How to host the perfect garden party

How to host the perfect garden party

Who doesn’t love an excuse to get together in the sunshine? In 2022, nine million of us Brits enjoyed the summer heatwave and the extra bank holiday for the Diamond Jubilee and hosted a garden party of our own. This year, Charles III will be hosting his first royal garden party at Buckingham Palace. While we can’t be sure he’s reading this article, we’re confident our advice is fit for a king!

From what to wear, to what food and drinks to serve and what are the best party games for adults, we’ve come up with a great list of ideas to give you inspiration on how to host a garden party that’ll get your guests talking about for years to come.

Garden party decoration ideas

Before you decide on decorating, have a good look at the location of the party. Ideally, you have a garden to host a garden party! But you may want to create the vibe of the outdoors in your flat or on a balcony. In this case, you may need to prepare your home for the influx of many more people than usual. We’d recommend looking at refreshing your flooring with engineered wood.

It provides a low-maintenance, good-looking foundation, not just for your party but for years to come. Cleaning engineered wood is a doddle as all you need to do is vacuum or brush it, and use a damp cloth or mop for a spill, then dry it all up quickly – we’ve got all the hints and tricks in our engineered wood care guide.

You may want to create a quiet zone, so consider either laying down several cosy rugs outdoors – Tapi offers a whipping service on any carpet you buy from us –  or allowing guests to come indoors to a warm, comfortable room. This is even more important if your party coincides with a summer shower! Once you’ve worked out the space you’ll be hosting in, then it’s time to think about decorating.

Keep your budget in check by borrowing what you don’t have and not splashing out on throwaway paper plates or cups.  It’s cheaper – and greener – to repurpose what you’ve already got, or what you can borrow. Hunt for blankets, throws, cushions, even duvets sheets and beach towels to lay on the ground so people can sit down.

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Keeping your garden green

If your lawn is the worse for wear or you want to spruce up a patio, then you could lay some artificial grass. It doesn’t take too long to install and it creates a completely different look to your outside space. We’ve got plenty of information on how to keep your artificial lawn looking top-notch even once the party’s over in our artificial grass care guide

While it may be tempting to opt for artificial grass for your home and garden, it's important to note that it's not the most eco-friendly choice. In comparison, natural grass provides numerous environmental benefits such as food and nutrition for animal and plant life, as well as the production of oxygen. If you're looking to reduce your environmental impact and create a sustainable living space, consider exploring eco-conscious flooring options such as Tapi's TreadKindly range which offers sustainable materials and manufacturing processes.

Think about how long you’d like your party to go on for. If you’re planning on dancing after dark, get the Christmas lights out of storage, and gather tealights and lanterns. Or plunge candles into the soil of a plant pot for makeshift mood lighting – just make sure you don’t have a plant in there already! Then add flowers, balloons, bunting, or any props that nod to your chosen theme (see more below) and you’re ready to go. 

What to wear for a garden party

For a royal garden party, there are strict rules – the men wear morning dress or lounge suits, while the women wear day dresses, with hats or fascinators. When you’re hosting your own garden party, it’s up to you whether you issue a dress code, or ask your guests to come in whatever makes them feel comfortable.

That’s unless you’re having a themed do, in which case, make a few easy-to-follow suggestions in case your guests aren’t comfortable with fancy dress. For instance, if you’re having a barbecue with an Australian twist, you could suggest surfer shorts and sleeveless T-shirts, complete with white-colour sunblock and flip-flops. Just be aware that Aussies call flip-flops ‘thongs’ – that’s a completely different type of party!

Garden party themes

Here are our favourite ideas for a great garden party:

Children’s party – for grownups

Why should the kids have all the fun? Set up your outside space as if you were hosting a party for littluns, but have your adult friends over instead. Blow up the paddling pool, get out the sandpit or trampoline, and set up a piñata or a sweetie or doughnut stand. Wrap up a present ready to play pass the parcel, prepare a game of musical chairs, and serve jelly, ice cream and anything else you fancy. You could even make cute party bags for each guest to hand out as they leave.

