Forget the boring backyard BBQ. Wait until you try these charming outdoor garden party ideas! Whether you are serving brunch or dinner, this post shares stunning ideas for every occasion.

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know how much I love hosting friends and family with a beautiful table set with an incredible centerpiece. I am even part of a monthly supper club – that’s how much I love a good dinner party!

As a master gardener and lover of all things flowers, it’s no surprise that a backyard garden party is one of my ideal gatherings.

Whether you are gathering for a special occasion or just want to create a beautiful atmosphere, these garden party ideas will help you plan a memorable get-together this year.

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What is a Garden Party?

By definition, a garden party is generally a formal gathering held outdoors in an outdoor garden space during the day. But you can interpret this however you want to host your own garden party.

  • Host a garden brunch.
  • Plan a garden tea party.
  • Even a kid’s birthday garden party would be lovely!

And, of course, if you love a dinner party like I do, then a garden dinner party is a wonderful twist on a classic backyard gathering.

How you throw a garden party is up to you. But I suggest adding lots of plants and flowers to make the theme feel like you are in the gardens.

What is the Purpose of a Garden Party?

Simply put, it’s another way to pull a pretty party together for friends and family.

Serve some amazing food with cocktails, and add a bunch of plants and flowers for ambiance. And you’ve got yourself a gorgeous outdoor (or indoor) fete champetre.

close up of garden party idea with fresh cut zinnias and celosia with melamine charger on cedar branch placemat with vintage amber goblets, gold stemware, linen napkins and green boho tablecloth

Where Should I Have My Garden Party?

While many will say it’s not a true garden party unless it’s celebrated outdoors in the garden, I disagree. You can create a gorgeous garden party indoors by adding quaint and cozy decor with lots of pretty flowers and plants.

And if you are planning a fete champetre outdoors but if there’s a chance of rain? Create a backup plan to move it indoors or add some outdoor tents to keep guests dry.

If you do want to host an outdoor garden dinner party, then the easiest setting is typically wherever you already eat meals outside. If you have an outdoor deck, patio, or garden space, that’s the perfect spot for a garden party.

But even if you don’t, you can easily set up a table and some chairs on the lawn too. 

At my home, there is no better place to enjoy a garden party than in the potager garden. While this patio space includes my raised garden beds where I grow vegetables, it is also our outdoor dining space.

When I hosted the garden party featured in this post, we’d moved in only about 8 months prior, so this garden room was still a work in progress. Today, this space is still one of my favorites on our property and a place I love to host friends and family.

It’s the perfect backdrop for our garden party and I can’t wait to show you how I incorporated the flowers from my gardens in the centerpiece. Oh and wait until you see my surprise guest while I was setting this gorgeous table for a fete champetre.

Table set for a garden party in the potager garden on a patio with fresh cut zinnias and celosia on a farmhouse table with wicker chairs

14+ Charming Outdoor Garden Party Ideas

Whether you’re planning an outdoor wedding, backyard barbecue, or cocktail party, these simple garden party ideas will help make your event even more special. Today’s post is being shared as part of my monthly dinner group, so be sure to check out my friends’ garden party ideas at the end of this post.

Here’s how I made my centerpiece and table decorations for an afternoon garden party.

Garden Party Seating Ideas

One of the first things to think about when planning an outdoor garden party is the seating. Once you’ve nailed down your location, you’ll need to think about how many people you’re inviting and what kind of event you want to have.

If you’re planning a garden dinner party, then everyone will need a seat at an actual table. If you’re doing a more casual cocktail party, however, you can get away with using a combination of tables, chairs and even patio couches.

Use your existing outdoor seating whenever possible to make your life easier. Even a simple picnic table can look beautiful when you add a tablecloth or table runner and beautiful place settings.

If you’ll be inviting kids, I love to throw some beautiful blankets and outdoor pillows on the ground for picnic-style seating, too.

