Thursday, June 11, 2015

Party Planning Made Easy: The Garden Party

Probably the last thing the internet needs is more party ideas, but today's post is a bit different. There's so much perfection in this world -- it's like throwing a party worthy of a Style Me Pretty feature is expected at every turn.  I can't help but think that it must be as exhausting to live up to these lofty expectations for other women as it is for me.  So if you have a party coming up and need to impress, my friend's recent engagement party showed me how to do things right.  Keep things cozy and let nature do the work with an intimate garden party.

Don't get me wrong, the pictures above show a ton of hard work went into this event!  The mini potted plants and succulents doubled as both a party gift and place cards (thanks to very crafty mini chalkboards attached with clothespins bearing each guest's name).  Not to mention each plant had to be potted, and the pots were painted black, and little lavender sprigs were glued onto things, which I would imagine involved countless man hours of work.  But I love the idea that you can just stop by your local garden shop or farmers market and create a spread that looks incredibly inviting and fresh by decorating with potted plants and fresh clippings.

If you are trying to make a garden party on a budget (be that a financial or time budget), here's a few keys to achieve the look:

Mini Pots: Let these do double duty for you as both a gift and a place card -- it's a time investment with double the pay off. Succulents are a really nice choice for these because they need little upkeep for your guest after they take them home, and you could prepare these even a few weeks in advance of the party without having to worry about wilting.  Flowers are hard; succulents are nearly indestructible.

Fresh Clippings: Stop by your local market or grocery store or neighborhood common area.  Have I mentioned that backyard clippings are my favorite? Seriously, clipping magnolia leaves or shrub branches can look great and are free.  Just remember, do less.  Don't try to make it look perfect -- it's ok if the flowers don't match or you just have a few skinny pieces of greenery in a vase.  It still looks great.
Candles: Lesson learned from my wedding -- you always need more candles.  You can get tea candles in bulk at the Dollar Store so go crazy.  Less may be more on everything else in your party planning, but for twinkling candle light, more is more.  Literally if you just put some potted plants on your table, your normal place settings, and a generous array of lit candles, your work is done.

Tell me this doesn't look like a magazine spread.  And it's a picnic table that looks like it's been left out in the rain for a few too many years. via
You can skip all the jar decorating and just leave your candles and candle holders bare,  I promise it will probably look even better.  via
If You Want to Go the Extra Mile: If you are just really feeling like getting an A+ party planner award on your next social media report card, then go for the cutesy extra touch.  In this case, pick an "on theme" focal point like turning a wheel barrow or a few planters into your cooler.  Or turn a rustic watering can into your main table centerpiece.  Pick one or two ideas for extra effort, but don't feel like you need to theme out the entire party--you'll save yourself a world of crazy.  I can guarantee that some of your guests won't even notice you did it (children, and most men). 

I know we're all into labeling everything lately with signs, but if you decide not to have a beer sign, people will probably find their way to the beer anyway.  Consider sign making just another extra credit item.  via
I just wanted to close this post out by saying that these party tips are still a lot of work, but I hope that if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed by the idea of throwing your next party that simplifying a few key features helps make success feel more attainable.  The most important thing about the next party your throw should be that you can enjoy spending time with the people you love or welcoming into your life.  If you are relaxed and having fun, then everyone else is going to remember it as the warm and incredible event that it was.  If all you have is a few hours to throw something together, or you feel like your craft skills are just not up to snuff, I know that you can pull this off whether you make a day of garden shopping at the Farmer's Market or just collect the house plants around your apartment into a bohemian grouping and light a candle or two.  

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