Garden party decorations – big parties on small budgets
Garden party decorations make your party feel like an instant success.
Flowers, bunting and lights all add a sense of expectation, drama or fun to your garden.
And almost any size of lawn or terrace can take a marquee or gazebo. You can really even the smallest garden into an extra room for entertaining.
But tree clippings make stunning garden party decorations
We used the clippings from the cotinus to decorate the marquee. We tied it on the poles and strung it along the sides.
Just a small change can make a big difference
We had friends to stay recently. It was a hot night. So, instead of eating on the terrace as usual, we decided to put a table up on the lawn, near the flower beds.
It was a really, quick easy way to make the atmosphere feel special. Everyone commented on how nice it was to be eating surrounded by flowers. And you get a different view of the garden, too.
I have a big orange tablecloth that I often use for Christmas decorating. In a summer garden, it looks completely different.
Mix it up garden party ideas
When we decorated a marquee for a party in our garden two years ago, we mixed up plain white hired tablecloths with three large round tablecloths we already had. It added a splash of colour to the marquee, and it didn’t matter that the cloths didn’t match.
Borrow from friends…
We hired ten white tablecloths from Best Intents, and I had two big circular cloths myself. I also borrowed one tablecloth from a friend.
Even though we didn’t have ten coloured tablecloths, and the none of the tablecloths matched, having just three really added a pop of colour to the party decorations.
Use the smart stuff outside too
A friend of mine has a fantasy of having a picnic on a mountainside, complete with family silver, ironed damask napkins, chandeliers and the finest bone china. I know what he means, though my china and candlesticks mainly come from charity shops and car boot fairs.
There’s no reason why things should get broken or damaged just because they’re being used outside. I love the contrast of using anything smart in the garden – I think our wedding present wine glasses are probably the smartest thing we have…
Coloured glasses really add atmosphere
Over the past two decades, I’ve bought three different sets of red glasses. I use them at Christmas, for autumn and winter table decorations, and I like them just as much outside in the summer, too.
I’ve bought red drinking glasses from Amazon in the past and rather like the look of these Duralex ones. (Links to Amazon are affiliate links, which means I may get a small fee if you buy by clicking on them.)
I also have some blue glasses – these are great at Easter and for adding to summer garden party ideas. Duralex have a nice Cobalt Blue version, that is worth checking out.
Jam jar flowers for garden parties
A friend of mine got married last year. She had a pretty country wedding. The church was decorated with jam jar flowers, which she asked friends to carry onto the reception. The same jam jar flowers were then lined up on her garden tables for a lunch the following day at her home.
You can buy jam jars if you haven’t collected enough.
But not just jam jars…
Timing is all…
You need to make sure everything arrives in the right order. Although, our tables and chairs arrived a day before the marquee. We just hoped it didn’t rain.
Buy locally-grown flowers for a seasonal summer feel
Flowers are the first thing to think about when you’re planning garden party decorations.
When we first planned this party, I had vague ideas of growing my own flowers. It’s just as well I didn’t get around to it, because the recent heatwave would have fried them.
So we went for ‘pick your own’ from local flower farmer, Anna’s Country Flowers, just a couple of miles away.
British Flowers Week takes place once a year. There has been a boom in flower farming here in Britain, for people who want their flowers ‘grown not flown.’ British Flowers Week champions the cause of using local, seasonal flowers for a natural, contemporary feel.
The British Flowers Week website list some flower farms where you can either pick your own or order directly from them. And you can find others on Flowers from the Farm and The British Flower Collective. In fact, I found Anna’s Country Flowers on Instagram.
An extra tip: Anna advised us to keep the flowers in a dark, cool place for as long as possible. We arranged them in vases on Friday and Saturday, but kept the vases in the basement until Sunday. It turned out to be a surprisingly hot weekend – if we’d put the flowers out in the marquee on Saturday, some of them would have wilted.
We’re doing all the catering ourselves. Faversham – where I live – has a market on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The greengrocery stall had some wonderful produce, usually locally grown.
Faversham Market also has a flower stall, and although it probably won’t fit into the #grownnotflown hashtag on Instagram, it’s still excellent value.
To gazebo or not to gazebo?
Do we need a gazebo as well as the big marquee? It would certainly be useful as it makes the terrace an all-weather space. You can buy a small one, like the one above.
We borrowed the large green gazebo from my friend, Emma. It was quick and easy (although somewhat hilarious) to put up – but it does need at least four people as you need a friend at each corner. If our friends let me use the video footage, you’ll see what I mean…We definitely want one. Emma’s comes from Primrose. It’s perfect for Saturday night.
Update in 2021: After borrowing Emma’s gazebo, we did some research and bought one ourselves. See how to buy the best gazebo for your garden. It’s now doing its third summer in our garden and has been up a lot of the time.
If the marquee almost completely fills your garden…
Leave the sides up. It’s a lovely view of the borders and walls. We kept 2 sides on, to hide the messy vegetable patch, and also to protect it a bit from wind. But as the sides of the marquee go almost up to the borders’ edges. there’s not alot of change for wind and rain to get in. Famous last words!
The marquee is finally ready for guests…
You can order various chair colours. Brown wood are the least expensive, but white is the next one up. We originally ordered brown, but were upgraded to white as they’d run out. I think the white is definitely a fresher, prettier look, so it may be worth spending the extra to get them.
Find out more garden party decorations here
And there is some very good advice from the Frustrated Gardener blog on how to create a garden for entertaining.
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