How to host a Platinum Jubilee Garden party at school

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Nothing evokes the spirit of Britain quite like a Royal garden party. So what better way to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee than throwing a whole school garden party! 

Did you know that the Royal Family welcomes around 8,000 guests to their beautifully presented garden parties at Buckingham Palace in London and Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh each year, usually to thank them for a good deed or celebrate their success. 

Guests are invited to dress up in their finery and parade around the gardens, listening to the classic sounds of a brass band while they savour delicate treats and hopefully - have a personal meeting with the Queen or a senior member of the Royal Family.

There are several elements that make a Royal garden party truly spectacular - and very do-able for a school event! These are:-

  • Long dining tables
  • Brass bands
  • Crowns or fancy hats
  • Bunting
  • Flags
  • Crustless cucumber sandwiches
  • Sausage rolls
  • Scones and jam
  • Victoria Sponge

To put on a memorable and fun garden party to raise funds for school, we recommend splitting the tasks by year group or class so that it doesn’t become an overwhelming task. It’s also worth getting the teachers involved - they may well take on a few of these jobs in their classrooms as they could be great learning opportunities for the children.

Even if only the usual 10% of willing parents help out, you’ll be able to create a spectacular event. We hope that a national occasion like this will motivate more parent helpers to come forward.

TOP TIP: Don’t forget to ask these newly recruited volunteers to get involved in your next big event! See the theory behind recruiting more parent volunteer helpers here: volunteer commitment grows through incremental tasks.

Raising money for schools with Platinum Jubilee events

If you set your Jubilee event up using your Classlist app, you’ll be able to sell cashless and paperless tickets easily to your parents. You could sell tickets to the event, or just for the tea - it’s totally up to you! You can share the link to tickets via the app and choose for parents to be alerted via a notification as well as an email. You can even nudge those parents who haven’t bought tickets nearer the time! Consider running an online raffle using Classlist too. It’s so easy to set up and run with the app doing all the legwork in terms of selling the tickets, choosing the winners and even notifying them.

Setting the scene

Long dining tables, decorated with miniature Union Jacks and paper napkins are usually the setting of choice. Covering the tables in paper tablecloths really helps make it look like a formal event, but if that’s too expensive, recycling old art paper can be really effective. Placing miniature flags in jam jars along the table, and perhaps red, white and blue napkins along the length of the table brings the whole thing together. Cover your plates in tin foil to make them look like silver tableware! 

Music at a garden party

Traditionally, brass bands provide the music at a garden party. You could either find a soundtrack online, or ask your school band, orchestra or choir to provide some musical entertainment. It’s more important to bring everyone together and give everyone a chance to shine than to stick too rigidly to the old ways.

Bunting

You simply can’t have a garden party without bunting! But bunting is surprisingly expensive. Perhaps ask the teachers to work a bunting creative session into their curriculum as they teach about the Platinum Jubilee? The children could each decorate a few flags from this printable bunting template, cut them out and simply staple to ribbon or tape up around your party area. Children could either decorate with a simple red, white and blue pattern, the Union Jack or scenes from British history - depending on their age.

Download our PTA Activity Pack

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is a gift to parent associations hoping to raise money for their schools!

We’ve created this special events pack including everything you need to set up your Platinum Afternoon Tea, plus 10 more Platinum Jubilee events ideas to boost your fundraising.

Download now
Platinum Jubilee Activity Pack

Flags

The notoriously tricky to get right Union Jack is not easy to draw! So here’s a printable Union Jack template that you could send home with children to decorate and cut out. Simply sellotape this to a paper straw or wooden kebab stick to create a wavable flag! These are also free to download Union Jack flag patterns in a variety of shapes.

Crowns

You could hold an all-school competition to create a crown to wear on the big day - the more extravagant the better! Encourage children to create crowns using materials they have found in nature - perhaps fallen twigs, flowers and pine cones. The older children might be able to use card, fabric and toy gemstones and recreate their own fashion-first version of the Crown Jewels.

Food fit for a Queen

The food requirements at a garden party are not complicated and everything on the menu is a crowd-pleaser! You could either post these recipes on your form Classlist community boards or send them home with children. Some teachers may volunteer to make these with their classes during a home economics lesson?

Crustless cucumber sandwiches

You will need:

  • Soft white or whole grain bread
  • Cucumber, thinly sliced
  • Cream cheese
  • Butter
  • Dill or mint, finely chopped
  1. Butter each slice of bread. Chop your dill or mint leaves finely, then mix with your cream cheese.
  2. Cover the butter with a thin layer of your herby cream cheese. 
  3. Place the cucumber circles neatly across the bread without overlapping. Top with another slice of cream cheese and buttered bread. 
  4. Carefully slice off the crusts avoiding food waste as far as possible. Cut into triangles and stack neatly on your plates. 
  5. Cover with a paper towel and pop in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 24 hours before serving. (TOP TIP: The paper towel and the cream cheese will stop these going soggy.)

Super simple sausage rolls

You will need:

  • 1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 6 x pork sausages (squeeze the meat out of the skins)
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 4 rashers bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 beaten egg
  1. Warm the oven to gas 6 / 200°C / fan 180°C.
  2. Gently cook off the onion until it is translucent and light brown - this should take around 10 minutes.
  3. Squeeze the sausage meat into a bowl with the onions, mustard and bacon pieces.
  4. Unroll the pasty and cut into two long strips. Lay half the mix on each piece of pastry in a long sausage shape. Roll this tightly along the length to make two long pastry parcels. 
  5. Paint the egg wash along the parcels to make them shine. Using a sharp knife, slice into rounds. Place these on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

Foolproof scones and jam
(makes 32 small scones)

You will need:

  • 900g self-raising flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 200g soft butter 
  • 4 eggs
  • Milk 
  • Raisins (if wanted)
  1. Warm the oven to gas 7 / 220°C / fan 200°C.
  2. Cover 4x baking trays with parchment paper.
  3. Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar together, then rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  4. Take a measuring jug. Crack the eggs into the jug then top up the mix with milk until it reaches 600ml. 
  5. Slowly pour enough of this mixture into the breadcrumb mix to make a sticky dough.
  6. Dust your work surface with flour, then turn this sticky dough out onto it. Knead it lightly (add the raisins now if you wish).
  7. Cut out the dough with a 5cm cutter, pop them on the trays and brush the tops with the leftover milk and egg mix.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until pale golden brown.
  9. Serve with strawberry jam and clotted cream *if it doesn’t break the budget!*

Very easy Victoria Sponge 

You will need:

  • 110g caster sugar
  • 110g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 110g margarine
  • 2 drops vanilla extract
  1. Warm the oven to gas 3 / 170°C / fan 160°C.
  2. Grease and line two 18cm sponge tins.
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder and caster sugar in a large bowl. 
  4. Add the eggs, margarine and vanilla extract and blend with an electric hand mixer (unless you’re feeling very energetic!). The mixture should drop off a wooden spoon when tapped on the side of the bowl. If it doesn’t, add a tiny amount of warm water and mix until it does.
  5. Divide the mix between your tins and cook for 30 minutes.
  6. The trick is to remove them from the tins quickly after you take them out of the oven, then tip carefully onto cooling racks.
  7. When totally cool, spread one sponge with jam and sandwich the two together. Dust with icing sugar for a simple and irresistible treat.

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