How to Organise the Perfect Garden Party, for up to 30 People

The hedges are full of cow parsley, and the ditches are full of rain. Midsummer is the time to party and we were allowed up to 30 people. So we did. There were a couple of glitches and we learnt some lessons. Here are the tips.

Cow parsley in the rain

Mix up lots of people who don’t know each other. This encourages good behaviour, and they love it when they find out that they have things in common. Give priority to musicians and try to include somebody with a playful dog. Dogs are good ice-breakers because they talk to everybody. 


Send a lot of messages and remember that people switch between Messenger, texts and Whatsapp without warning.  So don’t get huffy if there is no reply.  It will be on a different app.

Invite up to 40 people because, despite nasty instructions to RSVP FOR GOD’S SAKE BECAUSE WE NEED TO KEEP THE NUMBERS LEGAL, at least 25% won’t turn up.

Excuses will include: headaches, double bookings, family troubles, feeling annoyed, not knowing what to say to people anymore, rugby finals, rain and lost ducks.


Watch out for ducks arriving in the morning. One minute it was a normal day with no ducks and the next there was a family of ducklings outside the front door.

Duck hiding in the flowers
The blue chicken marks the spot where the ducks landed

Neighbours had found them, and sent them into our garden for safety.  That is the trouble with neighbours, they put baby ducks in your garden whenever they like and don’t consider what our cats would do if they met one.

I tried to save them from the cats using the tried and tested method of lassoing them with a towel. But ducks run faster than I can throw towels. They shot out onto the road, stopped the traffic, and vanished in the direction of Exminster marshes.

Then came the sad news that four more ducklings had missed out on being thrown over our wall. Three were snatched by magpies, which was shocking because magpies are supposed to do things like that out of sight, not in broad daylight in front of humans. The last one was now in a friend’s kitchen, waiting for the RSPCA, so she did not know if she should come to the party.


Do not copy me and make pizza and tell everybody to bring something to go with it. If you do, most people will bring olives. Only one clever person will bring sausages and everybody else, including the vegetarians, will pile in on the sausages.

At the end of the party, you are left with a lot of olives and no sausages. So copy the sausage person. Sausages are what people like best when they are not pretending that Mediterranean food is their favourite.


Make it look nice.

Flowers in the garden

If you are low on flowers use the last bunch of garage flowers that somebody gave you and stick them into the earth to make an impressive display.


Garden parties usually start about the same time as torrential rain.  This is good for breaking the ice. Present the guests with tarpaulins, poles and string, and see what they achieve.

building an awning for a garden party

People love building things with poles

Building an awning

And then you get the second ice breaking activity.

Happy in the pouring rain

Which is seeing who gets the wettest when the water builds up and flows over the top of whatever they have built.

Water pouring from the awning

Make sure the cats have a bed to hide under, lock chickens away, put out toys for the dog to give to people and keep an eye on anybody who is sad because they have a lost duckling, waiting for the RSPCA at home.

I told her to bring it over and let me look after it. So she did. I gave it to a friend who is a paramedic, so he knows how to keep things alive. Then it immediately died. 

It is not nice when death happens during a party. But somebody else got quite excited because she has a friend who stuffs animals. We put it in the freezer and that person happily took the dead duckling home at the end of the evening. So it was kind of OK in the end.

Live music

It does not matter who plays, or what they play, as long as it happens. Live music is like soul food, especially after 2 years. 


Try not to resent the weather the next day, when the sun is out and the garden is full of rain-soaked mess and wet olives.

Olives in the rain

Watch out for grumpiness and bad feeling, because it is all over. Avoid this by sleeping all day in the sun.

That was midsummer, and now the nights begin to draw in. But some people around here don’t care. They still have the football.

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