As winter’s icy fingers recede from the top soil of your garden and springs delicate bulbs emerge from the soft earth, it is cause for celebration. The commemoration of spring is a long-held tradition and most cultures have their own methods of welcoming the new season; some traditions symbolize fertility, like the popular egg hunt and the maypole dance, and others have extravagant effigy burnings to represent the passing of the cold months and the return of the sun’s warmth. Although the theme of each culture varies, they all have one thing in common: they are all outdoor parties.
Take inspiration from these cultural festivities and start this season off on a high note by hosting a beautiful backyard garden party for all of your friends and family. Here are a few creative, spring-themed ideas for decorations, setup arrangements, menus and drinks to help you plan a crowd-pleasing event.
Deck out your backyard or garden area in vibrant, earthy decorations that show the natural beauty that the spring season brings. Begin with light-colored linen tablecloths (creams and pale pastels), then add homemade, sophisticated centerpieces that your guests can experience instead of simply glancing at them. Martha Stewart recommends her checkered moss piece, which is composed of two different shades of Irish moss (Martha likes chartreuse and dark green) that are alternated to create a checkerboard pattern in the potting soil. Cradle the moss in a galvanized metal planter.
If you want to incorporate the striking colors of the fruits and flowers that are associated with springtime, fill porcelain or iron pitchers with seasonal, late-blooming annuals, such as indigo larkspur, blueberries and maroon cosmos for a centerpiece that is bursting with life.
Setup & Seating
Take a tip from the German tradition of Maypole dancing and arrange your seating in a circular pattern instead of the more conventional, squared-off table placements. Set up two semicircles of seats placed four or five rows deep to face a stage used for dancing (or a real Maypole). This creates an open and unified setting that is relaxed and inclusive.
If eating is the main attraction of your spring party, opt for circular tables and offer ample space between the tables for mingling. Keep the cyclical theme of the changing of the seasons, but offer more space for people to put down their plates and delight their palates.
Speaking of food, light and delectable recipes work best for outdoor affairs in the springtime. Incorporate seasonal ingredients, such as asparagus, snow peas, artichokes, radicchio, butter lettuce, spinach, endives, morel mushrooms and mustard greens. The salad possibilities are enticingly endless. A spring side salad can be crafted quickly out of cavatappi pasta, cherry tomatoes, snow peas and asparagus. Toss it in a honey lemon dressing and you have a textured, delicious and colorful dish.
A spring paella makes for a suitable entree. Combine Spanish rice, lobster tails, jumbo shrimp, chorizo sausage and sliced chicken breast, and then add crushed tomatoes, saffron threads, and sweet peas. This exquisite dish rivals those of the gluttonous ancient Romans and their edible tributes to the goddess Flora during their spring festival of Floralia.
Serve a light but satisfying dessert that complements the dinner and also mingles well with cocktails. A delicacy like currants and cream scones is divine. Made with orange zest, dried currants, unsalted butter and heavy cream, these heavenly treats melt in your mouth.
Every cocktail party requires a signature drink, so a boring, old vodka tonic is not going to cut it. If you are looking for a delicious cocktail recipe, consider this classic Ketel One martini with a spring twist. This delicious cocktail pairs perfectly with an elegant garden party.
For guests who prefer non-alcoholic refreshments, nothing is more satisfying than a cold, crisp, frosty mug of homemade ginger ale. It’s simple to make, too. Boil ginger root and cane sugar until it becomes syrupy, chill, then mix one part ginger syrup with three parts club soda. It’s bliss.