The theme and tone for a garden party can be just about anything that the hosts desire. At its essence, this event is simply an intentional gathering that takes place out of doors and provides the means for a select group of people to interact. All that is needed to hold one is a list of people to invite, an outdoor location such as a back yard, and a little food and drink to keep the party going.
Garden parties are one of the traditions that began in the United Kingdom and France a number of centuries ago. Both the British and French versions have roots in the weekend getaways that were enjoyed by the upper classes. In the afternoons and evenings, the grounds of the estates would be softly lit with candles and lanterns, food prepared and set in long buffet tables for the guests, and comfortable seating always within reach.
People tended to dress up for these types of outdoor events, which made them quite a festive occasion. In some seasons, the use of outdoor games like horseshoes or croquet was part of the fun. String bands often provided a graceful melody that served as one of the ways that the elegant tone of the occasion was set and maintained.
Today, the concept lives on around the world. No longer just an event for the well to do, the garden party is a weekend staple in many neighborhoods. Neighbors are invited to come enjoy the outdoors by attending a cookout, complete with plenty of grilled food, lots of seating, and usually plenty to drink. It is not unusual for a few simple games to be available as well, depending on the size of the space. Music does not necessarily have to be provided by a live band anymore, although some people prefer the chatter and laughter of people enjoying themselves to any type of musical accompaniment.
The modern version can be very free form, or use a special occasion or theme as the basis for the event. For example, a birthday is a great reason to throw this type of party. Major patriotic holidays often provide the theme, with the decorations revolving around the national colors and other symbols. Fun times, such as Valentine’s Day or and Easter egg hunt, can also be the reason for putting together a party.
Homeowners do not need a large yard in order to hold a garden party. In fact, apartment dwellers or individuals who own garden homes can easily make use of patios, porches, and other outdoor space to hold a party. As long as the event takes place outdoors, has people to interact, and includes food and drink, the event is complete.