Garden party ideas – 23 ways to welcome guests in style over the summer

Great garden party style tips and ideas to get you in the mood for summer entertaining
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  • We can finally host garden gatherings (safely and following the current Government guidelines) for friends and family – what better excuse to throw a garden party. Whatever the weather we say it’s most definitely time to party.

    Don’t fret at the thought of hosting a ‘party’ because all it takes is a few simple styling solutions to elevate your garden into a party playground for all to enjoy.

    Garden party ideas

    Choose a garden party theme or colour to  add decorative touches, maybe echo the colours of surrounding flowering shrubs and plants. Add tablecloths, seat cushions and napkins to reflect your chosen colour palette to. unify your outdoor space. Draped fabric looks pretty for summer garden idea for parties and will give extra protection from the sun if the weather is too hot to handle.

    Extend your theme into other areas by stringing up large brightly coloured paper pompoms or other garden party decorations such as bunting. Flowers in the same shade add well thought out detail.

    A formal arrangement adds a sophisticated touch to a garden party, but less structured arrangements of simple blooms in containers such as jugs or jars will create an understated feel more in sympathy with the surroundings.

    Who can resist dining outdoors on a glorious summer’s day? They don’t come around often, so make the moment all the more special with these clever entertaining ideas.

    1. Hang an overhead display

    garden party table with plants hanging over the table

    Image credit: Dobbies

    Suspended flower displays have become the go-to trend for dinner parties and festive gatherings, and now that trend is going outdoors. Fashion a simply wooden frame over your alfresco dining table to hang an array of votives or even potted plants to add a decorative touch to the setting. Tie the lanterns and pots onto the frame using garden twine, to keep the look understated and rustic.

    2. Pile up comfy cushions

    outdoor cushions on patio for garden party seating

    Image credit: The Range

    When entertaining in the garden one of the most important things to consider is the comfort of you and your guests. Because unlike when you have people over indoors, the garden doesn’t always offer a squidgy sofe to nestle on. You therefore can’t go wrong with a pile of comfy cushions to make any area a comfy seating solution. Preferably choose cushions in outdoor fabrics to make them weatherproof – or simply be alert to take them all indoors should it rain.

    These cushions from the Range summer collection are designed for outdoor use, these cushions are weather resistant and will add stylish comfort to your patio set or sun lounger.

    3. Rearrange the furniture

    garden with tiled flooring and garden furniture

    Image credit: Dobbies

    Moving your outdoor furniture to mirror a living room layout goes a long way to set the scene for a more intimate soiree. Centring your garden sofa and chairs around a coffee table creates an informal laidback feel that will make your guest feel very at home, in an unfamiliar yet familiar setting.

    4. Extend a warm welcome

    Garden party ideas

    Image credit: Future Publishing PLC/ Simon Scarboro

    We’ve waited long enough, charm garden-party guests at the door with an all-singing, all-dancing display. Make them feel instantly welcomed and ready to party with a jolly greeting on arrival. More than just a great way to say welcome,  a message board is ideal to highlight if you’re celebrating an occasion. Write a happy greeting message or  declaration of love for all to see, to set the tone for the garden party. You can transform any surface into a message board with a simple coat of chalkboard paint.

    5. Play lawn games

    Garden party ideas

    Image credit: Jon Day

    Garden party games are a fantastic ice breaker and will be a huge hit with guests of all ages. Stick to the classics such as hoopla and skittles and invest in good-quality wooden sets (no-one likes to see bits of lurid plastic dotted about the garden!). Classic wooden garden party games will look more sophisticated and will last for years to come. Croquet is an absolute garden party must, though the giant tumble tower looks pretty inviting too. Set out comfy deckchairs for spectators.

    6. Sip cocktails in style with a tropical Tiki bar

    Garden party ideas

    Image credit: Future Publishing PLC/ Joanna Henderson

    Tiki bars are the ultimate garden accessory right now, alongside hanging chairs and hot tubs! This fun furniture piece clearly defines where the drinks are served. Stocked with the latest fashionable gin, a jug of Pimms and various tropical print melamine tumblers and wine glasses a Tiki bar is one to leave open for garden parties all summer.

