Set up a drinks station
Position it away from the kitchen and show guests where it is when they first arrive. Provide a big pitcher of iced water, as well as non-alcoholic drinks and remember to stock up on cups. Large plastic tubs, try Bunnings, filled with ice are great for keeping drinks cold.
Get the BBQ ready
Put gas refills, coals and fire lighters on your shopping list and give the hotplates a good clean with newspaper and warm water mixed with white vinegar. Finish with a protective coat of cooking oil.
Plan a playlist
Music is an essential mood-maker and also something that tends to get left to the last minute. Set up a playlist the week before or invite guests to share the music on their phones, which can be synced to Bluetooth speakers. Try Logitech ‘X100’ Bluetooth portable speaker, from Harvey Norman.
Tables and chairs
For a small event, a long table is a great way to sit down and share a meal. If your guest list is a little longer, a couple of tables, both indoor and outdoors, gives guests a chance to move around and mingle. Make sure to provide enough seating.
If you don't have enough tables and chairs, grab some picnic rugs and bright cushions for a table on the ground.
If you think your afternoon barbecue might extend into the night, be prepared and dot candles and lanterns around the space. Wrap fairy lights around tree trunks for a touch of magic.
Share the load
When guests want to help, say a resounding yes. A cheese plate, bottle of wine or ice is always helpful. So are offers of cleaning up.
Clear the decks
Use this as an excuse to clear the decks and clean up your outdoor area. Trim hedges and plants, rip out weeds and scrub your decking. Don’t forget about indoor either. Clear out the cobwebs and mop the floors.
Curate a kids’ pack
The secret to thrilling young guests is to surprise them with an activity pack. Think holiday home, and round up drawing supplies and activity books. Stock up on board games and outdoor equipment such as balls, cricket and croquet that everyone can play.