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Garden party decorations – big parties on small budgets – The Middle-Sized Garden

    Garden party decorations - big parties on small budgets - The Middle-Sized Garden

    July 2nd, 2017
    Posted In: Decorations/parties, Garden style & living

    garden party decorations make your party feel like an instant success.

    Thrifty garden party decorating tips #garden

    Filling vases of flowers for a marquee takes a lot of time, so ask friends for help. We mixed up bought flowers with some from the garden, just as we mixed mismatched china, vases and tablecloths.

    Flowers, bunting and lights all add a sense of expectation, drama or fun to your garden.

    And almost any size of lawn or terrace can take a marquee or gazebo. You can really even the smallest garden into an extra room for entertaining.

    Marquee for garden party

    We had to cut some of the smokebush tree back to fit the marquee in…

    But tree clippings make stunning garden party decorations

    We used the clippings from the cotinus to decorate the marquee. We tied it on the poles and strung it along the sides.

    Tree clippings for party decorations

    Fluffy flowers of cotinus coggyria ‘Grace’ decorating the marquee

    Cotinus and peonies

    The cotinus clippings also looked great with some peonies for an arrangement inside.

    Just a small change can make a big difference

    We had friends to stay recently. It was a hot night. So, instead of eating on the terrace as usual, we decided to put a table up on the lawn, near the flower beds.

    It was a really, quick easy way to make the atmosphere feel special. Everyone commented on how nice it was to be eating surrounded by flowers. And you get a different view of the garden, too.

    Red and orange are good colors for a garden party

    My Christmas table cloth out in the garden surrounded by flowers.

    I have a big orange tablecloth that I often use for Christmas decorating. In a summer garden, it looks completely different.

    Mix it up garden party ideas

    When we decorated a marquee for a party in our garden two years ago, we mixed up plain white hired tablecloths with three large round tablecloths we already had. It added a splash of color to the marquee, and it didn’t matter that the cloths didn’t match.

    Marquee and table settings

    You can see the same orange tablecloth used for a marquee party we had a few years ago.

    Borrow from friends…

    We hired ten white tablecloths from Best Intents, and I had two big circular cloths myself. I also borrowed one tablecloth from a friend.

    Even though we didn’t have ten colored tablecloths, and none of the tablecloths matched, having just three really added a pop of color to the party decorations.

    Add mismatched tablecloths, china and vases to the plain white hired cloths.  Garden party decorations #garden

    Mis-matched tablecloths, china and vases added a pop of color to the marquee. We borrowed the bunting from a friend, too.

    Use the smart stuff outside too

    A friend of mine has a fantasy of having a picnic on a mountainside, complete with family silver, ironed damask napkins, chandeliers and the finest bone china. I know what he means, though my china and candlesticks mainly come from charity shops and car boot fairs.

    There’s no reason why things should get broken or damaged just because they’re being used outside. I love the contrast of using anything smart in the garden – I think our wedding present wine glasses are probably the smartest thing we have…

    Cut-glass crystal looks just as good outside as it does inside.

    Our cut-glass crystal ‘wedding glasses’ from over 25 years ago. We don’t use them very often, but I thought they would make an outdoor barbecue feel a bit more special.

    Colored glasses really add atmosphere

    Over the past two decades, I’ve bought three different sets of red glasses. I use them at Christmas, for autumn and winter table decorations, and I like them just as much outside in the summer, too.

    colored glasses

    It’s the night before the big party. We strung four different sizes of table together on the terrace to have a curry supper for 23.

    I’ve bought red drinking glasses from Amazon in the past and rather like the look of these Duralex ones. (Links to Amazon are affiliate links, which means I may get a small fee if you buy by clicking on them.)

    I also have some blue glasses – these are great at Easter and for adding to summer garden party ideas. Duralex have a nice Cobalt Blue version, that is worth checking out.

    Jam jar flowers for garden parties

    A friend of mine got married last year. She had a pretty country wedding. The church was decorated with jam jar flowers, which she asked friends to carry onto the reception. The same jam jar flowers were then lined up on her garden tables for a lunch the following day at her home.

    Jam jar flowers lined up in the center of Charlotte’s table.

    You can buy jam jars if you haven’t collected enough.

    But not just jam jars…

    Use wine glasses for flowers.

    Use wine glasses for flowers. Cut the stems very short to stop them falling out.

    Use empty bottles for flower arranging

    Use empty bottles – these are San Pellegrino lemonade bottles.

    Timing is all…

    You need to make sure everything arrives in the right order. Although, our tables and chairs arrived a day before the marquee. We just hoped it didn’t rain.