    7. Craft a café style menu board

    chopping board chalk menu

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    For evening soirées in the garden, put an old chopping board to a new use – as a chic menu board. Use a chalk marker to carefully write out your menu. Unlike on black boards, these pens can’t be wiped off a porous material such as wood, so use a faint pencil mark to give yourself guide lines before you start.

    If you would rather not write on the wood, use string to attach a card menu to the board, tying the string around the handle and stand it up for guests to see.

    8. Create an instant party vibe with balloons

    Garden party ideas

    Image credit: Future Publishing PLC/ Mark Scott

    Nothing says there’s a party quite like simple balloons and bunting! Add a splash of colour to your garden party table by decorating with striking colours. Hang bold bunting and balloons to instantly brightening the occasion. You can even make your own paper bunting, giving you total control over the colour scheme.

    9. Stage a play area

    kids garden play area

    Image credit: Future Publishing PLC/Tim Young

    Up the fun factor for the kids by staging a dedicated play area. Place the sandpit, slides and any other kids entertainment in one zone within the garden, so it zones a play area especially for them to enjoy while the adults relax on the outdoor sofas. Add a chalkboard for added fun, even writing a personalised message to welcome play for little ones. For safety place this area a safe distance from any outdoor cooking areas, but in clear sight of the seating area so parents can keep a watchful eye while they play.

    10. Add colour with paper pom poms

    Garden party ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Scarboro

    Deck out your garden party with paper pom pom decorations if you’re bored of bunting. Hang them from trees, beams, washing lines and window frames to create an instant and fuss-free party vibe. You can get crafty and make your own party decorations or buy them if you’re pushed for time. And if you’re making your own, use patterned paper to add a vibrant touch, go monochromatic for serious sophistication, or all white or all black for a striking display.

    11. Set the table in style

    Garden party ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Debbie Patterson

    If you’re looking to create a more formal garden party feel set the table as if you were hosting indoors. No need to be sparing on the attention to detail, dress the table with all the trimmings. Lay individual place settings with napkins and cutlery. Add a statement floral centrepiece or dot jam jars filled with flowers down the length of the table to add a more boho vibe.

    12. Get the party started with a pinata

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Mark Scott

    Children – not to mention adults – love to play this fun garden party game. Fill the pinata with sweets and hang from a branch for all ages to take part and enjoy. Assign different areas of your outdoor space to different activities. Create lounging areas for grown ups interspersed with games-themed points for younger party goers and everyone will be happy.

    13. Fashion a balloon arch

    balloon arch

    Image credit: Ginger Ray

    Throw  a party like a celeb with the addition of a fashionable balloon arch. Whether framing your feating table to used over a garden fence a balloon arch is just the thing to make a big statement for your garden party. Just be sure to keep it out of direct sunlight, because balloons are likely to start bursting under the heat.

    Follow our easy steps on How to make a balloon arch  to make a blow-up party backdrop that’s sure to impress your guests.

    14. Make quirky plant pot party servers

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    Since you’re already in the garden, you might as well make use of the supplies at hand. Plant pots are a quirky but practical way to display garden party cutlery, napkins, straws and more – particularly when you choose dining accessories in complementary colours. Either use brand new ones or give your existing pots a good scrub and clean – you could even line them with a smaller drinking glass – then add chalkboard sticky labels with charming Alice in Wonderland-style directions.

    15. Set out a Bake Off-style cake table

    Garden party ideas

    Image credit: Dan Duchars

    Set up a table of sweet treats. This tempting garden party cake display looks (almost) too good to eat, while the bold colours and mismatched prints create a fun, vintage feel. To add a competitive edge to your garden party, why not invite your guests to take part in your very own bake-off?

