What is a garden party?

7 Tips for Throwing the Perfect Garden Party

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The Spring weather may still be a little temperamental, but it’s worth braving for an outdoor soiree. After a long winter cooped up inside, nothing feels more satisfying (and fun!) than an alfresco afternoon among friends. Think lawn games, tasty drinks, delicious seasonal food and guests lounging about soaking in the long-awaited sun. Everyone loves a garden party, so we tapped some of the industry’s top event planners for tips on throwing the best backyard bash now and all summer long.

Make Your Guest Comfortable

Any good party planner will tell you your guests comfort should be your top priority. If your gathering is during the day, make sure there are shaded areas and provide sunscreen. If it’s in the evening, citronella candles and bug spray are a must. Party consultant Mindy Weiss, says depending on the weather, consider offering handheld fans, umbrellas, shawls or heating lamps. “Your guests should be relaxed and not uncomfortable with the climate,” she says. “Ensure there’s adequate access to restrooms, water and other essentials.”

PARTY PLANNER: Outdoor Party Ideas for Throwing the Prettiest Bash Image zoom Sandra Brzezinski

Focus on the Tablescape

When it comes to decorations, a beautiful spread of food and an outdoor backdrop is often all you need. Jim Denevan, the founder of Outstanding in the Field, rarely has decorations at his al fresco gatherings. ” our table a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns, set against a simple white tablecloth,” he says. If you want to spruce it up a bit, flowers are always a good idea, but make sure they’re hearty enough to stand up to heat and wind, like garden spray roses, dahlias or anything tropical. Add clear marbles or pebbles to the bottom of the vases so they don’t get blown, or go for potted plants or succulents. For that matter, any décor needs to be weighted down, and it’s best not to use paper goods unless they’re firm and heavy. Seri Kertzner, of Little Miss Party Planner, suggests using melamine plates and utensils, cloth napkins (IKEA has really cheap dishtowels she loves to use for picnic napkins) and plastic, reusable cups.

Consider Open Seating

Event planner David Beahm loves to make outdoor parties cocktail style, where the food is constantly served and people can see everyone. “Set up living room and cocktail areas so that people get comfy with each other, visit, and are not confined to a single table,” he suggests. Weiss agrees that if the event is casual enough, open seating is the way to go. “This gives guests the option to sit in full sun or shade and mingle,” she says. “I also love doing cozy, lounge seating.” Though if your party is on a concrete area, be sure to have enough chairs for everyone to sit and small folding tables so they can set down their food as well. If your party is on a lawn, take advantage and simply lay down blankets and pillows. “Just set up a folding table for your food buffet,” says Kertzner. “Or better yet, bring picnic baskets and have your whole party on the grass!”

MUST-HAVES: 10 Essentials to Pack for a day Outdoors Image zoom Janelle Jones

Serve a Seasonal Menu

Take inspiration from the season. It’s always nice to start the party off with a drink made with muddled seasonal fruit or a summery lemonade with fresh sprigs of mint or lavender. Summer craft beers will also be wildly popular this season, says Weiss, try some of your area’s favorites. When it comes to food, shopping seasonally and locally is ideal. “Good food doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy,” says Denevan. “When the ingredients are fresh and seasonal, you just want to let them shine.” He suggests stopping by your local farmers market and asking the vendors what’s good and how they like to prepare things. “They love to share the stories of what they grow,” he says. “Whether it’s a new ingredient or a new way to cook something.”

Bring on the Games

A garden party is the perfect time to let out your inner child. Even if it’s a kid-free affair, set out some bubbles or hula hoops for your guests to have fun with-you might just be surprised by who gets involved. Lawn games are always a big hit-corn hole, bocce ball and croquet are classics. If you don’t want to deal with a whole game set, Kertzner says it’s just as nice to set out some balls to throw around if you have the space and they won’t get in the way of the food. If you’re on concrete, sidewalk chalk will keep the kids busy for hours, you could even pre-draw a hop scotch game for both the kids and adults.

