Well, today’s the day – the first major football tournament final since 1966 that England’s men’s team has made it into is kicking off in a few short hours.
Pubs will no-doubt be full to the brim, and many of those lucky enough to have a garden will be looking forward to filling it with a (Covid-safe) number of their nearest and dearest to watch the game.
Whether a garden party has always been the plan, or you’re finding yourself planning one at the last minute rather than fight for a place at your local, we’ve put together some tips for how you can make the most of this history-making evening…
Test how you’re going to set up the match
Whether you’ve got a projector and a sheet or you’re going to arrange your TV some place safe and dry, it’s worth testing a perfecting the setup well in advance of people arriving.
Where relevant, make sure your Wi-Fi is strong, the projector works, the sheet is ironed and, ideally, there’s a backup option in place just in case something goes wrong.
Further to that, while the weather forecast says it’s not going to rain until later in the night, this is England after all, so making a contingency plan for wet weather is always advisable.
Get the right drinks in
If you want to keep your garden party to a tighter budget you can always make a BYOB request.
However, if your budget allows, you could add a couple of England themed cocktails to the table.
For example, the Carcello – which consists of Carling and Limoncello – represents blending of Italy and England which shouldn’t work, but really, really does.
Think shandy, but with more of a kick.
Implement a Covid test rule
To add a little extra peace of mind for you and your guests, you could kindly ask people to take a Covid test before they arrive.
Free lateral flow tests have been available to order since April, so many people already have at least one box lying around.
If you don’t have a test to hand, you can collect them from places like pharmacies and test collection points.
Turn your window into a bar
If you’ve got a window facing out into the garden, you can use that as the basis for a home-made bar.
Adam Pawson, Head of Digital at Safestyle, recommended: ‘Simply secure a surface beneath it on the outside wall using recycled materials such as a plank of wood or reuse an old tabletop, but remember to be careful of any sharp edges.
‘French windows are great because they give a clear, unobstructed view and provide a wide open space which is really inviting to guests as you pass drinks and snacks through.
‘Clear any unnecessary clutter from your kitchen counter and window sill, followed by a deep clean around the window frame before you then set up coasters, napkins, glasses and any other cocktail bar necessities.’
Don’t just rely on the match for entertainment
Just because you’re gathering specifically to watch the game doesn’t mean that’s all the fun you have to have at your garden party.
Sure, chatting and catching up is great, but if you’re planning a party that you want to go on for hours and hours, adding some games and photo props to the mix can only improve things.
Jess Martin, Decoration Expert at Ginger Ray said: ‘Create a photo booth station with a props box for guests to pick and choose their favourite fun props to spruce up the Instagram snaps – you could even create your own party hashtag.
‘Pinatas are a great classic party game that everyone can get involved in, and you can buy ready-made. Just fill with your favourite sweets, or even confetti for a fun photo opportunity when it’s broken through.’
She also suggested activities that fit the theme of the evening – Three Lions sing-a-long anyone?
Get snacks people can grab and go
Feel free to make the evening fancy if you want to, but there’s no need to stand on ceremony for a football match viewing party, and keeping things simple with food is easier both for guests and for you when it’s time to clean up.
Why not pull together a typical English party spread to celebrate the occasion, with things like party rings, pork pies, cocktail sausages, sandwiches and scotch eggs?
You could even have some pizza to get an on-theme nod to Italy in there too.
Make sure the seating is right
Your seating needs will likely depend on how many people you’ve got coming round and how you plan to watch the match.
If you’ve got enough to fit the average dinner table, then you’ll probably want more of a living room-esque setup, with chairs and, if you’ve got one, a small table set up around the screen you’ll be showng the game on.
If you need to accommodate up to 30 people – the limit under the current restrictions – then you’ll probably want to arrange the seating area more like a cinema, with rows pointing to the screen.
Before the game, it might be a nice idea to arrange the seats in smaller groups, that way people can still sit and have a chat easily.
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