Trees are blooming, blossom is falling, and the hum of lawnmowers fills the air on a Sunday morning. It can only mean one thing… Summer is almost here.
With Summer comes an abundance of opportunities to enjoy nature and reconnect with other people, especially exciting for the Summer of 2022 while we continue our journey back into unrestricted life.
This year more than ever, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate. From the usual Bank Holidays to the special Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, and let’s face it, any day that the sun is shining there is cause for celebration, so what better way to do it than by stepping outside and enjoying a garden party with your nearest and dearest.
Here are our tops tips to creating and hosting a beautiful, memorable garden gathering…
Whatever you want to call it, a gathering or a party, large or small, formal or informal… it’s about the people. People coming together, connecting, relaxing and enjoying themselves. The host included. Nobody feels relaxed if the host is stressed, so take a step back from what you think a party ‘should’ be and create a party that will make you, and your guests, feel great.
Informal al fresco dining can be simple and beautiful, and we shouldn’t underestimate the comforting power of allowing your guests to take control of their own hosting duties. Decant your soft drinks and wine into jugs and carafes and leave them on the table for DIY top-ups. Graze tables are edible works of art, and not so difficult to create due to their rustic styling and ‘thrown together’ charm. Pop it all out, allow people to chat over how beautiful the catering is and let them eat as much as they like, whenever they like.
If a formal al fresco dinner party is your dream, then go for it and fill your boots with stunning tablescapes and menus. Just try to do as much cooking prep as possible in advance to allow for minimal effort on the day. Less time in the kitchen, more time laughing with the people you love. That’s real food for the soul.
View the entire space you have available as a blank canvas and make it work for the day, without feeling restricted by the usual layout and functions. Consider what will work best practically but also how you can make a visual impact by looking for backdrops of flowers to host the focal point of the gathering. Even a beautiful rustic wall or fairy light-strewn fence could be perfect. Eating al fresco on a patio close to the house may be your norm, but for a garden dinner party consider using the patio for informal drinks and seating, and positioning the dining table further into the garden so it feels like a special, designated space for the sit-down meal.
Pockets of seating at different points throughout the garden can help to zone the space and create different moods. Cosy spots with comfortable seating is always nice to have further away from the action so your guests can retreat to enjoy some quiet time and conversation. Whether it’s a more intimate set up around a firepit, a fun hammock in the trees, or floor cushions and beanbags scattered on the lawn… think about creating moments throughout your space, giving your guests the ability to ebb and flow with the party and move to wherever the mood takes them.
We talk a lot about ‘bringing the outside in’, introducing foliage into the home to feel more connected with nature. Entertaining in the garden is the chance to reverse this and extend your interiors style beyond the confines of your house, in terms of both your style and the feeling you want to evoke. Use the opportunity to help your guests (and yourself) feel as peaceful and at ease in your garden as you want them to feel in your house, with plenty of seats for everyone, cushions and blankets for comfort and food and drink at their finger tips.
Aligning your outdoor colour scheme and design style to the nearest indoor rooms can create a seamless transition between inside and outside. Think as simply as plant pots, table cloths and decorative garden features in a similar colour palette to the adjoining indoor space. Adding classic ‘indoor’ pieces can elevate an outdoor space into a true extension of your home. Try leaning mirrors amongst the greenery, hanging an LED pendant light from a pergola or tree branch or a subtly patterned outdoor rug to inject some personality and anchor the furniture in the space, just as you would indoors.
Garden gatherings don’t have to be elaborate affairs. Keep it simple, pared back and tap into your surroundings. Take inspiration from the blooms in your garden and create a simple scheme to match the colours of the most prominent plants. For a more neutral style, use natural textures for bunting, tableware and linens. Recycle mixed glass jars and tins filled with flowers picked from your garden, or for a cool, on-trend vibe try rustic vases with dried flowers, and always intersperse with candles (LEDs are a safer option, especially around dried flowers) for a little added day to night drama.
While the Summer nights are long, the chill can soon set in, but don’t let this be a reason to end the party early. Lean into the night and the drop in temperature by creating a cosy atmosphere around a fire pit or chiminea. Plenty of blankets and ambient lighting from lanterns and festoon lights strung between trees or along fences will provide the ultimate hygge vibe. Keep it simple, all that matters is that your guests are comfortable and enjoying their time connecting with the outdoors and with each other.
Let’s not forget about our youngest (often hardest to impress!) guests. Keeping little ones entertained at a gathering doesn’t have to take a lot of effort. A children’s dining table featuring floor cushions, party tableware and their own special food and drink can be really fun. While a few classic garden games are a fun way of bringing people – both children and adults – together. A simple teepee or makeshift den for a ‘kids-only’ zone can be a real ice breaker, firing up their imaginations, enjoying each other’s company, and most importantly, stopping them retreating into the house too soon!
Embracing earthy tones and textures, and featuring many of the items mentioned in this post, our quick Informal Garden design board might give you some further inspiration for dressing your garden for relaxing Summer nights and beyond. Just add food, friends and a little fire, and you have yourself a simply beautiful garden gathering. For even more inspiration, check out our Summer Garden Pinterest board.
Festoon lights – Garden Trading
New Garden natural LED portable pendant light – Amara
Monochrome cushion – Ferm Living
Luxury Lambswool Caernarfon blanket – Welsh Otter
Olive green outdoor cushion – Ferm Living @ Nordic Nest
Antique brass lantern – Design Vintage
Olive green Palissade dining bench – Hay
Broste Copenhagen outdoor fibre clay table – Folk Interiors
Bilia indoor/outdoor rug – Design Vintage
Wood burning fireplace – Room 356
Desert lounge chair – Ferm Living
Striped cotton mattress – Madam Stoltz
A few of our favourite hygge and cwtch blog posts.
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