Keep things Under Control

Music is a must! But be sure to check your local sound ordinances to help determine the volume and energy level of the music you play and how late you keep it on, says Beahm. As for clean-up, be sure to not save it all until the end of the night. If you’re party is at home, set up plenty of garbage cans, and clear things throughout the night. If you’re at a park or a different outside space, be sure to set out plenty of garbage bags. Weiss suggests designating some helpers than can clear up and help to ensure you leave no trace.

Have a Backup Plan

We hope it’s a beautiful blue-sky day for your outdoor shindig, but it’s always good to have a contingency plan. You can never be too prepared for rain, so either have a lot of umbrellas standing by, a tent or an alternate indoor location readily available. “Remember, summer storms can be dangerous-don’t risk it,” warns Beahm. Also, if it’s a scorcher, plan your event for the evening when things cool down.

See how to throw a spring garden party:

8 top tips on how to throw a garden party by a planner

As the UK climate continues to delight Britons with sporadic heatwaves and sunshine, the summer is providing food and sun worshippers alike the perfect opportunity to use their garden party hosting skills.

After all, garden parties are as quintessentially British as afternoon tea and Victoria sponge cake, dating back to the mid 1800s among the higher echelons of society. To this day, Queen Elizabeth II continues to throw several outdoor festivities a year, with an average of three outdoor get-togethers at Buckingham Palace involving over 30,000 guests and platefuls of cake and sandwiches.

While the majority of people might not have stately homes nor the funds to feed guests in their thousands, garden parties have fortunately evolved over the years into a far more informal and inexpensive affair involving BBQs, jugs of Pimms, and late-night card games.

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“Times change and some people prefer to play host in a more personal environment, such as your own home,” explains Marc Ahmed, CEO and founder of luxury party and events company Scarlet.

Whether it’s sitting in candlelight sharing platters of BBQ grilled halloumi and honey-glazed aubergine or playing a game of catch before cuddling up by an outdoor fire under layers of blankets, there’s something undeniably comforting about tucking into home-cooked food under the stars with friends and loved ones.

However, as any host will know, throwing the perfect garden party is no small feat. From catering and heating to decoration and music, planning an outdoor bash brings with it a myriad of party planning dilemmas.

Here are eight top tips on how to host a fun-filled garden party, according to Ahmed.

  1. Consider your budget in advance

Garden party with friends (iStock)

You’d never buy a house or even do a weekly shop without having a maximum budget in mind, and the same rules apply when planning a garden party. It’s important to remember that budgets play a massive part in a host’s flexibility when it comes to food, alcohol and decoration and so it’s best not to deviate too far away from a fixed figure.

As for finances, Ahmed says the first thing to consider is how many guests you intend to invite to your party and factor in a potential “over-spill” of numbers in order to plan catering accordingly.

“The next thing you should think about is where you plan to host the party,” he says. “For example, ask yourself whether you might need a back-up marquee. Champagne is expensive, especially if you buy it from a caterer, so perhaps you have some of your own drinks at home already that you can use up instead?”

While Ahmed says exceptional service can come at a price, he suggests investing in additional soft seating if you’re working on a tight budget.

“Usually we hire soft seating if a client doesn’t have enough comfortable seating, but a good option is to go for a picnic style party where everyone can sit on a beautiful mat without having to worry about chairs,” he says.

  1. Prepare more food than you think you’ll need

Garden party food (iStock)

Strike up a conversation about catering a party with a friend and they’ll undoubtedly tell you that the rule “more is more” is always best.

For some, this may involve copious amounts of wood-fired pizzas, DIY burgers and a guacamole station. For others, it might be a three-course sit-down affair involving elaborate pomegranate-garnished salads, poached salmon, and miniature fruit trifles.

Regardless, it’s important to consider food as a top priority after deciding on a location, according to Ahmed.

“Fresh and light ingredients are a must,” he adds. “Avoid heavy carbohydrates and too much hot food if the party is in the summer. Alternatively, opt for salads and mini bowls to keep guests full and happy.”

To cater for dietary requirements and allergies, Ahmed advises it’s important to do your research and ask guests to inform you of theirs in advance of the party.

“Vegetarianism and veganism are the biggest dietary trends at the moment so ensure to cater properly for them,” he says. “Nut, shellfish, and gluten-free allergies are also quite common so make sure you have something for everyone to eat.

