It wouldn’t be a British summer without Pimm’s, barbecues, smatterings of rain and beach trips to the coast. But it certainly wouldn’t be summer without garden parties popping up all over the country, with the most notable hosted by the Royal family. Buckingham Palace is the backdrop to multiple garden parties each year, celebrating achievements of public service workers and people who have positively impacted their communities. Following custom, tea, sandwiches and cake are served, but in astronomical proportions: 27,000 cups of tea gives you an idea of how much us Brits consume, even in hot weather! As much as you may aspire or wish to host a Royal-inspired garden party, it is quite a formal affair and you can easily obtain a similar result, minus the Queen but adding more relaxed fun.
A tradition that is ingrained in the very fibre of our country, garden parties merge tame chic-ness with old-school games, made even more entertaining with the addition of socially acceptable daytime drinking. You can’t go wrong with an iced jug of Pimm’s, but wine, especially a light rosé can set the tone and prove a popular choice.
But first and foremost, the venue is key to a successful garden party. As the name indicates, a garden is usually the blank canvas needed. However, if you’re dying to host a garden party or if the weather ruins your plans, you can always relocate inside a barn or spacious room, allowing you to decorate adequately and play games.
Decoration is usually floral themed and pastel, in which you can include porcelain cake stands, birdcages, bunting, lace table cloths and striped deckchairs. However, the beauty of the garden party is that you can theme it however you like: make it quirkier with an Alice in Wonderland theme; go fifties for a vintage party; fairytale and legends could work if you’re hosting children (or adults!); minimalist and stripped back with muted colours and chic floral arrangements, or even pet friendly with doggie treats and games!
A good garden party in my opinion transports you to a bubble of fun and letting go of every day life. That’s why I’m partial to games that bring out everyone’s inner child. Croquet would be the first to come to mind, but incorporating a fun fair section, with a coconut shy; hoops and darts will delight your guests. A game that could be particularly successful is one I encountered at a fun fair in Surrey last year. Essentially, it consists of throwing palm-sized balls at shelves of plates, glassware and miscellaneous breakable items a few metres away. It may sound quite basic, but I can guarantee that it was the game that I preferred that day, trying to score points smashing the most things I could!
In summary, my advice for hosting a memorable garden party is: have a theme and carry it through to everything, including food; have fun, easy games; enjoy the fanfare of dressing up and hosting a great group of people, but most of all, enjoy letting go and relaxing with a glass of rosé in one hand and a cucumber sandwich in the other. After all, what could top that?