Close up of a casual garden party table with fresh cut flowers from the garden like zinnias and celosia in vintage mason jars and vases on a farmhouse table with a green boho table cloth, cedar branch placemats, neutral dinnerware, gold flatware, and amber wine glasses

Garden Party Decor Ideas

One of the most enjoyable parts of planning an outdoor garden party is the decor. If you’re hosting your party in an actual garden like I was, then you’ll already be surrounded by gorgeous flowers. But even if you’re hosting an indoor garden party, there are plenty of ways you can bring the feeling of a garden to your gathering.

Garden Party Colors

I love to use bright floral colors like pinks, purples and yellows when decorating for a garden party. These colors look especially beautiful if you mix them with natural greenery and neutral hues like white and beige.

Textures & Patterns

Another lovely way to create a garden party environment is by incorporating a variety of textures and patterns into your decor. I love to use natural elements, like branches, wood and even burlap to create an organic look for my garden party table. But you can incorporate whatever materials and patterns you love – like gingham, stripes, paisley and more!

close up of the fresh cut zinnias and celosia in a garden party centerpiece idea for the dining table

Garden Party Table Decor Ideas

Before we share an amazing garden party menu, we need to set the scene for an amazing outdoor fete champetre. From the centerpiece to the table decorations, we want to set a relaxed casual atmosphere.

While you can make a garden party more or less formal, for today’s tablescape, I’m going towards a more casual vibe that is simple to pull together.

If you have access to flowers and greens in your landscape, you can cut them fresh to make a budget-friendly table-setting idea for a garden dinner party.

close up of the fresh cut zinnias and celosia in glass vases and vintage mason jars on a farmhouse table set for a garden party

How to Make a Garden Dinner Party Centerpiece

As far as dining table centerpieces go, this one is an easy one to make. Grab several different sizes of vases, mason jars, and bud vases, fill them with water and add your favorite cut flowers.

Whether the flowers are cut from the garden, or fresh from the florist or market, use fresh flowers for a garden party centerpiece. It won’t have the same effect if you make one with faux flowers and greens.

And since we are working with fresh flowers, here’s what you need to do to extend the life of the blooms in a vase. If you choose to work with fresh cut hydrangeas, follow these tips before arranging them in a vase to keep the hydrangea flowers from wilting.

For my centerpiece, I cut a bunch of zinnias and celosia from my late summer gardens. I started with the larger vase, arranged the flowers, then moved on to the smaller mason jars and bud vases.

Depending on the time of year you host a garden party, you’ll want to choose flowers that represent the season. So if you are throwing a garden party in spring, think tulips and daffodils. In summer, maybe you’ll want some pretty sunflowers, zinnias, and dahlias. For a fall harvest party, maybe you’ll tuck in some sedum autumn joy or hydrangeas that are beginning to dry on the plant.

Instead of adding a table runner for this fete champetre, I used flowers in vases as the table runner to play up the garden party theme. If you want to add more cozy layers, you could easily add a table runner too.

close up of table setting idea for a garden party with cedar branch placemat, melamine dinnerware, linen napkins, gold flatware, cutlery pouch and vintage amber and lead crystal goblets with fresh cut zinnias and celoisa dining table centerpiece idea

How to Set the Garden Party Table

To start, I used this beautiful boho green table cloth. I love the stitching and fringed details on it, plus it’s such a pretty green as a backdrop for a fresh flower centerpiece.

Once I covered the table with my pretty table cloth, I added my vases of fresh flowers. They all different heights so I mixed and matched them until I had a centerpiece design that was aesthetically pleasing.

For each place setting, I started with a cedar branch placemat and topped it off with a pretty scalloped plate like this one. If you can’t find the cedar branch placemat, you can DIY them though with these faux cedar branches and a piece of felt or use a small boxwood wreath instead.

When I originally started decorating my table, I wanted to use these flower plates but once I had them on the table it looked like the table was throwing up flowers so I held back and went with the more neutral look for the dinnerware. Then added these vintage amber goblets and lead crystal wine glasses. I added a pretty ecru linen napkin with gold flatware in burlap cutlery pouches.

