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How To Style & Throw A Great Garden Party

by Emma Britton

My day to day is about creating beautiful things for people to enjoy in their home, gardens and to entertain with. I’m often asked for advice when it comes to styling a scene or how to jazz up a glass for a party! So, I’m sharing some insights here, along with a few other things I do to host a great garden gathering. 

Here are my best garden party tricks for you to enjoy trying this summer.

Prep for success 

Make sure you have a bit of a garden clear up in well in advance of any party. This way you’ll be able to see where you’ll put the focus for guests to enjoy themselves. It's time to pop that old Christmas tree in the garden bin!

Plan ahead and paint old furniture in some bright colours for your event as this will add interest to your space. If your garden needs a bit of tender loving care or some serious weeding then these bright pieces will command the focus and sing out cheerfully against rustic walls or old fences.

On the day of your soiree, layer chairs up with interesting cushions and throws and pop out a few rugs. Outdoor textiles are a great way to make your garden feel homely and welcoming, bringing a touch of the inside out.

Think about the sort of vibe your styling will create for a party. Because of my design style, I tend to choose floral inspired pieces and accessories that have a contemporary edge. I love bold colours, colour blocking and pattern, balanced with things that look more delicate. I tend to go for a relaxed look when I’m hosting as it makes people feel at ease to enjoy themselves

A stylish serve

I love to have a selection of brightly coloured trays on hand for serving up food and drinks. You’ll be surprised at how much more enticing the simplest nibbles look when dressed on pretty plates, handed round by you to enjoy. This is also a great trick that means you’ll get to talk to everybody - you’ve got to keep those snacks moving and every guest fed. 

Brightly coloured cotton tea towels also work well for covering food at a table until it’s ready to serve; they don’t spoil the look and feel of the setting and are far more eco-friendly than tin foil.

Outdoor dining has to be one of life’s pleasures and really makes for a glamorous garden party. I love tables that are quite eclectic and use unmatched items curated together. This approach give you loads of freedom to play with shapes and colours, don’t be too precious - just enjoy being creative. 

Find your table style 

Create height, drop and interest at your table by including glassware in all sorts of shapes and sizes. You’ll need variety for different drinks you might be serving, but the different styles will add character. Coloured glass is great for adding a vintage feel to your setting. Vases of seasonal flowers or small glasses filled with stems are a nice finishing touch as is a beautifully dressed cake

I love the look of a linen table cloth especially for a garden party, and you don’t have to worry about pressing it ahead of time either. Linen gives a relaxed look and it means your guests will just tuck in without worrying about marking your finest cloth.

Party Tricks 

Coat the rim of your glasses in lemon and dip in sugar for some fun. Embrace your inner child by popping in some colourful paper straws or pretty things up even more with edible flowers.

Is any garden party complete without a cocktail? If it’s something simple you can make in advance then so much the better. Fill up some carafes with a colourful cocktail and pop them out for guests to simply help themselves. Giving you more time mingle and enjoy the party too!

Lighting is key 

Fire pits and festoon lights or fairy and tea lights in glasses create a welcoming ambience, so have a least one of these at the ready as the light starts to fade. Great parties are all about atmosphere and mood lighting means you can stay outside for longer… But don’t forget the blankets to keep things cosy! Plus cheese, wine and toasting marshmallows for late evening munchies. Enjoy!