The Ultimate Garden Party: How to Share Your Season’s Bounty with Your Friends and Family
4 min read
When you hear the phrase “dinner party,” do you immediately imagine a formal table setting with a stress-inducing number of small spoons and finicky forks? Do you think of complex hors d’oeuvres on silver trays and awkward, stilted conversation with strangers?
Dinner parties don’t have to be complicated! Sharing food with people we love is so simple and so powerful. In fact, a casual dinner party can be one of the most wonderful ways to connect with friends and family. If you are one of our many home gardening customers, you already know that cooking with home-grown ingredients makes every dish feel special and taste more flavorful. So why not make the entire dining experience just as distinctive?
Our go-to summer strategy for easy, memorable dinner gatherings is to get everyone outside and eat right in the garden. That’s right—the ultimate garden-to-table dinner party doesn’t go far from the garden itself! No need for fancy floral arrangements or centerpieces—the incredible beauty of nature is right there. Your friends and family can enjoy delicious dishes made from garden-fresh ingredients and the garden as well.
Let's Have a Garden Party
Showcase the Season
Maybe you want to shake off cabin fever and celebrate the first warm days and fresh early crops from your garden in late spring or revel in the heat and hazy sunsets of midsummer or cozy up to the rich tastes and glowing colors of fall. Whenever you decide to gather everyone together, take full advantage of the wonders of the season as you plan your décor and your menu.
Make Everyone Comfortable
Gardens are, by their nature, sunny and dirty and buggy. So how can you create an enjoyable dining experience during your garden dinner party?
Control the bugs. If you have a gazebo protected by insect netting, a screened-in summer porch, or an old barn, you are all set, but most of us have to use another method to protect garden party guests from mosquitos and other biting insects. Bug zappers and citronella do deter bugs, but they don’t have the best dinner party vibe. (Citronella, like any personal bug sprays or essential oils, also has a strong smell that can affect the taste of the food.) Tiki torches or fire pits are more atmospheric choices. They bring light, warmth, and drama, illuminating your garden and your guests while driving away biting insects.
Think about your seating.Spreading out checked picnic blankets around the garden will look wonderful in photographs but sitting cross-legged for long periods of time on hard ground isn’t ideal, especially if you have older or less mobile guests. Bringing your dining room table and chairs to the garden is a delightful surprise and everyone will be much more comfortable—and want to stay longer. Picnic tables, folding chairs and tables, and more can also work, but make pillows or another padding available if you can.
Light the way.Soft, sparkling outdoor lights will draw everyone to your garden like fireflies. String lights are inexpensive and set a romantic, fairytale mood. Fire pits and tiki torches do the same. Tea lights in mason jars scattered across the table are another wonderful way to go. No matter what you choose, make sure walkways are well illuminated for safety and that everyone can see the delicious food on the table as well as the beautiful gardens around them. (And if you are using candles or torches, practice strict fire safety rules.) Remember, we eat with our eyes!
Keep the Menu Simple
An unfussy, rustic menu sets exactly the right mood for a garden dinner party. You want to showcase fresh-picked flavors and make sure everyone feels comfortable just digging in. Welcome guests with finger foods and simple, flavorful appetizers. Consider serving your main dishes family-style to cut down on dishes and encourage conversation and interaction among guests.
Cocktails & Mocktails
Don’t forget to feature garden-fresh ingredients in your drinks! Depending on the season, you may be able to muddle mint or borage, smash strawberries, cut celery or rhubarb, puree tomatoes, use twigs of thyme or tarragon leaves … the list of cocktail ingredients that can be found in your garden is actually quite long! And any drink that uses honey harmonizes with your garden theme as well.
One of Pinetree Garden Seeds’ go-to drink recipes is a bourbon smash! Fresh mint, ripe berries from the garden, a little lemon, bourbon and a splash of soda water. This will definitely hit a home run with your garden party guests! It's the perfect summer cocktail.
When it is time to go, let your guests take home a bit of your garden with them. Send them into your cutting garden with shears to create a small bunch of flowers or an assortment of aromatic herbs. Write down a favorite recipe from the evening. Fill a small bag or jar with cherry tomatoes and basil, or green beans and dill, or another delightful pairing they can turn into a delicious bite later that week. Or, inspire them to start gardening as well! A pack of Pinetree Garden Seeds heirloom, non-GMO, organic seeds is less than $2 per envelope and makes a thoughtful take-home for your guests.
Sharing your garden—and the food and flowers you have grown—is often the best part of home gardening. If you try a garden dinner party, let us know! Share photographs or tips in the comments.