“I suggest hiring a chef or caterer who will be able to advise appropriately but the hot food should be pre-cooked and finished once guests arrive. Cold foods can usually be prepared in advance but be careful of sushi as the timing needs to be just right to avoid it spoiling.”

  1. Plan for all weather

Friends hiding under a blanket (iStock)

As any well-prepared Brit will know, it’s important to have an umbrella packed with you at all times given the UK’s mind-boggling change of weather at times. And while we’d like to envisage rays of sunshine beaming down over our garden parties, Ahmed says it’s important to have a wet weather plan in place just in case disaster strikes.

“Never take a chance in British weather and always have some sort of cover where guests can shelter from potential rain,” he says. “Cooking should always be done undercover, regardless, and alternative seating choices is a must.”

As for planning how to move guests indoors or undercover, Ahmed suggests hiring a large marquee with open sides if your house isn’t big enough to cater for large numbers.

Likewise, it’s important to have a contingency plan in place for when night draws in and temperatures decline. While copious amounts of blankets and cashmere jumpers might suffice, Ahmed says that outdoor heating is a “very low cost” option to keep guests toasty.

  1. Make a guest list

Friends sitting around the fire (iStock)

If you’ve ever thrown a surprise leaving party or birthday shindig, you’ll know all too well the importance of knowing the number of guests you imagine will turn up to an event.

After all, who hasn’t hosted at a party and found themselves frantically running around the venue looking for a spare chair and plate for a friend’s surprise plus one or a neighbour who conveniently fancied “popping round” unexpectedly?

In order to avoid this, Ahmed suggests sending out “Save The Date” cards two to three months prior to the event and an invitation six to eight weeks in advance of the party, depending on its size.

“If it’s just a small and intimate gathering, then a WhatsApp message a few weeks before would suffice,” he says.

As the majority of garden parties take place in the summer, the planner says it’s vital to check friends and family’s holiday plans far in advance.

“It might be worth speaking to the main guests to see if they will be around before you set the date,” he says. “Otherwise, plan to host your party the last week of the summer holidays.”

  1. Use sustainable decorations

Floral ceiling decorations (iStock)

Bunting, fairy lights, and streamers might be your automatic go-to decorations for a party but when choosing the overall aesthetic for a garden bash, first consider the venue.

“The decoration all depends on your garden,” explains Ahmed. “Balloons can be made to look very beautiful if they are designed tastefully and generally less is always more. However, on the subject of flowers, I would say more is always more.”

“Exquisite floral installations in bold summery colours seem to be taking off at the moment in homage to some of the impressive displays you see at the Chelsea Flower Show. A couple of years ago you wouldn’t have seen a cloud of peonies in somebody’s garden but now it’s all the rage.”

Better yet, flower decorations are perfect for those with an eye for sustainability as they are green waste that can be kept for several days, recycled, and given out to guests after the party as party tokens. “They’re a better option than balloons,” says Ahmed.

“We built a dreamy Tuscan garden in London for a Sheikha’s (a female member of a ruling Arab family) birthday with cypress trees, terracotta pots, pergolas and lots of lavender. It was the most stunning setting,” he recalls of his own experience using floral decorations.

As for lighting, the planner advises hosts to opt for festoon lighting or large spheres dotted along walls, lawns, and hung above tables. “If you really want to impress, then a projection mapping show is the ultimate way to go,” he suggests.

For those wanting to use eco-friendly alternatives, Ahmed suggests opting to use glass drink bottles, paper straws and call on the help of friend and relatives to see if you can borrow or hire props.

When it comes to tableware, the party expert advises against separating the festivity into sections, for example a dining or dancing area. “If you do, you’ll be dividing the guests and the atmosphere won’t be the same.”

  1. Choose music you know your guests will like

Friends dancing in the garden (iStock)

When it comes to choosing the music for the evening, we all know the handful of songs that will have us darting off the dance floor in embarrassment or grabbing the nearest friend for a boogie. Fortunately for party hosts, they’ll know exactly the genre of music that will get their guests up on their feet.

