Terrace culture: the best patio kit for socially distant summer parties

Upgrade your get-togethers with these patio improvements

Never before has the humble summer party seemed like such a treat. After months spent separated from friends and family, sunburn and burnt sausages seem like the perfect way to spend a Saturday.

Gearing up for a get-together? Whether you’re hosting a pool party, screening the cricket or firing up the barbie, we’ve got the kit you need for the ultimate summer gathering.

Forget beer gardens or picnics in the park: from smart lights to beer coolers to Bluetooth speakers, these patio accessories will transform your terrace into the spot of choice for socially distant shindigs. Even if it’s drizzling.

JBL Pulse 4 (£200)

Looking for lights to match your music? With an array of LEDs installed beneath the speaker’s surface, JBL’s Pulse 4 puts the ‘blue’ in Bluetooth.

Pumping out your patio party mix in full 360, the Pulse 4 will pulse and glow in sync with the sound. Tweak the light show’s colours and patterns through the JBL Connect App or sync it with a second speaker for symmetrical shining.

IPX7 waterproofing means rain won’t extinguish the illuminations, while a 12-hour battery life will see it shine bright right through ’til sunrise.

Yeti Tundra 45 (£299)

Still storing your stubbies in a big plastic bucket? That trusty tub might be handy for harbouring beers, but its thermal properties won’t keep them cold for long. Insulate your beverages better with this capacious cooler. 

Built for the wilderness, the substantial Tundra 45 is tough enough to survive the wildest of patio parties. And its beefy walls aren’t just for durability: lined with Permafrost foam, that hard shell also ensures the ice inside stays frozen for much, much longer. Which means your tinnies – up to 28 of them – will remain chilly, even if the sun is shining on your socially distant soiree.

Military-grade handles make shifting a cinch, while anchor points allow you to lash the Yeti to your wagon if the barbie’s happening in your buddy’s backyard. Want an even frostier time? Add a pack of Yeti Ice for the ultimate melt-proof setup.

Philips Hue Calla Large Outdoor Pedestal (£110)

Imagine Ambilight outdoors: amber tones to match the sunset, warm white shades during supper, neon green to guide you to the loo.

Turning Philips’ smart lighting setup inside-out, the already comprehensive Hue range now includes wall lights, path lamps and lightstrips, each with integrated LEDs that cover millions of colours.

Weatherproof, easy to install and controlled via the Hue app, place the Calla pedestal on your patio or use the optional spike for instant lawn illumination. Keep it subtle with tasteful accents or compliment the party with some disco saturation.

Anker Nebula Capsule Max (£480)

Want to entertain the guests at your get-together? The contents of a can might make everyone merry, but the content offered by this can-sized projector beats any beer for amusement value.

A compact yet capable cylinder, the Nebula Capsule Max can throw an image of up to 100 inches on any tent or wall. Automatic focussing ensures your screening will always be sharp, while a 720p resolution should be sufficient for all but the pickiest of visitors to your pop-up cinema. An in-built 8W speaker also sorts the audio if you don’t have tweeters to hand.

At its best after dark, the 200-lumen Capsule Max can last for up to 4 hours on a single charge, while Bluetooth makes device control a doddle via the partner app. Time to choose a feature film? Hook up to the HDMI port or select something on Netflix through the Android 8.1 interface. There’s also a USB input, so fledgling directors can bring their latest flick on a flash drive. No prizes for guessing the plot of Home Alone: Lockdown Edition.

Coleman Octagon Blackout (£300)

Overnight stays might now be allowed, but that doesn’t mean you want outsiders bursting your bubble. Prefer to keep visiting pals in the garden? Prevent tented complaints by pitching this spacious shelter.

Fit for eight without social distancing, the Octagon BlackOut is no standard sleeping pod: mesh sides all-round offer 360 views with the flysheet removed, while the waterproof fabric has a hydrostatic head of 4500mm – enough to withstand the very wettest of summer weather.

Hosting a light sleeper? Don’t sweat it: as the name suggests, the Octagon BlackOut’s lining effectively blocks up to 99% of daylight, so they won’t be yawning at dawn. It’s also cracking at temperature control, keeping the snoozing room up to five degrees cooler in the day and one degree warmer at night.

