The Ultimate Garden Party Guide: How To Host A Garden Party On Your Budget
Brits have spent over £16 billion on their gardens in recent years, so now is the time to share your outdoor space with the rest of your community — 2022 is the year of the ultimate garden party.
With summer approaching – and record temperatures on the cards – the coming months are the perfect excuse to throw a garden party, bringing your friends, family and community closer together.
To help you make the most of summer and celebrate the many events ahead, we’ve created The Ultimate Garden Party to showcase the easiest and most effective ways to host a garden party that’s sure to be the talk of summer, whatever your budget.
We have created a list of fantastic garden party ideas to fit a range of budgets, from £10 to £100 plus. We’ve also enlisted the help of colour theory expert, Momtaz Begum-Hossain, to learn about the must-have colours of summer that encourage conversation and party spirit.
Complete the garden party checklist and create a garden party paradise for your whole community to enjoy this summer.
How do garden parties bring the community together?
Any excuse for a party, right? Whether we’re celebrating a birthday, big national event or simply felt like organising a get-together, garden parties contribute to feelings of social cohesion and belonging: people share stories, refreshments and great food, creating new memories to cherish long after the last call.
Garden parties allow people to let go of the stresses of normal life, they encourage endless conversation for the sake of little else but a fun time. The summer sunshine also encourages good health, releasing happy hormones that stave off feelings of sadness.
If you’ve recently moved into a new road, hosting a garden party is a fantastic opportunity to get to know your neighbours and cement yourself in the community. Hosting a garden party is also a fantastic excuse to spend time with your close friends and family, which builds self-esteem and helps support your emotional needs.
Certain events lend themselves perfectly to the community aspect of garden parties. The Queen’s Jubilee is a fantastic example: the nation has an extra day off to enjoy the festivities with loved ones, and numerous areas are hosting street parties to bring their community closer together — so why not get involved?
Garden party ideas to fit your budget
You can throw the ultimate summer garden party regardless of your budget (sometimes small budgets can deliver the biggest results, especially if you want to get creative).
Whatever the occasion demands, we’ve got you covered. Here are some inspiring ideas you can recreate to make your garden party the talk of your community and friendship groups.
£10 or less
These fantastic garden party ideas for £10 or less show a little ingenuity can go a long way.
Reclaimed crate table
Estimated cost: free – £10
Reclaimed palettes are so versatile for garden party design: you can use them as tables dressed in garden flora and bunting for a sunny country vibe. Also, consider placing the upright against a fence so you can hang welcome decorations and polaroid photos on string.
Wood palettes won’t cost you a penny (but they might take a little time and effort to get your hands on). You’ll find many small companies including hardware stores, garden centres and even construction yards are willing to let you take used pallets if you ask nicely.
Rustic drinks barrow
Estimated cost: free – £5
Nobody wants a lukewarm beverage in the height of summer, a wheelbarrow filled with ice is the ultimate drinks cooler for your summer garden party while also giving your event a rustic, summer feel.
Using an old wheelbarrow is an eye-catching way to present refreshments (especially cans and bottles), toeing the line between an industrial and rural aesthetic. You have a couple of options here too, either revitalise a garden barrow or buy new from a local store.
Cosy blanket bank
Estimated cost: free – £10
As day turns to night, the weather takes a brisk turn, but that doesn’t mean you have to cut your garden party short. Instead, provide a cosy blanket bank that your guests can turn to and wrap up warm.
Cosy blanket banks are a super simple idea to pull off: rummage through your draws and pick out a selection of blankets (it doesn’t matter if they match, a variety of textures and colours adds a laissez-faire vibrancy that creates a homely feel when the sun goes down).
Also, bring out some cushions from indoors and place them around your seating areas – there is something special about cosying up on a garden sofa or swinging egg chair surrounded by plush cushions, wrapped in a warming blanket.
Homemade citrus candles
Estimated cost: £5 – £10
Citronella candles don’t only look fantastic, but they also make spending time outdoors feel far more pleasant. Naturally occurring citronella oil is an effective bug repellent, so you can save yourself a few nasty mosquito bites. Burning the candle also releases an aromatic lemongrass aroma that envelopes your garden party with the smell of summer.
You can make your citronella candles using general cupboard items: lemon, lime, and a spring of rosemary. You’ll also need citronella oil which you can find from health stores like Holland & Barrett. To contain the candles, use old mason jars, perhaps from used fridge stock like chutney or jam.
