15 Garden Party Ideas from a Professional Party Planner
Take your dinner or cocktail parties outdoors this summer with our top garden party tips.
Warm days and balmy evenings make summer the ideal time to take dinner or cocktail parties outdoors. But when it comes to hosting a fabulous garden party, it pays to get creative. We asked professional party planners to share their top garden party tips with us. From staving off the evening chill in style, to stopping bugs from landing in drinks, they've got it covered.
1. Pick a Stable Place in the Garden for Your Party Table
If you’re serving dinner, choose a stable place to position the table and chairs where there’ll be minimal wobbling and fewer spills or mishaps. Invest in some wide wooden planks so you can lay them over the lawn to create a solid base or temporary decking.
2. Provide Shade from the Sunshine
Offer guests both sun and shade options so that everyone can take a break from the heat if need be. Erecting a canopy or small marquee, which you can decorate with flowers, is a great idea. Or if you’re lucky enough to have a room that leads to your backyard, open up the doors and invest in decorative rugs to protect your floors.
3. Match Decorations to Your Garden Plants
Choose a simple décor theme for the party – a shade that matches the flowers in your garden always works well – and carry it through your table settings, chair covers and candles. It’ll help give your party a sophisticated, stylized feel, even though it’s outdoors.
4. Consider Color-Coordinated Party Food and Drink
To create real synergy between all the elements of your party, mix up a signature fruity punch or welcoming cocktail that coordinates with the colors in your décor theme. You could even carry the color through to the snacks and canapés, where possible.
5. Serve Summer Fruits with Edible Flowers
Have an impressive statement dessert on display. Fruits in a champagne jelly always work well, or a delicious summer tart decorated with fresh berries and edible flowers. Your guests won’t be leaving in a hurry if they know what’s still to come!
6. Extend Your Party through the Garden
Place throws, light blankets and a few cushions on your patio furniture. It’ll help create a softer atmosphere during the party, and will allow guests to keep warm and cozy when the evening draws in.
7. Create a Magical Party Garden
Consider the lighting in your garden and, as evening draws in, make use of strategically placed candles (Febreze Candles can help enhance the magical mood). Scattering tea lights around the lawn and along paths will create a beautiful atmosphere, while two or three large candles in key areas will keep the party well lit.
8. Harness Nature’s Scents for Your Outdoor Party
The beauty of a garden party is that you can use nature to help create ambiance. Emphasize the scents in your flowerbeds by dotting a few scented candles that share the same fragrance around the garden. Position seats near impressive plants, too, so that guests can take in the glory of their surroundings while they relax.
9. Protect Your Guests from Garden Pests
Bugs can be a problem, and nobody wants a fly in their drink! Try serving drinks in quirky jam jars instead of glasses. Drill a small hole in the lids so that you can slide in straws, and match them to your color theme. Lighting a few mosquito candles and placing them around the garden can reduce the chance of guests getting bitten, and it’s also a good idea to have bug repellant on hand.
10. Plan Party Table Decorations to Match the Garden
Use fallen petals and leaves from your garden to sprinkle over the table or drinks area. Small decorative ideas like this create consistency between the garden and eating areas, and also add plenty of color to your arrangement.
11. Make Sure Party Glassware Sparkles
Decorative glass tableware can really set off a garden party by sparkling in the sunshine. Try displaying desserts on a glass stand, and dot large glass jugs of iced water and fruity coolers around the table to catch the light. Before guests arrive, give all your glassware a good clean using Cascade Platinum ActionPacs.
12. Have Fun Planning Your Garden Party
Garden parties are the ideal scenario for quirkier decorations, and sites like Pinterest can be an endless source of inspiration. Wooden welcoming signs with handpainted messages always look great, as do vintage birdcages filled with flowers.
13. Provide Party Music in the Garden
Don’t forget the music, as it’ll help you create the right atmosphere. Make two different playlists ahead of the party – one for during the day, and one for evening – filled with happy, uplifting songs.
14. Hang Party Decorations in Trees
Make use of the trees in your backyard for hanging fairy lights and bunting. It’ll add a nostalgic feel and help carry your décor from the table settings to the rest of the garden, so that no area looks bare or forgotten.
15. Serve Easy-to-Eat Food
Opt for a meal that's tasty but easy to eat. If you’re hosting a sit-down dinner, this is less of an issue, but when guests are mingling around a buffet, it’s better if food is easy to enjoy.