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Planning Retirement Online

Let's Party! Special Celebrations

June 2012  

Let's party in later life article series...

This series looks at some of the more unusual ideas to help you celebrate with style and panache – at affordable price levels, of course!

To see the full list of articles see the main Celebrating in Later Life page

This month:   Let’s party - outside!

by LaterLife features editor Sally Smith

It’s time to celebrate! Whether it's a landmark anniversary, birthday, or another special occasion, an outside event can create a unique atmosphere. In our monthly feature on entertaining and celebration, we look at partying in the great outdoors!

party outside

Planning a party outside does of course carry a certain level of risk! In our climate who knows what next week’s weather will bring? But outdoor events always have a unique magic and can add an atmosphere of their own. Also, they are especially good for family events because children can run around freely.

If you have a garden big enough, then planning an outdoor event at your home can be great. Otherwise gatherings in parks and open spaces can work really well too. It can be worthwhile just putting a quick call through to your local council to check your plans are acceptable. My grandson had a wonderful first birthday party in Regent’s Park in London which couldn’t have gone better, but if any paid for entertainers or similar had been planned, then that probably wouldn’t have been allowed by the park authorities.

With outdoor events, as with most celebrations, planning is absolutely key. The basic fundamentals such as shelter and toilet facilities need to be considered first as if there are any problems with either, then the location may need to be reconsidered. For simple events in public locations, there will probably be shelters, cafes and toilet facilities available which take care of many of the problems. Don’t forget to bring extra chairs for guests who didn’t think they would need them and also those all important ground blankets and rugs because even after a dry spell land in the UK can often be surprisingly damp! It is a very good idea to give your guests some idea of dress code for an outside event; if it is shorts, jeans and really casual wear, a guest who turns up in even a simple garden dress might feel out of place.

But for more sophisticated celebrations, you may want to do something on a larger scale. Today many country houses and other venues open to the public are happy to hire out areas of land for a special event and they often offer a range of additional support items such as marquees or catering.

The marquee business has grown dramatically in recent years, and today not only do they provide marquees but many companies offer outside toilet facilities and a range of great additions to make a party go with a swing. But even if the venue you have selected offers catering and party organisation, few cover everything and it can be fun to search around for some different ideas to make your event really special. For instance the Marquee Hire Guide cover an astonishing range of ideas and items to make an outside party unique. You can hire decorations, wigwams for kids, furniture, mobile bars, hog roasts, entertainers, portable cocktail bars and so on. If you are celebrating a big celebration with a bit of budget, then today it has never been easier to organise an amazing event.

But for many of us, we will be thinking of something a little more modest, possibly in our back garden with a barbecue and drinks for friends and family. Again here it can be worth looking at various websites to hire in the odd small items. A few additional chairs might be all you need and most areas now have companies that are willing to hire out low cost items for a short period.

Disposable plates and cups today have come on enormously from the basic white cardboard type plates of our youth. With modern materials, you can find a terrific range of colourful disposable items that are really nice to use. Just google in disposable party plates and you may be surprised at what is today available.

Rubbish is always something that adds up surprisingly at a party - empty bottles, used plates, bowls and so on. After taking time and trouble to get the garden looking great, maybe lights on the trees and so on, it is a great shame if one corner is spoiled by a big green bin or large green rubbish bags overflowing with used plates and napkins.

Instead, why not obtain some large old boxes, packing crates or similar, cover them with colourful gift wrap and put a large sign on each for bottles, plastic and other rubbish, however you normally sort it? This can stand round a corner but can still add to a party atmosphere. It is always the little details like these that can make so much difference.

For outdoor events music can be tricky. If you have close neighbours, then volume must be looked at. In the warm air of summer, when everyone has their windows open, sound from quite a distance can still be very intrusive. Timing is important here and sometimes as an evening wears on, it can be courteous to turn any outside music off and transfer it to an indoor location. It will take the edge off a celebration if guests feel they may be causing a noise disturbance to others.

The same problem can occur with late fireworks to end a celebration. If they are short and not too loud, then as a one off they are probably acceptable but even so neighbours should still be warned.

Much of organising an outside event is common sense but nevertheless careful planning is essential. If all the detail seems daunting, then many pubs, restaurants and hotels offer outside areas for hire and can provide all the catering and drinks. All you need to do then is turn up - and pay the bill!

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