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How to Throw a Chic Garden Party
Enjoying a beautiful outdoor space is one of the highlights of warm weather. If you have a garden, patio or terrace filled with plants and flowers you are already in great shape to throw a chic garden soireé. Once you have the essentials for outdoor entertaining (i.e. a beautiful outdoor table, seating and a canopy) the finishing touches are the icing on the cake and where you are able to show personal style and flare.
The size of your space isn't what's important, it's the time and care that goes into creating your seasonal gathering. Labor Day, Bastille Day, Mother's Day: there are a ton of holidays during this time of year that make perfect sense to celebrate with a garden party! Get together your best sun hats and flowy dresses, I'm about to share the details for putting together a memorable outdoor event for all your besties.Continue to 2 of 14 below.
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Location, Location, Location
Choosing a perfect location might be the first and most important step of throwing a garden party. If you live in a country setting you might be fortunate enough to have a gorgeous, landscaped yard filled with the latest blooms, fresh scents of greenery and the open airs. If this is you, take advantage of your own space. If not seek out a friend that is willing to share an outdoor space. City dwellers can turn to community gardens, rooftop decks, terraces and small patios for garden party entertaining. Another idea would be to venture out a couple of hours outside the city to host at a local farm or friend with a country home.Continue to 3 of 14 below.
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These days I think a sweetly designed evite does the trick. In Photoshop, you can easily upload a photo of your choice and add details like time, location, date, and RSVP with little or no computer experience. There are also a ton of apps that are free, simple to use and can create an invite for you. If you are feeling extra crafty I always love the idea of a handwritten and designed invitation for these kinds of things. Handmade invites are warm, personal, and fun to keep as mementos long after your special day.Continue to 4 of 14 below.
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Plan the Menu
Planning a thoughtful menu is just as important as picking the perfect location when it comes to a garden party. Think light as it's harder to prepare food outdoors without a kitchen. Grain and green salads, small tea sandwiches, fresh bread, cheese and meat platters are all fun ideas for outdoor entertaining.Continue to 5 of 14 below.
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Setting the Scene
Create a tablescape and color palette that matches your surroundings. If dahlias are in bloom choose colors such as deep reds, scarlet, burgundy, and magenta. When surrounded by sunflowers I would suggest a more neutral table setting with pops of sunshine or light yellow, maybe even use mini-sunflowers as part of the plating. For garden parties, you can't go wrong with a couple shades of green, with white flowers pulled through a large loosely arranged garland to complete a bright and appropriate table.Continue to 6 of 14 below.
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Trimming the Table
This is the fun part, choosing beautiful plating and silverware that fit into your garden theme! Maybe it's a bit obvious but I love choosing plates and dishes with a subtle floral pattern around the edges. Don't get too hung up on matching everything either! A garden party is the perfect time to mix and match your favorite plates and patterns, just make sure everything feels cohesive in the end. If you do mix and match plates I would suggest choosing one color dinner napkin and gold or silver serve ware. Minimalists can feel free to use all white plating as well, an all-white plate setting allows for experimentation with flowers and accessories.
One of my favorite catering companies, L'atelier Vert, also has incredible mix and match rentals available for small and intimate events.Continue to 7 of 14 below.
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For flower arranging, you can either hire a florist, ask a friend who is an aspiring florist to help, or do them yourself. If you have your hands full leave the flowers to a professional but it can also be fun to create your own awe-inspiring arrangements. Many local supermarkets like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's have quite an impressive and seasonally appropriate array of options when it comes to flowers. To save in-budget, try out your own green thumb. Often a couple of small bud vases or a long natural garland display is a picture-perfect floral design and easy to do on your own. Let your natural surroundings do most of the talking when it comes to a garden party.Continue to 8 of 14 below.
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Plants and Planters
Throwing a garden party in an urban setting can prove difficult on the garden side of things. In this case, I suggest investing in some pretty planters and plants to make your own urban outdoor oasis. A couple of small trees and some hand-built flower beds can go a long way in creating a perfect garden party ambiance for city living.Continue to 9 of 14 below.
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Choose Tables and Chairs
If you don't already have outdoor seating and tables it might be time to invest in some quality pieces. I love buying and shopping vintage for patio furniture. The thrill of the hunt is half of the fun and you will be so proud to share the story of finding your beautiful outdoor furniture with guests at your party. Discussing vintage finds is a great icebreaker and excellent talking point at gatherings.
Adaptations New York is one of my favorite Instagram accounts to follow for seating and tables.Continue to 10 of 14 below.
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Spring Cocktails and Beverages
Do a little research and find the perfect spring cocktail to serve at a garden party. I always like preparing a punch because it saves time and guests can feel comfortable serving themselves. Wine is also great to have on hand in chilled ice buckets across the table. I would suggest a rosé for serving, it's not only delicious but beautiful in color.Continue to 11 of 14 below.
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Make sure to choose foods that are easy to prepare in advance. As we mentioned earlier you most likely won't have access to a kitchen to prepare so it's best to keep things simple. When coordinating and planning your dinner allocate time the day before and day of for food. Don't feel ashamed to ask for help either, you're friends who love to cook will be right beside you preparing food for the big day.
Lastly, I leave you with the menu of a garden party from the always talented and beautiful Athena of Eye Swoon.Continue to 12 of 14 below.
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A seating chart is not always necessary but can help your party move along smoothly and introduce your guests to new people. People naturally tend to have things more in common with similar minded people. You can avoid drama or any disruption to the flow of your party if you plan a seating chart ahead of time. If you are inviting a group that is not very familiar with one another they may appreciate the gesture of the host taking time to introduce them to new friends.
I love allseated.com to help me create seating for all my events. The program also helps you manage your floor plans, guest lists and seating charts all in 3D.Continue to 13 of 14 below.
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If you are planning to work out a seating chart for your garden party you might as well go the extra mile and make pretty seating cards for guests. Whenever I attend a party that's not my own I appreciate the effort of a host to put time and consideration into this kind of planning. It's always really exciting to know there is a place at the table just for you. I love this simple place cards from Rifle Paper Co. The gorgeous floral illustrations go perfectly with the garden theme and no matter how bad your handwriting is, these cards will still look stunning at your table setting.Continue to 14 of 14 below.
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For any party or entertaining, it's always nice to have a playlist at least 3 hours long on hand. It's difficult to be the first at a party, a light party mix with put your guests at ease and add to the ambiance of the gathering. Make sure to lower the music when everyone is seated so the conversation can flow abundantly.
I use Spotify to create playlists of my one or borrow some from musically inclined friends.