A Surprise Guest

And while I was setting this table, I was greeted by the most beautiful creature that fluttered about as I added more and more flowers to the table. The butterflies here LOVE my ‘Senorita’ Zinnias, so it should come as no surprise to me that they would drop by my table as well.

I cut these flowers from the garden just a few hours before the party, so the butterflies were still zipping about to enjoy the nectar from these brightly colored flowers.You can attract these pollinators to your garden (or table apparently) if you plant certain flowers that attract butterflies.

swallowtail butterfly  enjoying the nectar from the Seniorita Ziinias in this garden party centerpiece idea for the dining table

Garden Party Ideas for Lighting

Since my backyard garden party was held in the afternoon, I added a few votive candles for ambiance. But there are so many beautiful options for outdoor garden party lighting ideas.

If you’re planning an evening party, add some tapered candles to your table for extra lighting. Small lanterns on the table or larger lanterns placed around the seating area would also be a really lovely addition to a garden dinner party. 

Stringing twinkle lights above the garden or patio also makes it feel super cozy and inviting.

Other Garden Dinner Party Ideas

I love to plan elegant yet casual parties, so I didn’t go all out on many extra special touches. But if you’re looking to throw the ultimate garden dinner party there are so many surprisingly simple things you can do to bring your party to the next level.

  • Garden Party Menus: I love the idea of creating custom garden dinner party menus on Canva or a similar tool and printing them out for each place setting. You can print these on cardstock at home for a budget-friendly, beautiful addition to your table.
  • Custom Name Cards: If you’re hosting a sit-down garden dinner party, it can be a good idea to assign seating ahead of time. Creating custom name cards to put on each plate helps everyone find their seat and is a beautiful touch to your tablescape.

Garden Guides: If you, like me, are hosting an outdoor garden party in your actual garden, then I love the idea of creating a self-guided garden tour to share your beautiful blooms. Whether you create a printed garden map for each guest or create signs to place alongside the different plants, a garden tour is a fantastic activity for guests to enjoy during the gathering.

close up of table setting idea for garden party with fresh flowers centerpiece and neutral table decor

Garden Party Food Ideas

Of course, you can’t have a garden party without delicious food! You can explore my full garden dinner party menu here, but keep reading for some other food ideas, too.

Garden Party Appetizers

I love to serve simple, fresh food for a garden party. Anything that involves garden-fresh flavors is a yes from me. From a charcuterie board or veggie platter with some unique dips, you can’t go wrong with plenty of delicious appetizers.

Try these recipes for your next garden party:

easy hummus recipe with rice cake flowers. With lots of fresh cut vegetables.

Garden Dinner Party Menu

When it comes to the actual dinner, I love to serve salads, pasta and bread. Not only are these all crowd-pleasers, but they’re easy to prepare, serve and eat! They’re also great options for incorporating more fresh food and herbs from your garden (or the grocery store).

This Cucumber, Tomatoes and Onions Salad Recipe is one of my favorites for a backyard gathering. Or even this delicious chicken salad with grapes recipe. It tastes SO GOOD on a croissant. I love to serve them on the mini croissants to make them more like appetizer bites.

Garden Party Desserts

The best garden party desserts are light and full of spring and summer flavors. I love to create beautiful platters of fresh fruits or serve small tartlets or cake. This gorgeous cake with flowers would be a beautiful addition to your garden party table (and tastes great too!).

close up of a naked cake with pansy flowers and mint on a stone wall on a glass cake stand

Garden Party Drink Ideas

Garden parties are also a great opportunity to create some unique cocktails for your guests! I love incorporating floral flavors (like lavender or elderflower) into my drinks. Adding fresh herbs like rosemary, sage or mint into cocktails is also a delicious addition to a garden party menu.

Here are a few simple cocktail recipes you can try at your next garden party:

Close up of the best recipe for strawberry lemonade
Strawberry Lemonade
garden party table decorations with fresh cut zinnias and celosia in glass vases and vintage ball jar glasses

Keeping Guests Comfortable

Hosting an outdoor garden party is beautiful, but if you’re doing it in spring or summer then it can come with a lot of bugs and potentially bad weather. Plan ahead to ensure you’re able to keep your guests – and yourself! – comfortable during the party.

