15 Tips for a Successful Garden Party

15 Tips for a Successful Garden Party

Guest Author: Susan Harrington

Summer is almost over, but your garden is “not finished with fall.” Gardens in the Delaware Valley often look amazing in the fall, so celebrate by throwing a garden party with cooler weather and fall flowers.

Volunteers Karol Bock and Linda Heffernan prepare for the opening of the Plant Sale Special Friends Preview Party. photo credit: M. Groff

The Scott Arboretum is preparing to throw a large garden party at the Scott Associates Plant Sale on Friday, September 20. Because we have been celebrating the Plant Sale Special Friends Preview Party for over 15 years, we have several tips to help you have a successful garden party.

Most garden parties have a comfy, causal dress code. photo credit: Scott Arboretum Archives

15 Tips for a Successful Garden Party


  1. Make sure you let your guests know the theme, dress code, and special activities at the party so they can dress appropriately for an evening romping or relaxing in the garden.

Lights strung along the tent make love evening garden lighting. photo credit: M. Groff


  1.  Think of your garden as an outdoor room, with the grass as carpet. Garden foliage can serve as the most stunning decoration with any enhancements you may choose. Cut the lawn and trim the hedges the day before.
  2. Decorate your trees with colorful paper lanterns, wind chimes, piñatas, or balloons. To add lighting for an evening event, use while lights, candle-lit jars, lanterns, or paper luminaries along walkways.

    Place your garden furniture in a shaded spot for all to enjoy. photo credit: Scott Arboretum Archives

  3. Place furniture, including “borrowed” indoor furniture, where your garden can be best enjoyed; ideally not in direct sunlight.
  4. Centerpieces can be theme-related or as simple as cut flowers in jars or floating in glass bowls,  small plants or votive candles in terracotta pots, or bowls of fresh fruit. Get creative by using other containers such as small metal pails or old watering cans.

Tents sheltered garden guests from an afternoon sprinkle. photo credit: R. Robert

Guest Comfort

  1. Keep unwanted pests away by adding citronella tiki lights or citronella candles. Or, use a bug fogger before the event.
  2. Have extra sunscreen and insect repellent available for guests to use.

    Recycling and trash cans are strategically placed by the food and beverages. photo credit: R. Robert

  3. Have a plan to move the party indoors in case of rain or consider a tent.
  4.  Don’t forget to place trash and recycle containers in easy-to-spot locations, but out of the way to not detract from the party decor.

Food and drink should be outside no more than two hours without being chilled. photo credit: R. Robert

Food & Drinks

  1. Try to make as much as possible the day before so you aren’t rushed the day of the event. Cold and hot foods should not stay outside for more than an hour or two without being kept cool in an ice bath or hot over a burner, as appropriate. Avoid using mayonnaise or other foods that spoil quickly. Cover food with a mesh dome or a large upside down terracotta pot.
  2. Use a unique container such as a wheelbarrow filled with ice and drinks to keep the garden theme going.

Music always makes great atmosphere for a party. photo credit: R. Robert

Garden Fun

  1. Music always creates a great atmosphere. Come up with a music playlist several days before the party so all you have to do is press “play”.
  2. Croquet, badminton, or even an herb-smelling contest are a few garden entertainment ideas for your guests.

    Allow plenty of areas for guests to sit and converse. photo credit: R. Robert

  3. Allow areas for guests to play or just sit and converse as they wish.
  4. If you would like your guests to leave with something to remember the party, you might give them a small terracotta pot of herbs, cut flowers, vegetables from your garden, or even a packet of vegetable or flower seeds.

An ideal seat for entertaining. photo credit: R.Robert

Hopefully, these provide some ideas for you to enhance your party and have fun. Do you have any fun party anecdotes or suggestions? Please feel free to respond to this blog with your ideas!

Come celebrate fall with us at the Plant Sale Special Friends Preview Party! photo credit: M. Groff

The Scott Arboretum will be having a garden party — the Plant Sale Special Friends Preview Party on September 20 from 4 to 8 pm. The party has a lovely backdrop of hundreds of plants for sale where party guests preview them and are allowed first pick of the plants. Both adult and kid-friendly food and beverages will be available while shopping. Come celebrate fall with us!


Guest Author
  • Zooey Barnett
    Posted at 06:33h, 10 June Reply

    I’ve been planning garden party for so long, hopeful I’ll be able to organize it for my daughter’s 6th birthday this summer. Thanks for these useful tips!

    • Becky Robert
      Posted at 07:53h, 10 June Reply

      You are welcome Zooey. Have a great party!

      Becky Robert
      Scott Arboretum

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