“Think about what music you like and what your guests listen to,” advises Ahmed. “If you go with tracks from the 1980s the whole night, then you’ll definitely put some people off,” he warns. “If you want to play it safe, go with a live band and a DJ to really mix it up for everyone.”

When hosting a garden party, host should take care not to be inconsiderate to their neighbours. After all, very few people like to be woken up at 4am to the sound of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the seventh time in a night.

“You should invite neighbours in an ideal world or send them a bottle of Champagne in the hope that they won’t mind the noise,” he says. “I’d say turn the music down from midnight and cut it off at 3am if you’re not inviting the neighbours.”

  1. Consider the dress code

Garden party festivities get under way (iStock)

For some, the idea of a garden party might conjure up images of dated tea parties à la Hyacinth Bucket from Keeping Up Appearances or your grandmother’s timeless yet inedible prawn cocktail from the 1970s.

In order to ensure your party is both classy and summery, Ahmed suggests prioritising the dress code.

“If there is a clash of any kind; it will backfire,” he says, emphasising the importance of keeping everything “cohesive”, from colour schemes to drink and food pairings.

“Summer chic, all-white, bold and beautiful are just some of the dress codes our clients opt for,” he says.

“Elegant summer cocktails, Champagne and exquisite fine catering with subtle lighting and soft coloured decorations will keep a party looking classy and upmarket,” he adds.

For those wanting a themed bash, the planner says to go with what your heart wants and what shows off your “personal taste and flair”.

He says: “Choose a theme that is going to make you happy – if that’s a midsummer night’s dream theme then go for it, or if you want something more rustic then do it.

“What you absolutely must do though is do it properly and hire the right props and decor.”

  1. Give your guests a party favour

Homemade chocolate chip cookies (iStock)

When the night draws in, the summer cocktails have been drunk dry and your guests begin to call their taxis, don’t forget to give your loved ones a small parting gifts to thank them for their company, says Ahmed.

While traditional ideas of party bags are now passé, he suggests that hosts throwing extravagant garden parties should consider buying a small basket or hamper filled with luxury gifts to hand to guests at the end of the night.

For those throwing smaller affairs, he suggests “gifting handmade biscuits from the party or flowers” that are both inexpensive and memorable.

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How to Throw a Summer Garden Party


Whether it’s your prized peony bush or topiary skills, a garden party is a chance to show off your beautiful outdoor space. Enhance your garden’s natural beauty by choosing a co-ordinating party theme or colour. Deck the fences or hedgerow with bunting, choose tableware that echoes the colours of neighbouring shrubs and create cosy corners by layering up rugs, blankets and throws. Cut flowers from the garden look lovely displayed in coloured glassware or ask your florist to create a show-stopping arrangement as a focal point for the celebrations.


Good lighting is essential for an ambient garden party. Create the perfect setting by stringing festoon bulbs from tree branches or introducing solar powered lights to flowerbeds – not only will they give your garden a gorgeous glow, they’ll also highlight its best features. If you’re planning on partying the night away introduce flickering candlelight to create a cosy atmosphere. Walkways and steps look beautiful when lined with candle-filled lanterns and will provide after-dark safety too.


A garden party is not really a garden party without a summer cocktail. Pimms or Sangria are both real crowd pleasers and look great in the hand when the glass is filled with fruit. Be considerate of those acting as chauffeurs and make sure there are plenty of soft drink options too. If you’re hosting for a large group, take the pressure off having to serve drinks all night by investing in a drinks dispenser and making glasses readily available for guests to help themselves.

If you are organizing a garden party this summer then you might be wondering where to start. Regardless of whether the party is an intimate gathering or a much larger celebration, the planning fundamentals remain the same. The longer you have to plan the party the smoother the logistics will be.

Formal or Informal?

Invite those you wish to come so you have an approx.. idea on numbers. You then need to decide how formal or informal the party will be. Do you envisage a sit down meal complete with place settings? Or will this be more casual with a BBQ and casual tables and chairs?

