Timothy Barber
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1) PREPARATION is everything when throwing a summer party. Since cold dishes are the order of the day, definitely have food ready in the fridge that can be pulled out as your guests arrive. Dishes such as frittatas and salads will fit the bill perfectly. You should enjoy the evening as much as your guests – make the effort but don’t kill yourself trying.

2) Keep it informal and relaxed. No one wants a stiff, multiple-course meal when the sun is shining outside, and people are turning up at different times. Sharing and bowl dishes are the perfect solution for a party, and increasingly in London we've adopted a more continental approach to dining, with all-day grazing being de rigeur. Bowl food is also great for people to stand and eat from at a garden party. One dish that always suits this style is an organic salmon fillet on herbed cous cous or a lovely fusilli with feta, pumpkin and rocket.

3) Drinks should be refreshing. Jugs of Moscow Mule made with ginger beer, fresh lime, bitters and vodka are the perfect thirst quencher and again can be prepared in advance. If parents are bringing children, jugs of English apple juice with organic elderflower are the ultimate summer soft drink without the e numbers.

4) Don't go overboard with decoration – summer is all about keeping it natural. I always think nothing beats a crisp, off-white tablecloth dressed with some colourful blooms such as peonies or delphiniums (I always buy mine at my local farmer’s market). As the evening wears on, put on some ambient music and light indoor and outdoor candles to give a flavour of the exotic.

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