They say every cloud has a silver lining, so perhaps one positive we can draw from the pandemic is the nation's newfound lust for al fresco living. Be it arthouse film nights huddled around a pull-down projector screen, exclusive garden soirées complete with cascading Champagne fountains, or relaxed suppers under the stars; we share five top tips on how to successfully style your unique garden party this summer.

Tablescape to impress

In recent years, tablescaping has become an art. Start with the essentials: plates, utensils and cutlery. Here we chose a selection by homeware mavens Jo & Co. Afford each dish its own vessel; mixing sizes and materials such as mango wood, marble, glass and stoneware. A linen table cloth works everywhere, while runners can be easily created with gauze or wooded bead garlands. Decide on a subtle colour scheme to tie it all together and call on a local florist (we worked with the talented Green Rabbit) to create a dramatic centerpiece, using offcuts for place setting posies. Rose hips, thistles and wisps of foliage tied with hand-died silk ribbon make charming keepsakes for guests. Finish with twinkling candles (unscented around food) and go low or high with the décor to ensure it doesn't block that all-important eyeline.

Embrace the seasons and setting

Utilise seasonal fruit and veg for styling; from arrangements of velveteen peaches and gardenias in summer to vintage silverware draped with grapes, figs and rustic red pears in autumn. Incorporating the harvest to your tablescape will elevate the senses. When it comes to the wider setting, fill rustic garden vessels with chicken wire to secure foraged florals such as winterberry, add rugs underfoot and repurpose old objects - a clawfoot bath tub makes an ingenious ice-bucket for bottles of Champagne.

Transport your guests to faraway places

As much as us Brits love a summer staycation, we'd be lying if we said we weren't missing jetting off somewhere exotic this year. Bring about a soft Ibizan vibe with the addition of an oversized capiz chandelier drizzled over the dining table, like here at Dandelion. Entwine naked wire fairylights in the branches, add a Pacha-inspired playlist and scented candles for low lighting (we love St Eval's seasalt in a tin), and conjure up the magic of those long spangled nights in the Balearics.

Keep things cosy

If there's anything that will kill the vibe then it will be a biting breeze around the ankles or English mizzle making the napkins curl at the corners. A prettier alternative to patio heaters, a fire bowl (Graham and Green offer three sizes) will create atmosphere as well as warmth. Arm every guest with a hot water bottle (Toast and Celtic & Co do sumptuous sheepskin covers) and keep a basket of wool blankets within reach. A parasol should do the trick if the sun burns or the weather turns (we love Sunbeam Jackie and East London Parasols) otherwise there's always, British favourite, the golf umbrella - much chicer than an anorak and a welcome party favour when the heavens open. 

Get creative with the seating plan

Whilst lighting, music, décor, food and drink may all be in your control, if you're in great company then little else really matters. Choose your guest list carefully, including an even mix of storytellers as well as those happy to listen, and consider a seating plan. Mix it up and offer the chance for people to converse with those they may not know as well as others. Why not ask each alternative person to move clockwise before the next course? You never know what they might discover they have in common.