Garden party ideas: 18 brilliant ways to entertain outdoors

Looking for the best garden party ideas? We've got everything you need for good times in the garden

Garden party ideas: terrace set up for a party with a dining area and outdoor kitchen
(Image credit: Morso)

Transform your outdoors with the best garden party ideas and create a space you can enjoy all summer long. Styling things up for a party is the best part, whether it’s introducing a fun element such as a garden bar with high stools for alfresco cocktails or a chillout zone with a low table, floor cushions and tealights to create a relaxing holiday vibe. 

Make sure you’ve got the practicalities covered too, like enough chairs and tables for your guests, as well as how you’re going to prepare and cook the food and serve the drinks. Ambient lighting is key for getting the right mood in the evening, and it’s good to have an option if things get chilly too. Keep reading for our round-up of the best new ideas to get your party started in style, then head to our garden design ideas gallery for more outdoor inspiration. 

1. Recreate a holiday vibe

Decked area with a high table and bar stools set up for a party

(Image credit: Bramblecrest)

Singapore Sling anyone? Bring a touch of Raffles-style glamour to your patio with a stylish plantation-style wicker bar set from Bramblecrest. Now you can truly relax over chilled pre-dinner drinks as it will feel like being on holiday. The set is made of maintenance-free wicker and comes with four bar stools and table with removable ice bucket in the centre.

2. Add a swing seat

White garden swing seat surrounded by festoon lights

(Image credit: Not On The High Street)

Perfect for parties, a garden swing seat that seats two is just the thing for catching up with a friend over a glass of something chilled. This hanging chair from Not On The High Street is made of on-trend macramé and we love the tassel trim, which adds just the right touch of boho. Style it up with some cushions and a throw in case it gets nippy later.

3. Serve cocktails in style

Outdoor table set up with canapes and cocktails

(Image credit: John Lewis)

You can never have enough glasses at a party. Mix and match styles to give your party set up a more eclectic vibe. This selection from John Lewis includes highball glasses and champagne saucers. There’s a cocktail shaker for mixing up the mojitos, a gin cocktail jug with stirrer for summer’s essential drink, and a cool Art Deco style ice bucket. If you’re doing cocktails and canapes, you’ll need a big table to prep everything on, too. This one is the Croft Collection Burford six seater in acacia from John Lewis and should do the trick.

4. Opt for music and lights in one

table at dusk with an LED outdoor speaker and other candles

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

Great if space is tight on a terrace or balcony, this combi speaker, light and powerbank for phone charging from Cuckooland is a great multi-tasking gadget for the garden. It works via Bluetooth and plays up to 20 hours of music before it needs recharging. The lantern has a dimming function too for creating the right mood. Make sure you check out our best bluetooth speakers for our pick of the top ways to enjoy music outdoors. 

5. Cool drinks fast

metal trough used as an ice bucket and filled with beers

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Great for chilling down beers, a galvanised steel trough looks good as well as being super practical as you can carry it to your preferred spot and relax rather than trekking to the fridge. Instead of sticking it in the shed at the end of summer, why not turn it into a stylish herb garden for the windowsill? This is the Farmington trough from Garden Trading.

6. Create a party vibe

outdoor dining area decorated with balloons and festoon lights

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Decorating your garden with some balloons adds an instant celebratory touch whatever the occasion. Choose clear ones that have been pre-filled with sparkly confetti for a more stylish look – try Ginger Ray. Sticking to one design makes more of a statement and is a great way of dressing this Kettler table from John Lewis

7. Build atmosphere with lighting

Corner pallet sofa and festoon lights above

(Image credit: House Doctor)

Choose a selection of ambient lighting to add that all-important glow at dusk. The evening garden needs lots of lights to get the right effect. For the best results add layers of lighting at different heights. Start with tealights in glass jars and hurricane lights at table height, then add festoon lighting looped through the branches of shrubs, around pergolas or along fences. These Black Guirlande Lumineuse LED light string lights are from Nedgis

8. Go for a laidback look

courtyard space at dusk with floor cushions, lanterns and garden lighting

(Image credit: The White Company)

Create some magic with flickering candles grouped together on the table to throw out some ambient light. A garden mirror picks up and enhances the flickering lights – all of these stylish lights and lanterns are from The White Company. Add textured floor cushions or outdoor bean bags and faux-fur throws for a chillout vibe that will instantly transport you to your favourite holiday destination. Rooftop terrace in Morocco anyone? 

