Decorated Life is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More

Garden Party Ideas

By: Decorated Life Team |

Swooning Garden Party Ideas

Garden parties are great all year round entertaining. This blog post has outdoor party ideas, party food ideas, some themed party ideas and party decoration ideas that should have you enjoying the party as much as your guests.

patio perk up for outdoor parties

Source: BHG

Here are tips on how to stay organized, plan, create and host a great garden party with total ease.

is your porch garden party ready?

Source: Home Bunch

Before you send an invite, bake one cake or cleaning the guest bathroom, work out how many guests your outdoor living spaces, gardens and patio furniture sets can comfortable fit – just as it is. Then work out where additional seating, chairs and side tables to help seat and serve will come from and how you can decorate your garden, porch or patio.

use moss on table settings

Source: Pinterest

The sales are on now. If you are looking for something different, patio furniture clearances or summer sales and outdoor party accessories to bring your summer party ideas to life, try the sales at One Kings Lane or Joss and Main to add real sparkle to your outdoor table and setting.

use your best dining room things outside

Source: Country Living

Use your best from your dining room to make your table setting look ‘really special’. Using urns or champagne buckets for flowers, placing desserts on luxurious cake stands, makes your table look quite glamorous. Using your best linen napkins makes your guests feel special too.

mix your best and inexpensive glasses

Source: Country Living

Beautiful tablecloths, table setting the right way, name cards  and ornamental centerpieces dresses even the plainest garden dining table.  Don’t stop at flowers to add whimsy to your dining table. You can fill a glass bowl with lemons or limes, cranberries or  cherries or stand raw vegetables like soldiers in a galvanized rectangular tin for color and height.

The next thing to consider is shelter. Without adequate cover on a patio or porch, you might need to improvise by setting up umbrellas or creating a canopy.

The last thing is lighting. A morning garden party is unlikely to need twinkle lights but if you are planning a late afternoon or evening soiree you should consider stringing trees and bushes with lights.

string lights with faux flowers

Source: Martha Stewart

If you don’t own string lighting place, around the party area, large tea lights in hurricane lamps, or paper bags filled with an inch of sand. They give a wonderful glow and keep your party light and festive.

For less than $100 you can update your look with a few floral pieces. If you don’t want or need everything in the bundle just change your order at the checkout.

Party Planning Ideas

A causal or impromptu party may need little more than a few telephone calls and a quick visit to the store. But if your garden party is a little more serious, and you are known for creating great parties; you should do a little planning.

cozy garden party for 4

Source: My Luscious Life

1 Month Before 

  1. Choose the outdoor area for your garden party. Will it accommodate the number of people you want to invite? Is it sheltered?
  2. Plant additional flowers, seeds or pots so your garden is party ready.
  3. Decide on a color palette for your table setting and outdoor accessories.
  4. Work on your menu. Does anyone have food intolerances? What are the best seasonal foods and fruits for this time of year? Are you serving alcohol, cocktails or mocktails?

1 Week Before

  1. Select and move patio or outdoor furniture sets, table and chairs to your party location.
  2. Design your table setting; assemble or buy anything needed.
  3. Buy beverages

1 Day Before

  1. Prepare food
  2. Set lights and table

If you love party planning checklists, here is a checklist for larger, or more serious parties, from HGTV that should help you really get organized.

If you are sending out invitations.. and who doesn’t love receiving an invitation in the mail.. yes, a hard copy.. remember your choice of invitation sets the tone for the party. Send these out as early as a month before the party.

garden party invitations

Source: HGTV

There are lots of ready made invitations either at the stationery store or try InvitationBox or Shutterfly’s Tiny Prints to personalize your invitations (or get ideas!). Online invitations work well for more casual or last-minute parties. If you prefer to make your own, good quality card stock simply printed or embellished look great too.

Even if you are only inviting four people to your party, personalizing your invitations and place cards will make it go from party to Event.

