During the holidays we often end up hosting those impromptu get-togethers from braais, picnics and with the school’s closed, there are the endless play dates. 

Take advantage of the beautiful summer weather with our guide to creating a fancy outside dining area. This festive season be creative in organising your next event by creating a luxurious dining space in your own backyard, with a few simple tips and tricks.

Whether you have a patio, pool or porch – start with a check up on the current state of cleanliness of your yard. If you have grass, check if it needs to be trimmed. If you have gravel, make sure it is raked evenly and sweep up any dirt or garbage lying around. Clean from the walls to the ground and get rid of any unwanted items you've been hoarding.

Decluttering your space will give a blank canvas to use, and an overview of how big or small the area you’re working with is. Now you are better able to see where the dining area will be, where the braai spot is and where you can create that ‘soon to be popular’ mini bar.

Every party should have a great sitting area, you don’t have to break the bank by getting new chairs and tables, you just have to be creative in using what you already have at home.

If you have some garden furniture, its now perfect timing to put it in full use. They might be a bit rusty or worn out from the winter weather, but this can be sorted out with some scrubbing and a few coats of paint and weather-proof coating. It does not matter if your furniture is in different styles; all you need to do is give it a quick revamp with paint and you'll soon have a shabby-chic combination.

Find old scatter cushions around your house that are not in use, or buy a few new ones in bright colours. This will bring added style and comfort to your furniture. You can also use plastic furniture in the same way, but get some colourful fabric to drape over, or create tie back with big bows.

Summertime definitely brings about the urge to whip out the charcoal and sizzle some meat on the braai. Every home should have a designated braai spot, especially during the holidays, if you don’t have one you can build your own with affordable building materials at the hardware store.

How to create your own braai area:
What you will need:
Measuring tools & spirit level

1. Set out a clear vision of the design of your spot, sketch and think clearly where you want to install your grill and proceed with preparation of the base.
2. Clear out the area and make sure the ground is level, and take measurements for a square-shaped design.
3. It is recommended that you go a level down when layering as this will create a firm foundation for the decking, start digging a few centimetres down and pour concrete to form a firm foundation.
4. Begin layering the cinderblocks, connecting the bricks with the cement mixture, then level carefully so that everything is smooth and firm until you are satisfied with the height and width and ensuring you leave adequate space in the middle for the grill.
5. Make sure the structure is firm and solid.

There are plenty of ways to spruce up your backyard space and turn it into a magical entertainment area you can be proud of. Although saving is key, you can build an atmospheric backyard without going heavy on the budget. Revamp the space with easy to find décor elements all around. We suggest you start with painting any walls that are bare or discoloured. White is a great colour choice because it will blend with everything you set out. Get some colourful pot plants and place them systematically around the whole yard, this will instantly give the space a vibrant facelift.

Another lovely way to make your yard more exciting is to add lighting so that you can eat, relax and have conversations with friends, long after the sun goes down. Buy some fairy lights, battery-powered candles, and lanterns and then find any old glass jars in your cupboard. Place the lanterns strategically around the yard, in areas where the house lights will not reach.

Take the battery-powered candles and place inside the glass jars and use this for the table lighting when dining. It’s advisable to use battery-powered candles as a safety measure, especially if you have kids that will be running around. Now hook the fairy lights from one corner of the yard to the opposite corner, passing above the table. If you have a tree, set the scene by stringing the tree with some fairy lights for a magical effect.

Having a makeshift bar is a sure way of impressing your guests. During a party, you would want your guests to feel free to help themselves. Creating a bar section gives everyone the freedom to roam around and visibly see what you have available for drinks so that they can easily make their choice. All you need is a cooler box and a small table. Fill the cooler box with ice, and chill a few drinks inside. On the table place your glasses, beverages, water jug, serviettes, straws and anything else you think your guests might need.

You definitely cannot leave the kids out of the summer fun. Create a small picnic area for them with their own plastic table and chairs or blankets and old scatter cushions. Put out some arts and crafts, and let them have fun with drawing and painting. Get some board games for them as well, and make it extra fun for them by arranging prizes for the winners.

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