It’s that time of year again when many of us try to spend as much time in the outdoors as possible. If you love to hang out with friends and invite the family over when the sun is shining, you may be thinking about organizing a garden party. If you’re keen to impress, here are some tips to help you plan the best garden party of the summer.
How to Plan a Garden Party
Planning ahead is the best way to ensure a wonderful outcome.
Prepping your garden
Before you can turn your attention to the fun aspects of party planning, you have to tackle the more mundane jobs. You don’t want your guests to turn up and see your backyard littered with leaves and weeds, or pull chairs out to find them covered in moss or mud. If you plan to invite people over, and you want to make the most of your garden this summer, it’s wise to pull up your sleeves and get your hands dirty long before you start planning which exotic cocktails you’re going to serve.
Start by clearing your yard. Pick up dead leaves, and go through your beds, removing weeds and nettles. Make sure you have gloves to protect your hands. Arm yourself with a spade, a rake, and some trash bags, and have a general tidy up. This is not the most enjoyable exercise, but your garden will look so much better.
If you have wooden decking or fencing, or you have a gazebo or a summer house, it’s also a good idea to apply a coat of varnish to protect your garden features from the elements. Wipe down the surfaces and exterior walls first to ensure a smooth finish. The next job is to clean any outdoor furniture you have. If you’ve got tables and chairs or sofa sets that have been hiding under covers since last summer, they’re bound to need a little freshening up. If your party will mark the first time you’ve used the grill this summer, you’ll need to clean that too. You don’t want to keep hungry guests waiting.
Mowing and planting
Once your garden is free from debris, and your outdoor furniture is ready for action, you can turn your attention to injecting some serious aesthetic appeal. Wait for a dry day and mow the lawns, as freshly cut grass makes your yard look amazing. Then, add a bit of color with planters, window boxes, or hanging baskets. If you have flower beds, take a trip to the garden center and buy some plants that are set to blossom imminently. Once your plants and planters are in place, water them on a daily basis. If it’s hot, it’s best to wait until the sun has gone down and it’s cooler.
Food and drinks
A party isn’t a party without food and drinks. Once you’ve got an idea of the numbers, you can think about the kind of meal you’d like to serve. Do you want to do a barbeque or a buffet, or do you fancy afternoon tea? Have a think about the theme of the bash, and how many people you’re catering for. Once you’ve made a decision, you can work out what kinds of drinks you want to serve. Cold beers, fruity punches, and mocktails are a great idea for barbeques and cold buffets, while tea, iced coffee, prosecco, and pink or cloudy lemonade would be ideal options for a tea party.
If you’ve got a large number of people attending, it’s worth buying in bulk to save money. Make sure you cater for any dietary requirements and provide a couple of options to make sure there’s something for everyone. If you’ve got a theme, use your table decorations and crockery to reinforce it. Or, if you’ve gone for a vintage tea party, for example, use mismatched China cups and saucers and lace tablecloths. Perhaps you’re channeling the tropical beaches of Hawaii and firing up the coals, go for colored cocktail glasses adorned with umbrellas and bright tablecloths and napkins.
Lighting plays an important role in setting the tone and creating an atmosphere. Select the best outdoor lighting options based on the type of event you’re planning. If you’re organizing a mini-festival or an al fresco rave, opt for flashing colored lights and bright bulbs to illuminate pathways and entertaining areas. If you’re after more of a chilled out vibe, string lights are a great option. Team them with outdoor lanterns and LED candles for a simple, but stunning look.
Every garden party needs music. Whether you plan to take your guests to the golden shores of Ibiza or Cancun or you just want to play the guitar with background music to drop in and out of while you’re chatting and catching up, it’s essential to have access to a soundtrack outside. Create a playlist and use speakers to pump up the volume or fit an integrated system, which can be controlled from both inside and outside. If you’re keen to get your guests involved, and you want everybody dancing, ask each person to provide you with a request in advance.
If you’re planning a gathering in the garden, it’s crucial to consider where everybody is going to sit. If you’ve got a sofa set or a dining table and chairs, you can create more places using fold-up chairs, rugs, and oversized floor cushions. You could also hang some hammocks from the trees or create a chill out area with bean bags, blankets, and lanterns.
The Takeaway on Hosting a Wonderful Garden Party
Summer is in full swing, and what better way to celebrate the sunshine than inviting friends and family over for an al fresco party? If you’re hoping to throw the soiree of the summer, it’s a good idea to plan in advance, choose a theme and get the prep work out of the way. Once you’ve cleared flower beds, mowed the lawn, and varnished the decking and fencing, you can concentrate on the fun elements of party planning.
Use lighting and music to add ambiance, and choose your food and drink options based on the theme and the party size. Think about where people are going to sit, and use simple, inexpensive options like floor cushions and bean bags if you haven’t got enough space around the table.