*A collaborative post*
What does it take to throw the perfect British themed garden party? From the flowers and the food to the tipples and the teacups, organising a garden party can take a good amount of planning if you want to create the ideal one.
Garden gatherings are the perfect summer soirée for people in the UK. It’s mainly due to the fact we seem to have such long, cold winters, that when summer starts to show its face, we rush into the garden quicker than you get chance to mumble ‘sunshine’!
With this in mind, it’s become popular to theme a good outdoor party around all things British. Yes, that includes glasses of Pimms, fresh strawberries added to everything, and a pretty line up of china teapots.
Let’s look at a few things to consider before you start to organise your own British-inspired al fresco party. An English-themed garden party doesn’t have to be complicated, it just needs simple decorating ideas, an ideal space for any outdoor cooking, and a bunch of good friends.
Let’s look at the basics first. Ideally, you’ll have a garden which isn’t too cramped, and one that isn’t a danger hazard too. Use the widest open space in the garden to host the tables, chairs and picnic blankets, and set these up accordingly.
It’s nice to be able to do a spot of barbequing when the weather’s warm, so if you do have a BBQ unit, ideally look to place this away from the gathering area. Shades corners usually work best, away from the winds if possible and where the cook isn’t constantly distracted. If you don’t have the professional BBQ equipment or a BBQ pit, you can always use the disposable ones, although these can be a little messier.
Then, make sure you have enough plates, cutlery, glasses and cups etc for everyone to dine and drink from. A way to ensure this is to stock up on paper plates and plastic cups, plus this saves on the washing up later.
Don’t be afraid to put your own spin on your British themed decor. It doesn’t have to be all ‘rule Britannia’. You can give it a real vintage tea party theme, or even go all Alice in Wonderland.
However, you want it to fit in with your garden, and enhance the look and feel of it. With this in mind, look at featuring small pots of flowering plants like primroses, geraniums, and tea roses dotted around the garden if you can. These can do double-duty, serving as table decorations as well as party favours for your guests to take home.
If you want to make your party look a little more statement, hang bunting between any trees, lined up across the fence, or on your deck’s railings. Why not make your own with scraps of fabric?
If you know your garden party will go on until the evening, look at some cute fairy lights that you can string along the table, running down the centre. Candles shut away in lanterns also give a fabulous atmospheric feel, and these look great lining any pathways or doorways.
Everyone knows that the most important part of any party is the food – especially a garden party when a BBQ can be thrown into the mix! Begin with a range of canapes while your guests mingle and admire your garden. You can work these to represent the UK summer’s fresh produce. Brightly coloured roasted vegetables with halloumi on cocktail sticks, asparagus stems wrapped in parma ham, and strawberries dipped in cream for the ones who love a dessert bite.
For a lovely outdoor vibe, keep the presentation informal and utilise serving up canapes wooden boards or large serving plates if you can. For the main courses, take to your BBQ and grill a combination of meat, fish and vegetables to cater to various tastes.
Chicken legs, burgers, sausages and corn cobs all go down a treat, but why not try grilling a whole trout on the barbecue – it’s fresher and more theatrical. Plus, a little more unique and show-stopping. Complement it with salads such as tomato, watermelon and feta, or lettuces that have been lightly charred.
If you want to keep it traditional tea party themed, you can always stick to an afternoon tea set up of finger sandwiches, scones and cakes, perhaps with a few additions thrown in, like scotch eggs and sausage rolls.
A popular dessert of a sweet Eton Mess is a very English pudding, which can be made in minutes!
It wouldn’t be a British garden party without teapots, teacups, sugar and milk lined up on the table. Try to provide a variety of tea – Earl Grey, peppermint, chamomile, fruit, herbal and, of course, English Breakfast.
Iced tea can make for a more refreshing choice in warmer weather, and for later on, why not crack open a bottle of fizz or two? A good Prosecco with some orange juice for those who wish to make Mimosas and a bottle of Pimms with lemonade always go down a treat.
If you put your mind to it, there are lots of little extras you can bring to the table. Edible flowers can be added to glasses of Prosecco, and you can even purchase flower-filled ice making kits, for when you really want to wow your guests.
If the weather is warmer than usual, you might want to invest in some scatter cushions which you can throw onto the picnic rug, to encourage your guests to relax on the grass.
As a final note: make sure you have access to some form of music system! Whether it is your phone connected to a Bluetooth device or your speaker system can be situated near the doors, you want to make sure your gathering has got that party vibe – as nobody likes awkward silences.