tea party

Imagine a garden party like something out of “Alice in Wonderland”—only in your own backyard. Maybe you don’t want it to be as quirky as a mad tea party, but a touch of whimsy here and there fits with a late summer garden party. Picture guests wearing bow ties or ladies dressed in white holding brightly-patterned umbrellas. Tables set with mismatched dishware. And, lights strung in trees casting a magical glow as the afternoon turns to dusk. You don’t need to buy anything new to create a garden party full of whimsy. Here are five DIY tips to throw a whimsical party using what you already own.

1. Create fancy seating

The right setup takes your garden from the everyday to party-ready. Spread benches piled with pillows around your garden for guests to lounge on. Don’t have any benches? Grab the chairs from your dining room table—or wherever you can find some. Designate one large table or multiple small tables for eating. Think something like a rustic wooden picnic table, white wicker furniture, or your regular iron patio table with mismatched chairs. No plastic lawn chairs please. If you have to, pull a table from inside your house for the event. Furniture that’s meant to be inside—brought outside—will make the party feel more fancy anyway.

2. Use pretty lighting

You need the right ambiance for a whimsical garden party. String as many lights as you can in the trees. Plain white ones are best. Pull them from your stash of Christmas lights. If you don’t have any lights to hang, just bring out all of the candles you own. Place one on every table and scatter the rest in safe spots around your patio and garden for an ethereal glow.

3. Set the table

Your table settings and table décor will set the mood for the party, so feel free to get fancy. Use real plates, cups and bowls, not the plastic stuff. Mismatched dishes will look more whimsical. Simply use what you have, or buy a few vintage dishes from a thrift store for cheap. For a table centerpiece, get creative and use what you have. Fill baskets, mason jars, wine glasses or pretty much anything with brightly-colored flowers cut from your garden. It’s your whimsical party, so feel free to mix up your centerpiece with anything that’s a bit quirky.

4. Use funky fabrics

Mix up the fabrics you use with out-of-the-ordinary combinations. Go with a chunky striped tablecloth and then add polka dot napkins. Anything a bit odd and definitely not matchy-matchy will work. There’s nothing understated about throwing a whimsical garden party. If you have a striped or bold-patterned umbrella to shade your table, well, you’ve got this whimsical thing down.

5. Add the little details

Anything you own that’s a little quirky that you can use to decorate your garden will add to the ambiance. Things like gnome statues, chipped tea cups holding plants and an old iron bedframe placed in the garden bed will add some whimsy. Use baskets and buckets to hold ice or bottled and canned beverages. Place desserts on cake stands. Ask guests to wear bright colors, funky jewelry and quirky hats. Just get creative. Here’s to one playful party!

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image: shimelle