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Garden parties. Now THAT is the way to go! Who doesn’t love the idea of sharing their lovingly created oasis with others. If only so they can admire your hard work, right?!? Regardless of the season, you really can host a soiree in your garden.
Here in North Florida, I can throw a party any time of the year. Before you turn your nose up at what seems like my perfect location, we did get down to 28F this past winter (which is really cold for this Phoenix-born girl!) AND the mosquitoes are out in full force by April and don’t leave until the beginning of October!.
However, with some creativity, I can still host a party almost any time of the year – as can you! Below, I offer you 8 different themed garden party ideas for you to get inspired to host your own party.
Being the child of parents who embraced the 70’s, my parents LOVED having parties! In fact, we would have block parties at my house. And not just one every six months. ALLTHETIME! We even had toga parties. Seriously.
My mom’s philosophy was always to turn it into a potluck and BYOB which made it easier for her and more able to turn on a party at a moment’s notice. She would coordinate though. Normally, she would cook the meat and make her much loved seven layer salad (recipe coming verrry soon!). She then assigned the rest of the dishes to friends and family. For example, appetizers went to my aunt because she made a shrimp dip that was incredibly popular. Our next door neighbor always brought some kind of side dish, etc.
There are plenty of ideas for garden parties for adults and kids below.
Spring Garden Party Ideas
Starting with Spring is a must because that is the season when we begin working feverishly in our gardens again. Of course, you would want to celebrate all the new life springing up with friends and family! And maybe show off your hard work too, right?
As I’ve aged, I have really gotten into the idea of creating themes around my events. I think it makes it easier to focus on how you want to prepare for and coordinate the party. This could be something as simple as hosting a taco night to something more elaborate such as a Kentucky Derby party where the ladies are encouraged to wear their favorite “Southern Belle” hats.
Some other ideas for spring themed garden parties:
English tea party
This party would have fun foods such as finger sandwiches, teacakes, scones and maybe even biscuits (to put your jam on!). Naturally, the drink of choice is tea. Iced and hot. The more varieties, the better. You could make a couple different iced teas such as a berry and a green-mint. If you want to add a little fun to the mix, make a spiked sweet tea or offer mimosas.
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Of course, the tables will be set up in your garden with all your favorite vintage tea cups and (this is very important) a tiered cake stand and fresh flowers e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.
English Garden Party Food Ideas
Tea/Finger sandwich ideas: egg salad, chicken salad, cucumber, ham or watercress (for your veggie friends)
Your scones can be both sweet and savory. Cheddar scones are a great idea for the savory crowd where cinnamon or raspberry scones are great options for your friends with a sweet tooth. Be sure to have some clotted cream or lemon curd available for topping. In fact, the clotted cream will replace your butter. No proud English household would be without their clotted cream!
Cuban Garden Party
I lived in Miami for a couple years. It is impossible to miss the Latin influence down there. In fact, 70 percent of the population is of Latin descent with 54 percent being Cuban.
What I can tell you is I fell in LOVE with the food. Me and my vegetarian self ate black beans and rice like the planet was going to end anytime soon. Regardless where you live, you should not have any problem getting everything you need to make this party a success.
Cuban Food Menu Ideas: Cuban black beans, coconut rice, fried sweet plantains, mojo chicken (for the flesh eaters in the group), Cubano sandwiches and MOJITOS! Oh, mojito, how I love thee! Let me count the ways. Oh, must not forget mangos. In fact, I cut up my mango and put it directly on my black beans and rice. MMMMazing! Churros or flan for dessert.
I do make my Cuban black beans from scratch (thank you Instant Pot for making my time in the kitchen SO much shorter!) but you don’t have to do that. What I do recommend is you gather as much fresh cilantro as you can because you will need it!
Cubans love to be outside (Who can blame them given their tropic environment!). The men traditionally play dominoes for hours. So, set up a couple dominoes tables, find your favorite Cuban musician (may I recommend Ruben Gonzalez, the Cuban pianist?) and crank that music up! Bright pastel colors are the order of the day.
Summer Garden Parties
Oh Summer. I have a love/hate relationship with you. I love your warmth (but not too warm). I love that I can now swim in the ocean. I love that I can wear shorts again – but I hate the marauding insects you bring! AND, how you make my steering wheel SO hot I need a towel to drive with. <Sigh> I know. Let’s fight back by having an amazing summer garden party!
Of course, no summer is complete without a beach party (even if you have to bring the beach to you!). Since the last thing we actually want to do is slave over a scorching stove on a hot summer day, I totally recommend cold foods, cold drinks and grilling out.
Think beach blankets, beach chairs, biodegradable plates and refreshing beverages. You could have everyone bring their favorite beach blanket to hang on. Set up a water slide in the back of the yard for the kiddies. Put up two drink stations. One for the kids with lemonade and tea and the second for the adults with summer mixes such as mojito or mint julep ingredients.
Beach Party Food Ideas: Grilled shrimp, grilled corn, tropical coleslaw, fresh fruit, hummus and pita wedges, deviled eggs, veggie burgers. Finger foods are the easiest thing to eat when you’re sitting on a blanket or mingling with friends. Try to avoid foods that require a fork.
