Creating A Pinterest-Worthy Garden Party On A Budget

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I decided back in spring that I wanted to hold an annual party at our house. It would start off kinda small and then by 2027 it would include some elaborate ice sculptures, a hog roast and some kind of amazing super-size hot tub, obvs.

I wanted an opportunity to bring all of our favourite people together – relatives and work colleagues and school friends and uni friends and new friends and old friends.

And also, and this is going to sound like a weird Desperate Housewives kinda thing to say – but I wanted people to think I’m a good hostess. It’s one of my secret life goals. I want people to go away and say corr Hannah makes some mean nachos and those cocktails, blinkin’ heck and WHEN CAN WE BE INVITED ROUND THERE AGAIN PLZ.

And so I’ve spent months putting together ideas on a Pinterest board and attempting to work out how the freakin’ hell we turn our pit of a garden into something that y’know, doesn’t make my guests want to cry and go home as soon as they enter it.

So yeah, I thought I’d share 13 of my top tips with you gals. Even though yeah alright, it’s going to get too cold for a garden party soon, but there’s always next year and the year after and you get the idea.

OH and also, soz about the lack of photos, I got too caught up in y’know, drinking and sharing stories and playing games to even pick up my phone (or camera) all evening. Hashtag smug prick.

1. Dedicate an afternoon to doing some serious weeding. I think between the two of us it took about three hours to transform the garden from barren waste land to blank canvas. My top tip would be stick on your trackies, pull your hair into a messy bun and get yourself a pair of £2 gardening gloves from B&Q. Oh and whack on some serious tunes whilst you get to pulling out stinging nettles from your patio. Eek.

2. Invest in a gazebo. Chris bought ours for around £20 from eBay and I won’t lie to you, I actually pulled a strop because it didn’t fit with my carefully constructed creative vision. Lol, what a diva. Anyway, it rained solidly throughout our entire party and the gazebo was the only damn thing keeping us dry and allowing us to stay outside. Plus, y’know, it did make a cute place to hang decorations from.

3. We don’t have a garden table and chairs, and even if we did, it wouldn’t have been enough to fit our 12 guests round. So instead I searched Gumtree and Ebay for free wooden shipping pallets. We snapped up two small ones from an industrial estate and then found the supersize one we used as the top layer of our table from a newsagent around the corner from our house who were throwing it out. Chris had to carry it home because it wouldn’t fit in the car, what a champ.

4. To create a cosy hygge vibe I dragged every single cushion and blanket I could find in the house, outside. It didn’t cost a thing because it was all stuff I already had – and alright, none of it exactly went together colour and pattern-wise, but I think that’s part of the charm, right? If you don’t own more than a handful, ask your pals to bring some with them.

5. For decorations I bought three bunches of cheap flowers (although you could also have a good nosey in the reduced bucket) and mixed and matched them between a few different vases to add a splash of colour to the garden because lol, not one of the bulbs I planted earlier this year has grown into a flower. Big sad face.

6. I bought balloons and bright coloured bunting from Sainsbury’s and Tiger for a couple of quid a pop. The bright palm tree and flower ones you can see in the photos are from Tiger, whilst the hot pink pom poms I hung from the trees are from Sainsbury’s, but you can get them in 5647856478 colours on eBay.

7. I also bought out a few candles from the house and put them in the middle of our table to help create that super chilled out vibe – I also have some Moroccan tea glasses I picked up about five years ago, so put some tea lights in those, but you could use jars too!

8. Fairy lights are obviously a cute lil addition. I snapped up some £5 solar panel ones from B&M which, despite the dark sky and rain, still worked. As soon as it got dark, they lit up like little blue dancing fairies inside the gazebo roof. Chris also pulled an extension lead out to create a phone-charging station, but you could do something similar to plug in fairy lights, or opt for those clever lil battery operated ones.

9. I wasn’t sure that I’d have enough decent glasses for everyone so I emptied all the jars in the fridge that had half eaten food in them – olives, jam, pesto, sundried tomatoes, curry paste – you get the idea. Then I washed them all up, soaked the smellier ones, and used a scourer to get the labels off. And then hello super lame hipster jar glasses for everyone. I bought some gold striped straws from Tiger and everyone kept the same glass for the whole evening.

10. Obviously most people brought their own alcohol but I wanted to have a little extra to keep everyone going so I bought a crate of beers, some cans of Coke and Diet Coke and bottled water which I kept in an ice bucket, and then some additional bottles of cheap prosecco because always prosecco <3 Then I gave everyone an arrival drink a *bit* like a wedding. Chris found a DELICIOUS recipe on Buzzfeed Food called Frose. You blend frozen rose wine (pour it into tupperware and freeze overnight) with a glug of grenadine, a squeeze of lemon juice and a few fresh strawberries. JUST DIVINE AND I WISH I HAD SOME RIGHT NOW. (I don’t reaaaaaally like rose, but this was seriously good, and pretty cheap for a homemade cocktail too!).

