Monthly Archives: March 2014

Theme Ideas for Your Next Outdoor Get-Together or party

Theme ideas for your next outdoor get-together

Not every backyard party needs a theme.  It can be enough just for people to get together to enjoy each other’s company in a relaxed, convivial atmosphere.  Add some snacks, a few drinks, some tunes.. you’re set!  Sometimes, though, it’s a bit of fun to give your party a theme.  Here are a few theme ideas for your next outdoor get-together or party.


Themes for Childrens’ Parties

The backyard can be the perfect place for a kid’s birthday party: at some point after a few red cordials there might be a bit of chaos and bedlam, and it’s a good idea to keep that away from the antiques.


Every boy of a certain age understands that robots are awesome!  Decorations should be metallic, grey and silver in colour, festooned with nuts and bolts.

What to serve: Use a robot shaped cookie cutter to make robot biscuits.  Cola can be served as “mineral oil”.  Marshmallows of different sizes can be assembled using toothpicks into marshmallow robots.

What to do: Use cardboard boxes and foil to have the kids dress up as robots when they enter the party.  You can turn this into a competition, with a prize for the best robot costume.  “Simon says” can be played as “robot says”.  “Pin the tail on the donkey” can become “pin the arms on the robot”.  Have “robot races” where legs have to be kept straight at all times – first to the finish line wins!

Bubbles and Balloons

This one’s great for toddlers, though I think that deep down, if we’re truly honest with ourselves, we all love bubbles and balloons.

What to serve: Gumballs, meatballs, rumballs, stuffed potato balls, and delicious round food of any type.  Bubble tea.  Fill balloons with helium and anchor them down by tyeing them with string to pieces of raspberry coconut slice wrapped in parchment paper.

What to do: Show the kids how to make their own bubble wands using pipe cleaners.  Have a competition for who can blow the largest bubble.  Hold a “balloon race” where two or more teams of equal size all stand in a row and pass the balloon from the from the front to the back – when the balloon gets to the end, the kid at the back runs to the front and then the balloon gets passed back again – the first team to run through every member so that the kid who started at the front is back there again, is the winner.  Popping balloons can be fun, but be careful that this doesn’t happen near to anybody’s ears or eyes.

For the Grown-Ups

No need for the kids to have all the fun!

Tropical party

There’s no better way to pass away a hot summer night than with a tropical party in the backyard.

What to serve: Cocktails.  Woohoo!  Yeah, cocktails!  Mai Tais, mojitos, frozen daiquiris, margaritas, pina coladas, getting caught in the rain.. these all fit the bill for a tropical party.  Don’t forget to serve a few alcohol-free “mocktails” for the non-tipplers and those who have to drive.  Tropical fruit platters are a great food idea, as are skewers and mini hawaiian pizzas.  Click here for more finger food ideas.

What to do: Man, do the limbo!  How low can you go?  Have a hula hoop competition – whoever can hula the longest, wins.  Don’t forget to grab a few hammocks for your guests so they can recline in true tropical style.

Classic Afternoon Tea

Elegant and refined, civilised and traditional.  Initially arising in 19th century Britain amongst hungry highborn ladies of Queen Victoria’s court as an informal stopgap “mini meal” between a midday lunch and a dinner not scheduled until 8:30pm, afternoon tea became a distinctly formal affair once the queen herself got involved.  Afternoon tea parties would go for hours and might host hundreds of guests.  Once a daily ritual for the idle rich, afternoon tea is generally enjoyed in modern times as a rare treat to mark a special occasion, such as a birthday or baby shower.

Fine manners and finer china are optional, but highly encouraged.

What to serve:  Tea!  Loose leaf tea, ideally.  Some seven decades on from its initial publication, George Orwell’s seminal essay ‘A Nice Cup of Tea‘ still serves well as a guide to brewing a great cuppa.  Additionally, champagne, prosecco or other sparkling white wine can be served.

