If you’re looking for a simple, fun way to do your bit to raise money for a worthy cause this summer, I have the perfect event for you.
What is a Summer Lights get together?
The nationwide fundraising event wants you to celebrate the loved ones who ‘light up your lives’ by holding a Summer Lights get together indoors or out, using decorative fairy-lights, candles or lanterns as a key focal point.
The idea is for you to invite family and friends over for nibbles and drinks, or even dinner in exchange for a donation to Macmillan Cancer Support.
All money raised will go towards helping Macmillan to help ensure that no one has to face cancer alone.
By 2020 almost one in two of us will get cancer in our lifetimes. Almost 1,000 people every day hear the devastating news that they have cancer, but at the moment Macmillan just cannot be there for everyone. That’s why the continued support of partners like npower is vital.
For over 12 years npower has been working with Macmillan to help people living with cancer keep warm without the worry. In this time, npower has given over £7 million to help over 29,000 families by providing them with support such as emergency energy grants or writing off their debt.
This year npower has pledged a further £4 million over the next three years to help even more people focus on what’s important, getting better.
With the Summer Lights campaign, it’s your turn to help raise funds for Macmillan so they can support even more families facing cancer.
If you’re loving the idea of a Summer Lights celebration but don’t know where to start, fear not. The npower.com Summer Lights website is a hub of inspiration, where you can see a host of gorgeous Summer Lights looks created by five style influencers, including me, party planner to the stars Mark Niemierko, and Paula Holmes of LDN Diaries.
It’s truly wonderful to be involved in such an inspirational and worthwhile campaign, helping to raise essential funds to help those who have been affected by cancer.
My ‘fun and fabulous’ Summer Lights celebration
When putting together my own Summer Lights celebration look, I knew I wanted a friendly and colourful look that would appeal to adults and children alike.
We spend so much of our time outside in the summer, so I pulled together a host of bright, simple and affordable ideas for an outdoor Summer Lights celebration, which can easily be recreated for your own home.
My fun and fabulous Summer Lights look is all about adding pops of colour wherever you can. I think it’s safe to say I’ve really taken a ‘more is more’ approach for my theme.
Lots and lots of fairy lights
If you’re using fairy-lights to create a twinkling ambience, consider using battery powered LEDs to help save money as well as energy – they last 10 times longer than a standard fairy light and are also much more durable. A brilliant way to add sparkle to your celebration, and there’s no filament to break, which is handy should little ones get their hands on them!
We timed our celebration for the evening so that everyone could make it over after work, and the light would be soft enough for the twinkling lights to really come into their own.
Paper lanterns and pompoms
Paper lanterns and paper pompoms are an inexpensive way of adding a cheerful pop of colour to your celebration.
The pompoms are also really handy if you have an area of your room that isn’t very in keeping with the theme, as you can simply jazz it up. Remember, more is more with this look. Don’t be afraid of going over the top!
When the paper decorations are paired with fairy or festoon lighting, they bring a magical, celebratory feel to the overall look.
Half indoors, half out
As residents of the UK, we can never really sure which way the weather is going to swing from one hour to the next.
If your house layout allows, set up the food and most of the decorations indoors, and open your french doors / side door so that you can still chat and socialise in the garden, but easily make a swift escape indoors if the weather turns.
The weather was kind to us on the day of our Summer Lights Celebration, so we had a lovely time milling between the two spaces, enjoying the fresh air.
A kid’s corner
To keep the kids occupied during your celebration, give them a space or corner that they can call their own. A tepee is a great addition to your celebration and so easy to fold away afterwards!
Make the inside comfortable and inviting by including a blanket and cosy cushions, then add toys and props to keep them occupied, such as a teddy bear and a giant beach ball.
It’s a good idea to have a basket filled with games to hand, so that the children can enjoy playing while the grown-ups mingle.
Great food and drink
I love making and enjoying great food, which is an essential element of any celebration. I selected an over-the-top cake as the centrepiece of my sweet treats table, along with lots of beautiful cupcakes and tarts.
I actually bought a selection of undecorated muffins from the supermarket for my celebration, and the decorated them with frosting and what ever sprinkles I could find in the cupboards. A quick shortcut to a fabulous display!
For the pretty meringues, I simply bought pre-made nests and piled them high on a plate with fresh strawberries and blueberries. Ridiculously easy but the result is so pretty!
Of course, you’ll want to offer a savoury selection too. I find it’s easiest to opt for a selection of sandwiches with simple fillings such as ham and mustard, egg and cress and so on. Just make sure you keep one plate for meat and one for meat-free sandwiches if you have any vegetarian guests coming along.
When you’re laying the food out just before your guests arrive, don’t forget to put a selection of nibbles (such as sandwiches and cupcakes) at a child-friendly height, so they can enjoy the treats too.
For the drinks, I made a refreshing pitcher of lemonade for the kids and a fruity punch for the adults, which can be made with or without alcohol – whatever your preference.
Completing the look
When thinking about how to put the finishing touches on your look, I like to hunt for cutlery and serving plates that are in keeping with the overall theme.
To compliment the bright theme of my Summer Lights look, I raided the cutlery drawer to find brightly coloured dessert forks, which are perfect for the cakes and tarts.
To serve the lemonade in style, I found a vibrant pink plastic pitcher and matching glasses, which are both fun and practical, as you can use them indoors or outdoors in the garden if the sun comes out.
You don’t have to follow my look to the letter, of course, but you could have great fun borrowing your favourite aspects of the concept and creating a new look for yourself.
Here are the key props I used to create my look:
For the adult’s area:
- Brightly coloured festoon lights
- Neon lights
- White fairy lights
- Small paper lanterns in a variety of colours (with LED candles)
- Glass lanterns (with LED candles)
- Paper pom-poms in a variety of colours
- Tall glass vases
- Punch bowl and glasses
- Pink plastic pitcher and matching glasses
- Brightly coloured dessert forks
For the children’s play area:
- A brightly coloured tepee
- Fairy lights
- A large teddy bear
- A giant beach ball
For more information on how to get involved in the Summer Lights campaign, visit the website www.summerlights.org.uk or call 0845 070 1318 to receive a free fundraising pack, which includes invitations and donation envelopes, a donation box, paper tealight holders and a guide filled with ideas and inspiration to host a Summer Lights celebration.
Win a Summer Lights celebration kit
For the chance to win one of ten Summer lights goodie boxes filled with decorations and lights, check out the @npowerhq Twitter page to view the daily competition launching next Monday 6th June.
This is a commissioned post for npower.