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Tips for Hosting a Summer Garden Party

Gwyneth Paltrow hosted a child-friendly, star-studded, English garden party last summer with guests including Cameron Diaz and Sarah Jessica Parker. The children drank lemonade, ate ice cream, and skipped rope; the adults played croquet and badminton and listened to live music while enjoying champagne and other big kid beverages (e.g. shots). All enjoyed mini fish and chips and veggie tarts.

Instead of making reservations at the new swanky restaurant in town, why not host a garden cocktail party like Gwyneth? Limit the festivities to girls only and provide children entertaining activities that will keep them safe, happy, and occupied. Celebrate the warm weather by sitting under the stars in your backyard or on your patio. Serve light, summery appetizers and sip refreshing cocktails garnished with edible flower blossoms and mint-infused ice cubes.

Below, a few great ideas for hosting a summer party that is simple, sexy, and celeb-worthy.

Dress the Part
You don’t have to be a celebrity to slip on a beautiful dress. Let your guests know to wear garden attire (no Crocs and cut-offs allowed). A brightly colored dress in a lightweight fabric is summer seductive when paired with flat sandals or wedges. Skip the spike heels, though, unless, of course, your lawn needs aerating.

Set the Stage
Take the indoors out! Furnish your backyard with a day bed and inexpensive tatami or sisal rugs topped with overstuffed pillows in a range of colors and weather-treated fabrics. The combined effect of the actual furniture and accessories – versus plastic, stackable chairs – will be casual, cozy, and chic.

Delight in Delicious Veggies
Create an edible centerpiece that resembles a vegetable garden filled with colorful bite-size veggies such as baby carrots, broccoli, radishes, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, and asparagus. Place at the center of your table and serve with a creamy sauce on the side for dipping.

Go Wild
You don’t need to spend a lot on elaborate floral arrangements. Fresh herbs and wild flowers picked from the garden and set in glass pitchers and Mason jars look great.

[Moon]Light Up the Night
If you are hosting your event at night, decorate with a string of hanging lanterns and simple votive candles in brown bags with the edges folded over. Lighting plays a major role in creating ambiance, and small touches like these have big impact.

Get Jiggy with It
Don’t forget the music. If you can’t afford a live band like Gwyneth – and who can? – create a Pandora or Spotify playlist that includes a combination of jazz and classical music and broadcast it via speakers set along the periphery of your yard.

Create a Communal Table
Potlucks, once mocked as homespun kitsch, are now the toast of the farm to fork, communal table movement. Ask guests to bring an appetizer or dessert to share, and suggest (to those who are tech savvy) that they create a Pinterest board where everyone can pin the dish they plan to make.

Mix Colorful Cocktails
When it comes to summer drinks for outdoor gatherings, colorful cocktails are always in fashion. Fill punch bowls, steel buckets, glass dispensers, and even Dutch ovens with white wine sangria with a variety of citrus fruit slices or mojitos with fragrant mint. Allow guests to add ice to their own cocktails rather than adding to dispensers and watering down the drinks.

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