How To Throw The Ultimate Garden Party

TOAST’s guide to throwing the ultimate garden party this summer!

August is a fantastic month to entertain not just because it’s summer, but because it’s also the proud owner of one brilliant bank holiday weekend! So TOAST has had a chat with some of the top al fresco event experts and suppliers and put together an indispensable guide to throwing the ultimate garden party this month

OK so I don’t mean to frighten you but August bank holiday weekend (26-28 August) is the last bank holiday until…Christmas. Yep, I am afraid so, and that means that it absolutely has to be celebrated!

If the British weather is kind to us it should be a sunny weekend and so what better way to entertain than outdoors, in the garden or even in a sunny corner of the local park? We’ve spoken to some of the top party pros, event experts and sensational suppliers; from flags and fairy lights to balloon garlands and sumptuous parasols, to get their top tips on outdoor entertaining trends, and how to throw a summer garden party to remember this bank holiday weekend!


Lovely Lighting 

A garden party simply wouldn’t be a garden party without twinkling fairy lights and glowing lanterns, and the aptly named Lights 4 Fun has the answer to pretty much all of your outdoor lighting needs.

The larger bulb Festoon lights are bang on trend for al fresco entertaining this summer - these beautiful lights can simply be strung together to create a stunning look. Radiating a warm ambient glow you can easily drape them around a summerhouse, or underneath a wooden pergola to illuminate your gorgeous garden and enhance your outdoor dining area” advises Lisa at Lights 4 Fun.

“Fairy lights wrapped around a tree trunk and teamed with cloud white lanterns and outdoor candles will create a magical, enchanting place to sit in the garden and will be lovely to look at from inside your home too”

Lights4 Fun


Take a look at Lights 4 Fun in our LBB for website and details of their full range and prices.


Outdoor Decor

When you’re entertaining inside a few stylish decorations always helps to create a beautiful and celebratory environment, and the same goes for outside too. Lark Décor make beautiful and unique triangular flags (think colourful super –sized bunting!) and fabulous fringes to hire, that can quickly transform any outside space into a gorgeous, party ready hangout. Their wonderful styles range from the glitzy Gold Rush and super bright Birds of Paradise, to the more understated Forest Greens, Ochre and Eggshell Blue. 

Our decor is really bold. It creates a lot of impact and is really easy to hang making it fuss free. It also suits any style of celebration and looks just as good strung from trees as it does from the eaves of an event space,” explains Clare at Lark Décor.

We like taking a lead from what is already in the environment...accentuating colours and textures that are found in the setting. Our favourite colour palette for a rustic themed event is washed out neutrals - colours like eggshell blues and seagrass greens - alongside a pop of brushed metallic. Using succulents alongside super bright 'fiesta' colours also works really well” she adds.

“Think about what your guests see as they first arrive and keep it as simple as possible. Get a great playlist on and make sure they have a drink as soon as they arrive. Forget fiddly extras, light a few candles, and just make sure the food is high quality rather than fussy!’

Lark Decor


To hire Lark Decor’s flags costs £10 per metre, fringing is £40 per 10m, see their listing in our Little Black Book to get in touch. 

If you’ve got plenty of space and you’re after a strong festival look for your bank holiday celebrations, then check out The Event Flag Hire Company who design, create, hire and sell large, beautiful handmade flags that have become an instantly recognisable feature of some of the UK’s biggest festivals. Some of their amazing silk flags are over an impressive 4m long and add immediate Glastonbury chic to any al fresco soirée.

As soon as the flags are up it feels like a party, and it's the most effective way to add colour, movement and height to any landscape” explains Klare at The Event Flag Hire Company.

Together with good ambient lighting, wild flowers and foliage on the tables, pitchers of your favourite cocktail, some good old-fashioned stripy deckchairs and an enthusiastic BBQ monitor – et voila! Enjoy!”

Flag Hire CO

Flag Hire

The Event Flag Hire Company's flags start from £30 per Festival Flag (including self install poles and ground fixings) plus delivery. Take a look at their profile in our Little Black Book for more info.

