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Are you hosting Easter brunch with family or gathering friends for a sophisticated dinner party to celebrate an additional hour of sunlight? This guide can be adapted to either setting with minor changes in the menu and decor.
Location and Guest List
Garden parties allow us to enjoy the sights, scents, sounds, and flavors of spring. This can be accomplished either by bringing outside elements inside or hosting guests outdoors. You can create a unique social and dining experience whether you live in an apartment in the city or a farmhouse on a large piece of land. If you don’t have access to an outdoor patio or rooftop space, consider cohosting with a friend who does. The same vibe can be accomplished with attention to the right details. Remember rule number one: Mother Nature is always first on a garden party guest list.
Planning a garden party can quickly become overwhelming, especially if your décor could use an upgrade from the kids’ crafts on the fridge. The first thing guests notice before they take their first sip or bite is the décor. Sorry, construction paper and cotton ball bunnies—you can hang out in the craft room or playroom during the party!
Do you envy the professionally styled tablescapes you see in magazines and on Pinterest, but you don’t have the industry knowledge or budget to recreate them at home? Start by taking inventory of what you already own that fits the theme of the party. You do not have to purchase an entirely new set of dishes, glasses, utensils, and linens. In many cases, your dining staples will work perfectly with the addition of a few choice accessories, such as napkin rings. As a rule of thumb, replace items if they do not fit the aesthetic of the party (snowflake tablecloth) or are worn out (chipped serving bowls).
Find inspiration in this placemat, dinnerware set, serving utensil pair, serving plate, and serving board all from Terrain, my favorite local garden center, cafe, and gift shop. Terrain’s products are high-end, so they may be more of a source of inspiration than a final shopping destination depending on your budget.
Splurge, Save, or DIY?
When decorating for a party, consider the following advice on the investment of money and time. Splurge on quality pieces that will last many years and artistic pieces that speak to you. Save on items that will only be used once or are available in a similar style from a less expensive retailer. DIY elements that you will enjoy spending the time creating or will save enough money to justify the time spent on the project.
My garden party splurges include ceramic Vegetabowls dishes and herb napkin rings. Both collections are hand-crafted by artisans, so they meet the requirements of being quality and artistic.
My garden party saves include a linen napkin and table runner set. My inspiration was a napkin set and table runner at Terrain. The quality is top-notch, but a similar napkin set and table runner costs $128 less at Target! Compare for yourself.
My garden party DIY element includes hand-lettered place cards. These floral place cards were my inspiration. Cricut machines and Youtube tutorials allow you to create personalized place cards at a fraction of the cost.
When choosing flowers, do you forage, take a trip to the florist, or both? Greenery is an obvious essential at a garden party, whether fresh cut from your garden, foraged during a local hike, or purchased from a florist. For something unique, cut a flowering branch—like the one below—or gather fresh herbs. Place them in water in a mason jar. No flower arranging skills needed!
If you are searching for a new vase, these speckled column vases are party-ready!
Pro tip: Save money and add cohesion to your décor by displaying bouquets in smaller vases throughout the entertaining space. Alternatively, one large bouquet creates a dramatic impact.
Add a DIY element to future floral displays by preserving the ones used for your garden party with the help of my previous blog post.
Lighting and More
If you’re short on table space for flowers and décor, consider investing in an over-the-table rod. Add air plants, tissue paper leaves, and mini LED string lights to get started. The elevated display is guaranteed to wow guests!
This marbled tea light holder comes in several springy colors. Try my tea light candle yogurt jar project if you want to add a hand-made touch to your décor.
For outdoor gatherings, hang lanterns in various sizes, shapes, and colors. Maintain aesthetic cohesion by using the same material, whether it’s paper, rattan, glass, or cloth.
Pro tip: Mix dollar store and high-end items to save money without sacrificing the theme. I am not ashamed to admit I shop at both Dollar Tree and Williams-Sonoma when planning my parties!
What party décor is in your online shopping cart? Share your party planning tips, questions, and feedback in the comments. Then click over to Part 2 of the Garden Party Guide series to learn more about choosing a menu and hostess gifts.
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