Bunting and fairy lights
Estimated cost: £8 – £10
Making your bunting is a fun activity that can make your garden party theme pop. All you need is some colourful cloth, shears, binding tape and a little sewing know-how (Hobbycraft has a great how-to guide if you’re feeling the arts and crafts kick).
Fairy light strings hung across fences and pergolas are also a fantastic way to illuminate your garden once the sun starts to set. You can even place fairy lights in glass bottles and jars to create soft pools of light – this is one of our favourite tricks because it’s so simple!
£20 or less
Try these inspiring garden party ideas for £20 or less if your budget stretches a little further.
Pimp your drink station
Estimated cost: £15 - £20
Pimp your drinks stations are such a fun garden party idea, your guests will love creating their tailored refreshments. Make sure you have a range of cordials and sodas, fruit juices, garnishes, and, of course, bubbly Prosecco.
You could also do the same with a range of your favourite cocktails, and even Pimms to add a little royal elegance to your garden party. For the latter, you’ll need lots of fruit (fresh and frozen) and a large glass vessel (we love the giant mason jar look!). Make sure your style your station with lots of signage so guests get familiar with the concept.
Estimated cost: £15 – £20
Popcorn is best served as a party snack. Why? Because it’s a staple of fun that creates a quirky appeal. Popcorn is also endlessly customisable with different flavours and toppings, plus it’s a light treat that won’t make your guests feel lethargic or overly full.
Supplies for your popcorn bar can all be found in a local supermarket including a range of toppings like chocolate chips, peanuts, candy, and sprinkles. You can choose classic sweet and salted popcorn or provide a variety of flavours for striking appeal (toffee and strawberry are some of our personal favourites, it’s a very diverse snack!).
Don’t forget to provide plenty of popcorn cones, as well as labels to help your guest create their perfect combination. If you so wish, you could also hire a popcorn machine, though this will stretch your budget beyond the estimated cost.
Wooden party games
Estimated cost: £15 – £20
You can’t host a garden party without a few fun party games. We particularly love classic games designed with wood as it creates a minimalist rustic (almost Scandinavian) aesthetic, harking back to the heyday of outdoor play, long before screens and video games.
Skittles is a favourite of ours, closely followed by naughts and crosses. We’ve also seen giant Jenga, which is sure to bring out your competitive side but ultimately create a really fun atmosphere to enjoy in the sunshine with friends and family!
Looking to fill a £50 budget? Here's a really fun idea that will make the memories last forever.
Polaroid collage & welcome book
Estimated cost: £65 – £99
We love seeing pin your polaroid walls at weddings – they’re such a fun idea for capturing special memories – and there is no reason you can’t recreate one at your garden party.
If you don’t have a polaroid camera, a good quality one is likely to set you back around £70 or £80, with Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 11 being a popular and affordable example.
Besides the camera, a polaroid collage and welcome book are budget-friendly ways to make your summer garden party feel more interactive. Once the party is over, you’ll have these still memories to cherish for life (and, of course, put on Instagram).
A big budget can help you create a memorable centrepiece that anchors the theme of your garden party, a statement fit for a garden birthday party, anniversary celebration or baby shower garden party! Here are some incredible ideas for £100 or more.
Festival chic campsite
Estimated cost: £250+
Channel your inner Coachella influencer with a festival themed garden party. There’s a special novelty to camping in the garden, plus it creates some shade from the midday sun, as well as a hideaway your party falls into the evening.
As dusk falls, this festival chic campsite idea creates an incredible space to watch the night go by under the stars. Fill the interior of the tent with plush pastel pillows for extra comfort, and don’t forget the blankets!
Estimated cost: £400+
A garden party idea for the DIY maestro, converting your shed into a bar is a stunning centrepiece to focus your summer around. And as the party host, you can celebrate your inner mixologist to impress your guests!
While this project may feel like a big challenge, the finished product can look incredible. We’re inspired by a couple in Cheshire who created a garden bar, fit with brick effect wallpaper and industrial looking scaffold board, all for under £500.
Outdoor cinema setup
Estimated cost: £800+
Whether your community has come together to watch a national event or you simply want to snack on some popcorn and watch a classic film with friends al fresco, creating an outdoor cinema setup for your garden party is sure to be the talk of the summer.
To pull this off, you’ll need a screen and a projector (and a planned seating arrangement).
The easiest way to create a cinema-style screen is to hang a large white sheet across your house wall or sturdy fence. Make sure the sheet is weighted down at the bottom to prevent it from blowing around in the summer breeze.
Many of today’s outdoor projectors have built-in speakers and are battery-powered, meaning they can be portable. We recommend a brightness of at least 2,500 lumens during the day and 5,000 at night (with 10,000 being ideal).
