Decorating for a garden party: Ideas to make your outdoor space ready for entertaining

The best garden party decoration ideas to turn your backyard into a cause for celebration

decorating for a garden party with bunting festoon lights and floor cushions
(Image credit: Getty Images/Maria Korneeva)

Decorating for a garden party and in need of some inspiration? Look no further, because we have curated the best garden party decoration ideas to suit all kinds of celebrations.

Whether a birthday BBQ, a summer solstice celebration, or just an excuse to invite friends over to show off your new landscaped lawn, our garden party ideas offer ample ways to decorate for the occasion. 

When decorating the garden for a party it's about more than just bunting and novelty napkins, your decor should cover all aspects of styling, spanning from the latest trend-led tableware to cater for a fun-themed party, to patterned floor cushions to provide extra seating in an outdoor living room idea. Here are our favorite ideas, plus some quick tips on how to ensure your garden looks tip-top ahead of your guests' arrival.

Decorating for a garden party? Check out these ideas

1. String out the bunting

Decorating for a garden party with white bunting and natural foliage

(Image credit: Ginger Ray)

Bunting is a simple and effective garden party decoration. After all, nothing transforms an outdoor space more instantly than rows of mini triangle-shaped flags flapping in the breeze. 

The fun addition of traditional bunting goes a long way to enhance your garden party theme and color scheme. Rows of bunting can be used in all manner of imaginative ways, from being tied to fence posts and draped along posts to create a border or wrapped along a veranda or pergola structure. 

"A pergola is an ideal place to hang bunting from, running from the corners to the center for maximum impact" adds Wayfair’s Resident Style Advisor, Nadia McCowan Hill.

Because bunting—whether paper or fabric—is super lightweight, it's easy to hang in trees, on the wall, above the outdoor dining table, or across the entrance to the garden party. It is super easy to put up, by simply tying each end securely to whatever surface you are decorating. Bunting is the decorating gift that keeps on giving because it can be reused time and time again when taken down carefully.  If you're looking for inspiration, plain pastel bunting adds a fresh touch to any space, while themed iterations are great if you're planning a patriotic Platinum Jubilee party

2. Decorate with paper pom poms and streamers

Garden party table with pom poms and honeycones

(Image credit: Pelargoniums of Europe)

If you'd prefer a change from bunting, paper decorations are a brilliant on-trend alternative. Just like decorating with bunting, decorating for a garden party with paper honeycombs and fans ensures easy coverage of color on all levels, because they are so versatile and easy to use. 

You can hang paper pom-poms from trees to elevate the decorating scheme, adding interest at eye level to ensure guests can see your efforts from any position within the garden. Meanwhile, paper streamers are a great solution to cover garden fences or exterior walls. 

A cluster of colorful paper decorations is also an easy and effective way to add color to the front porch to create an inviting entry point for guests. This simple styling trick helps to set the scene for what's to come and introduces a hint of what guests can expect when stepping into the beautifully decorated garden beyond. 

These decorations are reusable too - paper heart-shaped streamers also make effective DIY Valentine's Day decorations when the time comes around, or can be strung up around the house for birthday parties or special occasions. 

3. Hang Chinese paper lanterns

decorating for a garden party with paper lanterns hanging from trees above dining tables

(Image credit: Ella James)

Pretty Chinese-style lanterns are lightweight so ideal for hanging on trees or suspended above tables. They will inject cheery color at eye level during the day and conjure up ambient magic when lit up after dark by simply popping in the best flameless candles to cast a warm glow. Many modern designs are pre-lit with led lights, so they come ready to party!

If you need further convincing, these are also great from a sustainable living standpoint, as reusable lanterns can be used year in, year out.  

4. Use colorful glassware

decorating a garden party with coloured glasses

(Image credit: Ella James)

When choosing glassware for your garden party, look to add color, rather than simply recreating your finest selection of traditional glassware. A garden party gives you an excuse to add vibrant color without the need to work within the confines of your interior color scheme. 

An elegant alfresco dinner party deserves color-coordinated outdoor wine glasses and tumblers, to add an element of style and fun to the occasion.

Some might prefer a more practical alternative to serving glass such as practical melamine plastic because no one wants to see their best dinnerware glasses knocked over and smashed on the patio below. Whether real or imitation there's a garden party glass for all to sip from in style.