Afternoon tea also requires some food:  pastries, cakes, slices, small finger sandwiches, biscuits, and scones are all very strong options.  Bruschetta or chicken caesar salad are far less traditional menu items, but no less tasty.  You should aim for a balance between savoury and sweet.

What to do:  Converse in a genteel, leisurely fashion.

All Ages

What about family dos, and other occasions for children and adults together?  Keep reading!

Outdoor Fiesta

Food, drinks, and games are all part of the fun of a south-of-the-border themed fiesta.

What to serve: Nachos, tacos, enchiladas, salsa dip with corn chips, beans and rice, guacamole, sweet churros, mezcal, Tecate, and agua fresca.

What to do: Hold a chilli eating competition, break open piñata, or enjoy siesta.



Halloween is growing in popularity in Australia, and in many parts of the country, the end of October is when the weather starts to get nice again, so it’s a great time to take your Halloween party outdoors.  Costumes and novelties make it a great time with a little something to offer people of all ages.

What to serve: Snacks.  Creepy, ghoulish snacks.  Spookier the better!

With a little ingenuity, tasty treats can manifest as macabre, menacing, monstrously morbid morsels.  Rum balls can be dipped in white chocolate and decorated with a chocolate chip and red icing to become bloodshot eyeballs.  Cupcakes can be topped with thick zigzags of light orange icing to become braincakes.  Bruschetta pieces can be placed into guacamole vertically in rows, as tombstones, to create a chips and dip graveyard.  Juice can be frozen inside a rubber glove – you can then cut the glove away to create a severed hand to place inside a bowl of sangria or punch.  Cocktails can be served with black licorice sticks as stirrers.

What to do: The key to making a Halloween party for all ages work is to include something for everyone.  A Halloween scavenger hunt is a great way to make things fun for the kids, while keeping them occupied and getting them out of the way.  For the “groan-ups”, there’s probably little need of organised activities as they no doubt already know what to do at a party.  For all ages, costumes are to be non-negotiable.  This is a Halloween party, after all!

The Good Old Aussie Barbecue

An evergreen favourite.  Though there’s nothing uniquely Australian about barbecueing, we’ve been more than happy to put our own spin on it and adopt it as a national icon.  And why not?  The Aussie barbecue is a wonderful institution unifying people of all ages and from many walks of life.

What to serve: Beer is the traditional beverage of choice at the aussie barbie.  Well chilled pale lagers work well with the weather and the food, although crisper tasting ales like Cooper’s Sparkling are also worth considering.

Meat, fish and seafood are the traditional barbecue fare.  Prawns and sausages are both popular for a reason, but there’s no reason to limit yourself: shish kebabs, lamb cutlets in tandoori marinade, crispy barbecued pork belly, whole baby snapper, pulled pork, swordfish steaks, salt and pepper squid, yabbie skewers.. you can even cook pizza on the barbie.

It’s good to barbecue some vegetarian food as well, and not simply to cater to guests who don’t want meat; you don’t need to be completely herbivorous to find your mouth watering at the sight and scent of barbecued stuffed capsicums, barbecued portobello mushrooms, or barbecued corn on the cob.  Bananas and pineapple rings can both be barbecued as well, for a delicious dessert.

It’s a terrible idea to put your salads on the barbecue, but they work great as a side dish at any Aussie barbie.

What to do: Crank some tunes.  Play backyard cricket.  Keep in the shade when the sun’s at its hottest, and kick back and have a yarn with friends and family.

Getting Your Outdoor Entertaining Area Right the Experts Weigh In

Getting Your Outdoor Entertaining Area Right: The Experts Weigh In

There’s more to making your outdoor living area great than just throwing a few pod chairs in the yard – though deploying a couple of our ultra comfy pod chairs will definitely make it a more relaxing place to be.  To really get your outdoor area looking as great as it can, you need to have a think about the space, and how you want to use it.

We asked a few people who spend their professional life working with backyards, gardens and other outdoor areas in varying capacities a few quick questions to gauge their thoughts on how homeowners can get these things right.


