We have hosted many parties in our garden over the years and I like to think of myself as something of an expert. I like to think that our parties show we have put a bit of effort into them and really thought our guests having a fun time. Rather than just sorting out food and drink we go the extra mile wherever we can so I thought I would share some of my tips
Create an event on Facebook for the invites
You can create private events on Facebook and invite all your friends on there in one go. It is a good way to share information on time / date / dress code etc without having to repeat yourself. It is also a good way for your friends to liaise if somebody needs a lift, or is getting the train etc so they organise all those things amongst themselves. Obviously not all your friends are on Facebook but if a good portion of them are then I definitely recommend doing it this way.
It is these sorts of logistics that I always end up thinking about in the middle of the night. We used to live in a house on a road that was a rat run, with no real parking because residents were already parking there. Fine normally, but when we had a house warming party it caused grid lock.
For this party I spoke to our local church and asked if we could use their car park overnight in exchange for a small charitable donation. They were more than happy to oblige which meant our road was left clear of parked cars and nobody annoyed the neighbours.
Have a great spot to take selfies
In this age of taking selfies and posing up a storm we thought it would be a giggle to have a proper backdrop for people to pose against. Like celebs on a red carpet, except on gravel. Our lovely friend Shane bought the backdrop for me as a birthday present from a local company called Zoo signs who make all manner of signs and banners. We used my photography lights to hang it, and then used it to cover up our grotty garage window.
To decorate it and hide the stands we positioned some huge confetti balloons that Bubblegum Balloons had kindly provided for me. They were delivered on the day (on time as arranged), ready inflated (obviously) with weights so all we had to do was place them in the right location. They looked fabulous, and the bunch of smaller ones made a cute present for one of our younger guests to take home. Bubblegum Balloons do a whole range of party decorations, not just balloons, with a huge amount of themes too so you can either decorate one small area as we did, or have a whole event festooned with balloons. Their Halloween range is making me really want to do more than just a carved pumpkin this year!
Have a whole range of drinks
I may have gone a bit over with my gin bar, but then I am sort of known for my love of gin. I really wanted there to be a bit of a talking point as so many of our friends don’t know each other, so we thought it might be a bit of an ice breaker. We (I say we, I mean Jonnie mostly) built this gin bar with four pallets that we were given by Stone and Chrome, our local friendly luxury bathroom showroom.
We Jonnie then painted them with Danish Oil and I plonked a selection of my gin collection on the top.
It is easy to just think about the alcohol you need to provide, bottles of wine, cases of beer, a gin bar, but don’t forget the non-drinkers, younger guests and designated drivers. We went all out on lots of different tonics, cans of ginger ale, lemonade and various soft drinks and laid them all out on another table so that people could just help themselves.
I also bought a couple of bottles of Seedlip. It’s a non-alcholic gin. It is made in exactly the same way as gin, but doesn’t have the alcohol in it. Perfect for anybody who wants a G&T but doesn’t want the alcohol. You can buy it in all good supermarkets.
We always do an open house for our parties so that people can drop in for an hour or two, or stay all day. Which means we have to think about food a bit to ensure that a buffet laid out at 1pm isn’t still hanging around at 11pm. We did some nibbles and buffet food with some side salads as food during the day and then we had a barbecue in the evening, but kept it very simple. Whereas I would normally go all out with a barbecue and offer all sorts when we do a family get together, this time we simply offered hot dogs or a burger in a bun with some potato salad.
Who doesn’t love a party game? Great as another ice breaker to get people talking, and laughing together.
We had a few this year, one that just needed paper and pen which is based a bit on charades, played in teams. You all write down the names of a famous person on a piece of paper, three times. Can be anybody alive / dead or fictitious and each piece of paper goes into one big bowl. The first round you all take it turns to take out a piece of paper and without naming the person you have to describe that person to the other members of your team, as soon as they get the person you keep hold of the paper and it passes to the next person. You keep going for a determined length of time, we did two minutes. If you don’t know who that person is you put the paper back in the bowl, and forfeit your go, and a team mate carries on. You then count up how many you got right. Each team keeps going until all the paper has gone. The second round you all put your bits of paper back in and you have to mime that person. Or point to. part of the body they are famous for (thing bums and Kim Kardashian). The third round you should be able to remember most of the people now, but you can only say one word. We have played this a few times recently and it always gets a bit raucous.
Or if that seems to too complicated you could try somewhere like Find Me A Gift for ready made games. We had a few this year such as Twerk Pong (gutted I couldn’t persuade my mum to play this). Two people strap on a box of ping pong balls and have to twerk until their box is empty. First one to do so is the winner.
We also had gin pong, think beer pong but with smaller glasses, which my team were surprisingly good at.
I am sorry but I don’t care how old you are, you still n need a cake. A get together without cake is just a meeting. I was thrilled with I was presented with this as a present. It had been bought from The Rolling Pin Bakery and made me cry when it arrived. Not only did it look gorgeous but it tasted wonderful too. Every party deli