Depending on your numbers you might need to consider a marquee structure , even if the party is informal you need to plan for weather contingencies. Pop-up gazebos are fine for small numbers but no good if your party is 40+

Plan your furniture

Think about what furniture you need to provide for guests. A formal sit down meal will require tables and chairs, whereas a casual BBQ might just need garden furniture. You need to think about what furniture is needed both for eating and relaxing. If you don’t have enough of your own you can hire some in easily. If you’re in Essex try Alfresco Hire.


I’m a big believer that light can create the different ambiance. You’ll need some practical lighting so guests can see what food they’re eating, the way to the toilets or the exit. But you also want to create more atmospheric lighting. There are so many options available now

  • Bamboo flares
  • Firepits
  • Battery Tealights lining a pathway when its dark
  • Fairy lights or festoon lights hanging from trees or hanging over a pathway
  • Candles, candles, candles
  • Chandeliers for a touch of glamour
  • Spots lighting dining tables
  • Uplighters under trees

Food to tempt the taste buds

If you’re heading down the formal route then hire in outside caterers, they can provide not only the delicious food but all the staff and equipment you need. Even if you decide not to have a sit down email the caterers can offer options like bowl food , food stations, BBQ’s.

If a more casual affair then consider using your local butchers to provide the BBQ for you, most will provide side dishes. In the past clients have done exactly this and for dessert we had large bowls of strawberries and mini cakes from the supermarket. You don’t have to spend big bucks on catering to have a fabulous event. Its mainly depends on the vibe you’re going for.


A more formal party will require drink served to guests, especially if it’s a sit down meal. More informal and you can make it a little more self serve. You can have a pimms station with jugs of pimms made up, pimp your prosecco, local ale and even bottles of larger on ice. Of course if a larger party you might decide to have a mobile bar with staff, drink and glasses. This mobile bar can be a structure within a marquee or outbuilding, or indeed there are many vehicle versions available.

Just remember if you’re providing the drink you need to think about:



Glasses (more than 1 per person)

A bucket for the dredges to be poured into

How to dispose of all your bottles afterwards

Someone on hand to clear up throughout the day/evening

These are the key things you need to get right for your party. Of course there are additional aspects like entertainment, music, flowers but get the core elements spot on and everything else will flow more easily.

Remember that venues have banqueting managers to deal with problems but you’ll have no-one. A party planner can manage the planning of the celebration and project manage discreetly on the day itself. You can look at previous parties we have organised by visiting our party gallery, if you are interested in hiring us for your celebration please do get in touch.


Photographers at past Dream Occasions events: Kerry Morgan , Nick Kontou , Tim Bowden , Paula Day , Mark Bothwell , Contre-Jour, Purple Peartree

Furniture Hire: – Alfresco Hire

Prosecco Van: Bubble Bros Ltd

How To Plan The Perfect Garden Party

There’s nothing like January in Dubai – the sunshine, cool breeze and just the right temperature to keep you wanting to spend more time outdoors. How about a garden party to enjoy the beautiful weather with your favourite people? It’s simple, personal and allows for great conversations in a natural setting. Not to mention, that makes a pleasant change from restaurants and malls. Here are some tips to help you plan the perfect garden party.

Plan it right

List everything you will need to host the perfect garden party

Is your garden party marking a special occasion, like a friend’s birthday, for instance? Or is it a casual gathering to catch up with friends and family? If it’s the latter, will you have a theme? Questions like these will help you plan and decide on the specifics of the event like décor ideas, food, music, and almost everything else. Once you decide on these, go ahead and create a garden party checklist to make sure you cover everything.

Walk around your garden to get an idea of how many people you can comfortably fit in the space without overcrowding. Set a date, make a guest list and get the word out.

The perfect staging

Paper bunting and banners are great to decorate for a garden party

While gardens add a picturesque element to gatherings on their own, it’s always nice to dress them up for the occasion. Add a splash of colour with bright bunting and tablecloths. Ribbons strung on tree branches also add a whimsical charm. If you don’t have much garden furniture, throw in some floor pillows and cushions to create a laidback seating area for guests.

DIY Idea: Pick some wildflowers from the garden and place them in vintage milk jugs or teapots for a charming centrepiece.

