Summer’s almost here, and there’s no better way to enjoy the lighter evenings and warmer weather than with a party. Modern home entertaining’s no longer about elaborate five-course dinners – these days, fun, informality and simplicity are the key trends. Here’s our top tips on being the host with the most this season:
Pick a theme
If you celebrated the Royal Wedding with a right royal-themed street party, you’ll already know that having a theme for a gathering really helps it go with a bang. Pick one that can inform everything from decorations to food. It doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, why not go for a Mediterranean theme, with a simple menu of grilled fish or white meat if you’ve got the barbecue out, or decorate-your-own pizzas? Put a beautiful Italian opera on for background music, and add simple touches like candles to give that warm, Mediterranean evenings feeling. For starters and snackers, team Ryvita® Sunflower Seeds and Oats Crispbread with Med favourites hummus and red pepper. Bollywood evenings lend themselves perfectly to spicy curries and delicious sweet drinks like lassi, and give the girls a chance to really dress up. Or if it’s a birthday or an anniversary, choose a theme that’s special to your loved one – even a beloved football team can inspire a celebration where everyone comes dressed in kit and feasts on traditional match fare like home-made kebabs and burgers.
Use your space wisely
How you arrange your home can really make a difference. Don’t worry if you haven’t got a lot of space for entertaining, as even a small space can hold a great party as long as you choose your arrangement wisely. If you’re worried about how many people you can get round a table, don’t try and cram them in. Use your kitchen table for buffet food and encourage guests to mingle outside, or in the living room – a few chairs dotted here and there will be fine. If you’re short on chairs, you could even use beanbags or big cushions for guests to sit on the floor, Japanese-style. And for truly informal entertaining, nothing beats a picnic blanket in the garden!
Make your food fun
You don’t want to spend the entire day (and night) of your party sweating over a hot stove. So choose relaxed, informal fare that’s easy to prepare and eat. Fondue sets are fun and great for sharing, and there’s very little preparation involved. Of course, nothing can beat the traditional barbecue for fantastic flavours and giving a real sense of occasion, and if you make salads and dips in advance, you’ll be free to have fun in between shifts at the barbie. Ryvita® Sweet Chilli Thins are the perfect partner for your dips and, of course, these tasty flatbreads take no time to prepare at all! Or if you’re planning an indoor party, go for simple finger foods like quiches, cocktail sausages, mini-tarts, and perhaps a fantastic centrepiece like a whole poached salmon or roast fillet of beef.
Break the ice
A good hostess helps everyone feel involved, and fun games or activities are a great way to break the ice. A simple general knowledge quiz that you give out at the front door will get everyone talking and discussing answers, particularly if you offer a prize for the best score. Treasure hunts aren’t just for kids, either, and will have everyone racing around the house and garden. If it’s a celebration, you could ask each guest to write a special memory in a birthday or anniversary book, which will make a great memento for the birthday boy or happy couple. Or if you’re feeling particularly brave, ask them to bring something that reminds them of the person – though making it clear that after dinner, they’ll have to stand up and say what they’ve brought and why! Providing activities for kids is a sure-fire way to keep them happy. A kids’ corner with cushions, a few toys and books and plenty of felt tips and paper will occupy them for hours. For older kids, just provide a ball and some ‘jumpers for goalposts’, a cheap rounders set, or a stack of suitable DVDs in case it rains.
Finally – don’t get stressed! Remember that having a party is supposed to be fun for you as well as your guests, and if you’re not enjoying yourself, neither will they. Don’t let worries about the exact colour of your flower arrangements or not having enough matching serving dishes spoil your event. Plan ahead, don’t be too ambitious, laugh off any disasters, and you’ll guarantee that everyone leaves with happy memories.
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