Garden party decorations – for a big party on a small budget

I love garden party decorations. Flowers, bunting, lights…it’s all such fun.

This week we ‘re giving a party for my brother-in-law’s big birthday. The middle-sized lawn is almost completely covered with a marquee.

Marquee for garden party

We had to cut some of the cotinus 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 colours for a garden party

My Christmas tablecloth out in the garden surrounded by flowers. Photo by Jacqui Sinnatt.

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 colour 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.

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.

Coloured 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.

Coloured 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 centre of Charlotte’s table. Photo by Jacqui Sinnatt

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

But not just jam jars…

Use wine glasses for flowers.

Jacqui Sinnatt, designer of St Agnes Eve scarves and accessories, uses 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

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 has just finished. 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 list 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 and The British Flower Collective. 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

Shop local…

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 boxes of ‘Chef’s Tomatoes’, from local Thanet Earth. Thanet Earth is the UK’s largest greenhouse complex, all heated using green technology and also supplying the national grid.

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.

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 wind. But as the sides of the marquee go almost up to the borders’ edges. there’s not alot of change for wind and rain to get in. Famous last words!

Marquee party decorating

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

I’ll let you know how it goes…

We’re still decorating the marquee, so I’ll add more photos later. And let me know your tips, too – thank you!

The post Garden party decorations – for a big party on a small budget appeared first on The Middle-Sized Garden.

from The Middle-Sized Garden http://www.themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk/garden-party-decorations-big-party-small-budget/

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