Insight into the colours of summer
Colours are an essential component of garden party design: the colours of your garden influence how the space feels to you and your guests.
To better understand how the colours of summer can energise your garden party, we sat down with colour theory specialist, Momtaz Begum-Hossain (author of Hello Rainbow: Finding Happiness in Colour).
When asked about how colours influence our moods and experiences, Momtaz said:
“Colours radiate energy and these energies can influence how a space feels. The energies vary according to the shade and whether they are dark or light.
“Generally speaking the more light you have, the more positive a space will feel. Dark colours such as browns, navy, and black can look chic, but they absorb light, leading to a duller space that can feel cold, and in cold spaces, communication suffers”
To encourage conversation and a community feel at your garden party, consider incorporating colours that are uplifting and energising, these being:
- Red: to invigorate and make guests feel alert
- Yellow: to promote levity, happiness, and hope
- Orange: to uplift your mood and encourage socialising
- Purple: to boost inner strength and wellbeing
But what about the ultimate summer colour? Momtaz feels citrus shades, in particular, define summer “Lemon, lime and orange will be popular, bringing an uplifting tropical vibe to homes. The easiest way to incorporate them is through plant life.”
However, it’s important to blend a variety of textures and shades to complete your garden party design, with Momtaz adding:
“Sustainable living continues to be a popular trend in interiors and can be seen in textures and natural materials such as wooden fixtures, bamboo dividers and straw baskets.
“These are typically neutral colours but they can be teamed with bold block brights bringing a global flavour to a setting.
“Colours are at their most powerful and beautiful when teamed alongside other colours so use this contrast of a natural colour paired with a vibrant hue and observe how they sing and bring a space to life”.
So, blending your garden’s natural flora with the bright, bold colours of summer is the perfect combination for the ultimate garden party palette.
The art of organising garden furniture
Garden furniture is the heart of any garden party, plus it’s something you can enjoy throughout the summer, long after your guests have gone home.
There are many types of garden furniture to choose from, here are some favourite examples:
- Egg chairs: a cosy rattan style in a woven egg shape
- Outdoor sofas: durable, weather-resistant, and cushioned
- Garden dining sets: a table and chairs collection to dine in the sun
Using a variety of garden furniture means you can create different zones at your garden party so there is something for everyone. Egg chairs, for example, placed under a tree or beside large shrubbery creates a private den (or even a couples’ corner or getaway).
Long sofas arranged in a square or u-shape encourages conversation to give your party a bustling hum. We recommend using a pergola to better define this space and provide some cover from the sun, many guests will spend the majority of their time here, after all.
Take a look at how Instagram influencer, Mrs Hinch, has styled their rattan garden furniture:
Mrs Hinch has installed a raised wooden patio contained by a pergola, this makes the garden sofa feel as if it is the heart of the outdoor space. We can imagine many great memories have been created here, rain or shine.
By nature, garden furniture is a permanent fixture in your garden, so you must know how to care for these pieces all year round and revitalise them for the following summer.
The way you care for garden furniture depends on the materials it’s made from:
- Plastic furniture: a regular clean with soap and water should do the trick. During the winter make sure plastic garden furniture is stored in the garage or shed, otherwise, the piece can become brittle. You should also reduce the time the plastic material is exposed to sunlight to prevent discolouration. A lot of modern rattan furniture is now made from a plastic polyrattan material, find out how to clean plastic rattan here.
- Wood furniture: hardwood furniture tends to be incredibly durable, an annual brush with soap and water will remove algae and lichen build up. Softwood, on the other hand, is a little more delicate. To maintain its condition, wash down regularly and apply wood stain or paint that contains a preservative.
- Metal furniture: regularly wash down to remove any grime build-up. You should also check for rust (this is especially common when the piece has a plastic coating). Many find joints will need oiling to maintain free movements and we recommend repainting every 2 to 3 years to strengthen the weather barrier.
Outdoor garden cushions also require special care: we recommend conducting a basic clean at least once a year (or before your garden party). Many outdoor cushions can be treated with mild detergent and placed in the washing machine on a low cycle. If the cushion is too large or cannot be removed, scrub with a solution of warm water and mild detergent.
The Ultimate Garden Party Checklist
Inspired to host a garden party this summer and bursting with ideas? We’ve created The Ultimate Garden Party Checklist to ensure every box is ticked before your guests arrive.
From organising food, drink, and party games to remembering practicalities like comfort and suncare – use the checklist as a tool to help you throw the garden party of the summer.