Tips AU

Garden party ideas for any occasion

By Elise Hodge

Published: August 21st, 2020

Make the most of the outdoors with a gorgeous garden party surrounded by your closest friends.

As the weather warms up and the end of the year draws near, it’s a great time to enjoy all that the outdoors has to offer. And what better way to do that than by hosting a garden party? Whether you’re throwing a milestone birthday, a relaxed wedding or a baby shower for the mum to be, there are so many ways that you can host the ultimate celebration in the comfort of your own backyard. Here are a few places to start.

Sitting or standing?

First things first… What style of garden party do you want to host? If you want to keep things casual and allow for plenty of mingling, a standing garden party is the way to go. You can still provide sitting options dotted around your space, and you can serve canapes to feed everyone.

On the other hand, a seated garden party will create a more formal atmosphere. You could have tables and chairs, or you could take a creative approach and use palettes for tables with cushions for seating.

Tablescapes

Let’s start with the finer details first. Your table design can completely set the scene for your garden party. And there are so many options to choose from! Consider whether you want to use fancy cutlery or simply opt for a plastic alternative. If you’re going for something a little bit more formal then a centrepiece might just be the thing to spruce things up.

Alternatively, you can line your tables with foliage, linen or candles. Of course, you’ll need to consider glassware or cups. And napkins will add the perfect elegant touch.

Decor

Apart from the decorations on your tables, you’ll want to fancy up your outdoor area with pieces like balloons, fairy lights or flowers. For simplicity’s sake, it’s always good to stick to one or two types of decorations and go all out with them!

Food & Drinks

This is the most important part, in my humble opinion… And I’m sure your guests think it is too! So before you get too carried away with the decorations, consider how you’re going to serve food and drinks. As I’ve already mentioned, canapes are a fantastic idea for garden parties, particularly those that are more casual.

Alternatively, you can serve meals to the table, but this will require a good caterer and wait staff. Another popular option is to hire a food van and have guests collect their food from that one central location.

When it comes to drinks, you could have someone serving them. If you’re wanting to keep things relaxed, you could have a couple of buckets filled with ice and drinks so guests can serve themselves. But if you’re wanting to make it really special, you could set up a bar and have a designated bar tender pouring drinks throughout the event!

1. Floral napkin rings

Pretty pink glassware and flowers help each garden party place setting feel special. Plus, the floral napkin rings on each plate are so elegant, no one will guess they’re made from shower rings.

pastel table decor
Source: Shades of Blue Interiors

2. Flowers in a teapot

I can’t think of a more fitting centerpiece for a garden tea party than a teapot filled with flowers. This would be so sweet for a feminine high tea or bridal shower.

flowers in teapot decoration
Source: Design Sponge

3. Shades of pink

Ooh, la la! Would you look at this setup? The pink provides a soft backdrop for the party. And I love how this garden party makes the best of both worlds with palette-style tables and cushions for seating and full-size tables with timber chairs.

Picnic garden party
Source: Style Me Pretty

4. Tropical style

Naturally, you have to have the perfect florals for a garden party. And this tropical style design takes the cake! I love the mix of spring and summery colours – pinks, oranges and greens. And can you believe this garden party is held inside a greenhouse? How cool.

modern garden party ombre table
Source: Sugar and Cloth

5. Palette table picnic

Would you look at this gorgeous spread? It’s all sitting pretty on palette tables. These are seriously easy to put together. They’re simple palettes stacked on top of each other. Once you’ve positioned your palettes, simply load up your cheeseboards with heaps of goodies and place them on top – voila!

Picnic grazing plate
Source: Tara Milk Tea

6. Floral ice cubes

Talk about paying attention to detail! If you want a creative way to set your summer soiree apart, then this is it! Freeze flowers in the ice cubes – they’ll add gorgeous colours to your guests’ drinks.

floral ice cubes
Source: Sugar and Charm

7. Hanging flowers

Here’s a simple yet effective decoration idea. All you’ll need is a bunch of little glass jars, some twine for hanging them to a tree, and a few different types of flowers to add colour!

hanging flowers
Source: Style Me Pretty

8. Enchanted forest

How incredible is this design? It would have taken hours and hours to put this together. But for the finished product, it looks like it would’ve been worth it. This is some serious inspiration for your wedding or elaborate garden party!

sit down dinner backyard
Source: Wonder Struck Event Design

If you want to achieve a similar look, it’s time to find an event planner near you or perhaps you just need a party helper to assist you to pull it all together.

9. Tissue paper pom poms

How cute is this garden party design? It’s proof that simple picnic tables adorned with table clothes can make for a simple yet stunning look for your next event. Recreate this design by decorating your space with large flower paper lanterns, honeycomb balls and tissue paper pom-poms. Bonus points if they’re hanging from the trees!

kids garden party
Source: 100 Layer Cake

10. All in one

Don’t want to be separated from your guests? Make sure everyone can sit in the same place with one long table! And while this simple timber table may be low to the ground, it’s made comfortable with plenty of cushions and blankets.

