Follow these tips for a festive celebration, or use it as a springboard for your own ideas.
1. Make things easy for yourself: Ask a friend to cohost or ask everyone to bring a favorite dish or beverage to share.
2. Make the event enjoyable for your guests by using a gardening theme: Greet guests with iced tea served from a sparkling new watering can. Offer them mouthwatering appetizers such as fruit topiaries assembled on the spot from chilled bowls of fresh fruit.
3. Ask everyone to bring a garden goodie such as begonia cuttings, South African bulbs, gardening books, and decorative branches from a corkscrew willow. Raffle the items collected and donate the proceeds to a local non-profit public garden or park.
4. Pump up the party's atmosphere by setting your picnic table for a casual dinner based on the garden theme. Combine colorful linens with terra-cotta dishes, potted-herb place cards that double as party favors, and hollowed-out vegetable centerpieces filled with fresh flowers. Delight your guests by serving salad using garden trowels.
Handmade invitations set just the right tone for a homegrown garden party -- and they're inexpensive too. You don't need to be an artist to create a festive design. You'll find folded card stock and matching envelopes at a stationer's or art supply store.
Try using one of these decorative devices:
Enhance the party's theme by using handcrafted place settings featuring botanical motifs. Personalize salad plates and place-card holders, then give them to your guests as party favors.
It's simple to create an instant centerpiece that's unique and colorful.
Turn gourds and large summer squash into natural vases for floral arrangements. (This may be the best idea yet for making use of overgrown zucchini.)
1. Thinly slice off the vegetables' bottoms to make them flat and stand without rolling.
2. Carefully hollow out the vessels, tuck in bricks of water-saturated floral foam to secure flowers, and arrange a bouquet in each.
3. You can also use half a watermelon as a vase, but don't bother to hollow it out; just insert flower stems. The water in the melon will sustain the flowers.
Make luscious fresh-fruit topiaries a few hours before the party, and keep them refrigerated until serving time. Or encourage guests to assemble them as they arrive, using prepared fruit that has been cut and kept fresh in bowls over ice. Each topiary provides one large serving or two smaller ones. Quantities of materials vary depending on the number of guests.
1. Wash fruit and leaves. Scoop cantaloupe and honeydew melon into balls.
2. Cut a 4-inch circle of polystyrene; push it firmly into terra-cotta pot.
3. Make a stem for the topiary by spearing one end of a cinnamon stick (or substitute a chopstick) into an orange.
4. Cover orange with leaves to make a green background; secure leaves with toothpicks.
5. Slide fruit pieces onto the toothpicks, alternating fruit as you work around the orange. Add more toothpicks and fruit to fill gaps, until orange is covered with fruit.
6. Slide the bottom end of the cinnamon stick into the polystyrene inside the terra-cotta pot. Camouflage the top of the foam with leaves or fruit.