It might feel like an eternity sometimes, but there’s never too long to wait before summer reappears. This year is a perfect time to embrace good weather when it comes and spend time with those who are dearest to us. While the world outside our front doors may be turbulent, there is always garden parties, backyard cookouts and quality time with loved ones to look forward to.
It’s why we’ve compiled a list of our favourite, garden decorations for a party. These products are fantastic for outdoor events such as weddings or birthdays. Whether you prefer a simple get together or a big bash with invitations for all the neighbours, we’ve got you covered. Think everything from glam punch bowls to comfy beanbags, twinkly patio lights and portable drinks coolers.
We’ve chosen these cool garden décor and accessories based on the level of quality, value for money and how easy they are to use. There are no fancy gadgets here; all our picks are relatively simple because who wants to work hard at a garden party?
1. Solar String Lights
Want all of the illuminations with none of the effort? You need some solar string lights. These handy sun-powered lights are very affordable. They come in at less than £30 even for the fanciest versions.
We’ve looked at various types and can confidently say most low and mid-priced products perform just as well. Solar string lights are great because they require so little work after installation.
Provided enough of the solar panels are exposed to daytime sunlight, they will turn on automatically after dark and illuminate your garden for up to ten hours. Most solar string lights come with changeable lighting modes to enable users to match the illumination to their occasion.
2. Hanging Moroccan Lights
Hanging Moroccan lights are undoubtedly fancier than solar string lights. They’re not as practical, but they serve a more decorative purpose. It’s not hard to see why.
Even lower-priced lights can be very beautiful. The intricate ‘cut out’ patterns allow light to gently diffuse through the panels and provide a romantic glow. These are statement pieces, so make sure to hang your dreamy Moroccan lights where everybody can see them.
When browsing for garden lights like these, notice they come in different forms. You can pick up string lights with many small Moroccan style lanterns or purchase larger single lamps that operate via candlelight (in some cases) or electric bulb.
3. Glass Punch Bowl Set
No yard party is complete without an elegant punch bowl. We prefer glass punch bowls as they look elegant and don’t wear easily. Handle them carefully and they’ll stick with you for life.
Punch bowl sets are good value because they come with drinking glasses included. In some cases, you’ll get a glass ladle too. They’re an old fashioned solution in many ways, but they work wonderfully. With a sturdy punch bowl, there’s no need for the host of the party to camp out at the drinks table.
Set up your party décor and let guests cater for themselves. It’ll give you time to man the grill and make sure the hotdogs don’t burn. These are very effective and functional garden decorations for a party.
4. Garden Gazebo
Gazebos come in a huge range of styles and sizes. It’s true that some are very fancy and involve lengthy installations. However, there are plenty of ‘throw up’ gazebos which make fantastic garden decorations for impromptu parties.
The best choice for you depends on the size of your yard and how much time you spend in it. If you like to host alfresco parties and want garden décor that lasts, we recommend you purchase a gazebo with full posts.
This is instead of a lighter version with only fabric legs and pegs that drive into the ground like a tent. These sturdier gazebos are still portable – most versions can be folded away – but they are less vulnerable to the wind.
5. Artificial Hanging Screening Vines
We love artificial hanging vines because they are one of the simplest ways to conceal undesirable aspects of a garden. For instance, if there’s an outdoor wall that looks dull no matter what you add to it, these vines give you the option to cover it up.
Perhaps the lush, vibrant aesthetic of vine walls is something you love but can’t achieve naturally. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s hard to tell the difference with high-quality artificial foliage. Hang it up and let your friends marvel at your ability to magic a luxuriant ivy wall out of nowhere.
There are lots of different screening vines on the market. You can pick out your favourite plant, but the most popular choice by far is ivy.
6. Glass Dispenser
Large garden glass dispensers are great value for money because they enable you to ‘automate’ the fussy business of serving drinks to guests at a garden party.
Spend time socialising not pouring; fill up your drink dispenser, place it somewhere central and refill it when necessary. You can even add large pieces of fruit because these dispensers tend to have very wide necks.