These festoon lights also show how important outdoor lighting can be to create ambience at a party.

cocktail picnic outdoor party
Source: Eye Swoon

11. Balloons galore

Want to make your garden party chic and sophisticated? A hundred or so white balloons will do the trick! Plus, add in white roses and your garden party will exude romance! Just mind the bill, this won’t be cheap!

white balloon and flower garden party
Source: Elari Events

12. No grass, no worries!

If you live in a townhouse, apartment or any kind of home that doesn’t have grass, you can still have a garden party. Take this little patio space, for example. It’s simple and chic. And it’s been dressed up with hanging lights with foliage attached. I can only imagine how beautiful this would look at night!

backyard terrace styling
Source: ATM Outdoor Living

13. Make it big

Who says garden parties have to be laid back and simple? If you prefer to make things fancy, go all out with an extravagant setup like this. I’m obsessed with all of these balloons and they look so pretty sitting on either side of a rose-filled flower wall.

Pink patio outdoor party
Source: Party Designer Paris

14. Fancy bar

If this is what the bar looks like, then I can only imagine what the rest of this space looks like. I love how elegant and Hamptons-esque it is! Plus, the addition of those white umbrellas will make sure guests can find a shady place to stand, which can sometimes be challenging at garden parties.

black tie garden party
Source: Carats and Cake

15. Comfy cushions

How adorable are these little cushions? They make for a cosy sitting option! And I love the colour combination or cream, beige, and burnt orange – so summery!

cushions for picnic
Source: The Posh Picnic

16. Neon signage

If you’ve got cash to splash for a special event, this is a fun option! This floral piece would make for a great photo spot for guests. Plus, it adds lots of colour and fun!

Garden party signage
Source: Little Pineapple Neon

17. Lilac tones

If you’re wanting to host an intimate garden party for four, take inspiration from this setup. It’s glamorous, feminine and downright gorgeous. I particularly love the soft tones with plenty of pastel yellow and lilac flowers.

french countryside classical garden party
Source: Willow and Oak Events

18. Beneath a canopy of foliage

Here’s a fabulous option for a wedding or engagement dinner. This elegant banquet style table will be sure to wow your guests, particularly with the lush green foliage and long candles.

Wedding garden party
Source: annelimphoto

19. Muted spring tones

Spring is just around the corner and what better way to decorate your garden party than with seasonal florals. This combination of soft orange roses, dusty purple flowers and light babies breath make for a sweet centrepiece.

Colourful table decor
Source: Willow and Oak Events

20. Draped tables

These table coverings are a simple decor fix and a sure-fire way to dress up your standing garden party. Serve canapes and cold drinks to guests as they gather around the tables. Plus, add in a few stools or higher chairs to provide some seating options.

Tropical cocktail garden party
Source: Ruffled Blog

21. Buckets of drinks

Need to keep your drinks ice cold? This is the solution for you! A wheelbarrow and a couple of large buckets will definitely do the trick. Just make sure you have enough ice!

drinks in wheelbarrow
Source: Whimsical Wonderland Weddings

22. Flower arch

This is such a clever and creative setup. I’m obsessed with the colour scheme in this garden party. And the flowers look so elegant hanging down from the green arch of foliage, a florist will be able to take care of this installation, no problemo!

vintage boho garden party
Source: Perfete

23. Teepee in style

One creative way to ensure there’s plenty of shade is to use a teepee. This flowing design looks absolutely gorgeous with rugs, cushions and blankets all around. Plus, the draping green foliage at the front of the tent adds a pop of colour!

backyard boho tent garden party
Source: Andee Layne

24. Boho style

Create a relaxed bohemian-style garden party with rugs, tables, and plenty of candles. The key to perfecting this look is to combine lots of different types of patterns, shapes and textures.

rustic garden party
Source: Kate Beavis

25. Drink cart

Pimms, anyone? This adorable drink cart has got everything you need! A setup like this would be so helpful for your next garden party. This provides a central place for guests to pick up their drink of choice, allowing you to stand down from any drink-serving duties.

Garden party cocktail cart
Source: Rock My Wedding

26. Under the vines

Classic, beautiful, and absolutely breathtaking – this Italian-style speaks for itself. The tablescape is stunning with flowers, candles and more candles!

Garden party
Source: Bridal Musings

27. Vintage tea party

Love a good high tea? I do too! And this is such a quirky setup that’ll be bound to please… especially if you have plenty of cupcakes on offer (yum!).

tea party backyard
Source: Karas Party Ideas

28. Mix of cushions

Here’s another boho-style picnic. My favourite part of this garden party is the eclectic mix of cushions – there’s everything from stripes to shades of grey to pink.