    The tables and chairs on the lawn. Lottie is baffled…and the sky is looking ominous.

    Buy locally-grown flowers for a seasonal summer feel

    Flowers are the first thing to think about when you’re planning garden party decorations.

    When we first planned this party, I had vague ideas of growing my own flowers. It’s just as well I didn’t get around to it, because the recent heatwave would have fried them.

    So we went for ‘pick your own’ from local flower farmer, Anna’s Country Flowers, just a couple of miles away.

    Buy flowers direct from flower farms

    We went to talk to Anna about what flowers to choose. We have ordered 2 big buckets, but have decided to leave the choice to her.

    British Flowers Week takes place once a year. There has been a boom in flower farming here in Britain, for people who want their flowers ‘grown not flown.’ British Flowers Week champions the cause of using local, seasonal flowers for a natural, contemporary feel.

    Buy flowers from local growers

    We bought two ‘buckets’ of flowers at £60 each from Anna’s Country Flowers. We got 23 small and large vases out of that.

    The British Flowers Week website lists some flower farms where you can either pick your own or order directly from them. And you can find others on Flowers from the Farm. In fact, I found Anna’s Country Flowers on Instagram.

    Pick-your-own flowers for garden party decorations

    In the field at Anna’s Country Flowers

    An extra tip: Anna advised us to keep the flowers in a dark, cool place for as long as possible. We arranged them in vases on Friday and Saturday, but kept the vases in the basement until Sunday. It turned out to be a surprisingly hot weekend – if we’d put the flowers out in the marquee on Saturday, some of them would have wilted.

    local shops…

    We’re doing all the catering ourselves. Faversham – where I live – has a market on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The greengrocery stall had some wonderful produce, usually locally grown.

    You can pre-order from market stalls

    We had such a large order – 80 for lunch on Sunday and 23 for supper on Saturday. So we pre-ordered from the market stall. Cheap, gorgeous and local – what more could we ask?

    Faversham Market also has a flower stall, and although it probably won’t fit into the #grownnotflown hashtag on Instagram, it’s still excellent value.

    Find bargains at market stalls

    We also spent £10 on 3 bunches of peonies and 3 of gladioli from the flower stall in Faversham Market

    To gazebo or not to gazebo?

    Pergolas are useful for parties

    A small easy-to-put up pergola is a huge asset, but don’t put it up if you are expecting strong winds. A pergola at a barbecue for a family wedding in Spain.

    Do we need a gazebo as well as the big marquee? It would certainly be useful as it makes the terrace an all-weather space. You can buy a small one, like the one above.

    Create an extra room with a gazebo

    In fact, we borrowed this from a friend, but have fallen in love with it. It makes the terrace into ‘an outside room’.

    We borrowed the large green gazebo from my friend, Emma. It was quick and easy (although somewhat hilarious) to put up – but it does need at least four people as you need a friend at each corner. If our friends let me use the video footage, you’ll see what I mean…We definitely want one. Emma’s comes from Primrose. It’s perfect for Saturday night.

    Update in 2021: After borrowing Emma’s gazebo, we did some research and bought one ourselves. See how to buy the best gazebo for your garden. It lasted for four summer’s of frequent use, and when the top eventually ripped, we were able to order another one rather than buy a whole new gazebo. It only ripped because we left it up in heavy winds, which you are advised not to do.

    If the marquee almost completely fills your garden…

    Leave the sides up. It’s a lovely view of the borders and walls. We kept 2 sides on, to hide the messy vegetable patch, and also to protect it a bit from the wind. But as the sides of the marquee go almost up to the borders’ edges. there’s not a lot of change for wind and rain to get in. Famous last words!

    Marquee party decoration

    You can see the border and the garden wall instead of a marquee side.

    The marquee is finally ready for guests…

    You can order various chair colours. Brown wood is the least expensive, but white is the next one up. We originally ordered brown, but were upgraded to white as they’d run out. I think the white is definitely a fresher, prettier look, so it may be worth spending the extra to get them.

    Marquee decoration tips

    The marquee is ready for guests, complete with all its garden party decorations….

    Vintage china with white cloths

    Mismatched vintage blue plates and blue country flowers with white hired tablecloths

    Find out more garden party decorations here

    Read my post on easy garden party ideas. Or if you’re giving a Christmas party, there are some useful thrifty tips in Zero Waste Christmas Decorations.

    And there is some very good advice from the Frustrated Gardener blog on how to create a garden for entertaining.

    Pin to remember these garden party ideas

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    Garden party decoration ideas on a budget #gardenparty #garden

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