How to Throw a Chic Garden Party

Bring Memorable Style to Your Garden Party

Flower arrangement on a wood table
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Enjoying a beautiful outdoor space is one of the highlights of warm weather. If you have a yard, patio, or terrace filled with plants and flowers, you're already in great shape to throw a chic garden party. Then, it's just about formulating the guest list and ironing out the details where you can incorporate your personal style. Pick out your best wide-brimmed hat and sundress, and follow these steps to create a memorable garden party.

Pick the Location

garden party table setup surrounded by trees
Photo from One Kings Lane

Many people opt to have a backyard garden party on their own property. But if you don't have a suitable space of your own, your first step is to go location scouting.

Perhaps a friend or family member is willing to share their outdoor space. City dwellers often can book community gardens, rooftop decks, or other facilities for garden party entertaining. Another option is to look outside of your immediate area for an appropriate location, such as a farm, that accepts reservations for outdoor events. Make sure any location you're considering can accommodate all of your guests and any special needs.

Send Invitations

fancy party invitations wrapped in ribbons
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Unless you're planning a very formal garden party, a sweetly designed online invitation sent via email should do the trick. There are many free apps that can create an invitation for you if you're not that computer-savvy. However, if you're feeling extra crafty, a handwritten paper invitation always adds a nice touch. Handmade invites are warm, personal, and fun to keep as mementos. 

Regardless of which invitation format you choose, remember to explain what the event is (a garden party), and advise guests on attire, what they should bring, and any other particulars. Also, include the standard invitation details: the host, time, date, location, and RSVP information. Aim to send the invitations at least two weeks in advance.

Choose a Color Palette

Long table set for a garden party
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To pull all the details of your garden party together, it's best to select a color palette that matches your surroundings. For instance, if dahlias are in bloom, choose deep reds, scarlet, burgundy, and magenta for your decor. Or if you'll be using sunflowers as centerpieces, pick a neutral table setting to let the yellow pop.

In general, you can't go wrong with shades of green for garden party decor to emphasize your natural surroundings. And white flowers are always a beautiful, flexible option to match any party theme. 

Plan the Menu

Small tea sandwiches
Photo from Grilled Cheese Social

Planning a thoughtful menu is just as important as picking the perfect location when it comes to a garden party. Choose foods, such as small tea sandwiches and salads, that are easy to prepare in advance. Allocate time the day before and the day of your party for cooking. And don't feel ashamed to ask for help. Many guests would be happy to contribute dishes or help you prepare yours.

Moreover, don't forget about beverages. A seasonal, self-serve punch or cocktail is always a crowd-pleaser at a garden party. Wine is also great to have on hand in chilled ice buckets. Provide options to suit your guests' tastes. And remember to have plenty of water on hand, especially in warm weather.

Arrange Flowers and Planters

Outdoor flower and planter arrangements
Photo from Local Creative

Table floral arrangements are perfect to set the tone of a garden party. You can either hire a florist, ask a friend to help, or do them yourself. Many local supermarkets or farmers markets have quite an impressive and seasonally appropriate array of options when it comes to flowers. Often a few small bud vases or a long natural garland display can make for simple, yet elegant floral decor. Let your natural surroundings do most of the talking when it comes to a garden party.

Throwing a garden party in an urban setting can prove difficult in terms of natural ambiance. In this case, invest in some pretty planters to make your own urban outdoor oasis. A couple of small trees or pots of flowers can go a long way to create the perfect garden party atmosphere for city living.

Trim the Table

place setting on a marble table with plants
Photo from Local Creative

If you're hosting the garden party at your home and don't already have outdoor furniture, it might be time to invest in some quality pieces. You often can score a deal on beautiful vintage patio furniture if you're willing to shop around. Plus, discussing vintage finds can be a great icebreaker at outdoor gatherings.

For the place settings, dishes with floral patterns are always fitting for a chic garden party. But don't get too hung up on matching everything. A garden party is the perfect time to mix and match your favorite plates and patterns, as long as the overall vibe is cohesive. For example, if you want to use a variety of plates, set them with only one napkin color. Or if you don't want to have to worry about matching, go with an all-white place setting. That way, your flowers and scenery will be the star.

Organize Seating

seating chart
Photo from PerfectTablePlan.com

A seating chart is not always necessary, but it can help your party move along smoothly and introduce your guests to each other. If you're inviting an assortment of people who aren't familiar with one another, they might appreciate a seating chart that naturally allows them to make friends. Try to seat people together who have things in common, so the conversation flows easily.

If you do create a seating chart for your garden party, you might as well go the extra mile and make pretty place cards for guests that fit with the rest of your decor. It's a small touch, but many guests appreciate the time and consideration on the part of the host.

Don't Forget Music

people at a garden party table
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For any party, it's always nice to have music softly playing in the background. Music can especially help the first few guests to arrive feel at ease when the setting is still fairly quiet.

If you want some musical ambiance at your party, first make sure you'll be able to set up portable speakers or some other way of playing it. Create a playlist that's at least three hours long with songs that fit the tone of your gathering—e.g., classical music for a formal garden party. Just be sure to lower the music when everyone is seated, so the conversation can flow abundantly.