9. Make serving drinks a breeze

two bar stools next to a garden bar area

(Image credit: Danetti)

Create a dedicated space to prepare and serve drinks where you have everything you need without running back to the house. Choose a design that’s made of robust yet lightweight powder-coated aluminium. Not only is it shower resistant but you can move it around the patio if you need to. This outdoor kitchen bar set from Danetti is designed to position alongside the BBQ and has plenty of space for drinks and accessories.  

10. Party plan your space

cocktail table and trolley set up in a garden

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

If you’re expecting a crowd you’ll need plenty of occasional tables and butlers trays dotted here and there. After all, nothing’s worse than having to nurse warm drinks as there’s nowhere to put them down. This foldaway ash wood table is ideal and even better it comes with a Gin Grand Serving Set from Cuckooland. You can use the removable tray top to circulate drinks to your guests.

11. Throw a pizza party

person sliding a pizza into a pizza oven to cook it

(Image credit: Morso)

It’s easy to recreate that authentic woodfired taste with a pizza oven. This smart Forno cast iron outdoor oven by Morso can also be used for grilling steaks and smoking food. But if you don’t fancy doing it yourself, you can hire a pizza oven for the weekend from Love Wood Oven and for an additional fee they’ll throw in a pizza chef to set it up and show you how to cook the perfect pizza. Classic Neopolitan pizzas for everyone we reckon. 

12. Make a cocoon

luxurious day bed surrounded by candles and lanterns

(Image credit: Bridgman)

Daybeds are good for evening get-togethers as they provide a snug retreat if things get chilly or there’s a sudden shower. Just add some lanterns to make it even cosier as you snuggle up. This handwoven rattan one by Bridgman is fully waterproof and even has wineproof cushions. Bliss! 

13. Set the scene with spotlights

outdoor seating area under a pergola and surrounded by garden lighting

(Image credit: Chaplins)

These glass blown outdoor lamps by Catellani & Smith from Chaplins add a sophisticated touch to any outdoor space. Whether you choose to arrange them individually or grouped together they will add drama to the night time garden that’s perfect for parties. Head to our gallery for more inspiring garden lighting ideas

14. Warm things up

Modern garden with sleek corner sofa and electric patio heater that looks like a floor lamp

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

Patio heaters often get bad press due to their energy rating but the Dome Freestanding Electric Patio Heater Floor Lamp from Cuckooland has zero emissions plus covers an area up to five metres, enough for most patios. It can also be left outside all year round as it’s made from stainless steel and aluminium. So you can carry on partying in the garden however chill the evening gets. There is also the option of waterproof Bluetooth speakers that fit neatly into the base. 

15. Go luxe

Modern garden space at night with canopy over a dining area

(Image credit: Garden Design)

The weather can have a habit of getting in the way of even the best laid party plans. Now you can weatherproof your outdoor space to add protection from both showers and intense sunlight thanks to the latest garden structures. While a pop-up gazebo is a great budget option for infrequent use, if you want something more permanent, this Renson Algarve louvered canopy from Garden House Design is a great investment. It has tilting blades that let you decide exactly how much protection you need and can be installed free standing or wall mounted on the back of your house. 

16. Dress things up

Wall with decorative screens lit up with lanterns

(Image credit: Screen with Envy)

With their Arabic-style design, these Moucharabiya screens from Screen With Envy add a decorative note to enhance the party mood. You can also use them to divide up your garden according to your party needs. Use them to create a chillout zone, adding Moroccan themed cushions, outdoor rugs and lanterns.

17. Gather round

modern fire pit on a terrace space

(Image credit: Vivalagoon.com)

A stylish fire pit is perfect for extending alfresco get-togethers late into the night. It also means you can carry on entertaining in the garden right into autumn. The neat dimensions make it a snug addition to small spaces such as balconies and terraces too. This is the Eva Solo Fire Globe fire Pit from Viva Lagoon.

18. Fire up the BBQ

Large BBQ on a patio used as an outdoor kitchen

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

If you’re feeding a crowd, a large barbecue will make easy work of it. This woodfired BBQ from Cuckooland has a large fire pit at the centre and a tempered steel top plate for fast cooking Teppanyaki style food, it also has a side table for easy prepping and a storage shelf below for barbecue tools and marinades, so you can keep everything you need on hand. You can also get a matching log store. Another plus is less smoke is produced as the base has been designed to direct airflow. Keep the fire stoked once the barbecue’s over and everyone can keep partying till late.

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