Home made BBQ
No BBQ? Don’t worry. If you get hold of a few paving slabs and old bricks, you can improvise. Put down two slabs on the ground, then put three or four layers of bricks on top, wide enough for the grid out of your domestic grill pan (you don’t need mortar for the bricks, or anything like that). Rest your grill pan on top and use logs or BBQ coals to create a fire on the slabs. This is also a good way of making an impromptu fire pit as well. Do be careful around children, however.
No money for garden furniture? Consider laying a couple of pallets down with a mattress on top to make a sunbed, or if you would like to entertain, get hold of an old table, chop the legs down to half the height, and paint it to create a Japanese style table. Your guests can sit on cushions.
Garden and park kit
Create an outdoor play kit so you can relocate to the garden at a moment’s notice, and you don’t have to keep running in and out of the house for things. You might want to include a couple of beach towels, a waterproof picnic rug, suncream, sunglasses, flip flops, a decent novel or magazine, and a swimming nappy for any little ones.
Have a pretty basket or box with all your picnic equipment in, ready to go. Collect things like salt sachets and salad dressing packets so you don’t have to scrabble around much on the day.
Home made ice lollies
Fill your freezer with ice lollies, either made in a special mould or just made in ice cube trays with cocktail sticks stuck into them. Good flavours to try include coke, lemonade, squash, and fruit juices. Adult versions can include tomato juice with a splash of vodka, avocaat, and tonic with a splash of gin.
Holiday at home
If you can’t afford a hotel stay, just pretend. Actually swap bedrooms. The children can move around into each others’ rooms, or even share rooms a la sleepover for a change, with sleeping bags if necessary. If you are lucky enough to have extra space, parents can even sleep in their own guest room, which might even have been prepared specially for the occasion hotel-style. This might involve a bit of decorating or tidying up, fresh flowers, supplies of glossy magazines and upmarket beauty products in sample sized bottles, and a drinks/snacks tray. Failing the presence of a guest room, try upgrading your normal bedroom in the same way.