Serve up summer: how to host a tennis garden party
12 May 2021
From the drinks to the décor, here’s what you need.
This summer your garden is your stage. For drinks, brunches, barbecues… everything we’ve missed the last year passed. You want your gatherings to go down a treat and there’s no more perfect excuse for a spectacular garden party than the return of the tennis. So whether you’ve got a lawn as manicured as The Queen’s Club or a balcony that’s actually rather ace, we’ve pulled together ideas for the ultimate racquet-themed soiree. It’s been so long since we’ve hosted you want to knock your guests’ (tennis) socks off. Here’s how…
A highlight of the tennis is so often the afternoon tea. Make scones with Pimm’s soaked fruit and boozy cream. Mix caster sugar with Pimm’s, stir in the fruit and cover, leaving to soak for an hour. Whisk double cream with icing sugar and a splash of Pimm’s to make a delicious accompaniment. Additionally, think mini strawberry tarts, Eton Mess, Pimm’s and lemonade jellies in jars and quail scotch eggs.
Alternatively, set the table for a dinner party. Start with salmon, samphire and charred cucumber salad – a nod to traditional cucumber sandwiches. For mains, think barbecued steak with anchovy garlic butter, flame-baked cauliflower kebabs or Jersey Royal crab cakes. For dessert try grilled wild strawberries with vanilla cream, or a showstopping pavlova.
Decorate macaroons with tennis ball detailing or make biscuits shaped as tennis rackets. For when coffee is served, melt chocolate and pour into vintage spoons resting on parchment paper. Before completely cool, top with edible flowers or a scattering of freeze-dried raspberries. The food will be almost as exciting as the tennis itself.
Of course, Pimm’s is a must. Also try jazzing up prosecco with a squeeze of pomegranate, passionfruit, grapefruit juice or lime. You can even freeze rosé and serve with crushed along with macerated strawberries and lemon juice.
Make rhubarb compote by simmering together a little sugar, water and rhubarb, then blitzing till you have a smooth purée. Pour into glasses and top with prosecco for a rhubarb bellini.
Non-alcoholic options needn’t be any less enticing. Make your own pink lemonade by mixing lemon juice, zest, sugar and raspberries with boiling water. Let it cool and pour through a sieve. Serve with ice, adding sugar to taste. Or try gooseberry and mint lemonade, and iced tea with a hint of honey, lemons and oranges. We’re forecasting sun so you want to keep your guests hydrated.
The way to go is understated and elegant, with a nod to the game. Source a vintage tennis racket, tucking a bunch of wildflowers into the strings, and hang on your front door or garden gate to pique guests’ interests. Use large paper pompoms to string up outside. For your colour palette, choose deep ivy green (the shade of that pristine club lawn), dusky rose, white and a splash of tennis ball yellow.
Use a vintage tennis towel to drape diagonally over for a beautiful tablescape. Add fresh flowers and vary height and texture with collected crockery and serving plates. Wooden crates will give a picnic feel and napkins with stripes or chevrons have a vintage-inspired, sporting look.
Set out the garden games – we suspect competitiveness will be in the air. You could even invest in a projector to make an outdoor cinema for those watching the game. You’ll want to sit down and relax after all. It has been a whole year since you hosted.
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