Little wafts of smoke rise from huddled groups at roadsides across the territory; peals of laughter are heard from rooftops and balconies. The searing heat of summer is over and the barbecue season is in full swing. Whether it is to celebrate Thanksgiving, Hallowe'en or just an excuse to throw a party, people are cleaning out the rain water and butt ends from the barbecue and getting down to some serious sizzling. Australians may claim it as a rite of passage, the South Africans think their braais are bigger and better than any, but there is no doubt the barbecue is a serious pastime here, too. On balmy evenings at Sai Kung's Beach Hotel Resort where there is a huge barbecue site, about 200 groups gather to throw a prawn or two on the embers. Shops selling only barbecue equipment and food pop up in every village and jars of honey - free lighters stuck on the side - line the shelves of every dai pai dong. But whether it is an outing with a couple of friends, a sunset barbecue on the balcony for 20 or a lunchtime party on the roof terrace, alfresco dining should not mean paper plates and plastic cups. Some of Hong Kong's swankiest stores are lined with cheerful - but cheap - summer accessories to stoke up a party. While the guests are dressing down, dress the party up with a simple but startling theme: in the pink, out of Africa, a beach party. At Lane Crawford's Pacific Place store, jewel-toned plasticware comes in fuchsia pink, cobalt blue and sea green. 'The key . . . is colour,' associate buyer Andrew Thomson says. 'We source our products from all over the world, including the United States, France and Britain where there are sophisticated products at reasonable prices.' In the multi-coloured Majestic range, plastic wine glasses, beakers and even marguerita glasses suitable for ever-popular punch cost $40 each, while plates and small bowls are just $30. Jugs with lids for soft drinks, fruit juices or beer in the same jewelled tones are $160. 'The thing about alfresco eating is it should be fun,' says Thomson, who recommends adding drink chillers and stirrers - fruit and vegetable shapes that are frozen - to drinks and punches ($110 for four stirrers and 12 ice stir cubes). 'We also sell those wonderful spiral-coloured plastic drinking straws where you can see the drink looping round for $10 each.' Large plastic bowls for salads and savouries are available as well as big blue or yellow lacquered paper bowls with fluted edges from Francoise Paviot ($70 each). If you have no outdoor furniture, the dining-room or mahjong table covered with a wipe-clean matching Paviot paper tablecloth in bright colours can be paired with matching individual placements in bold block fish designs. Add a touch of class with pink, red, green or blue Designer's Guild paper serviettes or, for the environmentally aware, linen napkins threaded through acrylic and silver fruit-shaped napkin rings. Hardy multi-coloured, acrylic-handled cutlery ($23 each) in a variety of shades replace plastic knives and forks. But without ambience, you do not have a party. Whether day or night, add candles of all shapes and sizes to the table and scatter them throughout the venue or take them with you to your picnic site. Lane Crawford stocks a wide range of candles, from a set of six cake-shaped candles on a tray ($200) to a large yellow wax hollow hurricane lantern ($250) that protects the flame from breezes, to orange and lemon-shaped candles ($250). Talking of breezes, if your table is outside remember to use clips (or pegs) to secure the tablecloth. White or multi-coloured fairy lights (no more than $50 from any market) hung around a balcony add a festive glow to any celebration, and lanterns - traditional, paper or any of the wonderful silk creations - cast a celebratory atmosphere. Giant bamboo fire torches ($100) that burn citronella oil to deter mosquitoes are available at Banyan Tree. 'We are stocking more and more wooden products from South Africa,' says part-owner Kate Budge, who also recommends teak furniture for outdoors because it is so resistant to the elements. As well as tables from Africa, Budge is importing Africana accessories such as wooden salad bowls and animal-shaped salad servers in giraffe and lion shapes. The company also sells bright yellow garden umbrellas in teak with canvas canopies in red, green, yellow or ivory in a variety of sizes. Budge recommends jazzing up alfresco settings with lots of candles, protected by a hurricane glass cone ($300), while daisies or sunflowers look stunning, floating in coloured water (use vegetable dyes) in a bright glass or crystal bowl interspersed with flower heads. For an African or tropical theme, use pineapples and coconuts for decoration, house plants as table dressings and line painted wooden food steamers with banana leaves and fill with salads or fruits. For children's barbecues, scatter sand across the floor, fold out bright deckchairs, add a children's pool, and serve food in multi-coloured plastic toy buckets with tiny spades and forks used as servers. If you want to be truly international in flavour, head to the Meat Master or Butcher King delicatessens in Sai Kung where you can buy boerewors, authentic South African sausage made in the New Territories.