Saturday, 5 May 2012

Garden Parties

With two bank holidays coming and plenty of praying for the sun to come out (and stay out) going on, I thought now would be a good time to share a few thoughts on garden parties.

A chic alternative to the BBQ, garden parties are a great way to celebrate the great outdoors as well as to celebrate all things British in a year where Great Britain is hot property!

Whether you have a large garden, a little patio, terrace or have access to communal or community gardens, garden parties work for everyone!  Worry not, if you don't actually have a patch of grass, you can always throw down a grass rug!

Grass rug, £59.00 from La Redoute

You can make your garden party as organised or as casual as you want.  Invite friends or family over from late afternoon (3 or 4pm) and tempt them with plenty of food and drink until the twilight hours!  If you don't have any outdoor furniture, you can beg/borrow/steal/hire trestle tables and folding chairs, covering them with sheets or material to prettify and thus creating your own decor scheme, adding placemats, crockery and cutlery or melamine/plastic bits, depending on how casual you want to be...

Love this casual table setting with single flowers in jars!
Read more after the jump...

Flowers in unusual vessels and arrangements can add pops of colour and interest and will really set the scene.  Below are a couple of my favourites.  Also check out Gwyneth Paltrow's latest Goop newsletter for lots of detailed tips and how-tos from florist du jour Nikki Tibbles of Wild at Heart.  You can get a good selection of vessels and jars from IKEA, Muji and Homebase.

Arrange a casual bunch in a glass tumbler or small jug
Recycle old bulbs and hang from trees!
Arrange flowers in all sorts of bottles

On a separate table, you could create a dedicated serving area housing food and drink, like the one below. 

Create a dedicated serving table

It's completely up to you what kind of food and drink you serve, from a themed selection to a series of small bitings that people can tuck into throughout the party.  My personal favourites are mini versions of dishes, such as mini quiches, crustless sandwiches, mini burgers, mini bruschettas and other pretty canapes! Trawl the net for your own recipes, but a good starting point may be some of Domestic Goddess Martha Stewart's garden party recipes.

You could even do an afternoon tea themed garden party with scones, sweet treats and cocktails served in vintage tea cups instead of tea! Another idea I really love is to mix up a great big vat of Pimms or a summer punch, then, instead of serving in a punch bowl or jug, decant the mixture into jam jars, replace lids and then place in a big ice bucket - genius!  I also love mojitos, so I would serve up variations on the traditional mojito like watermelon and fresh berry mojitos, yes in a jam jar (I love jam jars!)

Serve cocktails in vintage teacups!
Pre mixed cocktails in jam jars in ice bucket - genius!
Bonne Maman Jam Jars are chic options!
Watermelon & fresh berry mojitos in jam jars!
Finger sandwiches look great on a cake stand

So...for when the sun is going down and it's turning into evening, you can (if you so wish) create a twilight lighting scheme. 

I love love love this, recreate it here
Alternatively, use garden wire hang these tealight lanterns

This is something you can do ahead of time and then once it starts getting dark, just go round with some matches, lighting all the candles or switching on fairy lights.

Floating candles in jars with twine or ribbon for table tops
Outdoor fairy lights hung in the trees
Plenty of candles

Lastly, just make sure you are well equipped with plenty of food, drink, good friends and flowing conversation and laughs (and perhaps have a few blankets to hand!)! I can't wait to host my own garden sun, please can you make an appearance!

What are your favourite garden party ideas?


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