Summer is certainly on its way and as the nights get longer and the days warmer, it’s a perfect excuse to get your friends round and enjoy the weather together. Garden parties are a great way to bring people together, and with the right music, aesthetic as well as good food and drink, you can create a truly magical atmosphere that you and your guests will remember for years to come.
Here we’ll give you some great hints and tips for creating the ideal garden party for this summer with as little stress and hassle as possible. With these few simple ideas and a plan in place you can make sure your guests remain comfortable, well fed and suitably merry!
The Space and Setting
The most obvious first step to take is to consider where your garden party is going to be. Yes, it’s in the garden (!), but where in the garden? Do you have a patio, a large lawn? Is there a conservatory and enough room for seating and tables?
It’s always a good idea to create a kind of ‘dedicated’ space for the party, even if it’s boundaries are by no means enclosed. This way you can picture the setting more clearly and where things like furniture, lights, heating, etc. will go.
If lots of guests are coming, make sure they have plenty of room to move and mingle, and if only a few are attending, try not to make them fell lost in a large open space far away from drinks and food. Additionally, make sure everything is accessible and visible, you don’t want that table of canapés you spent hours assembling being forgotten about!
Once you’ve decided where you’re going to have your party and how big or small it will be, you can begin thinking about the type or party you’re going to have. Is it going to be a sit-down meal or a buffet-style cocktail party? A celebration or just an excuse to socialise and have fun?
Whatever you decide for your party, you need to stick with the theme you choose. This means you can stay focussed on making that party special for everyone. Think about the kind of arrangement you want, whether a large central table for dining or smaller ones for drinks and nibbles. Try and stay committed to the visual theme of the party too. Whilst you don’t want the party to appear bland and boring, sometimes it’s best to stick to mantra less is more when selecting things like decorations and other visual elements.
Food and Drink
Whilst in theory you can have a party without food or drink, suffice to say, it would not make for a memorable experience. Sharing food and enjoying a cooling drink on a hot summer’s day is the perfect way to get conversation flowing and guests mingling.
As with any other element of the party, getting the food and drink right is all about planning. Decide what you’re doing and a stick with it!
If you are having a barbeque, make sure you test out recipes beforehand, so you know how long they take and whether they work. Have a dedicated barbeque ‘manager’ too. Whether this is yourself or someone else, this means the barbeque can be set up and managed without too many people getting in the way.
Whatever you’re doing for food, pre-preparation will make the whole experience much easier and more enjoyable. Marinate meat in advance and prepare snacks and canapés well before the party. Just keep fresh stuff in the fridge until it needs to be served and it will be all ready to go when the guests arrive. Also keep in mind any dietary requirements for your guests and make something special for them as well; no one wants to make do with a bland salad!
When it comes to drinks, it’s best to dedicate an obvious area for them, whether this is just a specific table, or a full bar set up. Offer a drink to guests when they arrive and keep any drinks that need to be cool in ice buckets or, if you have one, a portable fridge. Have plenty of glasses at the ready and a good selection of both alcoholic and soft drinks means no one gets left out and anyone can help themselves as they please.
If you’re going to have cocktails, test them out first and try to keep your choices fresh and concise, you don’t want too many different bottles taking up all the space. Also, if you’re worried about breakages on your patio, try using plastic alternatives for the glasses as there’s plenty of brilliant mock-Champaign flutes, wine and cocktail glasses out there to choose from.
Atmosphere and Comfort
Creating an atmosphere and ensuring your guests are comfortable are both vital elements for making your party truly something to remember. Following the theme you have chosen, try and make your outdoor space somewhere exciting and interesting, whilst at the same time making it seem natural.
Themed table cloths, crockery and napkins can all go along way towards giving the party an identity. Try not to go overboard in this respect but keep decorations both vibrant and natural. If a significant part of the party is going to be during the day, also think about shade for your guests. Parasols should be enough to keep your guests comfortable but, if you really want to go to town, you can invest in a gazebo if you want.
Table centre pieces such as wild flowers in jars and/or candles can help bring atmosphere to their surroundings, and fairy lights amongst any foliage or nearby trees make the setting an incredibly magic place to be in the evening. Lanterns can also lend natural light to the party when the sun begins to go down and it’s always good to keep in mind some form of heating when it starts to get a bit chilly. Firepits and outdoor heaters are a great way to keep your guests warm, and, with nearly a 50% increase in the number of people searching for garden heaters last month, they are certainly proving to be a popular garden feature this year.
Another key element is music. Depending on the theme of the party, make a playlist in advance to match the mood and you may want to invest in some portable speakers which you can dot around the perimeter of the main party space. Remember though, don’t have the music too loud; people want to be able to hear each other!
Relax and Have Fun!
Once you have everything for your party sorted out beforehand, the most important thing to do is to enjoy yourself! Stress and tension will not only spoil the party for you, but can make your guests feel awkward too.
Remember, it’s your party too and there’s no reason why you can’t be yourself and have fun. As long as you’ve done everything in advance, you can kick back, relax and enjoy the summer sunshine, safe in the knowledge you’ve created a garden party your friends and family will remember forever.