Jun 8th 2020

Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties

Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties

With groups of up to six given the go ahead to meet outdoors in England, and Scots now allowed to BBQ with eight of their friends and family, it’s clear that dining al fresco will be on the menu for much of the UK. Even the weather seems to be in agreement, most of the time! But outside events have a whole different set of considerations to those held indoors. And serving up a few burnt burgers isn’t going to cut it. TLC events director Jess Randall has created her top tips on creating perfect outdoor parties and the best BBQ events.

Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties

Upgrade What’s on the Grill

BBQ’s used to be so basic. Throw on a packet of sausages or burgers and serve with a simple side salad. Zero creativity needed. That was before the days of Instagram. And pre-coronavirus when so many people have missed out on their planned events. People are well and truly upping their game.

If you want to join the BBQ elite then remember that preparation is key. Marinades are one trick to elevate a BBQ experience to the next level. Massage your meats and fish in tasty homemade marinades the night before, placing them in the fridge to give them time to develop that extra flavour. They’ll be so juicy and succulent your guests won’t be able to get enough.

Meat is the BBQ staple but when it comes to the grill, don’t forget the delicious non-meat alternatives that can sometimes steal the show. Think of vegetable, halloumi or tofu skewers drizzled with a dressing or grilled corn on the cobs covered in salt and chilli power. Creating perfect outdoor parties means catering for all tastes.

Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties

Supercharge Your Sides and Salads

Where salad was once an afterthought there’s now a new mantra.  ‘Salad maketh the barbeque’. Fix up a variety of different salads. Italian caprese, potato salad, roasted vegetable cous cous, spicy avocado or Asian slaw are just some ideas. Be as adventurous as possible and expand your salad repertoire, not overlooking that cooked ingredients are just as at home in the salad bowl as raw ones. Add nuts for texture and chopped herbs for a fresh and fragrant bowl of goodness. Don’t forget the dressing which should be added at the last moment or served at the side for guests to help themselves.

Another table (and tummy) filler is piling up a selection of different breads from your local deli or bakery. Many places are starting to re-open and deliver now, so add breads of all different shapes, sizes and textures to your shopping list. Nestle in some homemade dips like hummus, pesto or balsamic vinegar and oil and you’re onto a winner.
These delicious accompaniments are exactly what guests will be talking about post event. It’s the little extra TLC details that make all the difference when creating perfect outdoor parties.

Deliver on Your Drinks

If you want to make an impression as soon as they walk through the gate, choose a classic English or Italian aperitif to serve on arrival. Pimms chilled, then filled with fresh fruit or a crisp sparkling Aperol Spritz will never disappoint. There are some fabulous cocktail ideas here .

Another top tip, that we often do at TLC parties, is take large aluminium bins or buckets, fill with ice and bottles beers (or soft drinks for the children). Add a bottle opener onto the side of the bucket or provide a personalised one for each guest as a favour. Then nobody needs to make numerous trips back to the fridges to refill their drinks!

Avoid sharing bottles of wine – opt for an individual bottle per guest or personal cocktails. And on a hot day, go for fabulous frozen vodka or mojito lollies (with fruit versions for the kids)!

Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties

Filling different size Kilner glass dispensers with iced water, fresh fruit and herbs is a great way to serve unlimited water to guests in the hot temperatures. Or add homemade lemonade. It’s also a great way to add a bit of colour and décor to a BBQ table that needs filling. To keep your little guests happy, why not think of a similar match to the cocktails to serve to the children. Fruit punch or fizzy orange with grenadine would work brilliantly and kids love nothing more than a mocktail to get involved with the adults.

Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties

Create an atmosphere

Infusing your party with ambience and atmosphere is one of the most important aspects in creating perfect outdoor parties. The best way to do this is by using simple decorations.
Depending on the number of guests and size of your space, a long central table for guests to eat as is ideal – keeping in mind social distancing rules of course. Your table filled with the delicious salads and side dishes that you have prepared along with the meats, fishes and vegetarian dishes will already add a sense of décor without any additional effort. Decorate the long table with a gorgeous centrepiece using simple household items. You could order your favourite flowers online and split them up into different sizes vases. Or create a low runner and add a few petals, leaves and candles for a beautiful floral display. For a nice finishing touch, buy some new matching crockery and glassware, especially if it’s a special occasion. Layer the table with all of the beautiful plates and wine glasses and see your table come to life!

Additional chill out areas, loungers, garden furniture and maybe even a hanging chair is a great way to create different zones for your party. Group them to allow social distancing. For an easy and super effective way to decorate these areas, fill smaller Kilner jars, jam jars or vases with flowers from your garden and tea lights. Stringing fairy lights throughout your garden is a great way to create ambience ready for when the sun goes down.

Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties Creating Perfect Outdoor Parties

Top Notch Entertainment

Entertainment is another key component of your BBQ or outdoor party. Particularly when everybody isn’t confined to one small space when it can help hold everything together. It always takes longer than you predict to get the BBQ going. Whilst guests are arriving earlier on, why not set up some garden games for people to play. Try lawn bowls, croquet or something a little more fun like giant Jenga or giant connect four. Even an oversized chess board if your space allows. This is a great way to provide entertainment for those who want it, without forcing those who don’t into something that makes them uncomfortable. Have sanitizer wipes on hand to wipe down all the games between players from different households.

Music shouldn’t be forgotten. Finding that perfect playlist will also help to set the mood. Start off the evening with something more chilled and relaxed maybe summer songs to encourage people to relax and socialise. Then as the night progresses, pick up the music. If you really want to go the extra mile you could look at bringing in a small, local acoustic band who can mix between playing background music and then livening the night up later on.

So, with the current temperatures soaring throughout the UK and the desire for people to see their families and friends, outdoor events and BBQ parties are looking likely to be the events for the remainder of 2020. Try some of our tips to creating perfect outdoor parties and BBQs – TLC style!

Continue reading  
 Apr 22nd 2020

A ‘Stranger Things’ Party

A ‘Stranger Things’ Party

Creating a party with a unique atmosphere is a challenge that the TLC team rise to. Clients sometimes come to us with a clear idea of what they want the ‘theme’ of their event to be. Other look to our imaginations to design something bespoke to the occasion. We work closely with them to uncover the things our clients love and motivate them; sport, music, tv. The inspiration always needs to reflect their personality and personal style. There have been some truly innovative parties as a result, and one of most detailed ideas was taken straight from the Netflix screen, with a ‘Stranger Things’ Party.

‘Stranger Things’ is a sci-fi hit and a favourite show for one young client, who asked us to immerse guests into the supernatural world of Hawkins, Indiana (home of the series). Two years in the making, here’s how our ‘Stranger Things’ party came to life.  Reinvented as the ‘Stranger Twins’ party, thanks to TLC event director, Jess Randall.  Here’s the event in Jess’ words:

Most Popular Party Theme Ideas

The Brief

The client had worked with us on a number of occasions, so we were thrilled to be asked to plan this unique party. We had organised the parent’s wedding, produced one of the couple’s 40th birthday parties and planned two of the children’s Bar mitzvahs. They family have four boys, the youngest being twins, and the father is a creative in the music business. Having delivered a Back to The Future party, and our take on a rock festival, the Louispalooza party, we were now tasked with creating STRANGER TWINS.

A party inspired by the series STRANGER THINGS, and as with all our events, the detail was paramount!

The Date

February 2020. We started the planning of our ‘Stranger Things’ party from the end of 2018, as so many elements were being specially commissioned for the party.

The Location

Firstly, any ‘Stranger Things’ party needs a unique venue. We had sourced two venues before finding the final one for the client. Both venues then let us down. As a result, the search was really on to find somewhere amazing. Weeks of searching and visiting potential places – as always, the backdrop was crucial to the party success. There was a huge adrenalin rush when I secured 26 Leake Street in Waterloo, as I knew the pressure of the search has been worth it.  It was an amazing venue. Raw, unique and contemporary. It was the blank canvas required to turn the fantasy into reality!

The Guests

There were 240 guests in total, 120 adults and 120 kids. Bar mitzvah parties celebrate a boy’s coming of age in the Jewish faith, so the guests were a combination of friends and family. Most were based in the UK, but some travelled from abroad to the celebration.

The Planning

This was an exclusive TLC event. It was ‘dry hire’ (completely empty space), so we took absolutely everything we needed into the venue and removed it as soon as the event was finished. The party set-up took two busy days. We worked with numerous appointed suppliers to create the party. Caterers, florists, theme dressers, lighting technicians and production teams. Not to leave out our incredible entertainment!

We had never produced a ‘Stranger Things’ party before and yet it has become one of our most popular party theme ideas. I totally embraced this because new concepts are always challenging for me, and I enjoy researching into the detail needed to bring the party to life. I also knew the client’s expectations were high, so I had to focus on engaging in his daily instructions and then making them my own. We liaised almost every day for a year in order to make the event perfect. It was about adding the extra little touches to immerse guests into a “film set” atmosphere.

Most Popular Party Theme Ideas

The Concept

Anticipation was electric because the invitation had been meticulously designed around the theme. So, when guests arrived, they were in awe of the incredible reception area. It has been transformed into the upside-down forest area from the series. Entering through a long graffiti archway under Waterloo Station and leading into adjacent railway arches. Guests were immediately immersed into the theatre that we created.

