PARTY TIME or CELEBRATE AT HOME
By John Mason Gardening Author and Principal ACS Distance Education
Everyone loves a party, but unfortunately there is always a down side. The hard work prior to the party, and a mess to clean up afterwards, often takes the fun of what would otherwise be a perfect event. There are ways to avoid many of the problems associated with organising a party though. With a little forethought and proper planning it is possible to have a wedding, 21st birthday, anniversary, or even just a family get together, at home, and with a minimum of fuss. The secret is largely to foresee any possible problems and avoid them before they occur.
Having an party or celebration at home can be simple or involved, depending on the scale and style that you want. For special events such as weddings, it can be expensive to hire a caterer and a marquee, but then no more expensive (often less) than hiring a reception centre. For many people, having such an event at home can add a different and often preferable dimension to the celebration.
When planning a party or celebration consider:
What is the likelihood of rain in your locality at that time of year, and if it's wet, how much of a problem might that be. In places where the ground doesn't get muddy or it dries out quickly, rain is less of a problem, but in other places it may be essential to hire a marquee.
Heat and Sun
Guests can become very uncomfortable if they are left without shade in very hot weather. If you hire a marquee for shade though, think carefully about both ventilation and the size. Too many people cramped into a small marquee can be extremely hot. A breeze or fans can help. Removable sides are essential.
On a large property, you may need someone to direct traffic. On a small property it is wise to talk with the neighbours before the event so they are less likely to be annoyed by people parking in front of their homes. Are there any areas nearby where cars can be parked without creating a problem, either in easy walking distance or from where people can be easily ferried to the party.
Damage to the garden
Putting large numbers of people into a small garden can result in damaged lawns and trampled garden beds. By cutting the grass high you will reduce damage to lawns. Spreading wood chips or shavings over high traffic areas can help further (rake up and remove the mulch afterwards). It's also wise to fence off the more damage prone garden beds, even with just garden stakes and ropes.
One or two portable toilets are probably useful if you have more than 60 or so guests, or even just to avoid the inconvenience created by people walking through your house to use the toilet.
Seating & tables
For buffet style functions or informal bbq's, tables might only be needed to put food on for serving. Any other though will require sufficient seating for everyone attending. If you are on a limited budget, you can use garden walls, or make temporary benches with timber slabs and brick stacks. You might consider borrowing chairs from friends or relatives, or even asking people to BYO chair. Alternatively, catering and hire companies will hire chairs and tables.
Lighting and heating
If your party is at night you need to consider providing lights and perhaps heating. Flood lights can be purchased very cheaply, or you may buy or hire a set of party lights. Open fires are an easy way to provide heat, and some light, but be careful that they are permitted by the fire brigade at that time of year. Other types of heaters can be hired or borrowed.
The cost of feeding a multitude of people can be very significant. If you want an easy and trouble free job, you should hire a caterer. Other alternatives include hiring a spit or bbq's; or getting a group to cater as a fund raising effort (eg: scouts, church, school parents group). Professional caterers come in all types and at various levels of cost from professional party caterers or local restaurants to fast food businesses such as Kentucky Fried Chicken or Pizza Hut.
CLEANING UP THE GARDEN
The garden will usually need a good clean up both before and after an event. For large parties it's an idea to hire a dump bin to be delivered 1-2 days before the event and be collected 1-2 days after. This way you can dispose of rubbish from the garden clean up before the event, then dispose of rubbish from the party afterwards. If you don't have the time yourself, consider hiring a garden contractor for a one off spring clean of the garden.
Before the party you will probably need to mow and weed, and possibly spray for pests & disease, wash walls and windows, wash or clean paving, clean out the gutters, repaint or stain exposed timber, clean garden furniture and the tops of walls which may be used for seating, remove algae or slime from any areas which could become slippery, spread mulch or coarse sand on muddy or slippery areas, erect temporary fencing, etc.
After the event you will need to do such things as remove rubbish, prune any damaged plants, replant any badly damaged areas of lawn, remove temporary fencing, rake up mulch spread where it is unwanted, clean garden furniture, clean stains from paving.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MANAGING EVENTS
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