Keep Bugs at Bay

Place citronella candles around the outside of your party space to help ward off mosquitos (these citronella candles from Walmart are effective and beautiful!). 

You can also provide guests with bug spray or other bug repellents. I love these bug-repellent stickers that go right onto your clothes, or these bug-repellent bracelets. They smell a lot better than traditional bug spray and work really well!

If you want to take bug control to the next level, you can even plant a mosquito-repellant garden on your property. Not only will the garden itself help keep pesky insects away from your yard, you could also make a garden party centerpiece with mosquito-repellent plants.

Protect your food from bugs, too, with food covers for the table. They make some really nice ones these days that still allow you to see the food easily and don’t take away from the overall ambiance of your tablescape.

yellow and orange marigolds

Plan for Weather

If there’s a chance of rain on the day of your party, make sure you have a back-up plan for your party space. A backyard tent could give the cover you need while still letting your guests enjoy the outdoor space. Or, a sunroom, screen porch or covered patio would work really well too.

Plan ahead for sunshine and heat, too. Create a basket of sunscreen, sunglasses and even small fans or misters to help keep your guests comfortable.

I’m so glad you were able to drop by my garden party today. Next up in our supper club is Michele from Vintage Home Designs. Wait until you see her beautiful take on the garden party theme.

cozy and vibrant garden party table decor ideas

More About Outdoor Garden Party Ideas

Have you ever thrown a garden party before? Do you have any ideas or inspiration you’d like to share? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it to the blog. Would love to see you there too!

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5 More Charming Garden Party Ideas

Now that you’ve seen how I decorated for a garden party, wait until you see how my friends decorated their homes both inside and out. In addition to beautiful table decor and centerpiece ideas, they are also sharing some entertaining inspiration as well. So be sure to drop by and check them all out by clicking on the blog name on the photos below.

More Garden-Inspired Table Decor Ideas

As a gardener who loves to bring the outdoors in and the indoors out, here are some more garden-inspired table decor ideas for your next dinner party.

sunflower brunch idea for the table with fresh cut flowers, sunflower brunch menu, mimosas, champagne glasses, sunflower dinnerware, jute placemats on farmhouse table in outdoor dining space with fresh pastries.

Looking for More Supper Club Ideas?

Our supper club has been so much fun and we’ve covered so much over the last year.

Whether you are in a supper club or just want some dinner party theme inspiration, check out the themes we’ve hosted before.

And click here if you want to learn how to organize and host your own supper club,

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close up of garden party table decorations

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Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

Want to learn more about me? I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging here.

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Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling cutting zinnia flowers in her cottage garden with wood picket fence in front of garden shed

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close up of garden party centerpiece and table decorations

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  1. I love this table setting! Can you tell me more about the cedar branch placemats? Are those something you bought, or are they from your garden?

    1. Hi Susan! I bought them years ago from Pier 1 but they do not sell them anymore. I haven’t seen them around but you can either make a dupe purchasing faux cedar branches from amazon OR you can try using a small boxwood wreath instead. Here is my affiliate link for the branches if you want to DIY it:

  2. Your table and centerpiece are stunning Stacy!!
    Wonderful job and that’s so fun that the butterfly stopped by!

  3. Goodness, Stacy. This is absolutely STUNNING! I am obsessed with the gorgeous flowers and those pretty yellow goblets!

  4. Stacy your outdoor space is the perfect spot for hosting a party and your garden-themed table is gorgeous. The cut flowers you used for your centerpiece are stunning…the colors are amazing. And your little friend was the icing on the cake!

  5. Absolutely gorgeous table in a beautiful setting, Stacy. And love that Mr. Butterfly came for a visit! They’ve been enjoying my zinnias, too:)

  6. Your centerpiece is so pretty. Yellow Finches visit our Zinnias on the deck almost every day.

    A beautiful table for early fall/late summer.