Garden Parties

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Theme Parties
Garden Parties

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PlantPirate - Your Party Pal!

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the Party Pal

We're not just talking about your gloves and tea type garden party here.  I'm talking a real gardening party!  

Guests bring along their tools, know-how, and a casserole, dessert, salad, or drinks.

The idea of a working party is that you can take turns in each other's gardens!

Working Gardening Party

Non-traditional Garden Parties


Things to do in Advance



Games and Prizes

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Ideas 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.

The Working Gardening Party:

mengardening.jpg (188x122 -- 6748 bytes)If 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.

Other non-traditional Garden Parties:

gardengame.jpg (168x129 -- 5532 bytes)A 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 they choose.

  • Medieval or "knights of the roundtable", etc. type themes.

  • TV show or movie themes.

  • Murder and/or mystery themes.

You can even mix and match these types of themes - for example, 

  • A 1920s detective movies setting for a murder mystery.

  • An "devolution" party theme where guests can come as anything from cavemen to Dick Tracy to futuristic beings.


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You 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 guests bring.

See more tips on invitations.

Things to do in Advance:

gardendeck.jpg (177x132 -- 5827 bytes)If 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 started. 

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 planted in. 

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 nailbrushes.)  

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.


gardenfood.jpg (195x98 -- 5054 bytes) 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.


gardenlanters.jpg (194x130 -- 4999 bytes)For 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 Party Basics.


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!

Games and Prizes:

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!) 

For more 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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