If you’re looking for garden party ideas, we’ve got them. Ideas for a summer party that your guest will remember – and rave about – until Christmas. Or maybe even Easter. From Mother’s Day to the Autumn Equinox – we’ve got months of outdoor fun ahead of us. Summertime, and the living is easy. Decorate your garden party with umbrella lights, with white lights and with flowers. And set an elegant table. Use food stations and beverage stations – even for a traditional sit down dinner. It’s easier on you and will let the guests control their own portions and preferences. Unless you have staff, that is. Then, go ahead and do a full-service dinner party a la Downton Abbey.
Which of the summer days are worth worth celebrating, you ask? Start with a backyard brunch for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Then we have the Memorial Day long weekend, then the best of all, the first day of summer and the Summer Solstice. Almost right after that, July 4 and then the Labor Day long weekend. And then, Bam, it’s the September (22) Autumnal Equinox. They are all perfect days to host your summer soiree in the garden. So get out your party clothes, the game is afoot. And with these tips below, you can host a backyard bash that will be the talk of the ‘hood – all winter long.
Bare White Lights are All the Rage
Strings of white fairy lights, and jars full of summer flowers say GARDEN PARTY in capital letters.
If you’re lucky enough to have a clifftop overlooking the ocean in your backyard, you have a great start. Otherwise, you can still do this incredible look. The garland of fresh leaves and summer blossoms is a fantastic garden party idea. And the hanging bare white bulbs? Well, they just make this setting, don’t you think? Although we would have had the guests looking at the view, to be honest. Source
Pool party – and those lights are already incredible, think how awesome they will look once it’s dark and they’re reflecting in the pool. You just can’t go wrong with a summer party by the pool. Source
Wow – these bare bulbs really make a statement when they are hung en mass. What an incredible industrial setting they create for the perfect garden party dinner table. Source
Set the Mood with Creative Lighting – and Umbrellas
Umbrella lights are the latest trend for your outdoor garden party decor and whoever had this idea – we approve. So many umbrella designs to choose from these days, including standard umbrellas, Chinese paper umbrellas and vintage (or reproduction) parasols. And they look really arty. Source
Vintage parasols would set a perfect stage for a Great Gatsby garden party. Source
These red floating umbrella lights are a DIY with bare bulb white string lights. Source
These Moroccan-style patio umbrellas are perfect lighting for the perfect summer party. Source
Those Perfect Touches of Summer Decor
White is always right for summer – such a clean crisp look. These white spheres were made using balloons. Source
Paper lanterns have long been a garden party staple – and with good reason. Source
Bare branches serve as a fantastic hanger for paper lanterns. Source
What’s more appropriate for a summer party? Yellow party decor screams sunshine and lollipops, doesn’t it? Source
Red and white is another popular summer party color choice. Source
Tie carnations to fishing line in multi-gradient hues for a curtain of flowers.
White cherry blossom lights add an elegant touch when strung vertically over a summer party table. Source
If you want to have floral curtains that you can reuse – try tissue paper pom-poms for your garden party. Source
A paper flower DIY for long lasting summer party decorations – intertwine them with fairy lights for a special look. Source
Say it with Flowers
And champagne. Say it with flowers…and champagne. No summer party is complete without both. Or so say we. Source
This is so simple to DIY. A trip to the store for a galvanized pail, some floating candles and some flower blossoms and there you have it – instant summer party decor.
Sometimes – it’s a matter of looking at everyday household items with a different perspective. What a great floral candle holder this makes for a summer party table. Source
Set an Elegant Table for your Summer Soiree
Greenery and white make for an elegant tablescape. Source
Not everyone has 20 dinner chairs. But you can always go Moroccan-style and sit on cushions at a low table. A touch that makes your garden party just a little more memorable. Source
Transparent chairs and accents – white table and candles – seem to disappear. This tablescape really makes the coral flower arrangements pop, doesn’t it? An elegant garden party dinner table is as easy as this. Source
This moss and rock runner in the middle of your garden party table takes it all back to nature. Get the moss from your very own moss garden.
