To my dismay there is not much info about planning a garden party. Almost every year, I coordinate a garden party at my church and it has grown. Our largest event had about 90 women. The very first garden party I threw had only 20. When you have 20 women the event is easy to do. When you have 90 women that is quite another story. Many of the tips will be great for planning a event in general.
How much food? What kind?
Garden parties are often confused with tea parties where it all about finger foods. Garden parties are actually heartier not hearty. It can include a multi-course meal plan. I have done that before. However, most ventures are easier as buffet. If you plan on having salad for 90, plan to purchase about 12 to 14 pounds. Twelve pounds will do but 14 pounds will allow you to breath easily. Now granted various salads have more or less weight. A potato salad is heavier because of the potatoes. We ordered the Red White and Blue potato salad from Von’s Supermarket deli counter. Unfortunately, though I preordered a week prior but they did not have the amount requested on hand. The deli counter server knocked a $1.00 per pound off the price as make good. Thus, I turned around and purchased a bag of red potatoes, a container of blue cheese and sour cream to stretch the salad. It is always nice to have gourmet food but it can get pricey. With a limited budget one may want to consider the large containers of potato salad as back up. Other items on our menu included edamame salad from Ralph’s supermarket, Cuban potato balls ( order 150 to 200) and empanadas (order 150 to 200) from Porto’s Bakery. Extremely cost efficient things to make are finger/tea sandwiches such as cucumber, watercress, egg, and curry chicken. For the curry chicken salad for cost efficiency canned chicken is acceptable; however, grabbing a rotisserie chicken is even better. For dessert, I picked out teacakes from Martino’s in Burbank. The teacake is a signature item. I have been serving that for years but this year the desserts which made a splash with the bite sized gourmet desserts from Porto’s. Porto’s has multiple locations in the LA area. We also had a tropical fruit tray.
It is important to note, a garden party is not a tea party. We use tea sets because it makes everything look so elegant but it is not mandatory. If you do opt for tea then have a variety of tea options from herbal to Earl Grey. I like using sugar cubes. They are classic and not messy.
When you have a garden party around holiday time such as Easter or Mother’s day you are likely to find sales. A must for a garden is plenty of fresh flowers on your tables and all around.
It is a party so have games. Have a sense of humor. We had a male server as a butler with top hat and sandals.
We also had a 40’s had fashion show and a jazz band. I hope these tips help you. (See Photo Galley from Garden Party) – Crystal A. Johnson, MCCN Editor