The party season is fast approaching, and along with the Christmas shopping rush comes the chance to have fun with friends and family. Prep your deck right and your holiday gatherings will be the stress-free celebrations you hope for.
1. Set up Your Deck for Success
With balmy summer temps upon us, outside is where we all want to be. Prep your timber deck with a good clean to rid it of built-up grime – hot, soapy water and a little elbow grease should do it. Alternatively you can use a power washer, but make sure the water pressure isn’t set so high that it takes the stain off or damages the timber. Check for loose or rotting boards or protruding nails, and remove leaves and clutter (toys, dog bowls, messy pot plants) to make your deck visually inviting and create space for any extra seating required.
Safety first. You’ll need to sand and re-stain your timber deck if the winter months have taken their toll on your decking area, or if splinters are a likely hazard. Timber-look tiles, wood-plastic composite, and fibre cement decking are becoming popular choices among homeowners looking for a low-maintenance alternative to timber decks, without compromising on appearance. Fibre cement decking, for example, can be stained to look like timber, but is a splinter-free option that’s safe for bare feet.
Once your deck is spick and span, it’s time to decorate. Don’t hold back on the festive lights – solar-powered lights are an easy-to-come-by option and will turn your outdoor area into a magical party zone when the sun goes down, without you having to do a thing.
2. Arrange Sociable Seating Nooks
If you’re hosting a crowd this year, why not keep your festive celebrations casual? Instead of a sit-down Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, set up several areas for people to sit, and prepare a buffet-style feast and DIY bar for guests to help themselves to food and drink. The best part? Even though you’re the host, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the day too.
Big family? Creating a range of outdoor seating areas where people can congregate sets the scene for conversation. If you’re in the market for new outdoor furniture, opt for stools and lightweight furniture that can be moved around easily to create a seating set-up to suit your event. Add furniture pads under chairs, table legs and barbecues to avoid scratching your deck. Still short on seating? Throw down some beanbags and watch people gravitate towards them – adults are just as likely to settle in and get comfortable in a cluster of beanbags as the kids!
3. Make an All-Weather Plan
The harsh Australian sun can drive even the hardiest of us indoors if adequate shade isn’t provided, and having to ferry the feast inside during a summer storm can spoil an otherwise relaxing day. Plan ahead with outdoor umbrellas that can be moved around as the sun shifts across the sky; install shade cloth, canvas sails or awnings; or install a more permanent solution with a covered pergola or vergola, a louvred roofing system that can be opened and closed at the touch of a button.
No shade? If you’d rather avoid the expense of covering your entire alfresco entertaining area, consider a hard-wearing decking material that won’t suffer in the harsh Australian climate and is resistant to moisture, termites, warping and rot. Timber boards can become slippery when mould and fungus grow on them (humid locations are particularly vulnerable, along with decks around pools), another reason to consider a moisture-resistant decking alternative. Also consider stainless-steel screws, as this modern seaside deck in Queensland’s Palm Beach has done, to keep corrosion at bay.
4. Borrow Decorative Touches From Inside
Grey is a timeless colour that’s light and summery, and creates a great backdrop for your outdoor decor to shine. If grey isn’t your thing, consider other neutral options. Fibre cement decking can be painted or stained any shade you like – it can look and feel like timber, or reflect the latest colour of the moment.
If the weather’s fine or your deck is under cover, why not borrow cushions, rugs, and even armchairs and sofas from your interior living areas and amp up the comfort factor outside? To make your deck inviting all summer long, consider investing in weather-proof and fade-resistant soft furnishings and accessories.
Choose a theme. Following a theme when dressing up your entertaining area for the holiday season will give it a cohesive look. Keeping to a couple of colours – silver and light blue, for example – is a no-fail way to go, or get creative and follow a handmade theme. Hand-written name tags, tea lights in recycled glass jars, and strings of handcrafted garlands set the scene for a memorable gathering.
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