Don’t Bake! If time is an issue; don’t bake. Present your store-bought treats as beautifully as you can and focus on other aspects of the party.

cheesecake table centerpiece

Source: Southern Living

It’s quite pointless to plan a party that your kitchen can’t handle. Every kitchen has space constraints; make sure you know yours. For example, can your refrigerator fit all those platters of cold hors d’oeuvres? Can your stove handle heating the five dishes you plan to serve hot at the same time? If not, now’s the time to make adjustments and substitutions. You can avoid kitchen crunch by choosing a menu of foods served at a variety of temperatures and preparing as many dishes in advance as possible (some can be made as much as a month ahead). The one catch: Don’t forget to allow enough time for defrosting and reheating on party day.If you run out of storage space, be creative. I’ve been known to stow food in the microwave and warm bread on top of the dryer in the laundry room. If it’s really cold outside, the porch or garage can serve as a second refrigerator. And speaking of the fridge, now’s a good time to clean it out. You can reclaim lots of space by removing any items that can be stored elsewhere or that should have been tossed long ago. – See more at:

Don’t put yourself under unnecessary stress by planning a menu your kitchen can’t handle. Most kitchens have constraints. Will your refrigerator fit large platters of cold sandwiches, drinks or hors d’oeuvres? Do you need a food warmer if your oven has little room? Avoid your kitchen crunch by reducing your menu, serving a mix of hot and warm foods and preparing some dishes in advance – freezing if you need to! Reclaim refrigerator space by cleaning out your refrigerator and removing items that can be stored in your pantry.

To keep your sanity in tact; shop in stages. Buy non-perishables early and divide your shopping by store to save money and time. Buy beverages from your local beverage warehouse to save even more money. This is where planning makes sense.

Check your menu. See what can be prepared ahead, frozen and reheated. Minimize your workload so you can also enjoy your party and not feel completely exhausted when the door bell rings.

Don’t Clean! Top-to-bottom house cleaning just before a garden party is crazy if you don’t have time. Clean the rooms your guests will see and use first. And the one place you should spend some time scrubbing is the bathroom. It’s the number one room guests judge the cleanliness of the whole house. Remove clutter, including bathrobes, and make sure it’s spotless!

One of our readers put me on to this great towel set tip. These soft cotton towels are perfect for your guest bathroom, around the bar for quick mop ups or on the kitchen counter to use for “clean” wiping – water off hands, drying off veggies & fruits. You save on paper towels and easy to wash.  This is a cheap party planner’s working tip that will save time where it counts.

cotton mop up towels

Source: Amazon

Your next power cleaning spot is the entry. Remove mail from the hall table, hide coats, toys, golf clubs, hats and the dog’s leash. Now, clear and clean tables and countertops. Makeover your entry and hallway. Guests will think you’ve spent money on renovations!

During your garden party, check how your home and outdoor space looks. Remove empty dishes. Rearrange and replace food as necessary; making sure it still looks fresh and appealing.

Theme Party Ideas

Themed parties are fun. Birthdays and holidays are perfect opportunities for festive themes. Guests can join in by dressing up. Or just keep your themed party ideas to your outdoor area, party food and garden decorations.

You can keep your garden party theme Simple and Elegant or have a Kim Kardashian Over The Top Bling Party. A few simple decorations and you are there!

Transforming your garden into a south-of-the-border fiesta and hiring a mariachi band or a Great Gatsby party is wonderful if you have the time and the budget to go all out.

Unless your garden is more desert than foliage heaven, spring and summer garden colors create instant party glamor and by far the best decorating backdrop your garden needs. A month before your garden party, plant inexpensive flowering plants for extra color and trim back large branches.

If your party is planned for late afternoon, be prepared; string up some simple white lights in your trees to carry your guests into the night. A fire pit is another great idea for night time lighting.. and an outdoor fireplace is sublime!

Stick to your color scheme where possible with the same colors and patterns running through your plates, foods and accessories.

scalloped edges everywhere

Source: Country Living

Carry your theme and colors into:

  1. Distinctive place settings.
  2. Linens, tablecloths, runners and napkins. Use a great tablecloth; especially if your garden room table has seen better days. Use your best table linen or buy inexpensive yardage.
  3. When it comes to centerpieces, don’t limit your thinking to flowers. Walk through your house and get creative. Think tall and chic.
  4. Candles are festive and cozy, if your party is planned to go into the night. Have candles – all different widths and heights – ready to light. .

Party Decoration Ideas

Martha Stewart has a million great party decorating ideas.

flowers and candles

‘For a quick, modern centerpiece, float peonies – or any flowers that strike your fancy — in small bowls, and arrange them with votive candles.’

checkerboard moss for your table setting

Source: Martha Stewart

Or ‘Fill a galvanized-metal planter (available at garden centers) with fresh potting soil. Inside, arrange Irish moss in two shades….’

