Garden parties can be formal or whimsical, for families, for children or for adults. Customize these themes to accommodate adult or youth guests, or a combination of the two. Practice healthy food safety for any garden party and keep cold foods chilled and hot foods hot. Check food temperatures and freshness often, and remove any questionable food items. Serve garden party foods in stages rather than presenting all of the dishes at once, to ensure freshness. Keep garden party guests hydrated with plenty of liquids. When hosting a garden party without an awning or tents, plan a rain date or have a backup plan if the party needs to be moved indoors.
Midsummer Night’s Dream
Mail out silver or gold invitations decorated with sparkling glitter. Request that guests wear white linen clothing, fancy dresses, vests and white shirts for men. Guests can also dress like fairies, and half-human, half-animal creatures. Make head garlands for guests using artificial ivy and flowers. Use the garlands as place holders on the table. Decorate with bowls of floating flowers and candles, metallic confetti and hanging ivy garlands over the table and seating areas. Serve earthy foods including stuffed mushrooms, twice-baked potatoes and roasted meats. Have plates of fresh breads, hummus, cheeses, fruits and nuts at the party. Host the party at night.
Seed Exchange Party
Plan a seed exchange party where gardening friends and family members can share seeds and plants. Send out seed packets in the invitations and invite guests to bring their own saved seeds, heirloom seeds or store-bought seeds to share and trade. Make place cards for the party using clay pots and seedlings, with names written on garden markers. Favors can include a pair of gardening gloves, inexpensive gardening tools and the clay pot place card. Create a salad bar where guests can assemble their own combinations of vegetables.
Garden of Eden
Host a Garden of Eden theme party for friends. Make invitations in the shape of an apple or a serpent and write, “Can you resist the temptation….” on the outside and “of a Garden of Eden party” on the inside. Decorate garden trees with plastic apples, and tables with real ones. Buy exotic flowers and hang ivy and lush vines of artificial leaves. Make apple pie, apple tarts and apple crisp. Serve decadent foods including chocolate-covered strawberries, grilled beef teriyaki sticks and chocolate fondue. Add pimentos to a piece of kielbasa or to hot dogs to make the serpent. Provide fig leaves with Velcro sewn on the back for guests to wear at the party.
Victorian Garden Party
Invite guests to a formal Victorian garden party, the way the Victorians did it. Invitations can be made in the shape of umbrellas. Request guests to dress semi-formally, yet weather-appropriate. Guests should also bring their own umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun. Set up Victorian games of croquet. Provide live music and a place to dance. Serve lemonades, iced teas, finger sandwiches and roasted chicken. Use small picnic or garden tables around the party area to hold paper cups of drinks or fruit cups, in trays of ice. Erect garden tents with chairs for guests to sit and converse.
Alice in Wonderland
Use an incomplete deck of cards to create Alice in Wonderland garden party invitations. Write, “Don’t be late,” or “Falling down the rabbit hole” on the invitations. Decorate the party with bright mixtures of color including yellows, greens, reds and purples. Make houses of cards on outdoor tables, and use extra cards on tabletops. Mix and match paper or real place settings, and create a whimsical table setting. Make your own labels that read, “Drink me” for water bottles and beverages. Serve hot or cold tea and fruit tarts.