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Whether you’re just letting your hair down with the family or planning a more sophisticated affair, the best garden parties need some careful cultivating to thrive. So we asked professional party planners to share their insider tips on throwing outside parties. From staving off the evening chill in style, to stopping bugs from landing in drinks, they've got you covered.
1. Go online for decoration inspiration
Garden parties are the ideal scenario for quirkier decorations, and sites like Pinterest can be an endless source of ideas. Wooden welcoming signs with hand-painted messages always look great, as do vintage birdcages filled with flowers.
2. Ensure your table is stable!
If you’re serving dinner, position the table and chairs where there’ll be minimal wobbling and fewer mishaps. Investing in some wide wooden planks is a good idea, so you can lay them over the lawn to create a solid base or temporary decking.
3. Extend through the whole garden
Scatter throws, light blankets and a few cushions around your garden furniture. It’ll help create a softer atmosphere early in the party, and then allow guests to keep warm and cosy when the evening draws in. Any spills or stains can be easily tackled with Ariel Washing Liquid the next morning.
4. Offer sunny and shady spaces
Provide both sun and shade options, so that everyone can take a break from the heat if they need to. Erecting a canopy or small marquee, which you can decorate with flowers or lights, is a great idea. Or if you’re lucky enough to have a room that leads on to the garden, open up the doors and invest in decorative rugs to protect your floors.
5. Choose easy to eat food
When it comes to the food, choose dishes that are tasty, but easy to eat. If you’re hosting a sit-down dinner this is less of an issue, but when guests are mingling around a buffet, it’s better if food is easy to enjoy.
6. Serve summer fruits and flowers
Have an impressive statement dessert on display. Fruits in a champagne jelly always work well, or a delicious summer tart decorated with fresh berries and edible flowers. Your guests won’t be leaving in a hurry if they know what’s still to come!
7. Consider colour coordinating the refreshments
To create real synergy between all the elements of your party, mix-up a signature fruity punch or welcoming cocktail that coordinates with the colours in your decor theme. You could even carry that through to the snacks and canapes, where possible, to create a talking point.
8. Match decorations to your plants
Choose a simple decor theme - a shade that matches the flowers in your garden always works well - then carry that through your table settings, chair covers and candles. It’ll help to give your party a sophisticated, stylised feel, even though it’s outdoors.
9. Use lighting for a magical atmosphere
Think about the lighting in your garden and, as evening draws in, make use of strategically placed candles. Scattering tea lights around the lawn and along paths will create a beautiful ambience, while two or three large candles in key areas will keep the party well lit.
10. Harness the scents of nature
The beauty of a garden party is that you can make the most of nature. Emphasise the scents in your flowerbeds by dotting a few complementary scented candles around the garden. Position seats near impressive plants, too, so that guests can take in the glory of their surroundings while they relax.
11. Hang decorations in your trees
Make use of the trees in your back garden for hanging fairy lights and bunting. It’ll add a nostalgic feel and help carry your decor from the table settings to the rest of the garden, so that no area looks bare or forgotten.
12. Use the garden to decorate
Use any fallen petals and leaves from your garden to sprinkle over the table or drinks area. Small decorative ideas like this create a consistency between the garden and eating areas, and also add plenty of colour to your arrangement.
13. Ensure glassware sparkles in sunshine
Decorative glass tableware can really set-off a garden party as it will sparkle in the sunshine. Try displaying desserts on a glass stand, and dot large glass jugs of iced water and fruity coolers around the table to catch the light. Fairy Platinum Plus dishwasher tablets will ensure your glassware is clean and sparkling - and then you can buff it with a dry cloth for a super shine.
14. Protect guests from garden pests
Bugs can be a problem, and nobody wants a fly in their cocktail! Try serving drinks in quirky jam jars instead of glasses. Drill a small hole in the lids so that you can slide in straws and match them up to your colour theme. Placing a few mosquito candles around the garden can reduce the chance of any guests getting bitten and it’s also a good idea to have a bug spray on hand.
15. Let the music play outside
Don’t forget the music, as it’ll help you create the right atmosphere. A portable speaker is a great idea, so that you can plug in your device outdoors. Make two different playlists ahead of the party; one for the day, and one for evening. Choose happy, uplifting songs and don’t be afraid to add in some of your favourites – remember this is your party, so make sure you get to relax and enjoy yourself, too!
What’s the best garden party you’ve ever been to? Let us know what made it so special in the comments below!