Use lighting, matching your theme, all around your garden space. Try holiday lights covered with faux flowers or bark to create a magical garden effect.

use bark

Source: Ruffled Dog

Summer Party Ideas

Summer party decorations lend themselves to so many ideas using everyday items like urns as vases, terracotta bases for your cheeses and dips. A great summer party decorating idea for bars or buffet tables that need extra lighting, is a simple, inexpensive solution.

great idea for extra outdoor lighting

Source: Martha Stewart

Fill clear apothecary bottles with lamp oil and wicks. Set on a sturdy decorative place or mirror and place under a large hurricane lamp for protection. More candle ideas are here. Keep all candles out of the way of children!

Summer is the time to use beautiful florals in your party theme. To make all your flower arrangements last longer and spend less, Pamela Scurry’s Wicker Garden in New York City, mixes high quality fake and fresh flowers together. “You’re able to use out-of-season flowers,” says Pamela. Make sure your selection looks real; leaves should have realistic veining on them.

fake flowers

Sourc: Geeky Posh

“The scent of the real flowers mixes in, so your guests won’t know the difference.” Good point! I don’t really like fake flowers but they are a great filler to bulk out flower arrangements – and on really hot days, they will still be standing at the end of the party!

Party Food Ideas

Garden parties, whether seated or stand up, are perfect for trays of gourmet hors d’oeuvres. The key to creating dozens of different appetizers in a flash is to assemble ready-made ingredients — instead of making everything from scratch.

easy appetizers

Source: My Luscious Life

Easy favorites like hummus and eggplant dip with toasted pita wedges, bruschetta with buffalo mozzarella, warm Marcona almonds sprinkled with sea salt and this wonderful pizza from Miss Mustard Seed work well. Or what about an edible centerpiece filled with a rainbow of bite-size crudites. Serve a creamy herb dip on the side.

Sandwiches are perfect for garden party menus. For something different mix tangy mix of flaked poached salmon, horseradish, and sour cream and spread over your bread. Add blanched asparagus spears in rows layered over the salmon filling to add a burst of color.

cucumber rolls with creamy avocado garden party

Source: Pure Ella

Bite sized mini-eclairs are easy to make if love using choux pastry. Bake lengths of choux pastry between 2 – 2 1/2-inch. Cut baked pastries in half and fill with vanilla cream and mint-macerated strawberries.

But I’m getting ahead of myself… let’s talk drinks! Never underestimate the importance of a party’s drink menu. It sets the party tone and expectations. Start with a signature drink – don’t have one? Skip down a little for some ideas.

If you are going all out fancy, hire a bartender to serve drinks. Either way, a trolley or side table will help you create a more organized space for you or your guests to help themselves.

side table

Source: Country Living

For most garden parties all you need is a themed cocktail or refreshing mint juleps for your guests.

infused iced tea syrups

Source: Martha Stewart

Infused iced teas are always a hit. To create infused mint or lemon teas; first create your syrup using 1/2 cup packed fresh mint or the zest and juice of 2 lemons. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 1/2 cups water with mint leaves or lemon zest and juice; allow to a boil, when the sugar dissolves remove the pan from the heat. Once cooled strain through a fine sieve. This syrup keeps in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Save time and make it in advance. Use about 4 teaspoons of syrup per tall glass of tea.

You can always add alcohol like vodka to spice it up without changing the flavor or make a large jug of sangria.


Source: My Luscious Life

Here is a basic sangria recipe that can be prepared a day in advance. Use good quality crisp white wine, like a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, mix in orange liqueur, herbs like basil or mint leaves, fresh ginger and lemon juice. Add cut pieces of summer fruits; berries, strawberries, pineapple or watermelon. Its all about taste, so adjust quantities according to your taste. Serve in jugs or beautiful glasses.

The sales are on around now. If you are looking for something different in outdoor party accessories, try the flash sales at One Kings Lane or Joss and Main. Beyond page one is where all the real bargains hide to add some real sparkle to your outdoor table setting.

If your garden party is a bigger event, with lots of bottled wine, waters and beers, chill them in galvanized buckets filled with ice and add some flower petals to make them look like mini-lakes. This makes it easy for guests to help themselves, saves you running in and out and precious refrigerator space.


Source:  DIY Enthusiasts

Leave yourself an hour before guests arrive to freshen up and slip into something party-ready. This creates a welcoming atmosphere from the moment you open the door with a big smile.

Don’t forget that, as the host, you set the tone, so a relaxed attitude will bring out the same in your guests.