While there are plenty of sun-worshippers around, for a truly merry party for everyone, we need to ensure there is also sufficient shade for those who need it. It can be tricky to persuade children to play in the shade, so here are some ideas for making it fun.
1. Pitch a tent. Children of all ages love to pitch tents and play inside them. If you don’t have a tent of your own, then ask friends, neighbours or your local Girl Guide or Scout unit for one you can borrow.
2. Erect a gazebo. You can pick a gazebo up fairly cheaply these days, or alternatively ask people if you can borrow one. For younger children, you could put a paddling pool or ball pit under the shade of the gazebo. For older children, fill it with rugs, off-cuts of carpet, bean-bags, cushions etc. to make a cosy den for them to chat in. You could even use a wind-break to screen off one side to give them the feeling of being hidden away.
3. Construct a tee-pee. A teepee is a fun den that encourages imaginative play. There are a range of teepees and wigwams that are available to buy. You can also ask on sites such as Freecycle and Freegle if someone is giving one away. Alternatively you could make your own Kids Teepee (external link) has instructions on how to construct your own tepee.
4. Make a bin bag shelter. This is good fun with children over the age of ten, or with children of a range of ages to work on. Give a small group of children a couple of bin bags, scissors and string. They then have to construct their own shelter in the garden. It needs to withstand water, so once they think it is complete, they all need to be able to sit in it, while you tip a small jug of water on top to make sure it is water-tight.
5. Swing in a hammock. String up a hammock between two strong leafy trees, or attach one end to a sturdy fence. Guests of all ages will enjoy swinging (or snoozing) in the shade.
6. Angled wind-break. Hammer a wind-break into the ground at an angle to provide maximum shade. You should choose your spot carefully so that you get shade and a breeze if there is one to be found. Again, put rugs, cushions or a paddling pool in the shady part.
7. Washing-line den. String a washing line up in the garden, between trees or fences, then drape a large bed-sheet, duvet cover, blanket or tarpaulin over the top. Voila! Easy den.
8. Go up high with a tree-house. This is much more ambitious (and can be far more expensive) than the other shady options mentioned. If you have a sturdy tree, try constructing your own tree-house. Use (external link) to help you. There are other options that you could buy if you don’t have a tree, to create a den amongst the trees and shrubs.
9. Parachute games. Always popular with younger children and tweens, buy, borrow or hire a parachute to play with. Start by playing parachute games (external link) and finish by making a ‘mushroom’ with the parachute, so everyone is inside the parachute, sitting on the edge, making a lovely rainbow den to chat in.
10. Refreshments under umbrellas. A final way to tempt reluctant children into the shade is with bribery! Set up a table with a big sun umbrella, an awning or in a shady part of the garden and hand out homemade ice lollies, as well as glasses of iced water. You could have a simple craft activity too – such as building a lolly stick raft (external link) to float in a washing up bowl – to keep them here longer.
Have a merry summer garden party!