Garden parties vary from casual, backyard bashes to tea-and-scone soirees to a combination of both, so plan your games accordingly. For a causal party, set out croquet or badminton sets, a baseball and gloves, or a set of paddles so your guests can play whenever they want to. For more organized parties, provide a variety of active and sedate games and let your guests know the level of formality so they can plan ahead.
Indoor Games Played Outdoors
A garden motif transforms common indoor games to outdoor ones. Play a trivia game about the flora and fauna in your area, or play charades with garden-related titles, such as Jim Carrey's film "Sunshine of the Eternal Mind," Peter Seller's "Being There" or the film and book, "The Secret Garden." Active games might include twister played on paint circles you've sprayed on your lawn or chess played on a board of rug squares with labeled and decorated buckets or flower pots as chess pieces.
Active games keep your guests energized. Although you can play horseshoes or bocce ball on your lawn just as it is, consider building your own horseshoe pit or bocce ball court if you entertain frequently outdoors. To transform other lawn games into garden-party models, use a decorative flower stake and large, plastic rings for horseshoes and use plastic garden fertilizer bottles for a bowling game. Award seed packets, the garden stakes, or small plants as prizes.
Sedate But Fun
Combine a craft activity with a competition when you award prizes for the most creative, prettiest, most seasonal and funniest efforts. Provide paint or markers for your guests to decorate small birdhouses or decorative, wooden cut-outs glued to dowels and meant as garden decor. Or, provide sugar cookies in flower shapes for your guests to decorate with icing and sugar sprinkles. Let everyone take home his creations as party favors.
Include the Kids
Small children can play "pin the bee on the flower" or listen to a story about gardening. For children of all ages, plan relay races, and use small water pitchers or trowels piled with dirt to fill buckets -- tell parents ahead of time to forgo party clothes. If your party space has any cement, provide chalk for drawing or hopscotch, and for a scavenger hunt, hide plastic bugs or homemade colorful butterflies for children to gather and take home as party favors.