for a Garden Party
There are any number of
reasons to host a gardening party. Perhaps you've just moved into a
new home or need a drastic garden makeover. Maybe you've injured
yourself and can't do the usual spring or fall garden work required.
Or that new baby just doesn't allow you the time. Don't overlook those
apartment or condo-dwelling friends that are longing for an opportunity to
commune with nature! Or maybe you all just need to get out of the
house and have some fun.
Working Gardening Party:
you need a lot of work done in the yard - you might even need a
"garden planning party" first. Invite all your
garden-savvy friends and have them bring along their know-how, garden
guides, catalogues, measuring tapes, and soil testing kits. Have graph
paper, rulers, pencils, and erasers on hand for drawing your garden to
scale. If you can draw your yard to scale in advance and make LOTS
of copies, that's even better. With the pre-made layout, the
planning will go much faster. Check out the Garden
Planning articles for the kinds of planning help and equipment you
might need to determine what you can start yourself, and what you will
need help with.
The plans will be required
for an actual digging and planting type of gardening party. See the
"Things to do in advance" section below.
non-traditional Garden Parties:
plant trade is a nice idea too. Everybody brings one and everybody leaves
with one. Try one of these themes for your garden party.
A year or decade - e.g.
the 20s, 50s, 70s, Y3K, etc., or even a "through the years"
type theme where guests can come as a character from any time frame
Medieval or "knights
of the roundtable", etc. type themes.
TV show or movie themes.
Murder and/or mystery
You can even mix and match
these types of themes - for example,
can scan and print out pictures of seed packets or cut out photos from
seed and garden catalogs. You can also use pictures of gardening tools or
even use picture of your own garden. If you don't have a scanner go to a
craft store and buy nice paper. Cut the invitations to the size of a
post card to help with postage.
If it is a "come help out" party you can use before and after
picture - meaning what you hope to accomplish with the help from your
gardening buddies. You can have fun with that idea with an
exaggerated picture of what you hope the garden will look like at the end
of the day!
On the invite you want to state your cause, meaning come help out or come
hang out. Include the date the place and the project if there is one! (If
there is, tell them to come with tools.)
Ask people to bring something with them from food to drink. Also it is fun
to have people bring a gardening gadget with them. Anything from
plants, seeds, gloves, watering cans, nippers, potting soil, bulbs,
gardening tips, etc. A gardening tip booklet can be made easily on the
computer. Laminate the outside pages.
The host/hostess will supply a
large flowering pot or an inexpensive wheel barrow (even a child's wheel
barrow could suffice). This will be used to put all the things in that the
See more tips on invitations.
to do in Advance:
it is a working gathering, it is a nice touch if the host starts little
seed pots for each "helper to take home with them. Maybe herbs
or pretty annuals. The idea of a working party is that you will take turns
in each others garden pitching in and helping to get each others garden
If your garden plan is done,
make copies of it to hand out to your working guests. Better yet,
enlarge the various sections of the plan that different groups of guests
will be doing so each group has its own piece of the sub-plan. Mark
the edges of your new beds to be dug and/or planted with spray
paint. Have all your plants, bulbs, seeds, and shrubs ready to plant
(that means well watered too - and don't forget to ask your friends to
bring spare plants that fit in with your garden scheme). Assemble
all plants and equipment you will provide near the areas they will be
Have the food, beverage and
rest areas set up in advance too - umbrellas up, coolers filled, snacks
that don't require refrigeration laid out (and covered to protect from
dust and insects), with tables and chairs nearby this "rest
station". Clear the way to the washrooms and cleanup
areas. Have lots of soap and towels on hand. (The oxygen
bleach for "unbleachables" is great for getting stains out of
fingers and nails - so have some available, as well as
Get a good first aid kit and
make sure everyone knows where it is. Keep an extension phone handy and
obvious in case of emergency. Make sure your address and phone
number are ON the telephone.
When the work is finished or hungry
bellies roar, of course there will be a "thank-you feast".
Ideally, guests will bring some covered dishes and/or drinks.
It's fun to serve drinks in
new watering cans. Cut the tops off of large milk jugs or cartons, put an
empty wine bottle in center, add water and some pretty flowers in the
water and freeze. Cut the jug away from the frozen water, remove the
empty bottle, and "voila" a pretty center piece and wine cooler
all in one! Remember if using liquors to supply mixers. Be creative.
Edible flowers or herbs to garnish plates are an excellent choice. A
cook-out is the obvious way to go for the meat or main course, but some
"make ahead" foods sure helps the host.
For more menu ideas, see the Menu
section in Theme Party Basics.
table set-ups, a small tables dotted about the yard are nice be cause it
causes people to move around and enjoy conversation. Set tables and
seating areas up in various parts of the garden so people can enjoy the
view and smell the flowers.
Inexpensive Chinese style
lantern lights are good for area lighting. Citronella torches do
double duty as insect repellants and lights. Low voltage or solar
electric lighting is excellent for illuminating paths. Use your tiny
white or yellow sparkly Christmas lights to outline arbors and trellises,
or to line the walkway to the house entrance.
For more decorating ideas, see
the Decor section in Theme
Music is a must once it's time
to eat - even if it's only background music. The Ricky Nelson tune
on this page is always a good one!
Music needs to coincide
with the party theme.
For 20s, 50s, etc.
parties, use the dance music collections that abound on tape and CD.
Be mindful of your
neighbors - better yet, invite them!
If you've asked guests to
bring items to be used as "door prizes," plant swaps, etc.,
everyone who brings an item can put their name in a container you provide
when they arrive. At the party's end, pick names out of the
container and award each one a prize.
Or, you can create a little
garden game. When people arrive they will get a list of items that need to
be found in and around the garden area. Assemble guests into groups
or teams and being the scavenger hunt.
Things to 'find' can include
making simple items out of objects found in the garden. (E.g. daisy or
dandelion chains, or anything that can be made from a plant or twig -
without hacking your shrubbery to bits. Bug or small reptile hunts
go over big with kids!)
You can also assign teams to
take pictures of odd things they come across, to forward the theme you
have set for the party, or to "tell a story in pictures"
(provide cheap disposable instant picture cameras for this - one per
team). You can even have the teams create little "collages" of
the team's pictures that "tell a story". Use a photo album
with self-sticking pages for this. Provide waterproof ink pens and
leak-proof paper for writing titles and photo captions.
It takes some extra time for
the host to prepare these kinds of games, but it is nice to be able to
relax while everyone else is looking for items to be scavenged. (Or you
can use the time to put out food or clean up!)
information see Games and Prizes
in the Theme Party Basics article.
Be creative and
remember - have fun and "stop to smell the roses"!
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