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.
Setting the Table
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.
Natural Napkin Rings
Once you have all your places set, try adding simple napkin rings from foraged vines. We twisted this bit of honey vine into a loop around a rolled napkin for an easy touch that adds a lot of polish to your presentation.
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.
Serving Your Meal
Once everything is ready, all that's left is to serve your meal. A harvest party is all about sharing, so keep things casual and let nature do all of the heavy lifting.