Hollywood in the UK

Give your guests the VIP treatment. We’d recommend a red carpet to welcome them at the entrance to your home or the party – even if you can’t guarantee them a limo or a bouncer on the door. Set up a balloon arch so they feel they’re somewhere special, and theme the food according to your favourite films – Thai-tanic, Jurassic Pork, Eggs-men, Lord of the (Onion) Rings, anyone? – and suggest a dress code that’s glitzy and Oscar-worthy.

Glastonbury-style music festival

We don’t recommend mud, but there are plenty of aspects of a festival you can bring to your own party. You could decorate your garden with bunting or pompoms, hang lanterns from the branches, light large torch candles, and then scatter cushions, beanbags and rugs. If you have room, why not pitch a tent? As long as you don’t live in a smoke control zone, you could gather around a fire pit, and get your favourite tunes on. Ask your guests to dress appropriately, or provide face painting or face glitter so everyone looks the part.

Garden party invites

Of course, you can always just call or text your guests to let them know when you’re hosting your garden party, but it might be more fun to send a formal invitation. If you’re not confident to draw them yourself, make one with the help of an online template. This is another opportunity to set the scene and create the atmosphere you want at your event. If you’re planning a tennis-themed party to coincide with Wimbledon in late Jane, for instance, you can make the invitation ball-shaped or add images of players or strawberries and cream.

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Food for a garden party

This depends on many things ­– your budget, preferences, culinary skills, the time of day you plan to host the garden party and whether you expect your guests to arrive hungry! There are plenty of fun and filling garden party food ideas out there - for a posh afternoon tea-themed party you could prepare a selection of sandwiches, such as cucumber or ham, cutting them into soldiers so they look dainty. You may even want to add fresh strawberries or raspberries, and a choice of punch or sparkling wine.

How much food per person should you serve?

The general rule of thumb is a round of sandwiches, two to three slices of cake, plus three cups of tea for each guest to feel properly full. At a typical royal garden party, they cater for 27,000 cups of tea, and prepare 20,000 sandwiches and cake slices!

How much finger food per person should you serve?

If you’re serving finger food or passing around canapes, allow for two to four pieces per person per hour.  Repeat this amount every hour for as long as the party lasts, making sure your ratio is around four savouries to every sweet bite.

How many drinks per person should you serve?

At a rough estimate, a standard bottle of wine contains five glasses. Anything fizzy, like sparkling wine or Champagne, contains seven glasses per bottle. Aim to provide three glasses of booze per guest, hopefully, supplemented with any drinks they bring themselves.  And if you’re planning for an all-day event, ensure you have enough to provide one glass per hour, per guest.

Garden party food ideas

One fun way to extend the theme of your garden party is to include it with your food. If you’re having a traditional Sunday roast or barbecue, then you can probably come up with your own suggestions for what to prepare. But what about having a more informal Hawaiian inspired event, complete with pineapple (yes, even on pizza!), and serving cocktails mixed with rum or blue Curacao liqueur. You could set up a wooden pole for people to limbo under, and ask everyone to come dressed in bold printed shirts, or grass skirts and those floral garlands called leis?

If you’re hoping your guests will help themselves, make it easy for them by creating a food bar, like an old-style pick ‘n’ mix. There are some novel ways to present your party buffet:

  • Fill bags full of popcorn, nuts, snacks or crisps so your guests can carry them around
  • Put a little of everything on one plate – including a miniature dessert – so your guests don’t have to hover or return to the table
  • Use clean, terracotta plant pots to serve food, or to hold cutlery and napkins
  • Fill jam jars with dressed, colourful salads or mousse puddings

Garden party games for adults

This is a great way to get people of all ages, who don’t know each other, a little better acquainted. You could try:

  • Traditional games like skittles, croquet, an egg and spoon race, or an obstacle course.
  • Two Truths and a Lie
  •  Capture the flag
  • Twister
  • Beer pong

We hope we’ve given you plenty of inspiration for your garden party, and if you’re thinking of sprucing up your home before your guests arrive, why not pop into your local Tapi store, or book a free home visit from our floorologists, so our expert consultants can advise you on the best carpet or flooring for your budget? Alternatively, head on over to our Ideas Hub for tons more inspiration, including how to host the perfect dinner party, tips for hosting an engagement party, and how to create a wildlife garden.

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Published: 16-02-2023