Big & Bright Balloons

One of the biggest décor trends we’re seeing this year is balloons – specifically balloon garlands – and the good news is that work just as well outside as they do inside, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a swimming pool. Thanks to Bubblegum Balloonsgenius DIY balloon garland kits it’s never been easier to make your own impressive balloon installation at home

“Balloons floating above outdoor pools is a trend we're seeing pick up momentum - they look gorgeous and can of course be customised to suit any colour-theme. We've also seen an increase in ombre requests - whether lining a garden fence or decorating around the garden table, they're in high demand!” explains Ellen at Bubblegum Balloons.

“Balloons are a great way to add a personal touch - whether organising a 300-person party, or having a handful of friends over for a BBQ, they’re a great conversation starter!”

Bubblegum Balloons

Bubblegum Balloons Pink Pool Party

Bubblegum Balloons’ garland kits start at £10.95, which includes 84 balloons in assorted sizes, a detailed instruction card, a 3m balloon decorating strip and a hand pump (no helium required!) see their profile in our LBB for website details. 


Prepare For All Weather 

As we all know the great British summertime can be somewhat hit and miss when it comes to weather, so it’s always good to be prepared for all eventualities. If want to throw a truly stylish outdoor event then plastic brollies are out I am afraid, and the East London Parasol Company’s show-stopping parasols and beautifully matching cushions, tablecloths and napkins are most definitely in. Entirely handmade in India and Indonesia using taffetas, hand block prints and bright antique Rajasthani textiles, these truly beautiful parasols provide sumptuous shade and are really something very special to celebrate under.

Our products bring fun, elegance, informality and a feeling of joie de vivre! People smile and feel at ease in a cheerful, colourful scene and a parasol creates a beautiful intimate world under its canopy, whilst ornamenting the whole setting and making your party a photo op. The parasols are very photogenic!” enthuses Lucy from the East London Parasol Company.  

It’s important to put thought into creating a scene where people feel relaxed and happy, obviously this should include flamboyant garden parasols to make guests instantly cheerful! Immediately get rid of anything fussy or that's stressing you out as a host – guests will sense that and it makes things awkward. Create cosy nooks and places for people to settle and chat so that they don’t feel like caged birds without a perch, and make sure everyone has a drink in their hand and knows where to get the next one! I can't abide people standing on ceremony - the best parties are where everyone feels comfortable and able to help themselves!”

East London Parasol Co Pool

East London Parasol Co

The East London Parasol Company's Parasols start at £295, tablecloths £50, cushions £25 and napkins £30 for 6. Take a look at their page in our Little Black Book for website details.  

Get Cosy

So with beautiful parasols to protect you and your guests from the sun (or rain – God forbid) you’ll also need something soft and stylish to keep them cosy when day turns to night and the temperatures drop. Tolly McRae make luxury wool blankets and cashmere throws that are perfect for keeping the chill at bay in the most sumptuous and stylish way.

There is nothing worse than turning up to a garden party early evening in a slip of a dress or short shorts only to find yourself shivering away as soon as dusk falls! That’s why we always have a basket of our extra-large wraps and chunky lambswool throws on hand so guests can get wrapped up and carry on late into the night” explains Danielle at Tolly McRae.

“In terms of styling, using soft furnishings outdoors is now a must for creating a comfortable, chilled out atmosphere. Add cushions, rugs and throws to your outdoor entertaining space to make it feel really cosy and intimate. Roll throws and wraps and leave them in a basket so people can just grab one as soon as they get nippy, or leave them draped over the backs of dining chairs so people can cover their legs when sat at the table.”

Tolly Mcrae


Bright linen throws and pool rugs start from £95 without strap £105 with strap. Selection of throws - in blues & greens from £69, in bright colours from £69. Take a look at Tolly MacRae's page for details. 

Al Fresco Feasting

Food is an integral feature of any party – indoor or out. The Little Kitchen Company provides bespoke catering services that range from gourmet dinner parties and big birthday bashes, to weddings and even a dine at home range, and their ‘posh picnics’ are perfect for al fresco eating, as are their renowned barbeques…

Everyone loves a BBQ but do it like we do at The Little Kitchen Company...not just dull sausages and burgers, think more halloumi, koftas, a lamb spit with beautiful fresh Greek salads and tzatziki. Picnic boxes are also a fantastic idea for garden parties - allocate a box per person or per couple or family and we can pack them ahead of time with delicious treats like handmade scotch eggs, salmon sandwiches and charcuterie platters.” enthuses Naomi of The Little Kitchen Company.

