Who says all the best parties end up in the kitchen? Backyard gardens are the perfect place to host a great gathering, especially during the warmer months.
Be it a grand event or a low-key get together, from weddings and receptions, to graduation parties, birthdays and baby showers, make the most of our spring and summer seasons by transforming your backyard living space into a place to celebrate, lounge, chat and enjoy a little sunshine. It’s amazing what some twinkling lights and patio lanterns can do to transform an outdoor living space.
Anita Smeskal Donato, WPICC, owner of Anita’s Corporate Events (ACE), suggests keeping your garden party décor simple and natural. “The dollar store has a large variety [of options],” she says. “If you use a little imagination, their simple terracotta pots can be jazzed up to look incredible.” Even an old stepladder in your backyard can be used to create a focal point with cascading flowers and vines.
Your food can also become part of your décor. “Take a piece of Romaine lettuce and use it as your spoon to make little tuna boats,” says Donato. “When you’re making sliders or kabobs, go with different shapes.” Cutting fruit and veggies into squares will give your skewers a fresh look.
Grilled corn is another great addition to any backyard party menu. “Add some grilled zucchini and onion, line it up with different cheeses, and decorate your table with the colours of summer,” she says.
Of course, weather is one of the biggest factors to take into consideration when making any arrangements for an outdoor event. In other words, never assume Mother Nature will co-operate with your plans. “What if it rains? Everyone panics about that,” says Donato. “It’s funny how quickly you can put up a few 10-by-10 tents. Drape them in tulle and add some flowers and you’re all set.”
Nicole Craddock, CMT, owner of Tonic Events in Newmarket, emphasizes the importance of planning ahead. “When you’re doing a party like this, you want to make sure you’re prepared ahead of time so you can actually enjoy the afternoon,” she says. “And if you’re planning on hosting and people are offering to help, take them up on it. People love to help.”
While planning for weather is important, other outdoor elements also come into play at a garden party where food is served – like insects. Consider filling pretty baskets with organic and environmentally friendly insect repellent to keep your guests comfortable. “You can get some funky and fun covering nets too, so you don’t end up with critters in your food,” says Craddock. “And if you have food that’s going to be sitting out, make sure it’s on ice if it’s anything that can’t withstand the heat.”
Don’t forget about the entertainment either – whether it’s a string quartet, a DJ spinning some dance tunes, or simply a playlist of favourites you’ve put together yourself. Parties don’t have to be elaborate to be fun and successful, and keeping it simple doesn’t mean overlooking the overall theme and appearance of your gathering. If your budget is a little tighter, you can still be aesthetically pleasing with bold summer colours, floating tea light candles, white lights, homemade flower arrangements and a do-it-yourself barbecue.
In the end, parties are always about having fun, so keep your stress levels in check by hiring a professional planner to help you out, or keep it all low-key and simple and go it alone. Either way, don’t forget to enjoy yourself!
by Allison Dempsey & Charlotte Ottaway
Anita’s Corporate Events