Garden to Table Dinner Party
This one’s for you veggie gardeners! Let’s show off our hard grown creations! For example, I grow a LOT of lettuce. Swiss chard, cabbage, endive, kale, looseleaf, etc. This is because Kevin and I eat a huge salad almost every day for lunch. Since we don’t eat meat, it takes a LOT of lettuce (around 6-7 cups per bowl) to fill me up.
Summer garden party food ideas: For me, I might make a salad bar where I can show off all my fun and gorgeous lettuce varieties. My friend Jen has an organic hobby farm and she grows tomatoes, cucumbers and leeks among other veggies. We could add all that to my salad bar. I am currently growing purple potatoes. What fun dish can we make with those?
This might be a great time to partner with a couple of your other gardener friends and coordinate a meal between all of you.
Drink ideas: Make sangria and serve a locally brewed beer.
For decor, I am picturing casual tables and chairs (picnic tables if you have them), strings of outdoor globe lights, wildflowers in mason jars or second hand store vases (do NOT need to match), burlap table runners. Natural and simple (my life motto btw!). Light and cheery instrumental background music. Are you seeing it? I am!
Fall Garden Parties
I looove fall! October 1 is theexactdate the mosquitoes disappear. (No really. I mean it!) The weather is cooler but not too cold yet and the holiday season is right around the corner! So much to look forward to! This is another time of year when we want to be outside enjoying the perfect weather.
This Arizona native loves her Mexican food too! And I have attended and hosted my fair share of Mexican food parties. Think spicy foods and incredibly bright colors and you’re all set. See how easy that was?!?
Mexican Fiesta Garden Party Food Menu: Set up a taco bar with a couple varieties of meat such as spicy ground beef and chicken. Set out bowls of chopped cabbage, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, guacamole, a couple varieties of salsa, cotija cheese, onions, etc (what am I missing). Don’t forget your refried beans and Mexican rice as well.
Drink ideas: Put out some metal buckets with iced down Mexican beer and offer either margaritas or sangria for variety.
Breakfast Burrito Brunch
When I was a kid, we would vacation across the Mexican border in Puerto Peñasco. There was a wonderful little restaurant down there in a totally touristy area that had the world’s BEST breakfast burritos! I still talk about those burritos to anyone who will listen.
Think how much fun this brunch will be! Basically, you’re setting up a burrito bar and sitting back while everyone serves themselves and chows down. Do you have chickens? What a great way to use those eggs! If you have a Mexican grocery store in your area, go pick up some chorizo. (I recommend beef over pork if you can get it). You will cook the chorizo just like you would cook hamburger meat. Talk about giving your burrito some oomph!
Also, if your Mexican store has locally made flour tortillas, I recommend those as well. The tortillas we got down in Mexico were SO much better than store bought! In fact, I cannot emphasize the better flavor enough. It’s like the difference between eating a store bought tomato versus one you picked in your garden. HUGE.
For drinks, one cannot go wrong with a bloody mary bar and tequila sunrises! Offer the non-drinkers a sparkling mint-lime quencher.
Winter Garden Party Ideas
Oh winter, we love you for your holiday spirit but we don’t love you for your freezing temperatures. What better way to combat the cold than to party it away, hmmmm?!?
The fun part of this idea is you can go back to any period you want! Roaring 20’s, Groovy 60’s or hair-band 80’s – take your pick.
Depending what you choose, tell your guests to come dressed in their favorite outfit (legwarmers anyone?) and bring their favorite dish based on the course you assign them. I.e. appetizer, dessert, etc. This frees you up to do some fun decorating!
A Great Gatsby 20’s theme could be all white, black and gold decorations. Find inexpensive lanterns to hang around your deck. Strategically place feather boas around the tables and chairs. Serve champagne, cheese and olive platters and shrimp cocktail in martini glasses.
Oh yes, must of course, serve martinis as well!
Grilled Cheese Party
There is nothing better on a cold night than grilled cheese and soup! How about hosting a grilled cheese party where your friends bring their favorite bread and grilled cheese ingredients and you can taste test each other’s creations? Make sure they bring recipe cards to pass out in case someone declares a winner (or two).
You can set out a massive pot of tomato soup with all the fixings, sit back and watch everyone have a great time.
Since it will most likely be cold outside (unless you live in Miami anyway), rent some space heaters and set a bunch of comfy chairs around a fire pit so everyone can bask in the warmth. You could even offer s’mores and cocoa for dessert!
Strategically interspersing small tables throughout the chairs will make it easy for your guests to shift around to where the warmth is.
Hot drinks such as spiked cider and toddies are totally the way to go for this event!
Remember not to let yourself get too stressed about hosting a party. I have found my true friends couldn’t care less if my house is less than perfect or if my flower bed has a few weeds. They are just coming for the companionship and fun. I can tell you my mom always made a menu – in advance or on the fly. She would get on the phone with her friends and coordinate – all while writing feverishly in her notepad. The phone would ring off the hook for a couple hours while they all worked it out. Who would bring an extra card table. Who was bringing the chips and salsa. Etc.
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