Deep blue skies, white fluffy clouds, green gardens and long, sunshine filled days. It’s the height of summer and what better way to make the most of it than by entertaining family and friends outside?
Generally speaking, South Africans love spending time outdoors and many properties are geared for outdoor entertaining. When it comes to entertaining outdoors, there are three aspects you need to consider to create a memorable and enjoyable event. These include the entertainment area, the food and the overall ambience.
Is your entertainment area covered or open to the sky? This will determine what type of flooring and furniture you can use. In terms of flooring, there are a variety of options available says Debra Retief, marketing manager at Tile Africa.
“Inkjet tiles offer an ideal interior and exterior solution as they imitate wood, stone and decking. What’s more is that they’re cost effective and create a natural, beautiful look at a fraction of the cost. Natural stone provides texture, can withstand harsh weather conditions and can last a lifetime if sealed properly. Slate is worth considering too. Slate’s striking colour and pattern variations will turn a plain floor or wall into a design statement. Slate is also porous and less slippery which makes it perfect for areas close to the pool.”
Although there are a variety of options to choose from, Retief adds that tiles generally remain the ideal solution as they are beautiful, durable and easy to maintain. If you do opt for tiles, make sure they’re textured as they need to provide grip when wet she says.
Your furniture choice will also largely depend on whether or not it’s exposed to the elements and how much you can afford to spend.
Aluminium won’t rust or fade, particularly if it is powder coated. It’s also light and easy to maintain but usually isn’t cheap. Wicker can be natural or synthetic and ranges in price. The upside is that it’s light and weather resistant wicker is quite durable. Wood is durable as it doesn’t retain heat but it can fade if left uncovered. Wood furniture prices vary depending on the brand and type of wood used. Plastic is cost effective and easy to store but it doesn’t always look particularly appealing or stand up to the elements very well.
How you choose to prepare your food is important. Depending on how often you entertain you can use a budget friendly skottle braai or invest in a top of the range built-in gas braai. The choice is yours. Whatever you do, try to position it in such a way that it doesn’t isolate those doing the braaing from the rest of the group and make sure it doesn’t smoke everyone out.
Of course the food itself plays a major role. Says Benny Masekwameng, Tsogo Sun Celebrity Chef and Masterchef SA judge: “Plan your meal well in advance. Before you light up those coals, make sure you’ve got all the right ingredients to make a braai that will wow your guests.
“The traditional braai is always crowned with meat,” he adds. “Buy the best quality meat you can find and marinate it overnight as this will ensure the meat becomes infused with the rich flavour of the marinade.”
Lastly, Masekwameng advises sticking to traditional recipes. “Don’t try and get too fancy. Go back to basics, think carefully about flavour and beverage pairings and then add one element that will enhance your creation.”
Once the area and food are arranged, you can pay attention to creating some ambience. A few choice candles, soft lighting, a scattering of fairly lights, some popular music, comfortable seat cushions and a few board games or a darts board are usually all it takes to create a mid-summer night out to remember.