Garden party ideas: A complete guide to outdoor entertainment

As the lighter nights draw nearer and the sun stays out for longer, you’ll find yourself daydreaming about those unforgettable garden parties you’ve been to in the past. You know the kind: family and friends laughing on the patio; cornflower blue skies and sun-drenched lawns; the sound and smell of barbecued food and fire-kissed pizzas. There’s no reason why these things can’t be relived – or topped, for that matter! Regardless of the size of your outdoor space – whether you have a small patio out the front, or a large lawn out the back – there are so many ways to throw an unforgettable garden party that your friends and family will be talking about for many summers to come.

What makes an amazing garden party?

Great food

There are a few key things you’ll want to bear in mind when it comes to outdoor entertainment and throwing a great garden party. Let’s start with the food. If you get it right, your guests will be talking about it for days and week; get it wrong, however, and your party might be unforgettable for all the wrong reasons… But there’s no need to panic – as long as there’s something suitable for everyone and you’ve got the kit to cook it all to perfection, you’re onto a winner.

The right music

You’ll also want some suitably upbeat music to keep the summer vibes rolling throughout the day and into the evening. But choosing the music is a lot like choosing the food: make sure there’s something for everyone. Remember, you want to make it a pleasant experience for all your guests, so don’t get too protective over the playlist.

Thoughtful decoration

And when it comes to decoration, it’s all about the little details – festoon lights for when the sun goes down; floor cushions to help make everyone comfy; an ice bucket to keep the drinks cool. You don’t need to go overboard with crazy displays and extravagant entertainment; you just need to be a little creative with the things that matter – your guests will be sure to notice and appreciate it.

Choose a theme for your party

Having a theme can save you time, money and a whole lot of fretting over what kind of food you should cook; or what decorations you should put up; or which napkins you should buy! Throwing a party can be a stressful ordeal if you haven’t got a clear theme or focus, so anything to keep the decision making to a minimum should be welcomed with open arms. And again, you don’t want to go for anything too whacky or extreme when choosing your theme; just something to set the mood and help make it an extra-special occasion for everyone.

Flowers should be in full-bloom everywhere you look, so it’s only natural to want to base your garden party around their beauty. There are plenty of ways you can inject a generous dose of flower-power into your garden party, like colourful hanging baskets, beautiful vase arrangements, and even flower-themed tableware. Containing everything from virtually unbreakable melamine picnicware to gorgeous kitchen textiles, our Summer Meadows Tableware range is sure to help you serve up the most summery, sunshine – and stress-free – alfresco feasts ever. Or, if you’re planning more of an outdoor feast, our Mosaic Tableware range is equally unbreakable – and equally pretty. And best of all, both these gorgeous ranges have been exclusively designed by our talented in-house design team, so you won’t find them anywhere else.

Should your party be for adults only?

Now, this all depends on the kind of garden party you want to throw. Perhaps you want a lively afternoon, where everyone can attend and no one has to find a babysitter – in which case, there’s absolutely no reason why it would have to be an adult-only affair – children don’t often fail to put a smile on our faces and it would be a shame to leave them out. Just remember the golden rule: make sure there’s something for everyone – that includes the kids too!

On the other hand, if you’ve got a slightly more sophisticated outdoor party in mind – one you’re hoping will spill into the late evening – you might want to consider asking your guests to try and find a babysitter for the night. While it would be a shame to have to make the children miss out on a good party, some parties simply aren’t suitable. For example, there might be hot ovens and barbecues out on display, which isn’t ideal if you’ve got children running around. Then there’s the alcohol to think about – if your idea of a good party is one with plenty of booze, it’s probably not suitable for the children. And if you’re after a nice quiet, relaxing afternoon… well, you get the idea.

No party is complete without great food

Regardless of how much effort you put into your theme and decoration, if the food is a let-down, the whole party is likely to be a let-down. On the other hand, if you don’t feel you’ve nailed the decoration and things aren’t quite going to plan, then serving great food can make all the difference. So, what kind of food should you serve?

How about a pizza party?

Outdoor Ooni Pizza Oven

Home-made pizzas are an extremely popular choice for outdoor entertaining, and once you’ve seen what Ooni pizza ovens are capable of, you’ll understand why. Flame-cooked pizzas in as little as 60 seconds – what’s not to love? The question is, which Ooni oven is right for your garden party? Luckily, we’ve got a separate blog to answer that very question: Wood-fired vs gas: The best outdoor pizza oven for you. Whichever pizza oven you choose, you’re sure to be the host with the most delicious outdoor menu this summer.

And if you want to make your pizza party a little more creative, how about having a toppings menu? Your guests can choose their toppings on arrival and have their custom pizza brought to them on a plate – just like in a proper restaurant. Or you could let your guests get even more involved by setting up a topping station and letting them craft their own pizzas, exactly how they like them. There are plenty of Ooni accessories to choose from on our website to help spark some extra pizza inspiration.

Bring on the barbecue

Perhaps pizzas aren’t quite right for your garden party – that’s fine. There are plenty of other options when it comes to cooking great food outdoors, like the good old-fashioned barbecue – although ‘old-fashioned’ isn’t a phrase we’d use to describe some of the barbecues on our website. Take the BioLite FirePit+, for example, which lets you control the flames from your phone. Then there’s Cobb’s incredibly versatile range of portable cook anything, anywhere cooking systems – perfect for roasting, grilling, baking, barbecuing and frying wherever you decide to take the party.

Something sweet

Now, let’s talk lollies for a moment. Loved by children and adults alike, lollies and ice creams are a fantastic dessert option for a laid-back lawn party on a scorching summer’s day – and they’re even better when you’ve made them yourself. Lékué’s Tropical Fruit Lolly Moulds and Classic Ice Cream Moulds are just the thing for bringing the family together to enjoy ice-cool sweet treats in the garden.

5 essential garden party decorations to add to your shopping list

Festoon lights
  1. Festoon lights – Simple, yet glamorous, festoon lights are the perfect mood-setter for when the sun decides to retire for the day. As the natural light begins to fade and your guests start to think it’s all over, these bulbs offer a twinkle to help make the smooth transition into the evening.
  2. Melamine tableware – Avoid breaking your best plates for the sake of a party – you’ll pretend not to care at the time, but you’ll regret having used them afterwards. Plus, your guests will feel awful if they break a plate, and that’s the last thing you want when you’re trying to keep the mood up. Beautifully designed and far more sophisticated than paper and plastic plates and cups, our melamine tableware ranges could prove to be a life-saver – or a plate-saver at the very least…
  3. Bunting – If you want to add some festival vibes to your garden party, bunting is the way to go. Simple, effective and easy to put up, our summer meadows bunting surrounding the place will help bring the carnival to your garden.
  4. Food covers – Okay, so not strictly a decoration, but the authentic African design on these Fabric Elasticated Food Covers is so beautiful and summery, we’re classing them as decorations, as well as handy food protectors. Breathable, eco-friendly and far less fiddly than cling film and foil, they’re perfect for covering your food bowls in between servings.

You’re all set!

Hopefully, you’ve been able to gather some fruitful outdoor party ideas. Things to remember include: choosing a theme – it will save you time and money; making sure there’s something for everyone – that goes for music, as well as food; taking care of the little details – they really do make all the difference; serving great food to make it a day to remember (for all the right reasons!).

If you need any further inspiration, our website is packed with summer ranges to help you decorate your outdoor space and dine alfresco, but most of all, to help you to throw a garden party to remember. Here’s hoping the weather behaves…

Happy partying!