You're Invited: Garden Party

Enjoy the great outdoors, but don’t rough it

Photograph courtesy Flickr/tomsaint11


Keep Out
Karen Hudson lives in a beautiful home designed by her grandfather, the architect Paul R. Williams. To encourage people to stay outdoors at a garden party—she throws half a dozen every summer—Hudson suggests baiting: “When the music, drinks, and desserts are outside, they’ll be there, too.”

Mind Your Manners 
Outdoor fetes, Hudson says, “can be elegant.” Whether it’s a “Soul Food in Silver” theme party or her annual seafood fest, she always sets the tables. “That way you don’t have to go inside and get your plate, napkin, silverware, glass. That’s a pain.” Use real flatware. “Nobody wants to eat with a plastic fork.”

The bigger the party, the harder it is to be a perfect host. Hudson assigns someone door duty so that guests are personally welcomed and she can circulate. “I also ask close friends to act as the host of each table to make sure all are having a good time.”

Watch Your Step 
Hudson’s garden has a great terrazzo tile patio, but when she hosts parties on her parents’ grassy lawn nearby, she warns guests, “Don’t wear heels or you’ll be sinking in the lawn.”

Stay Mobile 
Strolling the grounds is key at a garden party though not easy when hors d’oeuvres are in one spot or you’re trying to grab a passing appetizer. Hudson hands out a portable snack—like fresh fruit in a tumbler—when guests walk in.

Do Favors
Nobody comes out of Hudson’s parties empty-handed. “Favors allow people to go home with a memory of the evening. Even if it’s as simple as a couple of cookies, they leave on a happy thought.”