Oct 31st 2014

Top 7 Secrets to…..hosting the most memorable drinks party of the season

Style and individuality are always high on the list of priorities for TLC’s Liz Taylor, who shares her secrets to hosting a spectacular drinks party, whatever the season.

‘Style is hard to define,’ says Liz, ‘but it’s all about the finer details; the thought that goes into a party whatever the occasion; the creation of something so special, so personal, so unique to you that your guests will be talking about it for weeks to come.’

If budget allows, Liz advises hiring in professional bartenders to ensure your evening goes smoothly, drinks are served correctly and you are relaxed and free to mingle with guests. ‘Whether it’s serving chilled champagne, pouring a cold beer into the right glass or serving up your own one-off, bespoke cocktail, professional help is invaluable,’ she explains.

Quality is up there with style and individuality for Liz who advises serving only the best premium spirits, freshly squeezed juices and really good Champagne (or Cava or Prosecco) at your drinks party. ‘The same with beer and other drinks,’ she adds. ‘Just serve the very best you can for your guests.’

People often overlook the importance of glassware and presentation when hosting a drinks party. ‘But plastic wine glasses and swigging warm beer out of cans does not make for a night to remember,’ laughs Liz. Serving a chilled beer in the right glass, ice cold fizz in a flute or even a mocktail in a classic high ball immediately ‘elevates your drinks party to another level’,’ she says. ‘And you can hire glassware easily on the high street or through more specialist suppliers depending on what you are serving and looking for,’ she explains.

party catering ideas

‘You can’t take the Christmas out of Christmas,’ says Liz. ‘However consider quirky, updated and stylish festive ideas such as serving mulled wine, cider or hot port in vintage teacups, branded bespoke mugs or individual, personalised thermos flasks; glasses of the finest chilled fizz served alongside infused sugar cubes or vintage syringes filled with fresh fruit puree; bespoke cocktails and mocktails in jam jars or tin cans.’

party catering ideas

Ice, ice and more ice. ‘Just make sure you never run out,’ says Liz. ‘You’ll need it to keep bottles chilled and to crush for cocktails or add to long drinks.’ She suggests creating an instant talking point by serving ice in quirky, vintage or customised ice buckets which make a statement. ‘Use a vintage tin bath, filled with ice, to keep bottles cool or really up the ante and impress your guests with Aston Martin ice buckets,’ she suggests.

party catering ideas

You might be hosting a drinks party, but it is always a good idea to offer guests something to nibble on and soak up the alcohol. ‘Opt for traditional festive favourites but serve then with a modern twist,’ says Liz. ‘Cocktails sausage on mini silver forks for example or a selection of mini Christmas puddings, mince pies and truffles served on a Lazy Susan in the centre of the table.’

party catering ideas

Liz advises hosts to give their entertainment serious consideration. Create your ownpersonal playlist to share with guests, both on the evening and after the event. Get the volume right, and the tempo, to make sure the evening goes with a flow. ‘Live music is always a talking point,’ says Liz who specialises in putting together bespoke bands to create a unique sound for your special occasion. ‘You could hire a string quartet, a pair of funky violinists, a classic crooner or even a full dance band for guests to enjoy,’ she says.

Liz says the key to a successful event is to ‘consider every detail, and always with your guests rather than yourself in mind.’

‘A host has certain responsibilities which go beyond creating a beautiful setting and serving the right food and drinks,’ she continues. ‘Always try to be available to meet and greet guests on arrival and have a nominated friend, partner or relative to assist you in this. If nothing else, ensure you share a few words with every guest and introduce people to each other,’ she says. ‘And ensure everyone has access to safe transport home at the end of the evening. Why not wow them with a beautiful bespoke gift, maybe individually named hip flasks with ‘one for the road’!

And finally, Liz’s top secret to hosting the perfect drinks party? ‘Go easy on the drinks yourself,’ she laughs. ‘Seriously though, a host should never have too much to drink, at least not until the last guest has left. Then it’s perfectly okay to crack open that bottle of chilled fizz you put at the back of the fridge earlier – and relax and enjoy relieving what should have been a wonderful and memorable party.’

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 Oct 20th 2014

Christmas Wedding Tips

 Christmas Wedding Tips

Whilst some brides dream of a wedding bathed in sunshine, many couples would rather celebrate their nuptials at Christmas.  Take a look at some of my Christmas Wedding Tips to help you if you are planning a wintry wedding….

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

The most difficult thing to deal with in planning a winter wedding will be the unpredictability of the weather. Rain – not ideal but at least you can make provision by providing your guests with bespoke wedding umbrellas in beautiful hues to match your colour scheme.  No, it’s snow and ice that cause problems, so be prepared.  Don’t kid yourself that you’ll get lucky and have an unseasonably warm or dry big day, think ahead.  Transport often grinds to a halt in wintry weather conditions. You should choose a wedding venue that has excellent links and is close to major roads.  If your dream is to tie the knot in a rambling old country house, ensure that you have the means to ferry your guests to you.  Ask if friends with four-wheel drive vehicles would be willing to help out if the need arose!

Dressed for the Occasion

When booking your winter wedding venue, I would recommend asking about the venue’s Christmas decorations.  When do they put them up, are they contemporary or traditional and do they keep the same theme every year?  Obviously, it’s a real bonus for a venue to be ready decorated.  However, you will need to know these things in order for you to be able to choose your table linens and flowers in complementary colours.

I should also add a word of warning when it comes to flowers.  Many of the European flower markets close over the festive period, so if you are having a Christmas wedding, make sure that your florist has the blooms that you require.  To avoid this problem, choose to go for something a little different on these occasions.  Opt for bouquets made of shimmering vintage baubles or quaint rustic hand-tied evergreen posies, which not only look gorgeous but smell delightful too!

