The sun is out and you’re lounging in your garden watching the birds flit across the trees. As your eyes slowly close, your thoughts begin to drift.
Your mind fills with images of mingling guests in chiffon dresses, holding glasses filled with pastel-coloured fizz. As the sound of summer songs and the smell of barbecued corn replaces the images, a thought pops into your head.
Now’s the time to organise an amazing garden party.
But how do you make sure you throw an event which will impress your friends, and have that nosey next-door-neighbour peering over the fence with envy?
Prepare your garden
For a garden party brimming with beautiful natural elements, start your preparation early by planting colourful, low-pollen flowers such as geraniums, hydrangea and begonias.
But don’t despair if you’re not particularly green-fingered or have not thought weeks or months in advance, you can still make sure your garden looks good for your guests. Some colourful outdoor potted plants from your local garden centre will give your patio or decking an instant lift.
Easy steps to sprucing up your garden include:
- Getting rid of weeds and any debris
- Mowing, feeding and watering your lawn
- Sweeping and pressure-washing your decking and patio
- Removing or providing signage for any hazards, such as prickly plants that should be avoided
- Cleaning and washing your garden furniture
Guard against rain and insects
An unavoidable hazard when it comes to throwing a garden party in the UK is the unpredictable British weather.
No matter what the forecast says, it’s a good idea to safeguard your gathering against rain.
Investing in some outdoor shading options such as gazebos and parasols, is essential. And if your guest list is fairly large, you could even think about hiring out a garden tent or marquee. Hopefully you’ll only need to use it as shade from the sun, rather than a place to retreat to from the rain.
With rain sorted, ensure insects don’t ruin the experience by creating some beautiful DIY Tiki torches using citronella torch fuel. They add a gentle, lemon scent to your garden party and look amazing against a natural backdrop.
Add comfortable seating options
If your garden furniture is past its best, just before your garden party could be the perfect the time to invest in a beautiful garden table and chairs that will last you for years. Most come with shower proof cushions and parasols, so you can be sure that your guests are sitting comfortably. Some even include in-built ice-buckets, perfect for a memorable summer garden party.
While your garden table and chairs may be enough to seat a small group, you’ll need to think more creatively if you’ve invited more people.
Provide a range of comfortable seating options to give your guests plenty of choice. Include blankets, beanbags and cushions for your friends who like to sunbathe, and make sure to clear some space for dancing or playing games.
It may be worth dotting some extra garden chairs around so it’s easier for people to mingle and explore your garden. Pod chairs, hammocks and sun invite your guests to relax, while a large day bed can transform with ease into a shady social space.
Use nature as your inspiration to create beautiful centrepieces and decorations that work in tandem with your garden. From bunting and banners to throws and cushions, choose a colour scheme that reflects the colours in your garden. Decorate with a vintage lantern or two and add some natural stones, paper garlands and decorative twigs to tie everything together.
If your flower beds are filled with rose bushes, for example, use vintage rose florals for bunting, along with throws and furnishings in pinks, roses and reds. If you have tall sunflowers, incorporate some pops of bright yellows and oranges. If your garden is surrounded by pear and apple trees, earthy colours will work beautifully alongside cream pillar candles.
Don’t forget to add some fairy lights and lanterns throughout your garden – these will help keep the party going into the evening. Depending on how cold it gets at night, it might also be worth adding some outdoor heaters and blankets to keep your guests cosy.
Make food and drink conversation starters
Aside from the furniture and décor, your garden party will be remembered for its delicious food and refreshing drinks. Lay out light, easy to eat and portable food buffet-style on a beautifully-decorated table so your guests can help themselves.
You could serve vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions of small sandwiches, baby burgers, empanadas or mini tacos – all of which go wonderfully well with cheese and cracker platters, homemade dips, seasonal salads and small portions of barbecued meats.
And no garden party is complete without an impressive drinks station that caters for as many tastes as possible.
Provide a good selection of refreshing cordials, cocktail bases, and flavoured waters. Elderflower cordial never fails to impress in the summer, while anything with watermelon, strawberry or coconut is sure to go down a treat. Slice up some lemons and limes, provide a choice of spirits such as the classic Pimms and plenty of ice, and use mason jars to display colourful straws.
To really up the wow-factor, add fresh herbs and edible flowers wherever possible.
Think about entertainment options
If you’re aiming for the greatest family-friendly garden party, you’ll need to make sure there are plenty of options to keep little ones happy and entertained. For maximum impact, you could go all-out by hiring a bouncy castle, trampoline or outdoor climbing frame.
Of course, kids may be just as excited by a fun scavenger hunt, allowing them to explore the nooks and crannies of the garden.
If it’s an adults-only garden party, a summer-themed music playlist and some wireless speakers might be all you need for entertainment. Or get your hands on a projector and a large white sheet and you can treat your guests to an outdoor movie for a tranquil end to the evening.
As your guests unwind and your nosey neighbour returns home delighted to have been welcomed into your little oasis, you can relax knowing you may have just thrown the garden party of a lifetime.