Host a Summer Harvest Garden Party
Throw an end-of-summer backyard bash and share your harvest with friends.
When setting your table, consider using a color theme to unite all of the separate pieces. Choose a single color, then use neutral colors as an accent to supplement it. Even if your dishes are different styles, a single color will tie everything together.
The end of summer is approaching and gardens are starting to overflow with ripe fruits and vegetables. After a year of caring for the soil, planting seeds and tending growing plants, all the hard work comes to fruition—and chances are you can’t eat it all yourself.
If you find yourself with a few too many veggies, add your own twist to the long history of celebrating the harvest and throw an end-of-summer party in the middle of your backyard or garden. Throwing a party might sound a bit intimidating at first, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. With a few small details you can create a beautiful, polished party that won’t be stressful to plan.
The first step in planning a cohesive party is choosing a theme. This doesn't need to be a complicated or elaborate theme; after all, you already have one built in—harvest party! To really take advantage of this theme, include it in all aspects of your party, from the food to the decor. If you’d like to narrow it down even more, choose two items from your garden—a fruit and an herb work well—and include them in as many areas of your party as possible. We centered our party on figs and fresh mint, and included them in our centerpiece, drinks, food and desserts as often as possible.
Since harvest party is your theme, use as many items from your garden and as few items from the store as you can. If you think your garden isn't completely up to the task, consider asking your guests to share the harvest from their gardens to include in the festivities. If you have a backyard vine that’s getting out of control, use the trimmings in your decorations, or just go on a walk around your neighborhood and see what you can find. The beauty that’s growing outside your front door might surprise you.
If you have kids, they don’t need to be left out of the party prep. Recruit them to help pick fruits and veggies, or create fun backyard games for their friends who are joining the celebration. If you’re setting up a table for the adults but need a bit of extra space for the kids, consider setting up a picnic blanket nearby. The kids will love the freedom of being able to lounge in the yard during dinner.
Scroll through the attached gallery for photos and detailed descriptions of our end-of-summer backyard party, and get inspiration for your own.
Step one in preparing for a garden party is harvesting the food—head out to your garden and fill your baskets with all of the ripe yummies. We gathered lots of figs and mint from our garden, then supplemented with other herbs, fruits and veggies including tomatoes, purslane, parsley, squash and melon. Use what you have to personalize your own dishes.
If you have a couple of crops you are using to build your party around, try to include at least one of them in your salad. We topped off our spring mix with fresh purslane from our garden and figs from our tree. The figs add a unique, sweet flavor and its pink flesh looks stunning on a bed of greens.
Fresh Fruit Salad
Looking for a fast and easy fruit salad recipe? Dice half a cantaloupe, half a honeydew and half a small watermelon along with any other fruit of your choice. Gently mix the fruit together with the juice of two limes, 3 tablespoons of honey and 2 tablespoons of chopped mint. You can adjust to taste by adding more lime, honey or mint if you like. This salad is wonderfully refreshing and kids and adults both love it.
Everyone Loves Watermelon
Slices of fruit are perfect treats for the little ones, just be sure to have lots of napkins handy to clean up the juice! If you know you will have picky eaters coming over, consider making a smaller fruit salad with no dressing just for them. No one can say no to watermelon!
Melon Ball Ice Cubes
If you've got some melon left over from your fruit salad, or you just want to make some beautiful drinks, grab the melon baller and scoop out little globes of honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon. Put them in an airtight container and freeze for at least 2 hours. Once your melon balls are frozen, use them instead of ice to cool down your drink without watering it down. They also look beautiful. If you want to really make your drinks stand out, wrap some twine or string around your glass and tie a little sprig of mint in the bow. You can also use rosemary, basil or any other herb that complements the drinks you are serving.
Grilled Corn On The Cob
Corn on the cob is the perfect summer food, but it can be difficult to eat. If you want to include it in your garden party, consider creating handles out of the husks. When you are shucking your corn, simply pull the husks back, gather them into a bunch and tie with a piece of twine or loose husk. Then grill them with your favorite spices, serve and eat by holding the handle you created.
Of course, a party isn't complete without a delicious dessert! Whether you bake a yummy pastry or serve your favorite ice cream, consider paring it with fresh fruit from your garden. Honey-roasted figs make a beautiful and tasty topping, but you can honey roast several other fruits using your favorite recipe. Or just top with raw sliced fruit for an easy and refreshing topping.
If you can, try to create your entire centerpiece from plants you grow or gather. You might be surprised by how beautiful weeds can look when they are arranged nicely. Look for different textures and shapes of leaves in one or two colors to create a consistent arrangement. Place the tall pieces in the center and arrange everything else down and out around them. Consider using a branch or vine with fruit still attached. Figs, pears, grapes and other fruits and vegetables can look absolutely stunning in the center of the table.
If you're having a party outdoors, you can almost guarantee the bugs will be looking for a feast too. In order to keep them away, take small squares of fabric and stuff them with crushed, insect repelling herbs. These include citronella, lemon balm, catnip, marigolds, lavender, peppermint, basil and many more. Gather the edges of the fabric together and tie with a piece of twine. Hang your tiny insect repellents on the back of your party chairs to help keep the bugs at bay.
Create A Tic-Tac-Toe Board
If you're inviting families to your party, it can be fun to include some backyard games. Cut a 1-foot length of 2" x 10" board and paint a solid color of your choice. Once it's dry, paint four overlapping lines in a different color to create the standard tic-tac-toe framework. We painted our lines in green, then added little leaves to make them look a bit like vines. Next, gather 10 round stones—the smoother the better. Paint five in one color and five in another to create your playing pieces. You can add flowers, leaves or insects to your stones instead of x's and o's.
You may want to add a few strings of lights to illuminate your party as the sun sets. Push two tall wooden stakes into the ground; make sure they are tall enough to hold the lights as high as you want them—we used 6-foot stakes. Start at the top of one of the stakes with the end of a string of lights. Start by taping the end of a strand of lights to the top of one of the stakes using duct tape or masking tape. Gently string the lights back and forth between the two stakes, taping as you go. Cover the stakes and tape with vines and use an extension cord to plug in your lights if necessary.