a family enjoying a garden party

10 Ideas For An Unforgettable Garden Party

Garden parties are quickly becoming a British staple, and for good reason – not only are they an open, entertaining way of bringing your friends and family closer, but they’re so much fun to put together. The tradition of garden parties began really gaining momentum in the 1860s when Queen Victoria hosted the first royal “breakfast” for the crème da la crème of society.[i] These annual garden parties are still a regular occurrence (Queen Elizabeth now hosts three a year, surrounding herself with those who have made a significant contribution to society through charity work or public service), and with coronavirus still lingering over the country, the rest of the U.K. are quickly adapting this practice for themselves. To celebrate the ending of lockdowns and restrictions, garden parties are set to be the most popular get-togethers in the near future and beyond – and we’ve got the perfect garden party ideas to help you put together your own.  

From setting up the furniture to crafting the perfect menu, we’ve got everything you’ll need to consider when setting up your own garden party, so let’s get you on your way!

1. Set Up The Furniture

One of the most important things about hosting a garden party is being accommodating, and having enough seating room for all of your guests is essential to make them all feel welcome. When setting up the seating area for your party, consider:

  • Using comfortable furniture
  • Decorating with throw cushions and soft blankets
  • Setting up the seating area in a shaded space or, even better, beneath a solid shelter to protect your guests from all elements
  • Creating an overall luxurious space to make your guests feel much more comfortable
  • Bringing your indoor chairs and tables outdoors to create a homely environment
  • Arranging the furniture to recreate a living or dining room layout to set an intimate atmosphere

2. Light It Up

You’re going to need some lights to keep your party going well into the night, and there are so many unique ways of illuminating your outdoor space to delight your guests that you’ll want to keep them around even when the party’s over!

Strings of fairy lights, hanging lanterns or candles are great atmospheric choices that add a touch of excitement to your garden, or you could add patterned stake lights into plant pots – this is perfect if you only have a patio, balcony, or smaller garden. Combining different styles of lights is great, too, as the mix will create a magical atmosphere to enchant your guests as the sun goes down. If you are blessed with a larger garden, illuminating pathways to guide people around your garden will help them find their way without any incidents.

However you decide to illuminate your garden, solar or battery-powered lights are best to avoid any wires getting in the way – no good garden party ever ended with a trip to A & E!

3. Create A Theme

Setting a theme is a great idea for a garden party – it can help you when decorating, setting a menu, crafting drinks, and creating an aesthetic for the event as a whole. You could even encourage your guests to dress up! Here are some good theme ideas to get you thinking:

Colours

A simple way of combining all elements of your party, choosing a colour theme creates an aesthetic all on its own.

Holidays

Any holiday is an excuse for a party! Halloween, Christmas, Easter – there are just so many opportunities throughout the year that it’s impossible to pass up on!

Fiesta

Take a hint from the Spanish, and throw the brightest, biggest, chaotic party you can get together – it’ll be the most fun you’ve ever had.

Alice In Wonderland

Transform the classic tale into a beautiful party with beautifully themed menus, costumes, games, decorations, and table layouts.

Picnic

Set up as many blankets, cushions and maybe even a tent or two for your own picnic party. Don’t forget the sausage rolls and sandwiches!

B.B.Q.

Incorporate the grill while it’s still the weather and get everyone around for some good, easy barbequed food.

Tropical

Perfect for when you’re missing those holidays abroad, hosting a tropical themed party can make you feel as though you’re heading for the beach at any time of the year!

A Secret Garden

Taking inspiration from another children’s tale, why not bring in plenty of flowers and all the traditional garden decorations to incorporate this classic into your party?

Era

There were so many styles and traditions before ours, so pick your favourite era – maybe the Roaring Twenties or the Swinging Sixties – and live like you were there.

4. Play Some Games

The perfect ice breaker and a great time for all, garden games are the perfect way to add some zest to your party. With something for everyone, including garden games in your party will guarantee a good time and easy entertainment so your guests won’t get disinterested easily. Investing in strong wooden sets ensures longer-lasting equipment that can be brought out again and again for parties and family afternoons alike. Here are some great garden games that will be enjoyed by people of all ages:

  • Croquet
  • Hoopla
  • Skittles
  • Tumbling Tower
  • Limbo
  • Frisbee
  • Hula hoops
  • Water fights
  • Quoits
  • Pinata

Why not spark up some competition and organise prizes for the winners of each game? It’s a great way to engage your guests and bring everyone together!

