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Top tips for hosting a stylish summer party your guests will remember

International themes, brightly coloured decorations and impressive outdoor furnishings will help to transform your home into a hot venue

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 August, 2015, 12:30pm
UPDATED : Friday, 18 March, 2016, 5:33pm

Like it or not, our steamy summer is in full swing - so why not embrace the heat by hosting a house party? If it’s one thing Hongkongers love, it’s a good old knees-up, and having it at home has lots of advantages.

“Straight away, you save the cost of hiring a venue,” says interior designer Natasha Grays of Natasha Grays Interiors, who is known in Hong Kong for her fabulous parties.

“There’s no to-ing and fro-ing back and forth with all your food, decor, party games and props. More importantly, inviting people into your home makes for a much more personal experience for everyone. I find that people relax more in a home than in a hired space.”

Grays starts her planning by choosing a colour scheme. “When I think of summer,” she says, “I love to mix hot pink with red and orange - the combination makes for a vibrant, happy and exotic feel. Big bunches of flowers are essential. Roses or hydrangeas are my favourites, but you can use any flowers - just keep them the same throughout the scheme. 

“Other accessories I have used to give a real party feel are brightly coloured saris as tablecloths, or draped from the ceiling; the large paper flowers that you can buy from party supply shops; rose petals to sprinkle on tables; and different-sized glass vessels filled with marshmallows and other sweets.” 

Little extras make a difference. Grays likes to collect varying sizes of lanterns, candles and candleholders and cluster them on sideboards, the coffee table, “and always on the console table with flowers at the entrance”. A candle’s flame has “a certain magic,” she says. “I also love to use scented candles - for summertime, amber, vanilla or fig are lovely,”

The big decorating trend this season is a French theme, inspired by piles of bright pastel macarons, Grays says. “Add twinkling lights, pots of lavender and pastel cushions or fabrics.”

“Another fun party idea is a Grecian theme,” she adds. “Use piercing cerulean blue - the colour Santorini is known for - as the key colour; add large dishes of juicy oranges; blue- and white-striped tablecloths or hammam towels with tassels; and terracotta pots filled with fresh mint.”

If you're hosting an outdoor party, comfortable seating and sun shades are a must, says Craig Pallister, managing director of Everything Under the Sun.  "You want your guests to be comfortable, and I really love the new Gloster Grid sofa. The upholstered finish looks similar to an indoor sofa, and with waterproof fabric technology from Sunbrella, the cushions can be left outdoors all year long.” 

The newly released Foxcat NI parasol from local designer Terry Chow has a marine-grade canopy for ultraviolet-ray protection, with a built-in party trick: after the sun goes down, an LED system kicks in to illuminate the parasol, with its brightness controlled by a one-touch dimmer. Add flickering lanterns to complete the mood.

No outdoor party would be complete without a barbecue, and Pallister recommends the Cadac Braaimaxx, with its five different cooking surfaces including a pizza stone. "This is more than just a standard barbecue - it's the barbecue reinvented,” he says.