Garden Party 101
How to host an intimate Garden Dinner Party or Cocktail with all the fun & no stress
Winter can be long and dreadful in New York. No wonder, we crave sunshine and fresh air once April rolls around. It is the ease and simplicity of a casual Garden Dinner Party or Cocktail that makes it so attractive. All you need is some cocktail nibbles, a couple of summer wines or batch cocktails and you are all set. Add some string lights, a bunch of candles, soft background music and you have a perfect scene. Easy enough, right?
Now, where to start? Even the most casual affair needs some planning. Start by asking yourself a few simple questions. Not only will they help you plan your event ahead of time, they will also help you to be ready the day of and enjoy your party.
Consider your people & the occasion
Are you planning an engagement party for a friend and their plus one, your mother’s birthday or your best friend’s baby shower brunch? All three are wonderful reasons to host a garden party and all three require different setups and offerings. While your friends might be happy with cocktails and nibbles, your mom might prefer an early sit-down dinner with great wine, and your pregnant BFF would really enjoy delicious mocktails, cake, and a craft table.
Consider your guests relationship to each other, their age and other factors that inform your event set up: Do the attendees know each other? Will you be celebrating somebody or do you want to introduce different groups of people to each other?
Seated versus Cocktail
The decision between a seated meal and a cocktail party goes hand in hand with the first question: Are you planning an intimate family gathering or a casual mingling for friends? While seated meals are the best way to connect to the entire group at the same time, cocktail parties are a great way to meet many different people (and avoid others).
A seated garden party tends to require more thought and work from the host: We highly recommend having a seating chart ready to make sure everyone is comfortable with their neighbors (place cards and printed menus are an elegant touch but not necessary). Seated meals usually are a bit more expensive than a casual cocktail party because they require more servers and overall food. However, to host a seated meal with the appropriate crowd is worth every penny, your guests will make meaningful and memorable connections.
Cocktail parties, on the other hand, are an easy way to bring a group of people from different points of life together. A casual set up puts everybody at ease and avoids awkward moments – especially if not everyone knows everybody. Hand your guests a welcome drink and offer a mix of cocktail nibbles – from veggies over meat to cheese and bread. It’s a safe and easy way to cater to a group of people you don’t know that well and guarantees everybody is taken care of – regardless of their dietary restrictions or when they arrive at the party. Plan to have your food come out in waves. That way late-comers will still get something to eat and won’t feel left out.
You have a plan, now think about a theme.
Be mindful about what is sustainable for you – money- and timewise. Neither do you have to go crazy on your décor – less is always more -, nor will more money guarantee you a better party. Focus on a few things that are important to you instead of many little things that eventually go unnoticed by your guests.
Focus on how you want your party to feel for you and your guests instead of how it will look on Instagram. There are some easy and cost-efficient ways to set the mood.
If music is important for you, put together a playlist that you like and cross it off your list. Are you a visual person who likes a clean look? Define a color theme and stick with it. Just make sure it makes sense for your event format. The simpler and clearer your vision the easier your event will be. A relaxed host equals a fun event!
Let’s talk about rainbows not rain!
We hate to break it to you but there is a chance that the weather will not cooperate on the day of your event (GASP!).
You know what? No big deal! Thinking about your rain plan is a great opportunity to streamline your event and focus on the things that are really important!
Can’t hang the garland from your living room ceiling instead of the tree if it pours that day?? Maybe you do not need it, to begin with.
Whatever you come up with should feel just as fun and satisfying whether in or outside. Consider planning your decoration in a way that is easily transferable and would still work if ‘Plan B’ comes into effect.
Think about the space you’d be moving into. Is it smaller than the outdoor space? If so, reconsider your guest list. Be honest with yourself and think about who you really want to attend your celebration.
Ready to have fun but no outdoor space?
Now that you have all the tools and did some thinking, you might be ready to throw a beautiful garden party… If only you had the outdoor space! The good news is – you can always make our Brownstone Garden your home away from home. We help you bring your vision of an intimate Garden party to life. Regardless if you are looking for a seated Garden Dinner or a Garden Cocktail format our Event Team can walk you through all you need to know and help you make your life as easy as possible. You’ve already got it all mapped out? Even better, we are here to support you all the way.
Regardless which way you go – your own backyard our ours – keep those simple questions in mind! They will help you stay on track with planning any event and make your party enjoyable and stress-free for everybody including you!