Throw Your Own Garden Party
Your garden should be enjoyed all year round – as it’s getting warmer outside that can only mean one thing, it’s time to throw a garden party!
A summer garden party can adopt any style you like – be it a barbecue, picnic, or even a classy tea party. All are great ways to get your friends around and show off your blooming flowers and stylish garden furniture.
Here are 9 tips for hosting the perfect summer garden party. We’ve also thrown in some food & drink tips too. Get ready to channel your inner hostess with the mostess…
Pick A Theme
If you’re really undecided on how to style your garden for a party, start by picking a theme.
Throwing a summer garden party with a theme can really add to the fun, whether it’s for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary, or simply just because the suns out, why not get your guests to make an effort.
How about a Hawaiian Luau Theme? Decorate your table with tropical colours with lots of flowers. Serve chicken/pork kebabs, Hawaiian style gam, fruit salad and coconuts for food.
As its summer, how about a British Garden Party Theme, cue the Patriotic shorts, tea & scones and floral dresses! It is sure to be a crowd favourite with all your guests.
Or maybe a Mexican Fiesta Theme, play some salsa music, serve up some marinated barbecue chicken and big bowl of tropical punch or fruity cocktails. Then simply sit back and watch as your chosen theme brings out the ‘big kid’ in all your guests.
Decorate Your Garden
Once you’ve picked your theme decorate your garden to fit in with it. You have a good starting point for your colour scheme and decor.
It will even help you decide on your food and drink menu, especially if you go for a global theme like Spanish or Italian. But once you’ve got a theme in mind you can let your creativity run wild.
Brighten up your party with some pretty homemade decorations. How about some retro and simple paper chains or simple bunting to welcome your guests into your garden? Or decorate your table with simple flower arrangements and pretty napkins.
If you envision a more free-flowing, casual affair, arrange the furniture around the outskirts of the garden, in quiet nooks or on the deck/patio, leaving the centre an open space for people to wander. Having zones is a great idea especially if there’ll be kids at the party.
Create A Relaxed Seating Arrangement
Ample seating is essential for a cosy garden party. Your guests will need somewhere to sit and no one wants to stand around all day no matter how much fun they’re having and it usually takes a few hours before people pluck up the dutch courage to start dancing.
If you have a lot of guests than multiple seating areas works well, have a couple of smaller tables dotted around for people to place drinks on, one will need to be next to the barbecue as you can guarantee there will be a group of people congregating here, offering advice on the best way to brown a banger!
Use some big cushions or throws on the floor to provide extra seating and encourage your family and friends to give their feet a rest. Blankets and hammocks are inexpensive ways to provide extra seating. Another cheap alternative is logs and tree stumps, as they can also double up as seating solutions whilst giving your garden a serene woodland feeling.
Set Your Table
Make it easy for guests to help themselves, get everything out in advance and ready to go when the food is served. Place the cutlery in containers so guests can grab them easily and keep the napkins handy as there’s always one who drips BBQ sauce down their top.
Opt for plastic plates and cutlery if you have lots of children around. Or go for china if you want something a little more grown up and formal.
Don’t forget to have a designated drinks station, that way you don’t have to play host and serve.
Choose The Right Lighting
Good lighting is essential for an ambient summer garden party. Lighting will help take your party from day to night and create the perfect atmosphere.
The combination of lanterns, string lights, tea lights, fairy lights and solar-powered outdoor lights are key to creating cosy, Arabian-night vibes in your garden. Environmentally friendly and fabulous!
Unwanted guests can ruin a summer party, so keep insects away making sure to use scented candles. Insects don’t like the smell so they will flee. Also, garlic is another scent that keeps the bugs away, so using lots of it in your cooking will be a bonus!
Fun & Games
If you’re inviting children to your garden party, make sure they will be entertained. Set aside an area of the garden with fun activities such as catch the butterfly and a paddling pool, or simply a colouring corner and some bubbles. Use the chalk to draw hopscotch on the paving or get into teams and play a game of frisbee.
Music is a great way to set the scene for any gathering. Create a fun feel with Summer party tunes or create a relaxed evening atmosphere with jazz. Set up an iPod dock or a sound system (somewhere undercover just in case!) ready for when your guests arrive. Why not be a DJ for the day and create your own playlist?
If you don’t want to be constantly in charge of the music, as someone to help with music and drinks to save you trying to do everything. Your friends are more likely to enjoy the party if you are too, so relax and delegate!
They say less is more, but when it comes to the drink menu of your garden party more is more!
Guests need to stay hydrated with a good selection of beverages, and by that, we don’t mean water. A garden party isn’t a party without a summer cocktail – this really is essential. Pimms or Sangria are crowd pleasers but anything sweet, fruity and alcoholic can generally constitute as a summer punch.
If you’re hosting a party for a large number of guests whose drink preferences you don’t know, have a wide variety of beverages to appeal to all tastes. You can’t go wrong with a good selection of wine, prosecco, beer and of course soft drinks.
Make sure you have a non-alcoholic option for the kids and the designated drivers. A kiddy drinks station for all the little hands & feet at your garden party if any. A variety of fizzy pop such as coca cola, pepsi, lemonade and fruit juices are bound to be just right for all the children.
This may sound excessive but what’s the worst that can happen? You’d end up having leftover refreshments to last you all summer long? How terrible!
If there’s one thing that’s more important than the drinks menu, it’s the food menu! People eat with their eyes so they key is to make sure your spread is visually appealing.
Guests love arriving at a party to find nibbles waiting for them! Welcome your guests with a few tasty bites; it’ll get their appetites and get conversations flowing. Go all healthy with sticks of pepper, cucumber and carrot with a minted yoghurt dip. Or go for a constant favourite – tortilla chips and salsa.
Barbecue food is the perfect partner to a summer cocktail so you might want to think about investing in a grill. Burgers and hotdogs are great child-friendly options. However, opt for tapas and seafood if your guests have a more refined taste.
Our BBQ infographic is a great place to start for some recipe inspiration! Don’t forget to check if you have any vegetarians!
As well as the main lunch event, have enough snacks to keep guests going throughout the day. If you think your party will last late into the evening, have something in mind that you could serve then.
Finally, don’t forget about sweet treats! Roasted marshmallows, smores and ice lollies are perfect for a summer party and if you’re the baking sort guests will certainly be impressed with a show stopper cake.
As long as your menu has a good mix of meat and veggie, sweet and savoury, hot and cold and adult and child-friendly plates then you can’t go wrong.
Have A Backup Plan!
Last but not least, it’s always good to have a backup plan. This is in case the good old British weather takes a turn for the worst. Consider where you could put your food and guests should it rain. A tent or gazebo are a good emergency option.
Why not invest in an umbrella for your BBQ chef? Have no fear – the food will still taste great and your guests will still have fun whatever the weather!
Feeling inspired? Browse our Garden Inspiration Board on Pinterest.
What’s your top tip for throwing a garden party? Let us know in the comments below?
Updated January 2022