White table cloths, candles and fresh flowers make such an elegant summer party table setting. Source
Rich wood and glorious flowers make this simple setting into a magical summer party location. Source
Food Stations: A Garden Party Favorite
Set the appetizers and crudites up in a spot where guests can help themselves. This temporarily repurposed canoe is a really creative summer party idea. Source
A chalkboard menu is a great idea for an outdoor summer party. Put it at the head of the food station(s) – or use smaller chalkboards right beside the courses. Source
A decadent cheese board is garnished with nuts, fresh herbs and dried fruit. Source
A cheese and charcuterie board can be the bulk of the offeings – full of luxurious cheeses, cured meats, olives and olive oil, exotic nuts & fruits, artisan crackers & breads. Get yourself the longest 12″ plank from Home Depot or Lowes that you can find, and treat it with some vegetable (or coconut) oil. Charcuterie is a huge trend right now and it will leave you with time to enjoy the party. Plus you’ll look like a star. Source
Add anything to your charcuterie tray that you would add to an Antipasto plate, and then add a lot more meat (because that’s basically what ‘charcuterie’ is, cured meat and lots of it). But you can almost add anything tapas-like. And you don’t really need a big long plank – you can use a combination of cutting boards and cheese boards just as effectively (although perhaps not as dramatically). Source
Another great idea for your summer garden party is to use a chalkboard tray (or paint one with chalkboard paint). That way, you can present super exotic cheeses, identified for your guests’ convenience. Source
Make your own bruschetta board. Toast the bread on the grill outdoors but have all the other ingredients ready in advance. Source
A Taco Bar is another great idea. If your party will last several hours – spread out the dining opportunities. Something to snack on as people arrive, laden trays of cheese and charcuterie mid-party and a Taco bar as the garden party begins to wind down. Source
Dessert Bars for Garden Parties
Oh yes, don’t forget the dessert stations. Champagne and a macron? Thanks, don’t mind if we do. Source
Really, could a summer party be complete without a S’Mores station? Source
Banana Pudding Shooter Shots at the Dessert Station. Source
Strawberries and fresh mascarpone cheese/whipped cream mousse in shooter glasses are sure to please. Source
Caramel and raspberry dessert shooters are another way to go.
Beverage Bars for Your Garden Party
You’ve seen the canoe appetizer station. Now we have a boat beverage cooler – both great summer party ideas. Source
Here’s a twist – serve champagne in split (mini) bottles – with straws. This is the kind of added touch that will have your guests talking about your summer party all the way through winter. Source
And don’t forget the ice cold beer. A must for a garden party, don’t you think? Having beverage stations means your guests can help themselves. It’s important for two reasons. You don’t want anyone standing around with an empty glass wishing they could have another. and you don’t want to be running around filling up those empty glasses for the whole party.
A decidedly adult dessert. Source
Flower power cocktails – or Shirley Temples – are beautiful drinks to serve at your garden party. Source
Mix drinks ahead of time – several different varieties – and serve them in mason jars wtih lids. Another way to make sure you’re not refilling drink glasses all afternoon or evening. Source
Decanters of flavored water are perfect offerings for those guests who don’t drink alcohol. Source
Giving each guest a gift on the way out is a small gesture that leaves everyone feeling very special and appreciated. And it can cost so little to make their day this way. From bright tissue paper-wrapped fresh bedding plants, to mini jars of homemade jam – it’s the thought that counts. And the thought that will be remembered.
A small bedding plant (in this example Violas), wrapped in tissue paper and tied with twine or jute, makes a charming party favor / parting gift.
Natural, hand-made soaps are always a lovely gift – look for one with a label like these – something that will remind them of your summer party. Source
Honey jar party favors – you can custom order mini jars of many suitable treats. Source
You could make your own jam for your party favors. Source
Mini pinatas from Tops Malibu are the total bomb – full of trinkets and treats. Put one at each place setting. Source
Bottled water and the hangover kit – a whimsical parting gift, sure to be much appreciated by some of your guests come the next morning. Source
Given that it’s summer, your guests will likely arrive while it’s daylight and leave when it’s dark. At some point after dinner, light some candles on the pathway back to their vehicles. They’ll be touched at such a thoughtful gesture. And that’s really what it’s all about. The food and decorations don’t matter nearly as much as making each guest feel special – and welcome.