The warm weather endures and Australians are embracing the outdoors all over the country – now is the perfect time to a host a garden party!
With long, hot summer days ahead, why not invite friends and family over for an afternoon of food, drinks and – for a touch of old-school class – a game or two of croquet? Here are our top ten tips for hosting a successful garden party, so get planning before the cooler days are upon us!
1. Prepare the outdoor space
It’s important to perfect your outdoor space and furniture to accommodate for all guests. Make sure your table is large enough and guests are seated on even ground to eliminate any discomfit. Keep dining outdoors simple, easy and stylish.
2. Pimp your garden
You don’t have to go as far as the Pimp My Ride MTV Show does, but having correct lighting is essential to the success of a garden party. Turn your evening party into a fairy-tale garden with tea lights in jam jars and fairy lights intertwined through trees – they’ll add to the atmosphere of the evening and will help guests navigate around when the party runs into the evening. Use umbrellas, awnings, canopies or tents for shade from sunlight, or host your party in a gazebo, pergola or other covered outdoor structure to protect guests from the elements.
3. Accommodate for the sun
Shade is essential for fair-skinned party guests and can be easily avoided by positioning your table underneath a tree or shaded area. Alternatively, find a patterned blanket, flat sheet or piece of fabric and sew a length of ribbon to each corner. Use the ribbons to tie the corners of your sunshade to appropriate anchor points (you may have to knock in a couple of nails) and station an inviting pile of soft seating beneath – voila, an easy and simple way to create an effective and stylish covering.
4. Have refreshments readily at hand
Use spare planters or large pots as ice buckets – spruce them up by wrapping with brightly coloured crepe paper and secure around the middle with contrasting ribbon. This will keep refreshments chilled and in easy reach.
Certain practical items are necessary, such as crockery and cutlery, but these needn’t be utilitarian – bundle the cutlery into sets, wrap in a patterned paper napkin and tie with a thin ribbon. Stack at your buffet table and guests can help themselves.
6. Choose a colour scheme
Choose a colour scheme that will tie everything together and bring your garden party to life – use decorative elements such as candles, tablecloths, plants and flowers in a common colour theme, or use neutrals and then accent with fun splashes of bright colour.
7. Table centre-piece
No garden party is complete without an arrangement of flowers as a centre-piece. Use props such as vases, lights, candles and florals to add a touch of charm to your table. Remember that a larger grouping in the centre of the table will give more visual impact than elements used sparsely across the whole table, and allow room for the food to be served.
8. Provide comfort through cushions
Cushions make for an appealing and comfortable seating solution. Provide plenty of outdoor cushions that tie in with your colour theme – not only will they serve a purpose, but they’ll add to the overall aesthetic of the space too.
9. Protect your party from bugs.
It’s important to be prepared to prevent bugs from discomforting guests or landing on food. Setting up the buffet table indoors is an easy way to protect your food from bugs, or use mesh plate covers if you plan on having the food outside. Use citronella candles, or put bug repellent-fuel in torches, to provide ambient lighting and keep flying insects at bay.
10. Enjoy yourself
Set up some fun outdoor games such as bocce, horseshoes, croquet, Frisbee or badminton, play music and relax – parties are about having a good time after all!