Food & Entertaining - Entertaining

Decorate for an elegant garden party

Pro tips on how to create a memorable, elegant special occasion


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Choosing a colour palette
You don’t need to hire a Hollywood event planner to create a spectacular setting, but some forethought is required. The first step is to choose a memorable colour palette. Focus on a favourite flower (select something in season to avoid exorbitant flower costs), then add blooms and greenery in
complementary and coordinating shades. Ann Marie, for example, loves green and white hydrangeas, which were in season for her August wedding. This made flower costs considerably lower than if she’d chosen, say, out-of-season tulips. By playing off the hydrangea greens, which range from pale lime to the softest celadon, and hydrangea whites, which tend be on the creamy side of the spectrum, the remaining selection of flowers came together easily.

Other brilliant colour combos to try
  • Pink and orange for a sizzling daytime birthday bash
  • Blue and white as an accompaniment to an anniversary celebration
  • Green and pink to set the scene for a beloved niece’s graduation
  • White and cream for a sophisticated twilight dinner party
  • Yellow and green for a sister’s backyard baby shower

Flower shopping
  • Decide on your colour palette and, keeping your budget in mind, consider potential flowers, which should be sturdy and able to withstand both handling and hot weather.
  • Unless you have a large SUV or panel van or know someone who does, organize transport with your grower or floral wholesaler in advance—flowers are delicate and cumbersome to ship.
  • If you have time, create a sample flower arrangement so you can estimate how many flowers you’ll need for each vase or bouquet.
  • The day before your party, marshal containers and shop for and condition your flowers.
  • As you shop, strictly adhere to your colour palette. Don’t get distracted by something exotic that’s going to throw you off course. 
  • Be sure flowers are fresh. The Garden Club of Toronto suggests you look for brown spots or traces of pollen, which indicate age. Likewise, daisy-type flowers should have a tight green or yellow centre. Also check that water in shop pails is clear and sweet-smelling.
  • Be ready to improvise. If what you want isn’t available, is past its best or is too expensive, choose an alternative. 
  • It’s always better to have too many flowers than too few. If in doubt, buy extra.

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