hintsandthings.co.uk »Spare Room

Hints and Tips on planning and running a successful party.


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A party can mean anything from drinks with savouries to a full-blown
dinner.  With a little forward planning you too can enjoy the party.  Parties
aren’t just about food, so we give below some tips on how to organise all aspects of your
party from the initial preparation to when the last guest leaves (or not as the case may


It is
always nice to get advice from real professionals, the following is just such advice –
Procrastinators that we are…it
is sometimes a chore to get an RSVP back in the mail. How many times has an invitation,
unknowingly, been mixed up in the daily mail only to be neglected until the last minute or
forgotten altogether?

Surely we all empathize
with event planners who struggle to get their guests to RSVP to an invitation.

We would like to suggest a simple yet proven method to
simplify this problem. This strategy should help anyone plan an event while being assured
that each guest will most likely return their RSVP in a more timely manner.

Mail your invitations on a Wednesday! Why Wednesday you ask?
If an invitation is mailed on Wednesday it is more likely to arrive at its destination on
Friday or Saturday, this is the objective. Receiving the invitation on the weekend,
instead of a weekday, will give your guests more time to respond and return your RSVP more

Weekends, typically, are less hectic and people have a little
more leisure time than during a busy work week. When friends receive an invitation on a
busy weekday it may likely get tossed into a pile of “get around to it” mail or
lost altogether. However, when an invitation arrives on Friday or Saturday, you will most
likely get a timely response. This is all due to the timing. Your friends and associates
will have more time to plan for your event on their “weekend”. This timing
strategy gives your guests a little more time to deal with their social calendar,
coordinate dates, travel, babysitters and other incidental details. Planning your event
becomes a coordinated effort on your part that your guests will especially appreciate.

Author Diane Pollitt – Party Consultant


Allow plenty
of time for menu planning, taking into consideration the likes and dislikes of the guests
you have invited. 
It is a good idea to get starters and puddings
made the day before if you can, or better still prepare and freeze ahead.
Take into account the nature
of the food.  Bite size food, easy to handle, is a must for the buffet style
party.  There is nothing worse than trying to eat a plate of spaghetti bolognese with
a drink in one hand and nowhere to sit!
Always serve food on clean plates Wash all fruit
and vegetables
Warm your dishes before
putting hot food in them, place cold food on platters over bowls of ice to keep them cold.
Don’t overstuff the fridge. Cold air must be
allowed to circulate in the fridge to keep food safe
Replace empty platters rather
than adding fresh food to a dish that has already been used.
Keep raw and cooked foods separate

 If you are hosting a party or having a buffet, make sure not to leave food
out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
If your party is catering for dozens rather than
a few then consider disposable plates, napkins and cutlery.
Remember to provide a good
selection of soft drinks, as well as the alcoholic variety, for your guests.  This is
more to some people’s taste and will also cater for those having to drive home.

Recipe – Try tomato juice with a
sprinkling of Seasoning Salt and Pepper or a teetotal punch flavoured with Cinnamon and
Cloves.  Coffee – hot or iced – will also be very welcome.

It is often difficult to gauge
appetites and to cater for large numbers, especially during the festive season when some
people will be all partied out!!!   Make sure your food does not fizzle out by having
a good reserve of herb or garlic bread to satisfy man sized appetites – always popular.

Recipe – Use 4oz. (113 g)
unsalted butter with 1 teaspoon Garlic Salt or 2 teaspoon of Mixed Herbs for each French
Loaf.   Wrap in foil, bake in a hot over for 15-20 minutes and serve hot.

If you intend serving wine,
think about it early.  White wine should be chilled for about two hours in the
refrigerator.  Red wine should be opened at least one hour before it is needed so
that it can ‘breathe’.
Make an unusual and
effective table centrepiece
by frosting fruit. When fruit is dry, arrange on a cake
stand and decorate with baubles and tinsel.

Method – Dip whole fruit in
beaten egg white then into spice flavoured sugar (1 teaspoon of spice to 2oz/57 g of
sugar) and leave to dry.  Suitable spices include Ground Cinnamon, Nutmeg or Mixed
Spice but mix and match for variety.

Unusual buffet sandwiches or
tasty canapes are always popular.   Try flavouring them with a savoury or sweet
butter.  Paprika, Chives, Herbs, Garlic and Cinnamon will all prove popular with fish,
meat, poultry, game, cheese or shellfish sandwiches.

Recipe – mix 1 teaspoon of the
chosen herb or spice with 3oz/85g. softened butter.  The flavoured butter will keep
in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and will also prove infinitely useful for adding to
grilled meat, cooked vegetables and the sweet ones for spreading on cakes or teabreads

Colourful frosting on the
rims of drinking glasses add to the party atmosphere.

Method – Mix 1 teaspoon Ground
Cinnamon, Nutmeg or Mixed Spice with 2oz/57g plain or tinted caster sugar.  Dip the
rim of the glass in a little egg white then dip in the sugar.  Refrigerate until the
sugar looks frosty and dry.

Greet your guests with unusual savouries.

Recipe – dust piping hot
home-made croutons with Garlic Salt or Seasoning Salt or try making a quick and easy dip
to serve with crisp vegetable by flovouring cream or cottage cheese with mixed herbs or
chives to taste.

After such a good party put a few drops of
Juniper essential oil on your pillow it will help prevent a hangover as it is an excellent

Donna Hughes (Consultant)

chill a room temperature beverage (tin or bottle) really fast, get a
bowl of cold water and ice cubes then add a dessert spoon of salt,
place your beverage into the bowl and leave for two/three minutes.
Your drink will be nice and cold (much faster than a fridge or
freezer) .


If you are running late
when hosting a dinner party and have forgotten to cool the wine or
cans, simply place salt, water and ice into the ice bucket and put
in your bottle, can’s anything you like really and it will cool down
much faster.