What's popular this year for alfresco entertaining is a 'feel' rather than a specific food or style - it's all about creating an informal, festival feel at events with delicious sharing, family-style food. Big pan food such as gorgeous paellas and chillis fit in great with this relaxed vibe. We can provide tasty bowl food, make your guests cocktails and keep the bar stocked to keep the party going into the night and build that relaxed festival vibe!

The Little Kitchen Co

Little Kitchen Co

The Little Kitchen Company’s Prices vary depending on your choice and requirements - take a look at their profile in our Little Black Book for more info.

Summer Sweet Treats 

If you want to spoil your guests a traditionally summery sweet treat then it has to be ice cream – and hopefully the weather will be warm enough that the cold creamy stuff will help them keep cool too. With over 18 years’ experience the Ice Angels offer a complete ice cream and sweet treat service to the entire events industry, from vast weddings and black tie dinners, to bijoux garden parties and other outdoor events.

When it comes to trends what I’ve noticed this year is an emphasis on fun - it seems that all the political dramas and uncertainty of the past couple of years have made everyone want a bit of light relief and escape.  We have seen some great themes - 'Nautical', 'Rainbow' and 'A Day at the Races' have been some of my favourites,” explains Jill of Ice Angels.

Ice Angels nitrogen ice cream bar brings fun, theatrical and gourmet elements to any garden party. Guests can watch their favourite flavours being combined and frozen in front of them - including delicious frozen cocktails!” she adds.

My top tip for a great garden party is to get some help with service - agency staff, a friend's son or daughter, just someone to keep glasses topped up and plates cleared away, so you can enjoy your guests and party!”

Ice Angels

To get a bespoke quotation you can find the Ice Angels’ page in TOAST’s Little Black Book.

A Floral Finishing Touch

Even if your garden is already filled with flowers you’ll still need a few pretty bunches to finish off your fabulous al fresco table. Freddie’s Flowers is a delivery service that brings beautiful blooms right to your front door; each week Freddie and his flower-powered team choose a selection of beautiful fresh blooms which they buy directly from the growers and deliver them straight to you, complete with information about each flower and some handy arrangement tips too. Perfect for when you’ve got guests coming round…

I use phlox a lot in our arrangements - it looks cool and smells heavenly. You can arrange it in a tall vase alongside maybe some aster, agapanthus and sea lavender or solidago for a lovely wild flower meadow vibe, or cut it right down and arrange a few heads in some little jugs or vases to dot along the tables” advises Freddie of Freddie’s Flowers.

Flower-based cocktails are also particularly in, but avoid jam jars or mason jars and go for antique cocktail glasses. Green is a big trend in interiors and the same goes for al fresco settings - big palms and tropical plants are the foliage of the summer, along with succulents. However I prefer something a bit more native - something wonderfully architectural like agapanthus, ornithogalum and gladioli make a show-stopping centrepiece that works as well outside as it does inside

Freddie Of Freddies Flowers

Freddies Flowers Indoor

A flower subscription with Freddie’s Flowers starts at £20 per delivery. See their page in TOAST’s Little Black Book for more details


And So To Bed

If you want to provide your guests with some unique and totally gorgeous overnight accommodation (it is a bank holiday weekend after all…) then take a look at luxury tent hire company Lovebell – the most stylish and stress-free way to sleep under the stars this summer. 

We can help create anything from a small bespoke camping trip for your friends and family to a full blown glamping village with over 100 tents!” explains Loveabell’s Claire.

“Many people throwing a big party now want to create a ‘festival vibe’ and have the celebration carry on over a whole weekend, and why not? It’s all much more of a relaxed atmosphere and having all your friends sitting around a campfire is the best - you can’t do that in a hotel!” 


A furnished, 5m double or twin bell tent starts at £180. For more info on Lovebell then take a look at TOAST’s recent Spotlight interview with Lovebell director Claire Matthews over on TheEdit now.

For more summer entertaining ideas, head over to TheEdit for inspiration, great summers  and  more ideas and advice. 


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