How to throw a garden party

How to throw a garden party

Spring’s in full swing, lockdown restrictions are easing, and everyone’s itching for one thing — a party! 

The infamous garden party used to be a particularly exciting breed of bash in its own right, but now that all parties need to be garden parties (to comply with COVID restrictions) it’s time to think outside the box. While a BBQ, some decent tunes, and a string of fairy lights used to suffice, this year deserves a little extra planning — don’t you think?

Don’t know where to start? Fear not.

This is our ultimate guide to throwing the best garden party your friends will attend all summer.

What food do you serve at a garden party?


No party is complete without food — that’s party planning 101.

So, what should you serve? Before we talk about taste we need to acknowledge that it’s 2021 — so you can expect to be confronted with lots of weird and wonderful dietary preferences as well as strict nut, meat and dairy-free requirements.

To avoid that last-minute panic when you discover you don’t have any food that’s suitable for one of your guests, do the sensible thing and ask your invitees beforehand!

Make it clear that you’re more than happy to cater to their needs. Anyone following a specific diet will jump at the opportunity to suggest some options (or offer to bring their own dish).

Decide whether you want to have a BBQ (keep in mind, you’ll probably do all the cooking), use your kitchen (where you can’t have any guests helping), or get a takeaway (the easy option).

You can also ask your guests about their preferences on this — there might be a firm consensus. 

If you’re really stuck, we recommend going for tried and tested crowd-pleasers such as burgers (veggie or meat), oven chips, salad or pizza. Any food that’s tasty and not too messy to eat will probably please most of your guests!


How do you make a garden party fun?


What a question!

While this is the thing that most people fear the most, the likelihood is that your guests will be so ready to socialise after a year stuck inside that your party will host itself.

Organised fun is never a good idea — so embrace spontaneity and ride with the uncertainty of your event. Let people mingle and catch up. All you can do is set the scene.

Think about what atmosphere you want to create. Will you be having your gathering in the day or evening? If you’re having a day party, then some good music (the best way to set the mood), delicious food, and comfy seating will be enough. If your guests will be around after dark, then you’ll also want to think about lighting (coloured ones, fairy lights, or lanterns will create a cosy feel) and providing some blankets if it gets chilly.

If it’s just a few of your closest friends attending, you probably won’t need much ‘entertainment’ — you can easily giggle the time away! Expecting a few partners of friends or acquaintances too? It won’t hurt to have a few game options up your sleeve to break the ice.

Pictionary and Articulate are firm favourites here at St. Ives. Failing that — card games never go amiss!

Curate some bops into a playlist, compare heads vs. seats on your patio (is there enough?), test your outdoor lights, and give your blankets and cushions a spin in the washing machine (it’s good to be COVID conscious).


How can I decorate my garden for a party?


If you’re holding your party for a special occasion, that’s great — you can go all out with the balloons and banners. If not, our advice is to not stress too much about decoration.

Feel like getting crafty? Sticking some homemade paper decorations to your windows and conservatory (if you have one) will show your guests that you’re making an effort to welcome them. Plus, if you have kids, this might be a fun activity for them to get involved with!

Do you have old furniture or general garden junk cluttering up your space? Now would be a good time to get rid of it. Likewise, if you were planning on doing some spring gardening, why not get your lawn looking nice and put together in time for your bash? 

Just having a clear space with visually pleasing flowers or vegetable beds goes a long way.

Remember, no one is going to be judging your garden — your guests want to see you, not the Chelsea Flower Show!


What do I do if it rains for my garden party?


Ah, the question on everyone’s mind! As you and your friends must socialise outside, it’s not going to be fun if it rains. According to the current UK COVID rules, you can’t simply move inside like you normally would — and no, you can’t just open your windows!

The best thing you can do is plan to have your party on a sunny day, but it’s wise to have some umbrellas or a parasol to hand in case the weather decides to surprise you. Of course, you can still make use of your awning or canopy if you have one.

As COVID restrictions relax, having a conservatory or orangery will be a hosting asset. The large windows and doors can open to allow lots of air flow — which we know is key to preventing transmission. You’ll be able to socialise indoors and avoid the rain, but in a safer way than just sitting inside your home. 

You might want to plan ahead and either get a new one installed or repair your existing structure if it’s a little worse for wear. 


Do I need outdoor heating for a garden party?


As we’re well into spring, you’d hope that extra heating would be unnecessary.

This being said, if you’re planning on hosting parties all summer long (and after dark), then you might want to invest in a few outdoor heaters. We recommend seeing how you get on using your outdoor space without them, and only buying some if you find yourself getting quite chilly. Keep in mind that you’re not just buying your heater up-front — you’ll be paying for its energy usage too.

So, there you have it — our lowdown on throwing a fun (and COVID-friendly) garden party. Catch up with your pals, have a little boogie… and enjoy the next day clear up!