I love to throw a party and it’s fair to say I have done a fair wack of hosting over the years. The only downside is –
Missing out on a lot of the chat due to running around like a mad person
Clearing up all the mess
A home is to have fun though. It is to enjoy great food, drinks, music and banter in a relaxed and comfortable setting. The more hosting I do, the better I get. Practice makes perfect and all that. Things have changed a lot though since 2009 and two obvious lessons – less cleavage, less pout and more class but a hosting hat is timeless. Although if you watched my vlog about my recent outfit it is clear I still get in wrong. Mental note – 2017 must stay classy!
Also when life gets busy (in my case two young kids) it’s important to be realistic. Ask for help. Here are some of my top tips so that hosting is actually enjoyable:
In an ideal world I would have someone working the decks. Good music is essential for atmosphere. I like to sort the playlist out the day before and add a mix according to who is on the guestlist. Tunes that make people feel dead sexy after a few glasses of fizz are always a winner. The better the tunes, the better the dance moves – this goes for the kids too. I like to ask friends and family to bring their guitars too.
Bonnie and I love dancing/twerking at a party.
Try and chill out. There is absolutely no point stressing about kids jumping around like mad on the sofas. It’s just what they do. Let them be silly is what I say. We don’t want people feeling awkward when they come over. Guests need to feel at home. I know myself that if I take the kids to a house where the adults walk on eggshells – I won’t be in a hurry to go back.
In an ideal world we would have amazing butlers that look like Gerard butler serving all the drinks and Jamie Oliver sorting out the food and canapés. Instead we need a good back up plan.
Last week I hosted a party for a few of Bonnie’s nursery friends and their Mama’s. As the timing was pre nursery (10am till 12pm) I held off on offering a fizz buzz (was tempted to offer bucks fizz). As a non alcoholic alternative I just love a fresh orange and lemonade. To make it well I say lots of ice and a good fresh oJ. Nothing worse than a bottle that is too thick with pulp (no names but they exist). This one from Sainsbury’s never lets me down #firstworldproblems.
Try and do as much drink prep as possible before guests arrive so they can help themselves. I normally make up a jug of water with lime with glasses around it (hint hint guests). I also make sure the fridge is full of cans of crowd pleasers – sanpellegrino, coke, appletiser etc which can be grabbed on the run or it’s easy for guests to help themselves. I always make it clear that I will try and top up as much as possible but PLEASE just go for it. Don’t hang around waiting for a drink if I am chatting.
Nespresso have a nice festive capsule which is infused with apricot and dark chocolate.
The pods are great as they are super quick and simple to use. I like to offer a really strong one and a few lighter options – some REALLY need the strong shot.
Note – hide the old faithful Ikea step pre party – my kids love to get in on the hosting action #panicattack
If the party is going on late then a tub of squishy cream and some mini marshmallows (big ones are a choking hazard apparently) go a long way for the kids. Hot chocolate always tastes best made in a pan. I like to stick a festive movie like the snowman on and close the door. See ya little people – let the warm milk make you sleepy.
Many hands – hygge style
For larger parties I think it is ESSENTIAL to ask for help – get the family involved or friends who love to cook. It’s nice for people to feel involved and it also means they can bring some of their favourite dishes. This is great for fussy eaters too. I love to keep things relaxed. If you try and take on too much you are not going to see your guests for the first couple of hours or you may well have a meltdown. That ain’t fun. We are hosting Christmas again this year and I am delegating to family members based on their strengths. Mine being the prawn and lobster cocktail and the hubs cooks up a great turkey and orange infused ham with the trimmings. I am already excited for my Mum’s homemade stuffing and bread sauce and Grandad Dave’s cheesy croquet potatoes and Christmas cake drenched in brandy. Don’t get me started on my David’s (my brothers) brussel sprouts with crispy bacon and chestnuts. It’s good to have some competition and this year Iain (my other brother) is going to try and top them. I am excited.
Plenty of finger party food that can be thrown in the oven and served in stages. I am a sucker for festive canapes at the moment. Mini mince pies and brandy butter are a great sweet canape.
Give a few family members or close friends jobs eg making sure things don’t get burnt or forgotten about once the caffeine or booze party buzz takes over.
I love to keep it classic and tins of quality street are a must for this time of year. Our little girl is always keen to help hand them around – I love getting the kids working. They are also great for kids party games like musical bumps: everyones a winner.
Cheese oh cheese. I love a trip to IJ Mellis – their Spanish goats cheese is superb and has a serious punch to it. It’s the type of cheese that totally stinks out a kitchen though. It goes so well with these Fire crackers. Camembert with chunks of rosemary focaccia always goes down well – so easy to stick out on the table and let people dig in. Or even some really nice olive oil makes a totally hassle free dip.
I also like to have a slate of cheese that is less pungent for those who prefer the slightly tamer ones like a nice manchego, smoked applewood and gruyère.
A tub of this chilli jam from Harvey Nicks is an absolute must. It goes great with cheese, parma ham, chocolate – anything you want.
Another easy crowd pleaser that people can tuck into. I just love a chicken liver parfait (Markies do a really good one in a little jar). Mellis also do a lovely duck parfait.
I am a huge fan of foie gras but struggle with the idea of how it is made. Delighted to see that Heston has brought out a faux gras for Waitrose so I feel no guilt.
Plenty of it. It’s great for the adults to enjoy a buzz as the kids go absolutely nuts on sugar. If the party is adult only then all I can say is ring a ding ding – enjoy every second. Click here for some chat from me about fun and booze.
For the kids I have been playing what I have dubbed ‘musical branches’ which is a rip off of musical statues but they have to stand like a fabulous Christmas tree. Try it – it’s great fun.
We have sourced some for Christmas day – will keep you posted. I think we are onto a winner.
Next on my hit list – a hot tub or atleast a lazy spa. This thing is baltic!
Have a blast and please send me or comment with your top party tips. Be the champagne of the party. Festive love,