Hosting a Garden Party

Two years ago at this exact time in June, I was in New York City on a month long trip to pursue my business of photography on a larger scale. I was working every day, busy every day and trying to cram a year of life in the big city into a month. Something happened toward the end of that trip that I never expected to happen, I got homesick. My focus shifted completely (against my will) back home toward family, intentional living and simple life. I remember sitting in the loft sleeping area, of the tiniest apartment I had ever seen, and thinking that when I got home I wanted to have a fabulous garden tea party with some of the ladies in my life. This idea was born before my teacup collection or my backyard renovation but nonetheless it was a dream from that point forward. Each night before bed I would sit up in that tiny loft with my head nearly touching the ceiling and save ideas to a pinterest board (Click here to see the board). And that longing to create a beautiful experience really saved me from the homesick feelings. And more than just one experience it really ignited a flame in my heart to bring back and appreciate hosting, entertaining and gathering.

Finds and Dines Garden PartyFinds and Dines Garden Party TeacupsFinds and Dines Garden Party-14

It took me a couple years of shifting mindset to get to the point of finally being ready to do it. I tend to dream things big and if I can’t make it as good in real life as it seems in my head then I don’t pursue it. For me mostly it took an intentional shift of expectation and a reminding myself that the gathering is really the important part. It doesn’t matter if not everything is perfect in my yard or if I can actually have a perfectly color coordinated table, what matters is that I create the space to create memories. Everything else will fall into place, and they did.

Finds and Dines Garden Party-32Finds and Dines Garden Party-18Finds and Dines Garden Party Teacups-13Finds and Dines Garden Party Teacups-2Finds and Dines Garden Party Teacups-4

But enough about the heavy backstory, let’s talk about the fun stuff! I wanted to do a vintage gathered table, nothing matching or current in store items. I decided to start collecting teapots, teacups, vintage glasses and plates from garage sales and thrift stores to really create that vintage gathered feeling. I decided to focus in on pastel colors for spring and luckily had enough pieces to do that! When gathering pieces individually, unlike in stores, you kind of have to take what’s available, hunt until you find something that works and then just hope that everything coordinates well! I used linen tablecloths from Home Goods with simple grain sack stripes to not be too distracting.

Finds and Dines Garden Party-16Finds and Dines Garden Party-19Finds and Dines Garden Party-20Finds and Dines Garden Party-31Finds and Dines Garden Party-21Finds and Dines Garden Party-22Finds and Dines Garden Party Teacups-6Finds and Dines Garden Party Teacups-11Finds and Dines Garden Party Teacups-5Finds and Dines Garden Party-33Finds and Dines Garden Party Teacups-10

FOOD! If it’s not obvious enough by my name, I love cooking, baking and eating as much as I love hunting for vintage treasures. The food was important to me and I wanted it to have a perfect balance of delicious and fancy. Looks matter to me so regardless of the event I always try to cook, bake and present beautiful food because it’s much more fun that way!

Finds and Dines Garden Party-13

For the savory menu, I chose to do three sandwiches and two salads. I did an Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich on soft wheat bread, Chicken Salad Sandwiches on Croissants and an Olive Tapenade with Provolone on Focaccia. For salads I did a classic Ceasar and a Caprese Salad.

Finds and Dines Garden Party-7Finds and Dines Garden Party-6Finds and Dines Garden Party-5Finds and Dines Garden Party-2Finds and Dines Garden Party-23

For the dessert menu, I chose to a sampling of several things because I love a table that has options and a symphony of flavors. I did a vanilla cupcake with classic buttercream, berry shortcakes stacked in mason jars, shortbread cookies, lemon poppyseed scones and chocolate covered strawberries.

Finds and Dines Garden Party-8Finds and Dines Garden Party-9Finds and Dines Garden Party-3Finds and Dines Garden Party-10

Drinks, I decided to serve 3 types of hot tea – Green Tea with Lemon, English Breakfast Tea and Pomegranate Black Tea. I also served a Cilantro Mint Lemonade. I visited a tea store in NYC called T2 and I carried the multi-colored teapot on my lap home from NY. Everything came full circle when I saw it sitting there on the table! Finds and Dines Garden Party-28Finds and Dines Garden Party-30Finds and Dines Garden Party-26Finds and Dines Garden Party-27

I started the event at 6pm which is right as the sun is ducking behind the maple tree in the garden. It was beautiful time of connecting with family and friends and getting to create an experience to remember. It really inspired me to host more, gather more and continue to pursue the concept of intention over perfection. I did a little gift bag with an herb plant as my take away. I used brown bags with tissue paper from Magnolia’s Hearth and Hand Collection at Target and I handmade the gift tag with a miniature vintage botanical print and twine.

Finds and Dines Garden Party-11Finds and Dines Garden Party-12Finds and Dines Garden Party-17Finds and Dines Garden Party-29

I hope these photos inspire you to gather with family and friends and in a day and age of technology and busyness, to really place priority on being together in one place. Don’t let living in town with a small backyard stop you, don’t let seeking perfection stop you, don’t let money stop you. Gather. Let me know if you have any questions and I would love to hear your thoughts on hosting and gathering in the comments below!

Finds and Dines Garden Party-43Finds and Dines Garden Party-41Finds and Dines Garden Party-38Finds and Dines Garden Party-37Finds and Dines Garden Party-42Finds and Dines Garden Party-40Finds and Dines Garden Party-44Finds and Dines Garden Party-25