Warmer weather calls for lots of time spent outdoors, including entertaining al fresco. But instead of hosting a predictable pool party or a conventional cookout, mix things up by inviting your friends and family to an English-themed garden party. With simple decorating ideas, make-ahead foods that can be served at room temperature, and pitchers of Pimm’s Cups — that refreshing, iconic British cocktail — your garden party is sure to be a success.
• Whether you’re throwing the party in your backyard or on a deck or terrace, top tables with white tablecloths and set out jugs or pitchers of bright flowers. For the most British of bouquets, use romantic garden blooms like full, blowsy roses and peonies and don’t over-arrange or over-stuff your vessels — a natural, slightly unkempt look is best.
• Small pots of flowering plants like primroses, geraniums, and tea roses can do double-duty serving as table decorations as well as party favors for your guests to take home.
• For a daytime gathering, hang bunting (flag banners or pennants) between trees, on fences, or on your deck’s railings. Make your own with scraps of fabric or simply purchase some at a party store.
• An evening affair calls for fairy lights (strings of Christmas lights) and lots of candles. Place votives in clear glass tumblers, and larger pillar candles in hurricane vases or in lanterns like these.
With many make-ahead menu items, this party plan lets you keep your cool while welcoming your guests.
• Serve some classic garden party fare, like tea sandwiches, a light (and potentially vegetarian-friendly) offering.
• A pub-food favorite, scotch eggs are hard-boiled eggs wrapped in savory sausage, rolled in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried.
• Sweet Eton Mess, a very English pudding (dessert), can be made in mere minutes, thanks to store-bought meringues.