Last summer, during the Queen’s jubilee, the quintessentially British garden party enjoyed a considerable upsurge in its popularity. To go alongside the high-profile, open to the public bashes thrown within a number of the Queen’s official residences, people up and down the country opened their garden gates to friends and neighbours, revelling in an almost forgotten sense of community and belonging.
With the summer approaching once again, there is no better time to try and recapture that spirit by opening up your garden to others and throwing a party. But to get it right, you need to consider a mix of preparation and planning to make sure your get-together goes off without a hitch.
Put your feelers out
Send out some invitations to ensure the people you wish to invite are made aware the party is happening, asking them for a response so that you can plan for the correct numbers. Set a dress code so that everyone turns up in similar attire, making sure that none of the guests feel uncomfortable or out of place.
Create an ambience
Decorate the entrance with flowers and banners, setting the tone and turning your event into an occasion by helping your guests to get into the party mood.
It’s up to you if you have a theme, but a little decoration can really contribute towards achieving a good vibe for your alfresco shindig. Try putting up fresh flowers, hangings and wind chimes to provide sound and visual stimulation. A patterned canopy can also provide a decorative flourish, while at the same time offering shade from the sun on a hot day.
If the party is going to extend into the evening, make sure to provide adequate light. This could be in the form of fairy lights, candles (in jam jars to negate possible fire risks) or by the type of garden lighting you can find at most hardware stores.
Some suitable background music can help set the desired ambience. Try and keep it seasonal and chilled rather than so heavy and overpowering that it becomes the main focus.
Food and drink
No garden party is complete without a decent spread of food and drink. However, you must consider how many people you are inviting and how difficult it might be to prepare food for them. A barbecue is a popular choice because of its obvious connotations with summer; however, large quantities of meat can be expensive and the smoke created from burning coal may irritate your guests. Alternatively, a buffet is easy to prepare for and the use of paper plates and the lack of cutlery needed for such food make it easy for you to clean up afterwards.
Will there be alcohol made available? Most people will expect a few drinks to help a party get in to swing, but you should consider how long the party will last and whether that could become a problem. If you do serve drinks, limit your selection to ease your own burden, and make sure there are soft drinks for the little’uns, teetotallers and those looking to hydrate on what could be a hot day.
Consider your space
You have to consider the space you have available in your garden and the type of tables you want to use. For instance, you will need more space for round tables but less for rectangular ones. If you have a lawn you could use it as a centre-piece, arranging your tables to the side and providing a space for guests to congregate, mingle and shoot the breeze.
You will be arranging your spread upon these tables, so to make sure that it has the maximum impact why not try laying your tables with a decorative table cloth? To really get back into the spirit of last summer this patriotic table cloth design would fit the bill perfectly.
Don’t rely on your own charm and the conversational skills of your guests to ensure the party gets into full-swing. To guarantee there is never a lull incorporate activities into your party. For a truly memorable party you could hire giant sized board games like chess and snakes and ladders or, if you have the space, a croquet set.
For small kids provide something inflatable for them to bounce around, or a cheaper option would be to create a make-shift water slide out of a sheet of plastic to keep them occupied.
Do you have any more ideas to make for a great summer garden party? Please do share them with us.