Garden Party Ideas
A garden party is the perfect time to get fancy with your décor. Elegant tablecloths, place cards and decorative centerpieces are perfect for dressing up an otherwise casual outdoor table.
To capture the whimsy of the garden surroundings, flowers are an obvious choice for decorating your tabletop. You can also fill a glass bowl with fruit — lemons or limes add a burst of brightness while cranberries or bing cherries look ultra-luxe.
If the forecast says sunny skies, make sure you provide your guests with shade by setting out canopies or beach umbrellas. If you're planning on celebrating past twilight, string trees and bushes with twinkle lights. Encircle the entire party area with candlelit hurricane lamps or paper bags filled with an inch of sand and tea lights.
You don't need to have a garden in order to have a garden party. There are lots of alternate locales to host your affair:
- Your living room or dining room — Turn your indoor space into a garden getaway by filling the room with potted plants and flowers and using floral-decorated plates and glasses.
- Local public garden or park — Choosing a public garden or wooded park lets you pick a location convenient to your guests. Just make sure you find out if there are fees for using the locale or restrictions on what types of food, drinks and activities you can have there.
- A friend or neighbor's garden — Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. There's no shame in asking the owner of that grass if you can host an affair in their garden, especially if you do all of the setup and cleanup and allow them to help with the guest list.
Traditional garden parties call to mind big-Queen-Mum hats and tiny tea sandwiches. But that's not the only way to party in the garden. Try these variations on the theme:
- Garden of Eden — It doesn't have to be clothing-optional to evoke the spirit of Adam and Eves home. Serve a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and decorate with snakes and apples.
- Plant Swap — Celebrate your garden by asking guests to bring a flower arrangement or potted plant to swap with another guest. Guests can either fight over the foliage or pick names out of a hat to see who gets what.
- Flower Arranging — Ask guests to bring blooms and vases, and invite a floral expert or a friend with very green thumbs to show you different ways of putting them together.
Keep things light with fresh, seasonal ingredients — and if you've planted herbs in your garden, be sure to incorporate them into dishes both savory and sweet.
A chilled soup like gazpacho or vichyssoise provides a nice start to your outdoor lunch. Then serve a room-temperature main course like quiche with mixed vegetables or antipasto bursting with bell peppers, olives, fresh mozzarella, and meats like salami, prosciutto or soppressata.
Pass petit fours or individual fruit tarts for dessert. On very hot days, add a small bowl of fruit sorbet to keep guests cool.
Mint Julep (serves 8)
- 1 1/2 cups bourbon
- 8 teaspoons superfine granulated sugar
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 12 cups crushed ice
Stir together bourbon and 4 teaspoons sugar until sugar is dissolved. Place mint leaves and remaining sugar in a metal bowl, and lightly crush leaves with the back of a spoon until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
Add 4 cups crushed ice, then add 3/4 cup bourbon mixture and stir well. Divide mixture among eight 12-ounce glasses. Add ice to fill glasses and top with remaining 3/4 cup bourbon. Stir well.
Non-Alcoholic — Tea, iced or hot, depending on the weather.