With John Lewis reporting this week that sales of its picnic hampers, cool bags and rugs are up 269 per cent on last year – and Easter decorations up by 336 per cent – it’s safe to say that socially distanced outdoor celebrations are high on our agenda.
Even though garden or park gatherings will be small, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be perfectly formed.
Whether you’re hosting in the garden or picnicking in the park, here’s how to celebrate Easter in style.
Alfresco: Basket range table, £329, chairs, £290 for two, all from John Lewis
Let’s go outside
If you are lucky enough to have a garden, look at how best to use it, whatever the weather. Invest in a parasol if you need shade – Raj Tent Club’s riviera parasols, £295, add a brilliantly decorative twist to both park and garden settings.
Prepare for chilly days, too – Morsø now offers freestanding firepits ideal for compact outdoor spaces. Try its Ignis firepit, £199.
‘Design your garden as you would any other room in your home,’ advises home design stylist Bethan Harwood at John Lewis. ‘It needs to be practical, stylish and somewhere you want to spend time.
‘Think about the layout in relation to the sun, and how the overall space will flow. Corner sofas and outside armchairs are great for guests and can be moved around to allow for social distancing.’
Going cheep: Easter basket, £3.50, from John Lewis
Birdie Fortescue’s new Teras range of painted rattan furniture, including sofas, side tables and dining chairs, from £136, can be moved between indoors and out, and are matched with water-resistant seat pads in decorative chevrons and Iznik-inspired designs.
For informal outdoor dining, keep it simple. ‘We sometimes like to opt for a buffet-style table with items categorised; plates stacked up, cutlery wrapped in ribbons and different coloured glasses grouped together,’ say The Sette’s Sophie Elliott and Cloe Bueso.
‘Dot flowers and candlesticks along the table, as well as cake stands and bowls filled with chocolate eggs.’
Try a celebratory twist with their Easter Bunny tablecloth, £190. For a more decadent feel, set a formal outdoor lunch, using table-linen.
Setting Pretty has a colourful range of cloths and tableware; we love its Ikat tablecloth in green, £110.
Add tinted glassware, such as Edition 94’s short handblown Italian glasses in green and pink, £22 each.
The key to hassle-free entertaining in the park is to pack light and smart, choosing portable foldaway pieces, practical storage for food and a few beautifully decorative, shatter-proof items, including plates and vessels, to elevate the occasion.
‘We love Zara Home’s acrylic jug (£17.99) with lines for its versatility,’ says Liz Parker and Josh Murray-Webster of floral design studio FLWR.
‘If you buy a couple, one can be used for drinks and another can act as an impromptu vase for a bunch of daffodils or fragrant sweet peas.’
Make carrying food easy by packing as much as possible into airtight Kilner jars, which can be quickly decanted.
For portability, try melamine tableware and glasses. Sophie Allport’s has a range of decorative plates, bowls and cups; the Bees dinner plate, £8.50 is a nod to Spring and the Lobster collection, from £7.50, is a year-round winner.
Invest in lightweight foldaway chairs, too.
John Lewis’s deckchair frame and striped sling, £49, is a nautical classic, while the Geo picnic rug, £25, has waterproof backing.
Anthropologie’s Koziol cutlery, £10, combines knife, fork and spoon in one stack, while its rattan wine and bread basket, £68, is all you need to carry a simple lunch.
‘I’ll be planning my Easter celebrations with both practicality and elegance in mind,’ says interior designer Claudia Ludwig.
‘One of my favourite French outdoor brands, Fermob, does some great colourful place mats and cushions, as well as blankets, to keep my guests warm.’
Foil chocolate eggs customised with ribbon, bunting strung between trees and some festoon lighting are the finishing touches to make your celebratory outdoor get-together one to remember.
What your home really needs is a… garden lantern
The French House Amboise zinc lantern, pictured, is designed to be fixed to a garden wall (£289)
The clocks go forward this weekend, bringing us lighter evenings. And on Monday, groups of six people or two households can meet in a private garden.
A lantern will bring a warm glow, somehow beautifying everything. This is why your home needs at least one now.
The word lantern – which has its roots in ancient Greek – seems always to have signified a lamp that can be carried. But The French House Amboise zinc lantern is designed to be fixed to a garden wall (£289).
Then there are Moroccan-type lanterns with flickering candles for a mere £2.99 from The Range. But battery-powered LED lanterns may be more practical in Britain.
Argos offers a set of two in a grey cut-out pattern metal (£25). Heals has the funky £90 Let’s Go Speaker Portable Lantern with its ten colours, four light-modes and surround sound.
If you would rather bring the outside in, brighten up your dining table with a £28 vintage brass lantern from Nordic House. Let a lantern lead us into the light.