11. Food-wise we had crisps and dips on the table and then when it got dark and people were drunk and hungry we bought out pizzas, wedges and homemade nachos which were pretty much inhaled tbh. I ALWAYS go over the top with buffet food, so we kept it simple and ahem, cheap.

12. I also filled a box with sweatshirts, hoodies and big ol’ cardigans for when the temperature dropped so that we could stay outside a bit longer and enjoy our cosy set-up.

13. Chris was worried we didn’t have enough to entertain people, but actually, just sitting around having drinks and chats took up most of the afternoon/evening (people arrived from 3pm onwards). So I wouldn’t bother trying to organise fancy activities, unless said fancy activities are beer pong or Cards Against Humanity.

 

Has anyone got any babin’ tips for next year’s summer party?

  • This looks like so much fun. I’ve finally got a home with a garden so I will definitely have to give this a try! Love your decorations, very cute.

    Beth x
    http://www.adventureandanxiety.com

  • It looks gorgeous. Can I please be invited next year? Promise to compliment your hostessing skills to the max! 😉
    Love the Frose idea – can’t stand rose (unless in sunshine in south of France obvs) but have two bottles of it languishing in my cellar (yeah, we live in Yorkshire, we have a cellar, two actually! Both full of booze – #lifegoals) with no purpose in life – I must try this immediately the sun comes out again.
    Hope you had a fabulous day x

  • You literally thought of everything and I love the colourful set up. Just wish I lived somewhere with a garden!x

    http://www.wonkylauren.com

  • This looks wonderful (the higgledy piggledy misatched patterns gives it a totally boho vibe) and I would LOVE to do it buuuut NYC doesn’t really do private gardens…. It does do roof tops though… Hmmm! Food for thought, thanks Hannah 🙂

    http://www.englishgirlinnewyork.org

  • Love this idea of an annual party, wish I had the space currently to organise one! Next year, if we’re in the house we want, definitely! I’d hope we had enough space to let everyone camp too, so that noone had to drive home that night! That would be the dream I guess! How did mixing friends go, when we were younger I always used to find it SO awkward when you bring together groups of different friends at one event. Maybe as an adult it would be less excruciating?? Alice xxx

    http://www.woodenwindowsills.co.uk

  • This looks so cute Hannah! I love how you decorated it, its so pretty. x

  • Lulu

    A small baby paddling pool is great as a drinks cooler, filled with ice and cold water! Oh and a fun cut-out figure goes down well – like an Elvis one. Great for having pics taken with! Also, Hawaiian lei garlands can be bought very cheaply in multipacks and these are fun for getting people in the mood. I loved your tips, in particular to have cardigans and coats etc handy. That’s really thoughtful of you.

  • Looks as amazing as it sounded!!!!

    TINYTWISST.COM

  • han

    Looks so so dreamy! Love the paper bunting!

    http://www.ohjanuary.co.uk

  • This sounds absolutely ideal! I do have a garden but its shared with a woman who goes bananas at my flatmate if he cuts the grass ‘into her bit’ (what, free gardening love!) plus we are surrounded by families with little kids and our garden’s a bit pants but this makes me want to say whatevs and have a great party there anywhere. If i cover the falling to utter bits shed in fairy lights and chuck a blanket over the bins that’ll be cool right?

    Ahh to have a nice garden, I sometimes can’t wait to be a grown up and hopefully have nice grass and planters for rosemary, thyme and mint for last minute mojitos. Until then, living room picnics and pillow forts are the vibe I’m going for this autumn (shed’s full of spiders anyway)

    http://victoriaspongepeasepudding.com/

  • Oooh love this! We had a summer garden BBQ a few weeks back and as much as it was a laugh, we failed in the music department as we didn’t have a decent speaker, music makes such a huge difference on the atmosphere, deffs need to invest in one for next year! Also, I went to poundland for a bunch of decorations and they have some laaavely little solar firefly lights you can dot around the garden, and lots of tealights in wine glasses! Seeeeew cute! Immy x

    http://www.immymay.com

  • Amy

    I totally get your dream of being a perfect host – that’s the dream haha. I could have done with a gazebo this weekend though, I made a picnic and as you know it rained so it ended up being in my kitchen instead haha. You’ve got such a lovely set up, as soon as I get actual grass in my garden I’m totally going to copy this!
    Amy xx
    http://www.callmeamy.co.uk

  • This looks awesome! Definitely Pinterest worthy – I love it! I particularly like the pouffe cushion <3
    http://www.elliswoolley.blogspot.com

  • Fi

    This looks and I love how easy/relatively cheap it all was to set up. How exciting! My top tip is to find an old big frame, remove the glass and back, spray paint and hang from the gazebo. Then find some props and you have a photo booth – easy peasy! We did this for a party last year and have reused it loads since! xxx

  • Ooh I have to try Froze right now!

  • Aw that sounds like it was a great afternoon! I’d love to host a garden party with afternoon tea one day! Your gazebo looked lovely with all the decorations hanging from it xo

    http://www.studentpaperie.co.uk

  • Mel

    Your garden looks stunning with everything you put together, I wish I had the space to do something like this

    Mel ★ http://www.meleaglestone.co.uk


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