5. Decorate The Garden

Although your garden is no doubt beautiful as it is, you can’t always depend on the greenery to set the scene. To create the perfect atmosphere for your garden party, go all out! Here are some ideas to start you off:

  • Hang overhead displays
  • Add flowers at every opportunity
  • Pin up balloons and bunting
  • Decorate your plants or flowers

You can do anything you want- it’s your party, after all – and you can even make your own decorations if you have the time and skills. Just remember to stick to colours and textures that complement each other so your decorations fit well together and that they match your theme if you’re choosing to set one.

6. Set Up A Menu

Laying on some food for your guests is important – they’re likely to be there for a while, and there’s no doubt they’ll get hungry. Find out any dietary requirements beforehand to ensure that everyone will be rightly catered for, and send a quick idea of the menu to your guests beforehand to double-check. A BBQ is a perfect option for a garden party, and providing freshly squeezed juices or homemade lemonade is a great personal touch. Make sure your menu will match your theme, if you’re having one.

If cooking isn’t your forte, you could set up a pot luck and ask each guest to bring something to contribute to the menu, or you could stock up on finger foods and lay out an easy buffet-style meal.

7. Lay The Table

If the main event of your garden party is going to be a 5-star meal, you’ll want a 5-star table to go along with it. First and foremost, make sure that your table has enough room to accommodate all your guests and you have enough seating for them – you can always put a few tables together to extend the dining area. From there, you could:

  • Use the nicest patterned linens, crockery and cutlery you can find
  • Suspend lights, flowers and other decorations above the table with wooden frames
  • Add candles to your tabletop
  • Decorate the chairs
  • Scatter the table with flowers grown in your own garden.

8. Play Some Music

Music is very important in setting the atmosphere of a garden party, so invest in a good quality speaker to fill your garden with some tunes and create a playlist especially for the main event. Consider your theme, if you are setting one, and the ambience you want to create when putting together your playlist so you can boost the mood and keep the general feeling upbeat and relaxed. We’ve got a few good ideas for music depending on the kind of atmosphere you want to create and what kind of party you’re hosting:

  • Classical music (like jazz and strings) is an elegant, old-style choice that will fit a sophisticated, grown-up party.
  • For a real summer feel, some steel band sounds really evoke that sunny mood.
  • To create a more relaxed vibe, where people are just sitting around chatting or eating, some acoustic instrumentals will set the tone.
  • If a dancing disco is on the agenda, some great singalong tunes are essential to keep the energy flowing.
  • For a themed party, make sure that you choose the right music – you don’t want jazz music at a tropical themed party!

 If you have the budget, bringing in some live music is a great idea – your guests will love it!

9. Light A Fire

Lighting a fire is a lovely addition to any garden party, and provides a few extra activities for you and your guests. Bring in a fire pit or light it up campfire style, and you can encourage your guests to:

  • Toast marshmallows
  • Start up a singalong around the campfire
  • Tell the scariest ghost stories
  • Try stargazing
  • Take it in turns to tell stories about themselves

A fire is an amazingly intimate atmosphere, and you may find your guests more open in this environment, so encourage the conversation! You can even make the fire the main attraction of your party by setting up chairs, cushions, rugs, and blankets all around it to make everyone comfortable and cosy throughout the night.

10. Add In A Garden Bar

If you plan on hosting regular garden parties, a great investment of your time and money could be a garden bar. You can buy any number of themed sets online, though putting together your own is surprisingly easy with a bit of time and D.I.Y. A garden bar is the perfect place to host a garden party, craft themed drinks and serve them in a fun, intimate way. They can be decorated to suit any tastes or themes, so would be a versatile addition to any party animals back garden, and will encourage you out into the garden throughout the year. If a full-scale garden bar isn’t really an option, a perfect alternative is a bar trolley, which can be decorated and used just as well as a proper bar.

For some great D.I.Y. garden bar ideas, check out our blog post.

Be A Gracious Host

Now you know that, with a bit of preparation, thought and time, setting up your own garden party couldn’t be easier, so get out there while the weather still lets you! Make sure your guests are well looked after, entertained, and well-fed, be proud of the magnificent party you’ve put together, and remember the most important thing – have fun!

Got any tips for hosting your own garden party? Let us know below!

  [i] https://royalcentral.co.uk/uk/a-look-at-the-history-of-the-royal-garden-party-143691/

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