Salads and side dishes go a long way

Salads and side dishes go a long wayPic: Aldi

Despite our weather trying to convince otherwise, most Irish people are ever-hopeful of a bright, sunny summer. Languid hours in back gardens, having drinks and chats with friends and family - it’s the dream, really, isn’t it?

With a few sunny days behind us already, we’re holding fast to the notion of a proper summer. So we’re getting fully prepped for endless barbecuing and socialising opportunities we’ll be availing of right through until September!

Shop Smart

Variety is the spice of life, they say. It’s also a trick to make a barbecue meal stretch if your guest lists expands. Bowls of colourful salads serve to make the table look gorgeous (as in this spread from Aldi, above) and also make it a lot easier to accommodate vegetarians and non-meat eaters if you’re pulling out the barbecue. A few piles of pittas and chunks of crusty bread work well too - simple but effective!

House by John Lewis Brighton Bistro Table and Chairs Set, 92.50, John Lewis

Sofa So Good

Stylish garden furniture will turn any outdoor space into a spot for socialising. If you have the room, go big with all weather couches (removable cushions a necessity) for the full outdoor-indoors feel. However, even a small balcony or terrace can be transformed – try a petite bistro style table and chairs. We're a bit in love with this set from John Lewis.

Mason Jar Tealight Holders, from €12.75, Rex London

Light It Up

It’s all about lighting when the evening arrives. Outdoor fairy lights can be a cute addition but for a simple, classic effect opt for mason jars and tea lights. Arrange in clusters around the ground or on tables (away from flammables!). If insects are going to, em, bug you try citronella candles to keep them at bay.

Reed Tea Glasses, €61 for 6, Amara

Pitcher Perfect

Unsure of numbers? Or just keen to try a cocktail recipe or two? Pitchers are the way to go. Opt for colourful chunky glasses for a casual feel - with less danger of breakages. Amara has  It's also as easy to make jugs of non-alcoholic options too, for refreshing booze free alternatives. (And as for desert, we like the sound of this Gin & Tonic Jelly!)

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