Real Parties

How to Create a Midsommar's Eve Party with Ellen Neville-Verdugo of Midsommar Gardens

Ellen Neville-Verdugo shares about all of the traditions of Midsommar's Eve and how to create a party that perfectly encompasses them.

By Ellen Neville-Verdugo, as told to Jo Jolliff

Jun 2022

Woman standing holding cake
Photo by Tessa CooperOwner of Midsommar Gardens, Ellen Neville-Verdugo, shares how to create the Midsommar’s Eve party of your dreams.

I love to celebrate Midsommar’s Eve. I have so many memories in our garden on summer nights with friends when the fireflies are out and we’re all soaking in the happy-full feeling of an outdoor dinner. I wanted to turn that exact feeling into something I could share, which is why I started Midsommar Gardens.

Midsommar’s Eve is a holiday to celebrate the longest day of the year. It’s so charming and has a lot of magical stories and traditions attached to it. For example, plants and water are said to acquire extra healing properties on Midsommar’s Eve. It is also well known for the flower crown, which is a big tradition you often see symbolizing rebirth and fertility. 

My favorite tale of Midsommar’s folklore is that young folks on their way home are said to pick seven different flowers and lay them under their pillow and at night their one true love will appear to them in a dream, which I think is adorable. You really have to lean into the magic of it all. There’s just something about all the folklore and the plants and flowers that is appealing to me.  

I’ve hosted quite a few Midsommar’s Eve parties. My first one turned into my surprise engagement party so it has an extra special meaning to me, but we still love having the chance to invite our friends for a special dinner in the garden. It’s the longest day of the year and there is just something magical about those summer nights when golden hour hits. 

food on plate
Ellen adds color to plates with a variety of foods, one dish being open-faced sandwiches that consist of salmon, veggies and flowers.
The attention to detail at the parties is taken to the next level. According to Ellen, "more is more," and there is no such thing as too much detail. One detail of the party she loves is the wildflowers placed in jars.

For decorations, I love to fill jars with daisies and wildflowers and make elderflower drinks. I love the garden-party aesthetic and getting to use all my mismatched favorite dishes, glasses and linens. I would say, more is more. You don’t need to tone it down. It is the perfect excuse to go all out with the flowers, plants and all the pretty things you want to use.

I start baking and cooking a whole week before the holiday and try to use as much from the garden as possible. I love that it’s one of those holidays where the more homemade the better.

I keep the traditional menu, but pick and choose what I want to serve. Some of it, like pickled herring, is not my favorite. My menu typically consists of a smorgasbord of treats. I prepare smoked salmon open-faced sandwiches and fresh potatoes with dill and I make a big salad from our garden. My favorite dish is the Swedish Strawberry Midsommar cake. I cover mine in edible flowers, and it is just the prettiest cake.

I like to make special ice cubes with edible flowers in them. Get creative and lean into the nature vibe. Most importantly, have fun with it and don’t take it too seriously. We celebrate it with lots of fun yard games and drinking games. I love that even adults are encouraged to be silly and play games. It’s easy to get really stressed out during dinner parties and planning, just remember to have fun.