5. Themed picnic and tableware

Decorating for a garden party with jungle themed tableware

(Image credit: Marks and Spencer)

Create the ultimate garden party tablescape with plates and platters inspired by your chosen theme. A trend we're welcoming to our backyard decorations for 2022 is a wild one, covering abstract animal prints and sophisticated animal motifs to celebrate the natural world. The color palette is muted, as apposed to the garish brights that are so often associated with safari-inspired prints. 

Of course there are tableware collections to suit all garden party themes, it's a matter of personal choice. Coastal tones and beach motifs look sophisticated and calming. Whereas tropical bights printed with pineapples and palm leaves create a carnival vibe that super fun. Alternatively, if you're looking to bring the indoors outside, draw inspiration from the interior design trends of 2022.

6. Fill Ice buckets for a makeshift bar

Garden party with ice bucket

(Image credit: Dibor)

Ensure drinks are chilled and accessible by adding a few buckets filled with ice to the garden table. Guests can help themselves without having to trek back and forth to the main house. Children will enjoy a glass pitcher and goblet dispenser filled with soft drinks too. 

7. Add ambience with storm lanterns

Decorating for a garden party with lanterns

(Image credit: Lights4Fun)

Lanterns dotted about a garden party will add an air of ambient luxury and keep the party softly lit into the night. Layer the look by popping candle votives and wrap fairy lights around trees.

For a safe display, especially around children, consider decorating with the best flameless candles to avoid any real flames.

8. Style with outdoor soft furnishings

Garden party with floor cushions and rugs

(Image credit: Weaver Green)

Soft furnishings are a great way to enhance a garden party decoration theme by welcoming patterns and pops of accent color. Any experienced party host will know you can never have too many seating options, and there's a sense of freedom to the scheme when you do without traditional chairs and opt instead for a more bohemian vibe with piles of floor cushions and beanbags. 

Outdoor rugs will also add a layer of comfort to the scene, inviting a more permanent decoration for an outdoor living room.  Layer the look to create a sense of coziness for when the party continues into the night and offer guests your best blankets and throws to take cover under, should there be a chill in the evening air.

How do I make my garden look nice for a party?

To make your garden look nice for a party there's a whole regime that takes place before we can even reach for the decorations. Wayfair’s Resident Style Advisor, Nadia McCowan Hill offers her advice on preparing the garden itself: "Just as you would inside your home, the first thing to do when prepping for a garden party is to have a little spruce up of the area. Clear any clutter or fallen leaves with a quick sweep of the patio or decking and give any pots and planters a tidy-up." As you would with your indoor space, think about putting together a cleaning checklist.

"It is amazing how quickly small changes can make a difference to refresh a space and get it guest-ready. If the garden is looking in need of a deeper clean then use a pressure washer for a speedy makeover," she continues. 

"Layering your garden with accessories will soften the space, borrow cushions and throws from inside to ensure guests are sitting comfortably. The addition of some recycled glass vases filled with cut flowers will add a celebratory feel to any occasion."

If you're not particularly green-fingered, check out our easy gardening tips for beginners or buy plants online - most of these are ready to pot.

When it is finally time to think about decorating for a garden party it can mean anything from decking decorating ideas and outdoor rugs, or even outdoor wall decor. But whatever you choose to use to decorate your home for a gathering, it can help to stick to a few simple rules.

Try and decide on a color scheme for your party. Be it a colorful mix, on-trend sage green, or a subtle grey to match your pre-existing garden furniture. Having things stick to a specific color palette makes your decorating choices much simpler while guaranteeing that your garden looks fabulous and put together, rather than scatter-gun!

Tamara Kelly
Lifestyle Editor

Tamara is a highly experienced homes and interiors journalist, with a career spanning 22 years. Now the Lifestyle Editor of, she has spent the last 17 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, and it’s with these award-winning interiors teams that she gained a wealth of knowledge and honed her skills and passion for styling and writing about every aspect of lifestyle and interiors.

A true homes and interiors expert, Tamara has served as an ambassador for leading interior brands on multiple occasions, including appearing on Matalan’s The Show and presenting at top interior trend forecasting events such as the Autumn Fair and Spring Fair.

With contributions from