If there’s anything more fun than gathering your friends and family for a party, it’s hosting them in a beautiful, luxurious outdoor space. But it’s no longer enough to put out a cooler of beer and throw some hamburgers on the grill.

Want to throw a truly spectacular outdoor garden party that will have everyone raving about your hospitality and good taste?

Read on for some expert tips!

First, What’s the Occasion?

Of course, you don’t need an excuse to entertain, but a party with a theme is almost always more fun, both for you to plan and for your guests to enjoy.

Hosting a birthday bash for your movie buff spouse? Make it a red-carpet event, complete with classic movies playing on your entertainment system.

A tiki party with Polynesian decor and tropical cocktails is a natural fit for an outdoor party.

For an afternoon garden party, channel the spirit of the English countryside by offering high tea, crumpets, cucumber sandwiches, and classic lawn games like badminton and croquet.

Decide on Your Decor

Even with ambient outdoor lighting solutions, consider using Chinese lanterns, Edison-bulb string lights, or even candles to create mood lighting that’s specific to the ambiance of your garden party.

Decorative paper flowers or arrangements of fragrant blossoms work wonders to enhance the garden party’s aesthetic appeal.

Consider the Comestibles…

Your party theme will likely dictate the refreshments you serve, but there are a few rules of thumb to remember.

Unless you have an outdoor dining table, or at least plenty of seating, steer clear of multi-course, knife-and-fork meals. Hors d’oeuvres or finger foods that are easy to eat in one or two bites are a better bet.

For a more casual get-together, foods on skewers are always fun.

Want to evoke elegance in your garden party? Hire a few servers to circulate among the crowd with platters of smoked salmon canapes, shrimp-cocktail shooters, or beef tenderloin crostini.

…and the Potent Potables

What to drink? It’s hard to go wrong with champagne or prosecco, no matter what style of garden party you’re hosting. Wine and beer are also easy to serve crowd-pleasers.

When you have an outdoor kitchen, it’s not hard to set up a full wet bar. To make things easy on whoever’s playing bartender, limit the offerings to a few mixed cocktails (pitchers of martinis or margaritas, for example).

No matter what alcoholic beverages you opt to serve, be sure to offer water, soda, and coffee for the younger set, the designated drivers, and the non-drinkers.

Virgin versions of your signature cocktail will make every guest feel welcomed and festive.

Now That’s Entertainment!

Gone are the days of lugging your speakers onto the patio — then worrying all evening that your guests will trip over the cables. Today’s outdoor sound systems make it effortless to stream your party playlists.

Even if you’re throwing that tiki party, there’s only so much Don Ho your guests will want to hear.

It’s a smart idea to have curated playlists for different stages of your garden party.

Classical, jazz standards, and Great American Songbook melodies (think Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Gershwin tunes) are ideal for early on.

Once the party heats up, switch to popular dance music, electroswing, or 80s new wave to get your guests dancing.

If your garden party theme hearkens back to a particular era, consider streaming videos, concert footage, or even films from that decade on your custom outdoor HD television screens.

Even without the audio, adding video will set the mood.

Cater to Your Guests’ Comfort

A spectacular garden party is about more than just the brand of whiskey you serve or whether you make your famous homemade guacamole. It’s in the details that ensure every guest feels at home.

Although you’ll want to have a fire for folks to gather around, don’t rely on it as a heat source. If the evenings get chilly, provide lap blankets or even pashmina shawls for the ladies.

Stock the powder room(s) with ample supplies. Keep the ice buckets full and the trash receptacles emptied.

Set out coasters, plenty of corkscrews, bottle openers, napkins, and plates.

You may also want to designate a smoking area so that others aren’t bothered by cigarette or cigar odors. Remember to include ashtrays to encourage smokers not to throw their butts on your lawn.

More intimate parties may involve inviting guests to use your pool or spa. If so, provide plenty of towels, as well as a private location where people can change into their swimsuits.

Lastly, don’t let the sun go down on your garden party without mosquito-repelling citronella torches or electronic devices.

Keep Kids (and Fun-Loving Adults) Amused

Not everyone will want to mingle and make small talk. Especially for larger parties where not all the guests are acquainted, games and other activities provide ice-breaking opportunities as well as plenty of laughs.

Horseshoes, beanbag-toss games, bocce ball, and ladder ball are all fun physical activities that guests can enjoy. Setting a table or two off to the side for card and board games will ensure that everyone can have fun in their own fashion.

Recruit tweens and teens to keep an eye on little children (offering a cash incentive if necessary) so that adults can enjoy each other’s company while also knowing that their kids are staying safe.

When the Party’s Over

A responsible host will take care to ensure guests get home safe and sound. This means calling a taxi or ridesharing service, or even offering guest rooms, for those who may have overindulged.

Although most people associate goody bags with children’s parties, compiling a small selection of treats for your friends to take home with them is an extra-special touch.

It will definitely ensure your status as the most hospitable hostess in the neighborhood!

Inspired To Host Your Own Garden Party?

Outdoor living spaces, and blended or seamless indoor-outdoor spaces, have been growing in popularity over the last few years. They show no signs of slowing down.

Are you looking to increase the functionality of your outdoor space with lighting options, high-tech entertainment systems, or even a fully operable al fresco kitchen?

Get in touch with the experts at Hive to learn how we can make your entertaining dreams come true!

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