Garden party
Source: 37 Rose Croft

29. Lemon and lime

Add a zesty twist to your party by having your own homemade lemonade on display. Another great option is to offer lemon or lime-infused water… it makes plain water just that little bit fancy. And the maison jars are a cute addition!

Garden party drinks dispensers
Source: House of Grace Design

30. Blossoming blooms

How stunning are the colours on this table? I love how all of the elements have been pulled together to create one cohesive look. First, there are the pink and orange flowers that really help set the foundation. And then these colours have been woven in through other details like the drinks and glassware.

Beautiful table flowers
Source: Camille Styles

31. Rich colours

If Wintery colours are more your style, then take inspiration from this extravagant setup. I love the dramatic floral centrepiece that’s sitting pretty in the middle of this table. And the use of candlesticks in the same colour makes this so much fun. Plus, how gorgeous are the flowers draped over the backs of the timber chairs? They definitely add a special touch.

Classic garden party
Source: Ruffled Blog

32. Pretty picnic

This garden party combines so many different pops of colour… and I’m here for it! How fun is this combination of deep purple, lime green, and pretty pink? The cushions, candlesticks and flowers are all in these colours. I love how no detail has been spared!

Girls garden party
Source: Inspired by this

33. Sweet touches

When planning your garden party, it’s easy to get carried away with all of the big checklist items like food, tables and drinks. But it’s important to make sure you also pay attention to the little details because they can make or break your overall look.

Draw inspiration from this little setup-the wine glasses are made all the more pretty with sweet baskets full of lavender and a rustic palette box surrounding them.

Rustic garden party
Source: The Natural Wedding Company

34. Handy sign

If you’re hosting a large garden party or simply a wedding that’s outdoors, a sign can be a helpful guide for guests. Apart from the practical element, it’s also a really cute addition to your outdoor area. And the best thing is that you could create a sign like this for yourself with pieces of timber and white paint or better yet – outsource to a signwriter!

signs for garden party
Source: Whimsical Wonderland Wedding

35. Bohemian vibes

Here’s another boho garden party – it’s sweet and simple! This just proves that you can create something gorgeous with items that you already have. Take the plants, for example. I’m sure you’ve got some indoor plants that you could easily use for decor – how lush!

Garden party
Source: The Inspired Home

36. Feminine and fresh

I’m loving the warm tones in this sweet garden party setup. This is a great example of how you can choose a theme and stick with it throughout the entire design. I love the large orange and deep-purple balloons that are structured at the back. Plus, the deep purple wine glasses are a lovely touch.

baby shower garden party
Source: Miss Kyree Loves

37. Boho chic

This garden party is giving me all of the warm summer vibes. Would you take a look at these beautiful bowls of fresh summer fruits and gorgeous vibrant coloured florals? I’m totally swooning over them!

Plus, I love the addition of an abundance of candlelight – it definitely helps to set the mood. Most people think candles should only be used in the evening. But the truth is that they can look just as stunning in the day time, and provide another dimension to the decor.

Garden party
Source: My Domaine

38. Fruit galore

Fruit is always a good idea, especially when it comes to grazing boards. The truth is that not everyone likes to snack on cheese and crackers (I know, shock horror…), so it’s a good idea to provide some alternatives. And the best thing about grapes is that they instantly add so much colour and life to your table, especially if you grab them in all different varieties.

Cheese platter
Source: Style Me Pretty

39. Flowing centrepiece

Now this table is swoon-worthy (or should I say drool-worthy?)! Apart from the plate full of BBQ’d food, which looks delicious, the flowers are seriously incredible. I love the combination of classic pink peonies combined with white touches.

This kind of floral design may set you back a sweet dime but it sure will look amazing. Plus, instead of BBQing the food yourself, why not hire a BBQ caterer to do the job for you?

Garden party
Source: Styling My Everyday

40. Fairy lights

You can never ever go wrong with fairy lights. If you’re hosting your garden party in the late afternoon or evening, then string them up and turn them on!

The beauty of fairy lights is that they instantly make any space look really special, no matter how simple the rest of the decor is. And you can find them in all different sizes – whether you want something a little more bulb-like to provide more light, or simply tiny lights to add a twinkle in the dark.

Garden party lights
Source: A Daily Something

There you have it, 40+ garden party ideas that’ll wow your guests! I’m obsessed with any space that has fairy lights. Plus, I’m a sucker for flowers – the more the better, in my opinion! So I’ll definitely be incorporating those ideas for my next garden party. I’d love to hear which ones you loved the most. Comment and tell me which idea was your favourite.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elise H

I've recently moved into a new home and I've been having so much fun decorating it with pretty wall prints and Scandinavian-inspired furniture. So as well as being a freelance writer, I'm always on the lookout for new design pieces for my home!

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