Friday, July 11, 2014

Tips for Planning a Garden Party for Those Who Never Have

There’s nothing quite like planning a garden party. Given the material you’ll already have to work with, planning this kind of party typically means a dazzling event with less work. There’s something so great about throwing a party outside surrounded by beautiful greenery, good weather, good people, and good food. If you’ve never planned a garden party before, here’s a list of helpful tips to keep in mind!


Invitations for a garden party, as with any event, are your first chance to set the tone. They indicate to your guests how formal the event is going to be, which in turn suggests what to wear, if they should bring anything, etc. When searching for the perfect invites, keep in mind that some of the more filigreed options would indicate a certain level of formality, whereas an invitation with blocked wording and illustrative styling might denote an informal environment. There is no shortage of floral-themed invitations at Paper Style and obviously we highly encourage you to check them out (wink wink).  

Obvious though it may sound, make sure to keep in mind the actual information you’d like on your invitation. Check out the “Wording” section on this post that we did last year for a checklist of the standard information included on any invitation. Do tell your guests time and date and location, obviously, but it’s also helpful to include information about apparel. Want your guests to wear big, fancy hats? Put it on the invite! Want them to bring a shawl or sweater or parka (depending on their inclination to cold) because the party will go well into the evening? You gotta let them know, you know?


In a garden, of course! Or really, anywhere outside that you have available to you. The idea behind any outdoor party is minimal décor. Let the outdoors do the decorating for you! The world is your oyster and all that. If you have an amazing garden that you’re super proud of and ready to show off, a garden party is the perfect way to do that! But even if your backyard is mostly concrete and weeds, you can still throw a beautiful, whimsical party with the right tools.

If you’re lacking in the greenery department, it might be a good idea to invest in some large planters that you can fill with an assortment of greenery. Not just for the party, either. Big pots of flowers or plants will always make a good addition to your space, especially if you choose low-maintenance plants, like ivies or succulents.

Since the focal aspect of the party is the greenery, if you have a lush space to work with, it’s best to have your primary set-up (your tables or benches or wherever the wine is) in the middle of all of that.

As another note, we’re particularly fond of white décor for garden parties because it’s light and airy during the day and sort of captures your lighting in the evening.  White tablecloths/table runners, napkins, white canopies or umbrellas, white centerpiece holders… Even if you only throw in a few white elements, it adds a nice, clean pop to the rainbow of color in the garden.

But then, who are we kidding, your color scheme should reflect the type of party you’re having and there’s no such thing as too much color at a garden party. C’mon, it’s a garden.

Canopies & Lighting (see also: really important parts of the party planning)

If your party is in the morning or afternoon and your space is without much cover or shade, it’s a good idea to invest in canopies from a rental company (if your party is a large one) or patio umbrellas (for smaller or more casual parties). Don’t make your guests sweat it out.

If your party is in the evening, or will continue into the evening, you need to account for lighting: and let me tell you, bistro lights are where it’s at y’all. Or really any type of lights that you can string around hedges or up in trees. We love bistro lights in particular because they’re so versatile. They can certainly be used capriciously to give the party a much more whimsical, natural feel, but they also look great worked into modern, industrial design, taking into account patterns and angles.

Ashley Urke (Domestic Fashionista)

Tables & Seating (see also: the most important parts of the party planning)

Tables and seating are the major components in the overall atmosphere of the party. Parties that are on the casual side might be better suited to family style tables and seating, whereas more formal events might be best with several separate, round tables, perhaps even high cocktail tables. Ultimately, what you can provide for your guests will depend on the space you’re holding the party in and if you’re looking to spend major ducats.

Family style seating tends to be the go-to. It provide a great environment and drives interaction with other guests. It makes serving food easier and it takes fewer resources (tables).

If you’re throwing a party where the food will be limited (but perhaps drinks will be plentiful, if you know what I mean) several high cocktail tables are probably your best bet. It gives people more space to mingle and since they won’t need much space for plates, you can open up the event space by reducing the table space. It really all depends what atmosphere you’re trying to create.

It’s also a good idea to include separate seating away from the table to encourage mingling. We love outdoor ottomans, benches, or porch swings with comfy and inviting pillows. They’re functional and decorative!


The idea behind a garden party is to keep the floral theme running through all the elements of your event, even if the space you’re working with isn’t particularly verdant. In fact, centerpieces are the perfect opportunity to pack a floral punch, even if your space is minimal and industrial.

Aimee Smith Media

Centerpieces are the best way to make a statement about the kind of party you’re hosting, in a nutshell. What you include in your centerpieces and how they’re arranged are important. Choosing seasonal flowers is typically best, as they’ll likely cost less and probably last longer. Now that it’s summer, we love the idea of gardens and parties filled with sunflowers and colorful wildflowers. But ultimately, flower choice should be a direct reflection of the ambiance of your event. Plus, it’s hard to go wrong, no matter what you choose. Who doesn’t love pretty flowers?

But be sure to check out our Garden Party Pinterest Board for more inspiration!     

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