Wish we were... throwing a summer dinner party

Winter weekends are for recuperation, but come May Day, life seems to start on Friday afternoon. However, managing to fit in a spot of gardening, playing tennis, watching the sunset with cocktail in hand and having dinner on the table for guests by the time the kids are in bed is not always that easy. Entertaining should be fun – for the host and the guests, so relax with our top tips for summer entertaining...

Numbers:
Eight to twelve guests. That way everyone gets to yell at each other around one big table and there’s no need for name cards.

Create instant atmosphere:
Music is critical. We love a Vintage Cafe CD before dinner, maybe Sade while dinner is served, then during dessert, Motown, the Temptations, and Gladys Knight. And use candlelight only.

Décor:
May is the best time to get beautiful branches of sweet lilacs, mix with hydrangeas. A linen table-runner looks great too, and use tapered candles to add height and elegance.

Cocktails:
Funkin Juice advertises itself as the 10-second cocktail. With mixes ranging from Mojito to Margarita and Bellini, just add the relevant alcohol for a no fuss cocktail.

Ingredients:
Make a trip to your local farmers market. Good, seasonal ingredients give you an edge in the flavour department—even if you don’t make any elaborate recipes, your food will still be packed with flavour.

Dessert:
Prepare our summer pudding (click here) in advance.