Garden Party Lighting Tips: Getting the Ambience Right

Wednesday, August 28, 2013




Okay, so Britain doesn’t have the best weather in the summertime – but on those rare occasions when we do get a week or two of uninterrupted ‘summer,’ it’s barbeque tongs at the ready because everybody wants to throw a party outdoors; it’s a special occasion after all.

Those balmy summer evenings when the sun is low in the sky brings up feelings of nostalgia for everyone. But it’s a fleeting feeling that disappears far too quickly when the sun goes down.

To keep the good times rolling; here are some fabulous garden party lighting tips that keep your humble barbeque bash going well into the night.

Light the Garden Path
Create an inviting, fairy-tale like welcome to your guests by arranging some lights along your garden path to show people where the party is. These well-placed lights will create a dramatic effect and – perhaps more importantly – will enable your guests to get around once it’s dark without falling over and destroying your flower beds.
Outdoor Torches
Outdoor torch lights can be picked up inexpensively from home stores and make a great no-fuss accent lighting feature for your party. You can even get ones that are citronella-scented to work as a great for mosquito. Bonus points for good lighting and mosquito protection for your guests.

String Lights
Dig your outdoor Christmas lights out of the attic and hang strings of them above your main party area. If you have a gazebo – or even better, a pergola – having lights hanging above the guests’ heads in a canopy makes for a fantastic visual feature over the party space. Plus, the flattering lighting will please your party guests to no end when they see how great the photos turn out.

Alternatively – or additionally – you can wrap your string lights around the trunks of trees and utilize nature’s structural capabilities for party decoration.

Outdoor Chandelier
Outdoor chandeliers work as a decadent centerpiece to hang above a dining area and can be fashioned out of practically anything. You can make one out of twigs, a wreath or an old lampshade or birdcage. You can even make one out of a hula hoop and some string lights or an empty hanging basket and some ribbon. The possibilities are endless when it comes to bringing a touch of dining room elegance to proceedings. Your party guests will also be grateful when they can enjoy a great view of the buffet you’ve laid out for the evening.

Make an Outdoor Fire Pit
Fire pits and chimaeras give your party a campfire charm and will prolong proceedings well into the night as the stragglers gather together around the fire to share stories and keep warm. You can make your own fire pit using bricks or you can buy a metal fire bowl from an outdoor supplies store. The latter option has the added bonus of portability, making it suitable for taking along to most campsites as the fire sits above the ground.

Tea Lights and Mini LED Lights
There’s nothing worse than going to a dingy restaurant where you can barely see the food on your plate because the waiter didn’t supply your table with candles. Candles make for a great ambiance and eating outside doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a bit of twinkly candlelight. You can place tea lights in hurricane candle holders or jam jars, or you can float some in bowls or empty flowerpots. You may even want tie some jars with ribbon and hang tea lights from the branches of nearby trees. The more candles you have, the better the ambiance, so if you’re worried that you’ll be constantly relighting candles that have been blown out by the wind then you may want to invest in some miniature battery-powered LED lights that can be used in their place.

Make a Feature out of Your Garden
As well as showing off your fabulous buffet spread, your outdoor lighting should also highlight the beautiful features of your garden, like your plants and your landscape design. Get some movable garden spike lights that can be adjusted to shine upwards and create stunning lighting patterns and shadows out of your trees and shrubbery. For an otherworldly effect, you can even switch out the white bulbs for colored bulbs.

But above all, remember to have fun with your garden party lighting scheme. Don’t be afraid to improvise, because any light in the garden at night will improve the guests’ experience and keep your party going – maybe even until the sun comes up.

If you have any other tried and tested party lighting tips, share them in the comments box below.

Estelle Page is a writer and interior design guru from Sussex. When the sun comes out, she’s prepared to make the most of it because she adores throwing garden parties.

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