As I was clearing the flower beds out last night, I realized I never posted about my garden party that I held at the end of the summer for the moms at my church. This one was the "2nd annual."
Despite the complete downpour an hour before the party, 40 plus women still came. As soon as the rain stopped, my neighbors split the sopping tablecloths and put them in their dryers. Ladies arrived early and we mopped everything up that we could. The rain held off for the rest of the evening.
This is a really fun women's event if you are looking for ideas. I'm going give some "TIPS" for those of you who might want to pin this post for the future.
#1 Do not arrange a speaker or formal program. This event is about women relaxing and socializing. Don't worry--it won't be quiet--ever. Women love to talk--especially when they are kid-free.
#2 Set out extra platters, display pieces and serving utensils. (See more about guests bringing food below.)
#3 Separate salty & savory dishes from the sweet dishes. A table for each.
Check out these amazing "garden-themed" cake pops my friend Karen made for the occasion!
#4 Get this versatile cupcake/cake-pop display from The Cupcake Tower. I've used it for SO many special occasions. Plus I love the two sweet sisters who started this biz.
#5 The hostess provides the drinks, the guests bring a salty or sweet dish to share. This takes a lot of stress out preparations for the hostess. Plus, it's a chance to let others bring their favorite recipes.
#6 Usually, guests bring more sweet dishes versus savory. So you might want to specifically ask some ladies to bring savory so you have a balance.
#7 Encourage guests to bring friends! This a a great way to introduce new women to your group.
#8 Hold the event towards the end of the summer when your garden is super full and beautiful. In Colorado, that means the end of August. We use this event to kick-off our fall women's events. It's a time for the women to get back together after the summer break and reconnect.
#8 Use "what ya got" to decorate. This is my mantra. Reuse and rearrange. I used some little paper flags I made earlier in the year and stuck them in potted plants. I displayed books with gardening pictures and arranged watering cans.
#9 Think about your garden/yard at the BEGINNING of the summer. Begin planting, arranging pots and "work up" to the event so that before the event, you are just tidying things up, not planting and pruning.
#10 Have a few women come early to help with last-minute details. The hostess doesn't have to do it all--and shouldn't even try! Ask a few friends to come early to finish setting up, mix drinks, greet guests.
My friend Karen (above, right) even came over a couple days before to help "prep" my yard. Our kids played while we moved yard furniture, hung bunting, moved toys. Remember, many hands makes light work.
#11 Guests will ask, "Is there something in particular I can bring?" or "Can I help you somehow?" Make a list of some ideas so when the question is asked you can say, "Yes, can you being in charge of manning the drink station the night-of?" Or ask someone to stay until the end of the event to help "tear down."
#12 Things don't have to matchy-matchy. Borrow things from friends and arrange things in clusters. Mix vintage linens and event fabric yardage as table cloths.
#13 Use candles to illuminate your garden or in this instance my "mini forest," which we have named the Widdi Woods.
#14 Cover fences or partition off areas with vintage quilts.
#15 Twinkle lights make the event "special." There is just something about the warm glow of lights on a summer evening. So many women commented that the lights made the evening feel "magical." It's worth your time to put them up.
Now some of you may be saying, I can't host 40 women in my yard. You don't have to! You can just have four of your girlfriends over for a small party. The point of the party is to enjoy the last of summer, spend time with one another and to bless your guests.
My friend Paula once told me that "a guest who feels prepared for, feels cared for." Many women commented that they felt so special that someone went to all the trouble of hanging lights and decorating. In age where we barely have time to grab coffee with a friend, an event like this surely is "special."
Any questions about garden parties? Throw 'em at me in the comments section. I'd love to help.