    Just ensure you get a list of entries in advance as you don’t want to end up with three Victoria sponges and no lemon roulade! And don’t forget the rosettes, which will look as pretty pinned to the wall as they will on the winners’ lapels.

    16. Create a fun filled photo booth

    Garden party ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Scarboro

    No party is complete without a photo booth! Capture the fun times perfectly but a homemade booth, leave a camera out and some fun props to encourage guests to snap away. The garden provides the ideal backdrop to ensure beautiful photos.

    Go one further and create your very own DIY photo backdrop idea to take the even more memorable snaps.

    17. Set up shade during peak hours

    Garden party ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Debi Treloar

    Provide seating in shady areas so there is always somewhere for guests to sit back and people watch. Choose spots with pretty views out across the garden and use matching slip covers and co-ordinating cushions on mismatching chairs. Plus a garden party gazebo means the celebrations can go on even if it starts to drizzle.

    Seek garden shade ideas to ensure your guests are safe from the sun at the hottest parts of the day, between 12 and 2p.m.

    18. Stage a makeshift bar area

    Garden party ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Scarboro

    Buy garden-party glasses or move glassware and drinks into the garden so guests don’t have to keep returning to the house to refresh their glasses. Include ‘drinks stations’ like this one and dot them around your garden. It will mean guests can help themselves, leaving the host free to mingle to her heart’s content.

    This trunk is pretty in pink table linen and has been used as a perch for champagne, an ice bucket and glassware. Choose stylish pink and clear plastic over glass to avoid breakages on the terrace.

    19. Make it personal

    Garden party ideas serving drinks

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Scarboro

    Never misplace your glass again – and as we navigate our way out of the current rules and regulations, not mixing glasses has never been so important. Keep tables smart and organised by giving out charms that will help guests keep track of their drinks – fix the charms around glass stems.

    You could also send out invites that can double up as pretty drinks coasters on the night – ask your guests to bring them along to use at the party.

    20. Jazz up summer drinks with style ice cubes

    ice cubes with pomegranate pips

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    Serve cooling drinks with a little something extra, with thanks to styled ice cubes. Choose your ice cube tray, shaped ones are more fun e.g stars or hearts. Place a few fresh pomegranate seeds in the bottom of each and simply fill to the top with water and sit carefully in a freezer drawer. Make sure you do this the night before you want to use them.

    These fruity pops of ice are a cinch to make and will take your party drinks from standard to standout delish!

    21. Light up the garden

    Garden lights on stakes

    Image credit: Future Publishing PLC/ Lucinda Symons

    Outdoor lanterns and lights are a must if you want to keep the garden party going once the sun goes down. Combining a selection of different styles creates a magical atmosphere reminiscent of the entrance to CS Lewis’s Narnia. If you don’t have a lawn for your lanterns, you can produce a similar effect by ‘planting’ them in large and sturdy pots on your patio or balcony.

    A great garden lighting idea is to go for solar-powered lights so you won’t have to scrabble around for extension cables or batteries.

    22. Illuminate pathways for guests

    paper lantern lights in garden

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Scarboro

    If you are lucky enough to have a large garden, it pays to signpost walkways so you can guide guests to different areas. Lines of paper-bag lanterns will help illuminate any uneven surfaces or steps and look pretty as a picture into the bargain. Use battery-powered lights rather than tealights inside the bags so you can leave them unattended. Pop a weight, such as a stone, inside each bag if conditions get breezy.

    23. Make individual serving pouches

    garden party picnic pouches for cutlery

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    Make packing the essentials for outdoor eating easy with these hand-made picnic pouches. Fold an A4 piece of brown paper in half. With a sewing machine, use a long stitch to create a pouch. As you run the stitches up the last long side, neatly slip a little sachet each of salt and pepper under the machine foot, so they become attached to the pouch, too.

    Finish the pouch with a piece of decorative string or ribbon and attach a personalised label.

    Related: Brilliant budget garden ideas that will boost your outdoor space without breaking the bank!

    All your garden party needs now is a hearty dose of summer sunshine.

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