The best bit? Once your mates have left, you can convert the darkened chamber into a screening room – or pack it back into the wheeled carry bag and head for the nearest campsite.

Cuisinart Iced Dessert Maker (£120)

No cookout is complete without an ice cream after lunch. Van not coming around? Don’t leave your guests longing for the jolly jingle: fill the bowl of Cuisinart’s churner and you’ll have frozen loveliness in as little as 25 minutes.

A 1.4-litre capacity should be enough to sate everyone at the table with ice cream or frozen yoghurt, while the alternative paddle allows you to blend soft fruits for a healthier sorbet option.

And, though licking the lid is highly advisable, it’s also dishwasher safe.

Sonos Move (£399)

Whether trampolining at twilight or munching under the light of the moon, every rock garden needs a soundtrack. Enter the Sonos Move: no loner restrained by Wi-Fi or a power socket, the multi-room champ is now free to roam.

Lift the Sonos from its charging base for 11 hours of wireless sound – and don’t worry about heading outdoors: the weatherproof Move can withstand a downpour.

Stream your summer soundtrack via Bluetooth and Trueplay tuning will automatically adapt the sonic experience to suit your surroundings, while a rugged build and rich bass mean it can deal with drops of both kinds.

Philips PerfectDraft (£250)

Pubs are finally open again, but you don’t need to make a reservation to enjoy a freshly pulled pint: make your backyard a beer garden with the Philips PerfectDraft.

Equipped with a real tap handle and a removable drip try, the home draught system keeps compatible six-litre kegs chilled at a constant 3°C and carbonated for up to 30 days – with an LCD display on the front indicating temperature, capacity and freshness

And with more than 35 international beers on offer, the range is likely a lot greater what’s behind the bar at your local.

Nerf Super Soaker XP1000 (£18)

If the beer doesn’t cool you off, the second-coming of Nerf’s Super Soaker certainly will. 

Reimagined for 2020 but drenched in ‘90s nostalgia, the rebooted blaster features everything that made the original XP100 such a stalwart of water fights the world over: the chunky plastic shell, the bold colour scheme and the all-important pump-handle pressure system.

With a tank capacity of 1.25 litres, the updated XP100 is sure to make your meet-up a moist one.

Fatboy Thierry Le Swinger (£199)

Fatboy is famous for making brilliant things with ludicrous names. Thierry le Swinger changes none of that: a wireless LED lamp reminiscent of a large marshmallow, the Swinger works indoors and out, has three brightness settings and lasts for up to 42 hours between charges.

But what makes Thierry really nifty are its mounting options. An integrated hook and bundled rope mean you can suspend it from a branch, parasol or patio roof, while the beech stand can be stuck in the ground to make it a freestanding garden lamp. Told you it was brilliant.

Biolite Firepit (£240)

Want a campfire feel while you cook for your buddies? Biolite’s burning basket will grill your dinner over logs or charcoal – without smoking out your neighbours.

Equipped with an array of 51 air jets, the Firepit efficiently fans the flames without producing plumes on your patio. What’s more, in-built Bluetooth puts precise combustion control right at your fingertips: simply drop some grub and the grate and adjust the fan intensity from your phone.

All sorted with supper? An integrated 10,400mAh battery pack can keep things crackling for up to 24 hours – though the cosy glow of the embers in the mesh belly should have you nodding off long before that.

Anglepoise Original 1227 Giant Outdoor (£3300)

Love lamp like Brick Tamland? You’ll adore this upscaled version of the iconic AnglePoise Original 1227 – complete with engineer George Carwardine’s revolutionary spring, crank and lever mechanism. Originally commissioned by the Roald Dahl Museum as a tribute to the late author’s favourite writing lamp, the oversized shiner is thrice as big as the standard model. 

Available as a floor-standing or wall-mounted setup, the Outdoor edition features sealed housings and marine-grade stainless steel fittings – so it’ll illuminate your terrace without electrocuting next-door’s cat. Shipped in a series of standard shades, you can also specify the 1227 in a custom colour for an extra fee. 

Looking to give your garden party an edge? BBC guidelines once forbade employees from illuminating spaces solely with an Anglepoise lamp, believing it would encourage degenerate behaviour.