If you want to throw a summer garden party that gets talked about for years to come, start planning it now. As Jacquie’s Gourmet Catering staff has discovered over the years, the more you plan ahead, the better outcome.
Here are some tips from our favorite party planner, Jacquie Bols, owner of Jacquie’s Gourmet Catering:
Outside is great, but make sure you have a contingency plan for rain. Have a party tent set up just in case. This also works for cooler evenings. Better yet, have your party at an outdoor event facility, like Finley Creek Vineyards. Instant charm – and access to indoor and outdoor spaces.
Set a theme. Why not? Guests love to know in advance how casual or outrageous your evening will be. Some of our favorite themes are – Barefoot in the Park Party, 60s Flower Power, Tye-Dye Beach Party, Dress in Florals, Black & White Party, Cowboy Up, and Linen & Lace.
Up your cocktail game by pairing cocktail creations to your theme. Some ideas:
Create a mix and match garden bar with many different citrus juices as starters. Make simple syrups out of different herbs, and have a variety of clear spirits on hand. Garnish with sliced lemons and limes, fresh herbs or edible flowers like nasturtiums or pansies.
Watermelon cocktails can be as refreshing as they are colorful and delicious. Vodka pairs perfectly. Pickle the rinds – or use strawberries as a garnish.
Have a rose wine tasting party. Ask your guests to bring their favorite.
Make a flower and ice bucket to chill wine or prosecco. Fill a plastic bucket with water, flowers and fruits, setting an empty plastic 3 liter cola bottle inside it, and let it freeze overnight. On the day of your event, take out the inside liter bottle and use your lovely ice cooler as a centerpiece as well as a cooler. You’ll need a saucer to catch the drips.
Put a sprig of lavender, mint or a sprinkle of violets in your cocktails. They will look lovely --and smell heavenly.
Have a lemonade bar. Mixers can be vodka, gin or tequila. Have plenty of fruits and add ins to customize – such as muddled mint, rosemary or basil. Refreshing and yummy!
Having string lights overhead makes for a magical night. Nothing beats an al fresco dinner garden party in the evening under lights. Add a fire pit in the center of the lawn for late night chats. Don’t forget the citronella candles and/or torches. Have plenty of throws for guests that get chilly.
Pair your food with your theme. Keep it as simple (and fresh) as possible, being extra careful of spoilage on hot summer evenings. The cardinal rule of any party? Never run out of food. Have more than you think you need.
Beach party or Tye-Dye party food will be sporty and fun, perhaps eaten with fingers. Go with chicken skewers, BBQ pork sandwiches and homemade ice cream sandwiches.
Linen and Lace will be more delicate, with salmon and tuna tartare on English cucumbers, an elaborate selection of light cheeses and dainty crackers, perhaps lady fingers for dessert.
Cowboy Up party could have tri-bean salads, flatbread with buratta and roasted heirloom cherry tomatoes, and filet mignon with horseradish cream on baguettes.
Plan enough in advance so your evening can be worry-free. Or set up a party with the experts for fabulous food and drink prepared for you at your home or event space. Everyone loves a party where the hosts have a blast right along with the guests!