Anthony Muscat

Anthony Muscat, Turf Australia President and spokesperson

What is the best outdoor entertaining area you’ve come across in the course of your working life? What was so great about it? Did it make your job any easier?

The best entertaining area we’ve encountered was when we delivered some turf to a beautiful property in Potts Point overlooking the water with views to the Harbour Bridge. The lush green lawn really was set off by the water and the view – it was the perfect outdoor entertaining area that would have worked well as a family recreation area, but also as a place to entertain friends and host parties – you could really imagine having fun in that backyard on a summer’s day. This job was really easy for us because we just unloaded the pallets of turf off our truck and on to the kerb, which was then craned over the house.

What is the worst outdoor entertaining area you’ve come across in the course of your working life? What was so terrible about it? Did it make your job any harder?

The worst entertaining area we have done is when we delivered some turf to a house in Mosman, and the only access was down two flights of stairs and around a porch at the back of the house. The labour charges for this exceeded the cost of the turf. The customer wasn’t very honest when we asked what the access was like. The other problem was that there wasn’t quite enough sunlight for the turf to perform at its best. Laying turf can be a great decision but when the quality of the product is compromised by less-than-ideal conditions, it really lets the turf down.

What advice would you have for anyone planning an outdoor entertaining area?

The best advice I would give to a homeowner planning an entertaining area would be to strike that balance between practicality and aesthetic – laying turf is a great and easy option, as it provides a natural and practical space that is family-friendly. Natural turf is central tothe look of the garden makeover.


Wesley Spencer

Wesley Spencer at Rara Architecture

What is the best outdoor entertaining area you’ve come across in the course of your working life? What was so great about it? Did it make your job any easier?

The best outdoor entertaining area I have come across throughout my career included various structured areas for different uses- the bbq zone, the lounging area, the sunbaking area, the jaccuzi spot…
There were excellent views, so the different spaces framed these views within the structure and furniture arrangement. The amount of space obviously made it easier to cater to all of the different zones.

What is the worst outdoor entertaining area you’ve come across in the course of your working life? What was so terrible about it? Did it make your job any harder?

The worst outdoor area I’ve seen was a large roofed deck, without any real configuration – I.e. the space was just blank, enabling the user to have free reign over the space.  This resulted, over time, in it becoming an extended storage area. Because there was no designated function, it became a functionless space.

What advice would you have for anyone planning an outdoor entertaining area?

My advice: address clearly why you want an outdoor space and cater to that. If you don’t have room for different zones, that’s ok, just be realistic in how many functions for which you expect to use the space. Finally, you must include storage. You won’t want to sit on your lovely cabana lounge if it’s saturated from the rain the day before or covered in cobwebs. Likewise, you’ll want to store away the extra grog without having to race to the garage during a big bash…

aitken real estate

Stephen Aitken

What is the best outdoor entertaining area you’ve come across in the course of your working life? What was so great about it? Did it make your job any easier?

Some years ago in Highett the rear of the garden had been transformed to incorporate an I ground pool that complete with shallow sand like beach and pier!  Elevated decking  with BBQ overlooked a stunning entertaining arrangement.  When you walked out into the back, you were transported to a holiday theme.  It absolutely made my job easier, it was the best feature of an otherwise good but not great home.

What is the worst outdoor entertaining area you’ve come across in the course of your working life? What was so terrible about it? Did it make your job any harder?

There are many examples terrible entertaining areas many are are badly designed and a step away from someone hurting themselves on badly constructed or poorly maintained entertaining areas or many have none at all.  A well constructed and functional outdoor entertaining area can add considerable value to a home.

What advice would you have for anyone planning an outdoor entertaining area?

Speak to professionals, such  as landscape architects, landscape designers, and landscapers.  Ideas are plentiful, a great place to start is Pinterest.

tandi gill

Tandi Gill, Broker/Owner RE/MAX Advantage

What is the best outdoor entertaining area you’ve come across in the course of your working life? What was so great about it? Did it make your job any easier?

