Warmer weather has all of us thinking of spending more time outdoors. What better way to celebrate than with a garden party? Here are a few tips and recipes that will help make your planning easier and your party the best it can be.
Decide on a Theme
Want to celebrate your heritage, a holiday, or perhaps just a fun family-friendly barbecue with everyone sporting their zaniest hats? Using a specific motif will help pull together a cohesive feel to the festivities.
Decide on a Guest List
Will your party be an all grown-up affair or will you include children? The guest list will need to be informed of your menu, activities, music, and seating. The number of guests will also have an impact on these considerations.
Decide on a Menu
If you want something a little different than the typical “burgers and dogs” fare, here are a few ideas for some unique foodstuffs and beverages to wow your guests. Click on the names to be taken to the recipe.
Banana Brunch Punch (non-alcoholic)
Sparkling Cranberry Kiss (non-alcoholic)
Setting the Stage
You’ll want to use color to unify your decorations. From flowers, to napkins, to yard decor, you’ll want to put thought into your color scheme. The rule of thumb is to use three colors: one main color and two accent colors. Most decorators seem to agree that an odd number of colors is best to work with regardless of what you are decorating. Of course, rules can be bent and even broken, this is your party after all.
According to Vogue Italia, popular color themes of Spring and Summer 2018 are either a collection of soft pastels or a strong vibrant palette.
Lavender: Romantic yet elegant.
Light green: a green that is a delicate and fresh.
Milk white: a full, warm hue. Nothing optical white, cooler and cyber-like.
Sky blue: a fresh color that evokes a serene sky.
Purple: Pantone’s 2018 color of the year is Ultra Violet.
Rapture rose: a full, princess-like, intense pink shade.
Military green: now considered a neutral hue, it often ‘breaks’ elegant or sporty looks on military style pieces.
Chocolate brown: Intense and enveloping, it will impossible to resist this shade, just like it’s impossible to resist a chocolate praline.”
Yellow: A vibrant, energizing tone of yellow.
Tomato red: a totally bold, entrancing hue.
While these colors are hot for the runway, they are just as beautiful on the table and around the yard. Pick your three faves and let your imagination go! You don’t have to be Martha or Joanna to pull together a great color scheme.
Decide if you want a long communal table or several round tables. This will help determine centerpieces. Fun flowers and plants come into play here. Don’t have a lot of money to spend, nor the inclination to shop? Then, shop your own house — and maybe even a friend’s house. Got old books that look interesting? Stack them and put a succulent plant on top. Paint the plant pot one of your colors and viola — a centerpiece that didn’t take much time. A collection of anything (think antique plates or whimsical butterflies) can easily jazz up a centerpiece or become the centerpiece itself.
One of my favorite tips is to buy sheets of decorative 12 x 12 paper from the craft store. I use them under my centerpieces or I use them as place mats. For about 70 cents a piece (cheaper with 1/2 price deals), it’s a cost effective way to add color and style.
Use burlap or butcher paper as a table runner. The neutral color allows your pretty napkins and decorative plates be the star of the show. Forgo the runner and sprinkle a wide swathe of pretty leaves down the middle of your table for a fresh, organic feel. Mixing place setting styles creates interest and keeps the eye traveling around the table. Add a few votive candles down the middle and you can nix the centerpiece completely.
Other Decorations, Music and Lighting
How about decorating beyond the table? Consider hanging velvety streamers from tree branches or fencing. Once the sun goes down, clothespin everyone’s zany hats and baseball caps from the laundry line. Hang lanterns from tree branches. Line walk ways and flower beds with fairy lights inside mason jars.
If your party will continue past sunset, you will want mood lighting to keep the atmosphere inviting. Think about hanging several strands of twinkle lights from a tree or fence panels to create a curtain of light. Remember the show Parenthood? The dinners they had together always looked so fun. All they seemed to do was hang large bulbs overhead.
Tiki torches also add light and ward off insects. You can find a variety of diy projects listed at The Garden Glove.
Don’t forget the music! We all have our favorite playlists from our favorite apps. A playlist should last approximately three hours. This will help ease things for your first arrivals and set the mood you desire. Once dinner or brunch begins, you will of course, want to lower the music to help facilitate table conversation.
Prepare as much beforehand as possible. You don’t want to be stuck inside as your guests arrive.
Enlist help. Everyone has that one friend or two who is always game for helping pull off the best party ever. Ask your bestie to be in charge of making sure everyone has drinks. Don’t forget the ice!
Keep it simple. Don’t get too fussy with things like party favors, place cards, and decorative menus cards at each place setting. While great for a formal event, they’re unnecessary for a garden party.
Consider serving buffet style. It leaves plenty of elbow room at the table for guests to be comfortable. It’s also easier to keep an eye on any dishes that need refilling or removed completely.
Have extra bathroom necessities visible and accessible so that a guest will not have to track you down and pull you away from the party to fulfill a need.
A basket of small blankets or pashminas to toss across one’s shoulders or lap is a nice idea for guests who may not have prepared for the cooler temps of the evening.
I hope you are inspired to hold a garden party this season. Share in the comments your favorite tips and recipes.