The F&B of it all

Serve finger food and refreshing beverages

Food and drinks are easily the focal points of any party. There are plenty of garden party menu options you can serve to make your soirée memorable. Since it’s already outdoors, barbeque is the most obvious (and common) choice. It helps that food served on skewers and sticks is easier for guests to enjoy while they walk around and mingle.

For classier gatherings, a banquet-style table set up with trays of finger food, bowls of salads and fruits, one or two drink dispensers and cutlery works perfectly well. For drinks, homemade lemonade is a timeless choice. Iced tea, soft drinks and of course, tea at some point during the party are also great options. There are plenty of garden food ideas to choose from; just make sure they complement your party’s theme.

Throwing a party in your garden lets you be as creative as you want with serveware. Jam jars are a popular choice for serving cooler drinks. Mix-and-match china or bright disposable plates are both good options to consider for serving food.

DIY Idea: Create a quirky cooler by filling up an old planter with ice and placing soft drinks in it to keep them chilled.

Tunes that set the vibe

Set the mood with music that complements the party’s theme

Good music goes a long way in setting the right mood for your party. Make sure you select tracks in advance to complement the theme and avoid any interruptions. Consider smooth jazz if you are planning a classy, sophisticated soirée. Pop music works well for more casual get-togethers.

As the sun sets…

Light up your garden with fairy lights as it gets darker

Make sure you put some thought into lighting for when it starts getting darker. Candles and tiki torches are perfect to add a bit of soft lighting. If you are expecting kids at your party, you might want to keep the flame covered for safety.

One of the best ways to add some light and create a magical ambience is to string some fairy lights on plants, trees, and basically, everything (we love fairy lights)! Battery-operated string lights work best and save you the hassle of locating power outlets in your garden.

DIY Idea: Place flickering faux-flame tea lights in paper lanterns and string them up to add some charm to your décor.

And finally…

Sit back and enjoy the feast in your beautiful garden with your family and friends!

Wondering what else you can do to make the most of this weather? Have a look at our roundup of the best spots for a barbeque in Dubai and top tips to plan the perfect pool party!

Garden Party Ideas: A Guide To Throwing A Backyard Party People Will Love

There’s pretty much nothing more enjoyable than an outdoor summer party. With good food, good company, and a green, peaceful setting, it just can’t be beat. If you’re fortunate enough to have a spot to host, you can throw your own garden party with not much effort and huge reward. Keep reading to learn more about throwing a backyard party and garden party tips.

How to Host a Garden Party People Will Love

When you’re throwing a backyard party, you should keep one word in mind: effortless. Does this mean you shouldn’t put much effort in? Of course not! But you want your guests to feel comfortable and at ease, and your setup to have a rustic, almost wild element to it. You’re out in nature, after all.

This means flower arrangements that are cheerful, bright, and maybe a little thrown together. Think flowers or even just greenery of different heights arranged casually in mismatched mason jars and vases. Cover tables with bright, rough-hewn tablecloths and napkins. While you want to embrace the outdoors, you also want your guests to feel comfortable. The best way to do this is to create a “room” in your garden.

Lay down rugs and blankets on the ground. Put up an open tent or awning to create a shady spot (it’s not much fun to eat in the hot afternoon sun). String Christmas lights or light rows of tiki torches and candles to keep the space light after the sun sets.

If you want a slightly more formal affair, you can set a dining table, but many guests will be just as happy sitting on pillows and cushions over rugs – people love the feel of a real picnic. A couple Bluetooth speakers scattered around the garden will keep the music going all day.

More Garden Party Ideas

You don’t want your food to be too complicated or hard to eat, especially if you’re going to be sitting on the ground. Set a big buffet style table with mostly finger foods, but include one “main” dish like fish or roast beef to make it feel like a real meal. Choosing a specific theme is helpful too.

While everyone loves a barbecue, preparing food ahead of time will give you more time to socialize and enjoy your party. You may want to put netting or decorative mesh covers over your food to protect it from bugs. Drinks can be as simple or as complicated as you want them. Bottled beer, soda, and rosé is great, while pitchers of iced tea, lemonade, and mixed drinks give a personal, more artisanal touch.

Remember, whatever you decide to do, keep things bright, light, and easy.

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