How To Host a Picture Perfect Garden Party or Picnic

How to be the Ultimate Hostess

Hands up who else has reached a ‘stage of life’ let’s call it where throwing a small gathering for friends and loved ones at home is far more appealing way to spend an evening than heading to a snazzy restaurant and bar?! Since Charlie and I have spent so many years gradually improving and investing in our home, we absolutely love entertaining, so have always enjoyed hosting friends for dinner parties, garden parties and BBQs. As we enjoy a few more weeks of sunshine before Autumn, we are determined  to make the most of our outside space before we pack away our outdoor furniture for winter.


Featured in the image; Top by // Skirt by // Straw Bag by // Radio by // Blanket by // Hat by


Throwing a social gathering however can be overwhelming, It’s your responsibility to prepare your house, your menu, and even your guests of the occasion, and of course ensuring everyone has a tipple of their choice in hand as soon as they arrive, and enough entertainment to keep people out of the kitchen (or picnic hamper!) while you prepare everything. It’s a multi-tasking mastermind! However hopefully the tips in today’s post will help you throw a successful gathering and ensure your event runs smoothly.

Have a Guest List Strategy!

Charlie and I will usually invite guests with a date or ‘plus one’ – which makes everyone feel more comfortable, and ensures we know our numbers so aren’t surprised when 3 extra plus ones appear and we have to squeeze extra seats on the table! We are fortunate that all of our friends are very easy going and chatty, so whether we are mixing school / work friends, neighbours or members of family, everyone gets along so well, but definitely be conscious of clashing characters if you wish for a calm and collected gathering!

Get the Party Started

Music is one of the best ways to create a lovely ambience at your party, whether that’s a picnic or a dinner party. While background music prevents awkward silences, make sure the volume is low enough so that it doesn’t interfere with conversation. Bonus points if your radio is beautiful too; my Laura Ashley radio by VQ is the perfect balance between a retro and classic style, but with all the mod cons. With a beautiful leatherette finish and striking Laura Ashley print, it’s a real statement piece as part of our home decor, and of course has the full range of digital radio stations, and can connect wirelessly from your phone or tablet, You can even listen to Audible, Spotify or Podcasts on it too! The radio will be available on – so mark the time down in your diaries!

Plan a seasonal menu

I truly believe that the seasonality of the food you serve is really important; not only will it be more affordable to shop from seasonal produce, but your dishes will test all the more scrumptious if you use fresh ingredients. Charlie and I like to visit our local farmers market and pick up seasonal vegetables ahead of our gatherings – it’s a fun outing too!

Prepare the night before

I always find the day of a gathering to be a little stressful, often with friends texting for last minute info, or other unforeseen changes in the day ahead, so I like to do as much as possible the night before. I like to get the table ready as soon as possible, or if it’s a garden party or picnic, get as much of the glassware and crockery ready to be laid out the following day. Many foods can be prepared the day before too, and you’ll enable yourself extra time for those lovely little touches like making pretty floral ice cubes ( this is one of my favourite things to do, simply freezing a small flower or petal inside an ice cube overnight! ). Another tip when it comes to preparation is to stick to dishes you’ve made before; when creating a meal for a selection of friends, it’s not an ideal time to get creative just in case something doesn’t  go to plan!

 Plan your Table Setting
Whether hosting a picnic, garden party or dinner party, ensuring the eating area is beautifully set is the best canvas for a wonderful meal. Head to the local flower market the morning of the dinner party and arrange some fresh blooms for the centrepieces – just be sure that they are low enough so that people can talk over them! Also if you choose to light candles, then opt for un-scented ones so the the scent doesn’t interfere with the smells and tastes of your food.
Aaaaand relax!
Hosting a social gathering for your friends should be fun for you too!! Once everyone has arrived, relax! Enjoy yourself along with your friends, leave the washing up to the next morning and tonight enjoy the ambience, food, and company that you’ve combined!
Will you be hosting any late summer gatherings, or start practising your dinner party skills before the festive season?! What will be on your menu?

// This post is in collaboration with Laura Ashley //