Garden party ideas for summer entertaining

Garden party ideas main

With the warm weather set to continue, you’ve probably been to an outdoor party or two – and perhaps thought about hosting one yourself.

If so, we’ve collected a few garden party ideas, to help you get all your ducks in a row and lay the foundations for a great night. Sure, they don’t 100% guarantee everything will go as planned, but they’ll definitely mean less to think about – a win, if you ask me.

Plus, these are great ways to wow your guests and make sure they have a night to remember.

Garden party ideas: the absolute essentials

Before we start with the decorations – which, of course, are important too – we need to settle a few other things.

First of all, cooking. How are you going to prepare food? You might want to use your indoor kitchen, which is fair enough, but here are some other ideas.

Quan wood fired BBQ
Quan premium large wood-fired barbecue, £3299, Cuckooland.

Outdoor kitchens, for example, are really on trend right now. Yes, despite the typical British weather – because with enough planning and some clever ideas, you can enjoy them even on rainy days.

And we can’t forego a classic barbecue, either. Whether you prefer gas or coal, and no matter the size, it’s probably one of the key elements of summer. So ditch the disposable barbecue if you can – it’s not only better for the planet (because reducing waste is something we can all do), but having a ‘proper’ grill will also bring you joy for years to come.

garden party ideas grill
Forno grill, £595, Morsø.

Since this is Britain, though, we can’t forget one crucial aspect. I’m talking, of course, about outdoor heating. It might sound unnecessary right now, but the nights are bound to get a bit nippy soon enough – so as far as garden party ideas go, this one is key. A firepit, for example, not only looks pretty, it’ll also keep your guests warm and comfortable – so there’s nothing in the way of a good night in together.

fire pit
Linear fire pit, price on application, Solus.

But what about lighting?

Of course you don’t want to sit in the dark, right? Much like indoors, it’s a good idea to create a layered illumination scheme in your garden, too.

Nicholas Engert Interiors garden party ideas lighting
Catellani & Smith Syphasera LED garden lights, £330 each, Nicholas Engert Interiors.

This way, you can adapt the lighting to suit the mood – slowly winding down to a comfortable, cosy glow as the night grows darker. Mix and match lanterns, solar-powered lights in your flowerbed, and maybe fairy lights too.

Your lanterns can be hung in trees or bushes, but also standing on the floor to add interest and create even more layers. Of course, you can also use the lights from indoors to help you illuminate your party – just make sure it’s not too glaring and bright, or it’ll feel clinical.

Solar garden lanterns
Solar garden lanterns in Pumpkin-Teal and Pumpkin-Mustard, £38.95 each, Sparkle Lighting.

Garden party ideas for seating

Get comfy, because we’re going to look at where you’ll perch during the night.

Paxton garden sofa
Paxton rattan garden corner sofa set with cushions, £2899, Gardenesque.

Start by deciding what you need and want. Is a dining table a must have, to hold your barbecue essentials? Or would it be enough to have a little buffet where your guests can prepare plates before milling around standing tables?

An outdoor sofa might also be a great idea. They’re far more casual than a dining table, but still make eating comfortable, especially if you add a table. Plus, once you’re done you can simply put down your plate and lounge down – sounds pretty perfect to me.

Yomi Eko inflatable sofa
Yomi Eko metal frame inflatable furniture in Crystal Blue, £675 for the sofa, Lime Lace.

When choosing a table, think about how many people you usually seat. There are some extendable designs out there, but you can also opt for one with a bench instead of chairs. This way, you can easily fit more people around the table without compromising on comfort.

One of my favourite garden part ideas, though, is a table with an integrated umbrella. It might be a simple one, but as someone who burns easily, it’s an absolute essential.

The small garden party ideas to finish off your scheme

With all the big-ticket questions solved, it’s time to turn towards the bits that really make your party environment comfortable.

First of all, let’s talk tableware. You might not want to use your good crockery, especially if there are little ones, but luckily melamine doesn’t have to be ugly. In fact, you’ll find plenty of designs inspired by the Mediterranean, or those featuring fun, summery patterns such as fruit or flowers.

ProCook melamine for garden party ideas
Melamine tableware, from £5 for the pasta bowl, Procook.

As a creature of comfort, I can’t talk about garden party ideas without mentioning blankets. Seriously, your guests will thank you. It’s very common for cafés in Scandinavia to offer their guests blankets so you can sit outside in the colder months, and it’s just a cosy if you do it in your own garden.

Garden party ideas rug and cushion
Geometric outdoor rug in pink and orange, £45; Frida Kahlo cushions, £37 each, Fy.

Add plenty of cushions, too, for the ultimate comfort. Just make sure you choose weather-resistant designs, such as Weaver Green’s products which are made from recycled single-use plastic bottles. This way, they can survive even a sudden rain shower. If they are UV-resistant, the sun will also not bleach them.

Cuckooland Dome
HypeDome garden pod, £2975, Cuckooland.

And if you *really* want to be prepared for any and ever eventuality, why not opt for a garden pod? You’ve probably seen them pop up during the pandemic. They allowed restaurants to ensure households were only mixing within their bubble – but they do look very cool when placed in your own garden, too.

Featured image: Trimm Copenhagen Felix lounger beanbag, £1299, Lime Lace.

Want more? Check out our recent feature on garden lighting.

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