garden and set your guests on a quest to find the likes of lavender, mint, basil and more for a fun, interactive experience. Serve your gins in these pretty tumblers, or check out our favourite gin and cocktail glasses.
Perfect your pizza skills with our expert, step-by-step guide to making pizza from scratch. Get the bases ready then prep a selection of toppings and let your guests decorate their own. If you want to invest in a pizza oven, we love Ooni’s sleek, portable model with detachable legs and chimney so you can easily pack it away. Our pizza recipe works equally well in a domestic oven, and our expert has included cooking instructions for the perfect crisp base.
Build a fire pit to gather around and pretend you’re in the wild in your own back garden. Toast marshmallows and add them to this s’mores cake as a showstopping finishing touch, or build your own s’mores pots for a memorable dessert.
Outdoor cocktail party
Make a few batches of bottled cocktails and put them in the freezer until your guests arrive. Display them on ice along with a selection of garnishes and cocktail glasses, and let your guests pick and pour their own on arrival. Choose between pre-bottled dirty martinis, our summer bottled cocktail, or our elderflower and raspberry bottled mocktail. We also love Max and Noel Venning’s (of Three Sheets and lockdown success online bottle shop, Shop Cuvée) book Batched & Bottled for next-level, pre-batched seasonal drinks recipes. Prefer to leave the mixing to the experts? Buy concoctions from the UK’s best mixologists using our pre-bottled cocktails guide.
Get creative with activity ideas and create a pickling stand in the garden. Despite what you might think, you don’t need lots of specialist equipment and expert know-how to get started with pickling – you probably have everything you need in your storecupboard. Most pickles are made by soaking (mostly) raw, fresh ingredients in a vinegar-based brine with sugar and salt, flavoured with spices and herbs. Give a jar to each guest and have ingredients in bowls ready to add to the mix. Try our best pickling recipes to get you started. It’s a fun foodie activity and guests can take away not only a new skill but a jar of pickles to add crunch to sandwiches, create a stunning charcuterie platter or an epic bbq burger.
Alfresco brunch bar
Make your own waffles and get people to mix and match with toppings. Serve the toppings in bowls and the waffles in a pile and let everyone build their own. Add some fresh, homemade bagels to the table with smoked salmon and cream cheese, or make like the French and bake your own baguettes to serve with various spreads, for an authentic ‘pâte à tartiner’ experience – we love Biscoff biscuit spread, Venchi’s hazelnut spread and Sous Chef’s Sicilian pistachio cream. Or check out more brunch ideas in our collection.