One of the best things about summer is the ability to have festivities outside the home and take advantage of Mother Nature’s beauty. If you’ve never done so before, throw a garden party! It’s easier than you think and it doesn’t have to be as stuffy as you might imagine! Typically, one of the first steps to party planning is choosing your location, but for a garden party that’s already taken care of. All you need is a back yard, large enough to comfortably hold your guests! Below are some ideas to help with the rest of the party planning!
The theme: A simple idea that will show itself throughout the party like the décor and invitations. If it’s all women, make it a hat theme similar to the Kentucky Derby. If it’s a co-ed party, focus on famous couples or a period in time like Greek gods and goddesses.
The look: Once you’ve chosen a setting—on the lawn, by the pool, under your favorite tree—think about how to serve. A buffet is easiest. For a sit-down meal, get guests to mingle by placing starters, drinks, desserts, and gifts at separate tables where everyone helps themselves. Don’t forget umbrellas or canopies for shade. At night, string lights in trees, float candles in bowls of water, hang paper lanterns. A color can hold it all together. Pick one or two colors you love—hot pink and Kelly green, or navy blue and crisp white. Incorporate a touch of it into everything from invitations and table settings to swag bags (parting gifts) and centerpieces.
The invitations: Make a guest list of friends you want to see and one or two people you’d like to meet. You can personalize your invites by writing them by hand or enlisting a friend to put their calligraphy skills to use. Choose paper to match your theme. You might attach a card with ribbon to a flower-seed packet or pretty garden gloves or a picture of beautiful flowers.
Table:Casual tablecloths and napkins are preferred since you’re aiming for a more “up-to-date” garden party feel. Anything too formal and your party could start to feel stuffy. To help with the casual feel of the party, try layering colors, textures, and patterns. For anything messy—a barbecue or crab feast—cover the tablecloth with sheets of butcher paper. Don’t forget clothes pins or table cloth clips for those windy days.
Chairs: Use a mix of chair styles to keep the party casual and expenses down. You can also rent chairs and a variety of table linens if money isn’t an issue. Check out Got It Covered Linens, a local San Antonio company, for great ideas at affordable prices. An inexpensive way to doll up old garden chairs—instead of organza, use un-hemmed sheer curtain panels or any lightweight gauzy fabric.
Place settings: Think texture and contrast. Mix stripes and patterns and floral prints. As long as the color scheme coordinates, feel free to combine vintage with modern, Old English with Rustic Country.
Centerpiece: Give an outdoor table personality—small crystal glasses filled with fresh herbs, like mint or rosemary or sage, at each place setting; a shiny champagne bucket and masses of roses; a dozen weathered pots planted with yellow daisies on a silver tray; a wood box of grass and pansies; a large crystal cachepot filled with lemons, limes, oranges, or a combination of all three.
What to serve:Whether you grill on the deck or cook indoors, plan your meal around fresh, seasonal ingredients. Think of finger food that’s fun to eat: kabobs, grilled pizzas, cucumber sandwiches. Or design a themed meal: an Italian feast or classic picnic with spicy fried chicken and creamy coleslaw. If your guests are dressing up, serve a fancy luncheon. Just remember to accommodate all guests, if you have vegetarians or non-seafood lovers coming to the party.
Dessert: Visit your local bakery for a variety of “big finale” desserts. Think fancy cupcakes or mini cakes for each guest. Or purchase simple angel food cake and fancy it up with fresh berries and whipped cream. A simple pound cake, fresh fruit, and instant pudding come together to make a delicious and beautiful trifle. Check out Kraft foods for quick and simple dessert ideas!
What to drink: In hot weather, greet guests with big iced drinks like mojitos or margaritas or mimosas. For non-alcoholic options, try sun-brewed iced tea or fresh squeezed lemonade. A variety of fruit can be added to either of these drinks to create a twist on an old favorite.
Now there’s nothing left to do, but get out there and enjoy the party with your guests!