They don’t all come with a tap style dispensing nozzle, but we think these are the best products. They’re certainly the easiest to use. Some garden drinks dispensers are plastic, rather than glass. However, glass is a lot more wear-resistant and won’t scratch easily. It’s likely to stay in good condition for much longer.
7. Patio Drinks Cooler
Excuse the pun but patio drinks coolers are, well, super cool. As far as garden party accessories go, you can’t beat a portable cooler on wheels.
Most are encased in rattan or wicker - on the outside at least – so they look fairly quaint and traditional. On the inside, however, they’re pretty slick with a huge double compartment and PP insulated interior.
We like the larger wheeled coolers because they often detach from the portable base. It means you can lift the cool box off the frame and place it wherever you want in the garden. Then, when the party is over, just return it to the frame and wheel it back indoors. It couldn’t be simpler.
8. Solar Fence Lights
We’re big fans of solar lights in general because they produce a whole lot of light without consuming any household energy. In the past, they were sometimes a little lacklustre, particularly when used as decorations in large gardens.
Now though, modern solar fence lights are an affordable and eco-friendly way to illuminate the entire yard. The benefit of solar fence lights, as opposed to stake or wall lights, is the fact they can be placed along an entire perimeter.
This makes them a useful security tool as well. If your outdoor space is longer than it is wide, it’s advantageous to see the length of it after dark regardless of whether there’s a party planned.
9. Outside Bluetooth Speakers
The technology associated with garden sound systems has advanced quickly over the last five years. Now, there are some highly sophisticated products on the market.
Some of our favourite outside Bluetooth speakers are round for 360-degree audio no matter the size or shape of your backyard. They look gorgeous too. We love the idea manufacturers are now creating outside speakers to look as they would indoors.
Many have faux wood cases, so wouldn’t look out of place sitting on an indoor entertainment cabinet. Some features to prioritise are high-quality waterproofing – the last thing you want is a shower ruining your party tunes – IP55 dirt and dust resistance and a long-life battery (upwards of six hours).
10. Garden Fire Pit Grill
Why choose between an outdoor grill and a cosy fire pit when you could have both? With today’s technology, you can truly have it all. The newer generation of garden fire pits commonly come with features that enable them to be used for cooking as well.
Often, this means placing a detachable rack across the coal or gas pit. It’s a simple switch that allows users to go from cookout to campfire in seconds.
Many of these hybrid fire pit grills are standalone garden decorations. You don’t need to extensively install them.
If self-contained (not built into a patio or deck), they’re easy to transport, move and clean. They’re also significantly cheaper than fire pits which need to be integrated with a deck. Log powered pits are a little more authentic and romantic, but gas-powered pits are more convenient to setup and use. This is especially true if you want to party hard with a minimum of fuss.
11. Outdoor Beanbags
Beanbags are perfect for use in the garden. So, it’s nice to see so many manufacturers creating waterproof products that can be brought outdoors. They’re wonderful for children because they’re extremely robust.
You can throw, hurdle, kick, swing and climb over a high-quality beanbag and not leave a mark. For this reason, it’s worth paying a little more for a really good product that’s guaranteed to last. Some outdoor beanbags can seem a little pricey.
However, these products tend to be very large, highly resistant to water and dirt and easy to move. It’s not advisable to store outdoor beanbags outside permanently, but they can certainly withstand surprise showers, rambunctious games and spilt drinks.
12. Solar Torch Lights
Solar torch lights come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, patterns and colours. It should be easy to find lights which match the atmosphere of your outdoor space. The majority are designed with stakes that sit in the ground. This is all the installation you need. Just place them in a sunny spot and let them work.
The alternative is wall lights which function in the same way but must be affixed to a surface with screws or nails. If you want simple elegance, opt for globe type bulbs which bring a magnificent ‘art deco’ feel to a yard.
Or spruce up your garden décor with solar torch lights that flicker as if containing a natural naked flame. These are some of our favourite lights because the artificial fire feels cosy and warming (despite there being no actual warmth).
13. Patio Heater
Patio heaters used to be fairly pricey, but freestanding heaters can now be bought for less than £80. We will say, the more you pay, the more quality you will get. It’s worth investing in a really good heater if you want to use your garden all year round.
