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January 25, 2012

Yesterday we had a nice function here at Dokmai Garden –  a birthday party with 28 guests. It was fun for us as well as for the guests. Since Chiang Mai is perfect for garden parties in late November to early April when there is very low risk of rain and hardly no insects, we should like to share our program to inspire other people. Timing during the day is important, i.e. if you begin too early it can be too hot, too sharp light and too many flies, and if you begin too late you may not see anything in the garden.

This was yesterday’s program (January 24th, 2012):

15.30. Arrival – welcome drinks, photos. We suggest only drinking non-alcoholic drinks such as rosella and water to keep people alert for a while more. The area for this reception should be shady.

16.00. A one hour activity. We offered a guided excursion in our 10 acres garden with the theme ‘edible tropical plants’.

17.00. Refreshments when returning back from the garden. White wine, beer, water, soft drinks. At yesterday’s party this was also the time for opening presents and making speeches.

18.00. Outdoor dinner. At this time in January it is still light enough for another picture or two, but dark enough to be past the flies’ bed-time. For light we mainly use candles, oil lamps and torches to create a romantic atmosphere, only keeping the electric light (warm white) near bathrooms and kitchen. With the sparkling stars as a dining room ceiling and the sounds of the tropical night as a background music you create a nice ambience. Nocturnal mosquitos are generally not carriers of dengue fever, but reducing any mosquitos will further enhance the experience. It is therefore clever to prepare for repellents, although at yesterday’s party we offered fresh citronella straight from the plant. Reducing levels of mosquitos by putting lids on water barrels and predatory fish such as tiger barbs in water pots are simple measures.

19.00. Launching of lanterns (kum loi). This is a tradition still alive in northern Thailand where we live dangerously. The lantern is made of paper with some solid flammable fuel tied to a cross of thin metal wire. When lighting the fuel hot air fills the paper bag and the lanterns take off – very beautiful! The party ended with this event and the guests returned in rented mini vans.

The ambience of a dinner is important. In general it is clever to plan a garden party on a Monday-Thursday and to be aware of Thai holidays. The reason is to avoid the roaring karaoke from a Thai farmer’s party. Dokmai Garden is normally very quiet, far from traffic and barking dogs.

Good luck with arranging your own garden party. Should you like to hold your party at Dokmai Garden, then simply e-mail info at

Eric Danell & Ketsanee Seehamongkol

Ketsanee Seehamongkol


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