How to Host the Ultimate Garden Party

Hosting a garden party can be a wonderful way to celebrate the summer months. With some thoughtful planning and preparation, you can create an event that you and your guests will remember for years to come. Here are some tips for hosting the ultimate garden party.

Choose the Right Date and Time

When planning your party, consider the typical British weather and temperatures. Late spring through early autumn is ideal for an outdoor event. Avoid choosing a date too early or late in the season when the weather is likely to be cold or rainy.

The day and time of your party will depend on the type of event you want to host. For a casual afternoon tea or barbecue, an afternoon on the weekend is nice. For a more formal evening dinner party that goes into the night, choose an evening during the warmer months when there is likely to still be daylight in the early evening.

Consider the schedules of your must-invite guests before choosing a date so you can accommodate their availability. Send save-the-date notices at least a month in advance for the best turnout.

Send Creative Invitations

Set the tone for your garden party with unique invitations. Mail handwritten notes or create your own invites with details about the party theme, dress code, time, date, and location. Make it clear if the party will move indoors in case of rain.

If your party has a relaxed vibe, you can also invite people with an email, Evite, or phone call. Just be sure to give guests enough advance notice so they can save the date.

Plan the Menu and Drinks

Cater your food and drinks to the type of garden party you want to host. Finger foods like canapés, skewers, and bite-sized sandwiches are easy for casual mingling. For a sit-down dinner, choose dishes that can be prepped in advance, like salads, pasta dishes, a roast, or barbecue favourites.

Be sure to have non-alcoholic beverages on hand, as well as wine, beer, and cocktail options. You can also get a personal chef for hire from Harper Fine Dining to handle all the cooking so you can focus on hosting.

Some menu ideas:

  • Afternoon tea party – finger sandwiches, scones, mini cakes
  • Cocktail party – canapés, shrimp cocktail, cheese board
  • BBQ bash – grilled meats, salads, appetisers
  • Formal dinner – starter salad, main course, dessert

Make sure to accommodate any food allergies or dietary needs. Offer both meat and vegetarian options. Have servers on hand so guests don’t have to balance plates and drinks.

Add Decorations and Music

Transform your garden into a magical party venue. Use strands of fairy or bistro lights to illuminate trees, fences, and patio areas after the sun goes down. Arrange vases of flowers and float candles in birdbaths or pools.

Set up speakers to play upbeat background music playlists. Create a relaxed lounge area with cosy seating and blankets in case it gets chilly in the evening. Use decorative chalkboard signs to direct guests or label food and drink areas.

Prepare the Garden Space

Make sure your garden is ready for guests before the party. Tidy up the lawn, trim hedges, and clear any debris or clutter from the party areas. Set up parking signs or cones on your street to reserve space for guests.

Check the weather forecast in advance and have a backup plan (more info below) in case of rain. Lay down gravel or tile flooring if grass areas could get muddy. Have a designated area for rubbish and recycling bins.

Make sure there are enough chairs and tables for all guests. Set up a self-serve drink station with ice, beverages, cups and glassware. Have wait staff on hand to assist with any additional needs.

Plan Activities and Entertainment

Think of ways to keep your guests engaged and having fun beyond just eating and drinking. Lawn games like croquet, Giant Jenga, or Giant Twister are perfect for a garden gathering.

If space allows, you could even set up a badminton net or organise a potato sack race. Have prizes on hand for winners. For evening parties, arrange outdoor theatre seating and project a movie onto a sheet or blank wall. 

Stock Up on Supplies

Hosting a garden party requires having certain supplies on hand. Make a detailed list and shop well in advance for everything you’ll need.

  • Basic supplies: plates, cutlery, cups/glasses, napkins, serving utensils, garbage bags
  • Drinks: water, soda, juice, beer, wine, ice, coolers
  • Cooking: barbecue or grilling equipment, fuel, seasonings, oven/stovetop, cooking tools
  • Furniture: chairs, tables, loungers, umbrellas, tent/awnings
  • Misc: decorations, speakers, lighting, bug spray, sunscreen, first aid kit

Having extras of everything ensures you won’t run out of a necessity during the party!

Have a Weather Backup Plan

The quintessential British weather is unpredictable. Even if sunshine is forecasted, be prepared for pop-up showers or downpours.

Have tents or canopies on hand to provide shelter if needed. Choose food and decor that won’t be ruined if they get wet. Have an indoor space ready as a backup in case of truly bad weather.

Let your guests know if the party moves inside so, no one is left standing in the rain! Adjust parts of the party as needed (like music volume) to be considerate of neighbours if moved indoors.

Consider Extra Touches

It’s the little details that will take your garden party to the next level. Greet guests with a signature cocktail or mocktail. Provide games that everyone will enjoy. Set out sunscreen and bug spray.

Appoint someone as the official party photographer to capture candid moments. Surprise guests with a small fireworks show at dusk. Have pretty paper goods and signage. The most important thing is making sure every guest feels comfortable and has an unforgettable time.

With thoughtful planning and personal touches, your garden party is sure to be a huge hit and the talk of the summer. Just relax and enjoy spending time with your nearest and dearest under the (hopefully) warm summer sun!

Eve Crabtree

Eve Crabtree is a journalist with a passion for interior design. She keeps up to date with the latest trends in the interior industry and regularly tests her hand at crafting and redecorating during her spare time.