They can last a long time with proper maintenance. Plus, most modern patio heaters are energy efficient and have a surprisingly small impact on household bills. With a premium patio heater than can put out 46,000 BTUs, you’re not going to get cold no matter the time of year.
It’s a lower maintenance solution than a garden fire pit which requires regular replenishment. Instead, you get coverage up to 18 feet – luxury patio heaters may extend further – variable heat controls and the security of warmth without open flames.
14. Pizza Oven
Like fire pits, pizza ovens are having a moment right now. They’re very popular and fashionable because they give homeowners the chance to do something special. How often do you get the chance to cook an authentic Italian style pizza in a real hot stone oven?
Not often is the answer, because pizza ovens are tricky to install and maintain indoors. They’re perfect for outdoor use though. You can pick up gas or traditional wood fired ovens; some products even allow you to do both. You’ll notice there are smaller, more compact versions available too.
Some of the smaller pizza ovens can be safely packed up and transported for use on camping trips and other excursions. With this garden decoration you will never go hungry no matter where the party is!
15. Bubble Machine
We’ve covered the classy stuff, now let’s turn to something delightfully silly. For those with young children or grandchildren, a fancy drink dispenser at a garden party isn’t going to cut the mustard. How about a bubble machine? Hear us out.
Bubble machines are affordable, wonderfully silly and good for getting kids up and on their feet. If your children can’t drag themselves away from the Xbox, pull out the big guns and tempt them away with bubbles.
Most products are specifically designed for children so they’re colourful and cartoonlike. However, you can also pick up larger, more professional looking bubble blowers if you want to get seriously frivolous. We can confirm bubble machines are loved by family pets as well.
16. Garden Hammock
There are few things that feel as luxurious as lounging in a high-quality hammock. In recent years, studies have suggested hammocks are one of the best ways to sleep. They allow the body to fall into a natural supported curve.
Whether you want a garden hammock for noon naps, reading or just taking in the air, they’re widely available. There are many different types to choose from. Some of our favourites are freestanding hammocks because they require no installation. It’s traditional, of course, to hang your hammock from a tree, but this can be tricky.
Leave the stepladder in the shed and position your garden hammock wherever you like – on the patio, under your shadiest tree, even in the conservatory if it’s a breezy day.
17. Giant Chess
Chess is a game that can be enjoyed anywhere, at any time. It’s just as fun when played in the garden as it is indoors. The problem is the pieces are easily lost. Misplace a pawn in an unkempt lawn and you might never see it again. It’s why we love giant chess sets.
They’re specifically designed for outdoor use. At approximately 30cm tall, something strange has to happen for these pieces to go missing. Obviously this makes it an even more suitable garden decoration for a party and something interactive! They also have the added advantage of being super durable, waterproof, wipe clean and suitable even for the youngest of players.
Picture the oversized chess boards you might see in a city park. Garden chess sets are very similar, but they tend to be constructed out of lightweight foam or plastic. The board itself is meshed to allow for moisture wicking; this prevents groundwater from seeping into its underside.
18. Giant Jenga
Perhaps you’re not a fan of chess on hot, lazy days when it’s all about kicking back and relaxing outdoors. Instead, you could pick up a giant Jenga set. Like giant chess sets, these oversized games are designed to be extremely durable.
This makes them suitable for use outdoors. The pieces are lightweight and easy to carry around even for younger players. Unless you purchase a plastic version – as opposed to a wooden set– these giant Jenga games don’t always have the same level of waterproofing.
They couldn’t be left outdoors in rainy conditions, for example. But they are ideal for hot, sunny days when the excitement you’re seeking is silly and simple. This giant jenga set is perfect for a family party as its fun for all ages.
Paul Nicolaides is a Landscape architect and garden builder with over 30 years experience in designing, building and maintaining gardens. Contemplating just how important garden space is for nature and recreation he created 'Cool Garden Gadgets' to explore the best gadgets for enhancing outside spaces. From outdoor dining ideas to the latest garden technology we break it down for you here.