Most Popular Party Theme Ideas

The Cocktails

Guests were greeted with ‘Stranger Things’ party themed cocktails (and mocktails for the children).  Cocktails were named based on different ideas from the series. Eggo Waffles, the Science Lab, the Demogorgan Monsters and the main child in the series. We then themed these drinks to match their names and ingredients. Presentation was key. For example, the Hawkins Lab cocktail we served in a science beaker with dry ice coming out of it. 80’s American style canapes were circulated. Slider Burgers, Mac & Cheese Balls and Mushroom Vol-au-Vents.

During the drinks’ reception, a sensational acoustic boy band entertained guests.  A roaming performance amongst the guests.  But the entertainment didn’t end there.  At the far end of the drinks’ reception tunnel, we created an arcade area for the children which included a large variation of 80’s style arcade games such as Dig Dug, Pacman and Pinball.

Most Popular Party Theme Ideas

Related Topic: TLC’s Destination Guide to London

The Party

We transformed the second tunnel into the dining and party area. At one end we created ‘Joyce’s living room’ for the adults dining area. This space was filled with random shelves and tables scattered with ornaments, 80’s games and vases with flowers.  A ceiling of coloured fairy light bulbs was created to give the space the “Joyce” touch.  A fabulous ‘Alphabet Wall’ was installed. This is an iconic image associated with the Stranger Thing series and we used it both as a backdrop and as a unique photobooth area.

Most Popular Party Theme Ideas

The adults’ main menu was based on a restaurant in London called ‘The Coal Office’ which served Lebanese small plates. We had been for a tasting at this restaurant when we first started planning the event and fell in love with the food. Our event chef re-created the menu and served the food in waves.

Most Popular Party Theme Ideas

The upper level of the second tunnel was more contemporary and had white walls, pillars and metal stairs. It worked perfectly for us to turn this into ‘Hawkins Lab’. This was the kid’s dining area. We used high white lab style tables and metal stools. Tables were dressed with pieces of science equipment; Bunsen burners, syringes, petri dishes, goggles, lab coats. We also hired some amazing lab equipment such as X ray machines for authenticity. .

Most Popular Party Theme Ideas

We kept it the kids’ menu simple and to match the theme. They enjoyed KFC style fish fingers with a range of sides such as fries, smoky BBQ beans and corn. We had a nitro ice cream station and a doughnut wall set up for the desserts.

Most Popular Party Theme Ideas

The Entertainment

We had a live DJ, Sax and Percussionist who performed sets throughout the evening, and they brought unimaginable energy to the party. A combination of a DJ and musicians is a perfect combination. Importantly, they can engage with all ages, so that the children and adults are on the dancefloor from start to finish. They played a lot of 80’s style music to match with the theme of the party.

Most Popular Party Theme Ideas

The Challenges

As a huge amount of time was invested in planning our ‘Stranger Things’ party, and a number of planning challenges overcome.

The first venue we contracted had a fire and burned down, so I was tasked with finding another venue quickly. I researched and investigated about 70 different venues in London to suit our theme over a number of months. Essentially a blank studio space was needed.  Days and weeks invested in going on site visits to different venues. Finding perfect venue, only to then find that the first option hold on the venue wanted to confirm the space. Back to square one!

In the process of all of this, our client decided to change the theme of the party from a film theme to a Stranger Things party. I found 26 Leake Street after a lot of research, and following a visit, everyone immediately fell in love with it.

It was evident from the start that this was going to be a huge build, with a number of suppliers needing to arrive at exactly the same time on the day of set up. Only the day of the party had been contracted for set up, and we had just 4 hours after the event finished to de-rig everything out of the venue.  In addition, every single thing had to be cleared out of the venue and our rubbish removed, with not even a single bin provided.  As we were building everything bespoke and bringing in numerous props, this was going to be a massive challenge.

Thinking outside of the box – what TLC does best – we negotiated with the venue.  The project was a great subject to create a time lapse promotional video.. So, we swapped a copy of our time lapse footage for the venue’s own promotion, in return for an additional days’ set up.

As the entrance to the venue is in the middle of a tunnel that is accessible by the public, we had to ensure that security was tight. During the whole set up, the public were constantly trying to get into the venue to have a look what was going on which was a challenge, as we needed to have the doors open for deliveries.  Additional security were hired for the day to keep the public from accessing the party.

Set-up was completed with an hour to spare and we were excited for guests arrive. We underestimated how much space the ‘Forest’ area would take up in the first tunnel. That meant by the time 250 people had arrived, space was limited for the drinks’ reception. As amazing as it did look!

When we called people through to the main space, jaws dropped!  A separate adults’ dining area and a kids’ dining area had been arranged. Due to the tunnel being so long, the  dancefloor was situated in the middle separating these two areas.  We had to ensure that we incorporated both groups into the party and onto the dancefloor.  This was a struggle.

