According to Wikipedia, a garden party is a gathering with food in an outdoor park or garden. The connotation of “garden party” is that it is more formal than a cookout or picnic; indeed, the official garden parties at Buckingham Palace are quite formal and prestigious. Of course, yours can be much more casual.
Many cultures celebrate the harvest season with parties and get-togethers toward the end of the growing season. Native Americans believed that the moon in September was especially bright, so they referred to September as Harvest Moon. With cooling temperatures, and the garden in full bloom, September is an ideal time in most parts of the country to host a garden party.
If you have a good photo of your garden, you can mail, text, or email your invitations and include your photo. Be sure to let your guests know if the event is casual or dressy, and whether or not kids are included. If you have a smartphone, there are apps, such as “Touchnote,” that will enable you to send your guests postcards made from your photo.
Consider hosting a garden party where all or most of the food is from your and your friends’ gardens. If you’re inviting a lot of fellow gardening enthusiasts, you might consider asking them to bring an appetizer, side dish, or dessert made primarily from the harvest of their gardens. Ask that they bring copies of their recipes, also.
Games and Contests
Here’s an idea for an interesting game: Place numbered markers in your flower and vegetable gardens. Give each guest a slip of paper with the corresponding numbers, and see how many cultivars they can identify not just varieties, but the actual cultivar (Bright Lights Swiss Chard, for example). You can give gardening related prizes to the winner and runner(s)-up.
You can also make a list of cultivars, including items that you have in your garden, as well as items that you don’t have. Ask your guests to tour your gardens, and to check off the cultivars that you have. Score 1 point for each correct answer, and deduct 1 point for each wrong answer.
If all or most of your guests are bringing food, you can also ask your guests to vote on the best tasting, prettiest, or most creative dish.
And, you can have a contest to see who can identify the most ingredients in a dish that you have prepared.
Giving your guests a little gift at the end of the party is a nice alternative to receiving hostess gifts, and will remind your guests of your creativity and thoughtfulness. Consider sharing seeds of your favorite cultivars, or simply prepare a little gift basket of fruits, vegetables, and flowers from your garden.