Baubles can also be used as place settings by hand painting your guests names on them.  Another lovely idea is to create individual Christmas crackers.  These can then be used as both place settings and wedding favours, as guests pull them to reveal bespoke gifts. Other favours worth considering are mini snow globes or tiny sprigs of mistletoe, tied with ribbon. If your venue ceiling is high, choose tall cylindrical  floral centre-pieces for your tables.  They will look stunning and will draw the eye upwards as your guests enter the room, adding a sense of proportion.  Additionally, everyone will be able to see their fellow diners and the conversation should flow.  Just make sure they are well secured! And don’t forget some candle light to compliment any crystal or cut glass tableware.

Turkey Dinner?

What lost of Christmas Wedding Tips doesn’t talk ‘Turkey’! With a wedding near to Christmas you if course have the option of serving  your nearest and dearest the traditional roast turkey dinner and all the trimmings.  This may be advantageous to the chef at this time of year, but if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to go for the obvious – mix things up a little. However, don’t forget, seasonal food is always going to be more budget friendly.  If you do go traditional, maybe opt for a show stopping dessert, such as individual baked Alaska rather than the usual plum pudding.

Related Content: The Best Winter Wedding Venues in the North West

Winter Warmers

For drinks, offer your guests a selection of warming beverages.  Cinnamon vodkas or flavoured brandies are great winter warmers. Think mulled cider and German Glühwein to take away a chill.  For non-drinkers, create a hot chocolate station, with a selection of delicious toppings including chocolate curls, marshmallow, vanilla sugar and of course thick whipped cream.  It’s guaranteed to be a big hit with the younger and oldest members of the party!

Take to the Stage

Entertainment at this time of year can be booked up well in advance, so get organised!  I think a brass band playing Christmas carols is the perfect accompaniment to a drinks reception after the ceremony.  The rich sound brings a real warmth to a room and there are now plenty of bands who will play up-to-date tunes that will really surprise your guests.  Later in the evening, when everyone is ready to party, a great covers band is perfect as they will be able to perform Christmas classics in addition to their usual numbers, making the event really special. TLC work with a number of incredible bands with repertoires that, quite frankly, amaze me sometimes! 

Well, I hope our Christmas Wedding Tips have steered you in the right direction?  Still need help…call me!

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 Oct 6th 2014

Tips for Planning a Rite of Passage Party

The rite of passage party!

I was recently privileged to be involved in organising a very special birthday party for an incredibly special young lady, charity fund-raiser extraordinaire, Kirsty Howard.  The party for Kirsty was to celebrate both her 19th birthday and to acknowledge her amazing fundraising efforts, and what a fabulous party it was!  Stars from television and stage came to wish her well and she even had personal messages from the Prime Minister and David Beckham!! So, whilst I can’t promise Mr Beckham for every coming of age party (I wish!), I can give you some helpful tips…

– This party is going to be loud, long and probably by the end, a little messy, so I would always recommend hiring a venue – that way, you have staff on hand who are used to hard-partying youngsters and you won’t have to worry about your carpets or your neighbours!

– So once that’s decided, what sort of venue?  Do your research – speak to other parents and gauge opinion on local halls, bars and hotel function rooms.  I recommend choosing a venue that has one big room and at least one other ‘chill-out’ room, with lots of comfy seating – this is crucial if you are inviting family as well as friends.  Also, aim to find somewhere that is easily reached by public transport, as you don’t want young party-goers wandering the streets afterwards.

– To theme or not to theme…..for this age group, I’d say YES, every time!  Fancy dress has seen a massive resurgence in the last five years, so don’t disappoint, choose a great theme and encourage everyone to get into the party mood.  Why not make the theme the year the host was born, film stars or ‘When I grow up I want to be…’ or, if you want a little glamour and mystery, make it a masquerade!  One thing I can guarantee, is that everyone who has made the effort will totally enter into the spirit of things and your party will be fun right from the off!

– Decoration – well, with your theme chosen, you can really go for it – but don’t forget, tradition decrees that there has to be a display of embarrassing childhood photos of the party host.  Rather than sticking pictures up everywhere, I’d suggest creating a Powerpoint style presentation to be displayed on a large screen throughout the evening..or better still, projected onto a building opposite (it worked for us!). Consider personalising the party with mini Champagne bottles with personal labels, cupcakes topped with embarassing mini photos of the birthday girl/boy, or mini gifts with mini-message tags for everyone.

– If you are providing food for your guests I suggest creating mini street-food stations, where guests can build their own mini-tacos, burritos or pittas with falafel.  A vintage sweet stand, offering Blackjacks, Drumstick lollies and Flying Saucers, will also be a winner.  And for later in the evening, what about bacon or halloumi butties – a great way to soak up the alcohol!

– Make sure you get your entertainment spot-on.  A good DJ is a must – get it wrong and you’ll never be forgiven!  e For this I would recommend hiring a professional event planner, such as TLC,  that will handpick a suitable DJ for the theme and age group required – the more information you can give them, the better the match.  Spend as much as you can on the entertainment – a great DJ or party band can make or break the party,

– So, with everything decided and a fabulous party planned, you now have to tell everyone!  Take time over your invitations by getting them designed properly with a high quality print-finish, so that they match the mood and theme you want to create. Or go for something different – create a bespoke invitation (we recently created a bespoke Monopoly board as a party invite) and start the story of your party’s theme with this special invitation. Think CD of music from the year you were born with bespoke cover, a poster of an important event from your birthday year, bespoke magazine cover….the list is endless.

Along with all the usual details, include a link to an Instagram page, where you and your friends and family can add images and costume ideas, to keep the fancy dress vibe going, as well as priceless shots from the big night itself!  I also have many of these

 

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