Top 10 Ideas for a Perfect Garden Party
Summer is here, and it’s the perfect time to start enjoying outdoor fun and entertaining alfresco. Garden parties are a delightful way to celebrate the beauty of nature but also to enjoy the company of family and friends - whether celebrating a special occasion or simply having a relaxed dinner party with seasonal fare and good conversation out under the summer sky.
Need some help? Here are my top 10 tips for throwing the perfect garden party!
If you plan to throw a garden party for a special occasion or holiday, giving it a theme can ramp up the fun. Birthdays are also perfect for creating a garden party theme, especially if it honors the birthday recipient in a personal way. Your theme can be simple – based around a particular color or flower, for example – or more elaborate like a Hawaiian luau or Bridgerton garden party theme. Garden parties can also be elegant and sophisticated or simple and laid back. It all depends on the occasion and the mood you want to create.
As with any kind of party, your guests’ comfort should be your top priority. For a daytime do, be sure there are shaded areas available, and if insects can be a problem, keep bug repellent nearby. Depending on the weather, handheld fans or misters can help with the heat, while heating lamps or an outdoor fireplace can provide warmth when the temperature drops. Having throws and blankets available can also be a lovely way to decorate and give your guests options if it gets colder at night.
Depending on the size and layout of your outdoor space, an open seating plan is often a good option as it allows your guests to move around and mingle. If you have a lawn area, you can lay down blankets and pillows. If you have a larger space, bring out your dining table. A smaller space requires a bit more ingenuity, but you can still throw a fabulous garden party. For example, if you have doors that open on to a backyard, keep them open to allow guests the freedom to move inside and outside. This flow will help to make the space feel larger.
If you plan to dine outdoors, don’t automatically opt for a basic table. Creating a beautiful tablescape will tantalize your guests’ taste buds and display the meal against a gorgeous backdrop, as well as making them feel special. Don’t be afraid to layer your tabletop with colors, textures, and patterns. Flower arrangements are a wonderful way to decorate your dining or buffet table. You can have a centerpiece or several smaller vases arranged around the table. Small potted plants like succulents are also a fun option for smaller surfaces. You can also decorate with beautiful rocks and seashells for a coastal summer touch.
Night-time garden parties can be magical with the right kind of lighting! Candles in glass jars placed around seating areas and dotted on table surfaces create an enchanting ambiance. Globe string lights or lanterns hanging from tree branches also enhance the décor and create a delightful, intimate feel.
Serve Seasonal and Local Produce
For your menu, think seasonally and locally. Spring and summer offer an abundance of fresh food and drink ideas. Whether it’s homemade raspberry lemonade, local wine or summer craft beers, serve options that showcase the season, occasion and your local community. Check out your nearest farmer’s market for tasty ideas and ingredients. If you can cook or grill outdoors, invite guests to participate in the prep or cooking. Serve up large jugs of your drinks so guests can easily help themselves, alongside a bucket of ice. Keep beer and wine in large tubs of ice as well.
Whether your garden party is kid-free or not, outdoor games are the perfect way to bring out joy and laughter amongst your guests. You can set out bubbles or hula hoops, provide lawn games like jenga, croquet or bocce ball, or even play board games if you have the right surfaces. For concrete areas, kids love to draw with chalk.
Bring the Indoors Out
For an elegant garden party you’ll want to blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces. Display beautiful table linens, china, and flatware that would normally be seen in a formal indoor dining context. Make use of indoor furnishings too, where possible, for a really cozy and comfortable feeling. Hanging lampshades are another indoor touch that can have a magical feeling when hung outdoors.
Stage a Bar Area
There are so many fun ways to create a bar area for a garden party. You can turn an outdoor shed into a bar, or bring a table or cocktail cart out. You can give your bar a theme (like a tiki bar) or make it an interactive station where guests can create their own mimosas, Bloody Marys or other custom cocktails and mocktails. Or you could serve lemonade or craft beer on tap and allow guests to help themselves. It all adds to the fun! Be sure to add inventive touches like colorful cocktail napkins or ice cubes frozen with fresh fruit or edible flowers inside.
If you have a large garden or one with areas that are quite dark at night, be sure to make it easy (and charming!) for guests to move from one area to another with luminaries lining the pathways. It’s so simple too- just put a weight and a battery-powered light into a paper bag and you have a pretty lantern. You can also cut patterns into the paper for an extra whimsical touch.