There are many fabulous entertainment areas throughout Brisbane’s Bayside district and I feel so lucky to have seen some of the best examples. Probably the highlight for me was experiencing an outdoor entertaining area that had been created where the main objective was to have ‘something for everyone’ in the family.

Stepping out the first thing to greet me was the bay view, cleverly incorporated through the instalment of an infinity pool. It wasn’t the biggest area but so well thought out with an outdoor kitchen and seating area nestling in the corner on a raised deck. As twilight set in, the clever lighting made the section appear as though it was floating, tranquil above the pool area. This was a family home so clues of the children taking advantage of the entertaining area were also present but not in a gaudy or obvious way. A tasteful cubby house, built with the same material used for the decking and thus blending perfectly, was set to the side of the property with its own mini entertaining deck.

There was a waterproof awning which stretched beautifully over the dining area and to the edge of this were some very elegant looking feature ornaments, climbing upwards to the sky. Although they were magnificent to look at, their magic truly showed when the rain came! They actually echoed some beautiful sounds as the rain pattered on to them – it made for a fabulous dining experience in all weathers.

As you can see, all the senses were touched with this entertaining deck, not forgetting the well thought out placement of herbs and fragrant foliage. Of course, I visited at different times of the day and on every occasion was met with a new scent to delight even the hardiest of noses. Great care and thought had gone in to this for it to be used throughout the whole day and indeed the whole year.

Whilst the outdoor space was by far the best I have seen, the actual feeling of overwhelming joy came from seeing the look on my buyers’ faces when they saw it for the first time. You can’t beat that feeling!

What is the worst outdoor entertaining area you’ve come across in the course of your working life? What was so terrible about it? Did it make your job any harder?

There have been a few! I think the common factor is the lack of thought given to an area which might not be fit for that purpose. For example, installing a loud speaker system when your neighbours are only a step away, or overcrowding the area with unnecessary paraphernalia. There is one in particular that stands out. It was built with good intentions and had the bare bones of potential, however, the pool was now a shade of green with overgrown shrubbery surrounding it, the decking that led out to it had rotted, particularly where three dog houses had been in situ and to one side was an outdoor waterbed – I can only assume this was a fashionable trend at some point – set in to a ‘retro’ cove with faded ‘Moroccan style’ tiling. There was no synergy at all and it had echoes from all eras which did not blend well together. It had so obviously become a place where no one enjoyed being and nothing had been done to rectify it – a real wasted space which was a pity. It took a lot of visualising from potential buyers which did make my job more challenging!

What advice would you have for anyone planning an outdoor entertaining area?

Think about what you really want to get from your outdoor entertaining area, not just something that looks pretty in a magazine. Your entertainment area must be fit for your requirements. Keep it simple and make any ‘statement’ pieces changeable. That way you can have an entertainment area that grows with you and changes as your tastes mature. Also, keep pet areas well-maintained – our beloved animals are a big part of Australian families but that does not mean we need to sacrifice the quality of our outdoor areas. Lastly – USE IT! All too often we have some wonderful outdoor areas and we just don’t make the most of them.

Customer testimonials – a happy, satisfied bunch

shutterstock_114096622For nearly 5 years now Outdoor Living Direct has been supplying outdoor furniture to people all across Australia. We take pride in our products and genuinely want our customers to be ambassadors for our first-class customer service and our quality products. We will bend over backwards to make sure you are thrilled with the quality and value of our products.

We pride ourselves not only on selling quality, affordable outdoor furniture, but helping you enjoy a relaxing outdoor lifestyle. Whether that be enjoying a warm summer night with your family, hosting a dinner party or enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon – we want our customers to be thrilled with their purchase for many years to come!

If you would like to review your experience with Outdoor Living Direct and have your testimonial placed on our website please send us an email to along with your testimonial and your name. If you prefer only your first name that’s completely fine. We’ll simply post whatever you feel comfortable with.

You can read past customer testimonials and reviews by clicking here.

We aim to please and are always striving to improve and offer the latest and greatest in outdoor furniture for all our customers. Check us out today: