If you’re a home and garden party consultant, helping your hostesses come up with ideas for their parties can be a win-win situation for both of you. For the hostess, having a printed list with ideas, themes and even recipes can take a big part of the stress off her shoulders, and make her more motivated and enthusiastic about the party. For you, the consultant, having a happy hostess means happier and more relaxed guests, and everyone having a wonderful time at the party. This also can translate into more sales for you.
Although a garden party may make you think of elegant women in large hats, sipping tea out of tiny porcelain cups, in reality it doesn’t require a home in the country with a large lawn, beautiful grounds and lots of outdoor furniture. Successful garden parties can happen on small patios in the city, in the backyard of the suburbs or even in a living room or dining room. In fact, some of the most successful garden parties don’t even happen in the hostess’s home – we’ve had successful garden parties at the local park, at a family member or neighbor’s home, and once, even on a mother-daughter camp-out!
Garden parties can range from the elegant to the casual: from large affairs to cozy, intimate gatherings. The most important thing when planning a garden party is to decide on the theme, and then use it to create the atmosphere you want.
Of course you’ll have to take into consideration the time of year, the time of day the party is being held, the number of guests expected and the location. But here are some fun themes that have resulted in successful parties with better-than-average sales and party bookings. Feel free to adapt them so that they work for you!
Tea Party: Get elegant with cloth tablecloths and napkins, fancy napkin rings and place settings. The centerpieces could be glass bowls, decanters or bottles filled with flowers, fruit or candles. Serve tea, finger sandwiches and elegant little desserts on stacked trays.
Use flowers or potted plants if the party is on the patio, or set it up in the garden itself, if the time of year is right. Place your displays inside the house or around the outdoor area, and use the same tablecloths and elegant theme as the party. Light classical music, guitar music or new age would blend in beautifully.
Afternoon Delight: Set up a whimsical party with beach umbrellas or patio tables and umbrellas, a free-standing hammock, and drag out the kids’ plastic pool to fill with sand and use it to hold your outdoor display items. Serve icy margaritas or delicious mimosas with a little Jimmy Buffet in the background, and make sure your games are fun and that guests feel relaxed and at ease. Crackers, cheese and fruit make simple refreshments.
Bridal Shower: Although this idea is a little unusual, it’s actually a good marketing campaign and has been a surprising success. In your next marketing campaign – aimed at brides and maids (or matrons) of honor, mention that you hold garden party bridal showers. The guests get together, laugh, talk, eat and play games, just like at a regular bridal shower, but the bride can register for the gifts that she’d like for her new home, and guests can choose from her list, as well as picking up a little something for themselves.
Themes can vary, but some nice touches include: stringing fairy lights and hurricane lanterns around the garden or patio (especially if the party is being held at night), using ribbons, lace and the bride’s wedding colors. Refreshments can be anything from a light buffet using fresh fruits and vegetables of the season (for spring and summer) to soups and a selection of elegant appetizers in the fall and winter months.
Bloom Where you’re Planted: This party is all about celebrating life and enjoying who you are. Table decorations can be tiny terra cotta pots with tea lights in them. You can use flower seed packets as place cards (write the guests’ names on the packets). Set up baskets or pots of flowers and plants around the tables.
Use a wheelbarrow or garden cart for displays or refreshments, and if you have a trellis or standing metal archway, it makes a lovely setting for your display. Keep the games light and upbeat and the general theme about gratitude and how wonderful it is that we are all unique and different as flowers in a garden. Refreshments should be kept light – ice tea, lemon-aide or fruit smoothies and finger sandwiches with cookies or a variety of desserts works well.