Hosting The Perfect Garden Party
Now that we’re well into spring and summer is just around the corner, many people will be taking advantage of the warmer weather and hosting garden parties. Whether it’s a low key affair such as a family barbecue or a grander event such as a wedding or birthday party, those with large outdoor spaces have the benefit of beautiful scenery, more space and less stress about mess when hosting. And with a 2012 study suggesting that 75% of Americans were choosing to stay home for New Years Eve, it seems staying in really is the new going out. So if you’re eager to entertain at home this summer, then are some tips for throwing a successful garden party.
Consider the terrain of your garden when setting up. Tables, dancefloors and drink stations need to be on the most even section of land and ensure that any lose paving is dealt with in other areas so as not to cause a trip hazard. If the party is likely to go into the evening it’s also important to consider lighting. One of the most inexpensive, effective ways of lighting your garden is to use paper lanterns or hanging lights (such as fairy lights) in the trees. Walkways, particularly, should be well lit with your borders/bushes trimmed to reduce the risk of anyone getting scratched. Consider the weather too – it can still be chilly at this time of year so have a supply of blankets and outdoor heaters available for guests. Setting up a small marquee or gazebo will also provide shelter if it rains or becomes too hot for your guests.
If there will be children attending the party then it is important to take extra safety precautions. Ensure that the garden is secure – gates must be locked and any gaps in bushes or fences should ideally closed up so they can’t sneak out. If you have a pond or a pool in your garden then make sure it is covered or fenced off if you don’t plan to use it. If you’re happy for the kids to bring their swimming costumes then consider having someone who is professionally trained to supervise them. Make sure that any dangerous chemicals or garden tools are locked away in a garage or shed along with your vehicles which may also need protecting from little people running by them and causing scratches or dents!
The great thing about garden parties is that the natural environment is décor in itself. Nevertheless, it’s still nice to try and add a few finishing touches. Think about tableware – gingham tablecloths can create a rustic, homely vibe and centerpieces can include fresh herbs, plants or fruit displays to convey the beauty and freshness of the season. Placing larger, flowering plants in buckets or troughs around the garden will create color, texture and (in the case of sweet smelling plants like lavender or clematis) a heavenly scent. Or why not draw inspiration from a country of your choice – theme your décor, music and food around it.
Catering for large numbers of people and finding ways to keep the food outdoors without becoming spoiled can be tricky. First and foremost invest in some citronella candles or mesh to keep bugs from getting to the food. Opt for fresh seasonal salads, finger foods and a handful of simple main dishes that can be made and stored in advance. Party professionals advise serving food across ‘pacing stations’ or, in other words,on a selections of smaller tables that are spread out across the garden rather than one large one. This keeps people moving around and mingling. Consider a bar/drink station too and place some high tables around the garden for guests to place their drinks on and congregate around.
The nature of your party will determine what type of entertainment is appropriate. For a daytime party there are plenty of sports and games that your guests can enjoy but the atmosphere of a more formal soiree could benefit from the background noise of a jazz band or country singer. Consider the kids too. You could hire a clown or magician or simply provide them with some giant garden games or even a mini cinema to play their favorite films. If you want to think outside of the box then you could even hire a comedian or caricaturist to keep your guests occupied. In any case, some entertainment can be a good way to break up the party and give your guests something memorable to remember the occasion by.