It’s June, and the weather is hotting up (well a little bit), so it’s time to dust off the BBQ and host a garden party! Whether it’s for family, friends, to celebrate a birthday, or just because, here are my top tips to host the ultimate garden party!
Planning is key
The key to any successful event is good planning. Before you do anything else, save the date with your guests. Because it won’t be a party without them. Send a save the date card, make a phone call, or send a message – however you do it, just save that date. When you’ve firmed details up, you can send a more formal invite including the date, times, venue, dress code, if food is provided, etc. Be sure to include an RSVP so you know how many guests you’re catering for.
If you’re serving food, you’ll want to ask guests about dietary requirements. As you’ll be firming up lots of details from the point you send out the invitations, and because circumstances can change, I think it’s always good to send a recap of the confirmed information to everyone a week before your party. You can also include more detailed information such as parking arrangements and any specific instructions for accessing your property. This can be via a WhatsApp message so it’s handy for people to look at on the way/on arrival.
At this point in your planning, it’s wise to set a budget. When planning something fun it’s really easy to get carried away, especially if you keep buying just a few things at a time. Set a realistic budget and keep a running total of what you’ve spent to make sure you don’t break the bank.
And you’ll want to have a running order for your party too. I’m not talking military precision here but having a loose idea of what time things will happen will help make sure things run well on the day.
And most importantly make a list of everything you need for the party and tick things off once they’re sorted.
The all-important food and drink!
For a garden party, a BBQ is the obvious choice. But I always recommend keeping things simple. Choose a few dishes and do them well. It can also make life much easier pre-cooking items in the oven and just finishing them off on the BBQ.
Keeping the BBQ items simple, means you can go to town with the extras like salads, pasta, and cold meats and they can be prepared in advance – you can do the same for desserts too. Don’t forget about vegetarians and those who have identified other dietary requirements.
When eating alfresco, plastic, melamine, or bamboo tableware is a good idea. Buy good quality table and glassware that you can reuse, and it’ll be worth the investment. If you’re hosting a large party renting tableware is an option instead of forking out for lots of stuff you probably won’t use again. And disposables are another option. The set below is not only gorgeous but planet-friendly too and available from my shop.
A well-stocked bar is a must. Be sure to remember to include non-alcoholic options, and don’t forget items like bottle openers. A large bucket of ice is a good idea to keep drinks cool outside.
When planning an outdoor party in the UK, you always need to consider the weather! Marquees are great for cover from both the sun and the rain. I always recommend ones with windows and sections you can remove to allow airflow. If it’s a large party and you want a large marquee, it’s worth getting the professionals in as they will know how to weight it properly and give you advice on what to do in case of bad weather. Marquee companies can also provide heating and lighting, which is essential if you’re planning to party into the small hours. They can provide furniture too.
The boring but important stuff
It may not be fun to plan but getting things like the seating and toilets right at a party can make a big difference. Always provide seating for more people than you have coming to allow people to mingle easily. A mix of dining and lounge seating always goes down well, along with a few bean bags for the kids.
Now, let’s talk toilets. It’s inevitable that people will need to use the toilet at some point during the party. Make sure your bathroom is stocked up with toilet paper, soap, a clean towel or paper towels, and a bin. It’s also worth having either a lock on the door or an engaged/free sign on the outside.
How to make an impact with decorations
Now we get to the fun part! Firstly, be sure to signpost your party entrance. If you want guests to enter by the garden gate you need to let them know. Some decoration on and around your garden gate is sure to do the trick. Then concentrate on a few key areas to make an impact. You may want to make a big impression on the garden gate but remember guests only see that for a few minutes, so it may not be the best place to spend all your budget. Instead create a centrepiece for your party in an area where people will spend most of their time. Fabulous-looking tables and chairs decorated with flowers in small vases, table mats, and napkins, along with a matching buffet table, make a great centrepiece and it’s a place people will naturally be drawn to.
Add nice touches like matching food labels, matching tablecloths, and flowers, and you’re on to a winner. Bunting is an easy way to decorate the inside and outside of a marquee. For a more dramatic look inside drape chiffon fabric from the ceiling supports. Rustic-style rugs in your marquee and on the grass give the feeling you’re in an extension of the house. As a finishing touch add a few solar lights to the garden for when the sun goes down. And be sure to take some photos of your set up.
Always have a plan b
However much you plan, some things just don’t turn out as you expect, so it’s always worth having a plan b. The weather could be much hotter than is comfortable, so you may want to think about fans and sun cream for guests. And if the weather is really bad you may need an area inside to move your party to. Always be prepared for things to change at short notice. Having said all that, all these things add to the memories created at a party, and with my top tips, you’re sure to create a good few of those!
For more top party tips, sign up for my free kid’s party planning guide just click here.
To discuss tableware, decorations, and party bags for your garden party, drop me a line, I’d love to help out!