Lastly, there were a number of speeches due to happen at different stages throughout the night from a temporary stage, so logistics, specific timings, event management and organisation were all a priority.

With a massive team effort from our amazing suppliers, we managed to clear everything out of the space in the allocated hours without any problems.

Most Popular Party Theme Ideas

Jess’s Highlights

I was secretly very proud of myself. I had orchestrated a magnificent event and accepted the glory graciously! The feeling that after 18 months of planning, a 48-hour crazy set up and over 40 different suppliers, the space was transformed into an incredible ‘Stranger Things’ party. It that captured exactly the feel that we wanted it to and am thrilled it has become one of the team’s most popular party theme ideas. Every last aspect had been thought of, and each area resembled the theme to a tee. Seeing the guests faces as they arrived at the venue and then again when we revealed the main room; it was so rewarding. Guests were able to immerse themselves into the world of ‘Stranger Things’ – even just for as few hours.

On Reflection …. 

I think that the excitement of finding this venue took-over from a creativity perspective. Next time I would definitely consider the challenges from the logistical side a lot more. There were definite challenges to overcome in terms of set up and then the running of the party. These I would look at more closely before confirming and contracting with a venue. The set-up is usually the hardest part of an event however, the running of this event on the night, due to a number of factors, was really difficult. We overcame many challenges with the ‘Stranger Things’ party – thanks to a great team. I can definitely take experience from this party and invest it into my next e

Continue reading  
 Apr 8th 2020

How to Create the Perfect Easter Table During Lockdown

How to Create the Perfect Easter Table During Lockdown 

Large family gatherings may be off the table this Easter Sunday, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put your effort into a wonderful home-based celebration for you and your household. In fact, creating and planning a house party could be just the thing you need to lift the spirits and mark the occasion. And of course, the centre of any festivities is the table. The place to dress, display, gather and dine together. Here, Jess Randall TLC’s Event Director shares her thoughts on how to create the perfect Easter table during lockdown and make it an Easter to remember for the right reasons. She shares her ideas for creating a stunning, Instagram-worthy table décor using items readily available in your house and garden.

Bring the Outdoors In

The first piece of advice on how to create the perfect Easter table during lockdown; bring the outdoors in. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, then take a look at what’s already in bloom for early springtime and pair any pretty flowers with vases indoors. Even if there’s nothing blossoming yet, lovely greenery from shrubs and trees will make a decadent display. Smaller outdoor pots can also be cleaned up and brought inside. Or reuse glassware such as mason jars which can look really effective when putting together a simple centrepiece. The rustic style is very on trend right now too. If you’re being sparing with your flowers, you could simply use a single tulip or daffodil on top of the napkin to add a bit of colour to the table.

How to Create the Perfect Easter Table

 

Use Your Sunday Best

Make Easter Sunday time for some fine dining, with a well-dressed dinner table. When better than now to dig out that fancy glassware, cutlery and crockery that you only save for ‘special occasions’? Layer up the table with matching glassware, any charger plates, or items that could act as one like slates or rattan place mats, then add a napkin on top of the crockery.

 

Reuse and Repurpose

It’s no secret that many of us have been indulging in a drink or two during lockdown, and with fewer recycling collections why not save the fancy wine and gin bottles to reuse as table décor. Either opt for simple and elegant style with a single long stem flower or burn a taper candle so that the wax drips down the bottle for more rustic appeal. And, of course, candles are very significant at the Easter church service, so for those of you who would usually attend church on Easter Sunday, you can reflect that symbolism in your own home.

Related Topic: Eggs, Eggs, Eggs

How to Create the Perfect Easter Table

 

Get Festive

Some people have been decking out the outside of their homes in Christmas lights to spread some cheer, so why not take this idea indoors. A sea of sparkling fairy lights is a beautiful backdrop to a decorated Easter table. If you have an artificial Christmas tree or some decorative branches in your home, you could even create an Easter tree by hanging paper chains and some homemade Easter crafts.

How to Create the Perfect Easter Table

 

Involve the Whole Family

When looking at how to create the perfect Easter table during lockdown, the entire TLC team were passionate that you must involve the whole family. If you have young children living with you then a way to beat the boredom is by having an arts and crafts day. Then use their creations to dress the table. There is lots of inspiration on Pinterest and some ideas could include individual place settings for the family members, Easter bunting, or painted/decorated eggs.

How to Create the Perfect Easter Table

 

Let the Food do the Talking

If you’re having a buffet style Sunday lunch, then use the food as the table décor either as a statement grazing table or creating a centrepiece runner if guests are all to be seated. Sharing platters are very on-trend at the moment. They’re frequently done with antipasti style platters but Sunday ‘carvery style’ roast platters look mouthwatering-ly good! https://www.grapeandfig.com/

How to Create the Perfect Easter Table

 

Be Eclectic

If there are items around your house that you often walk past and think ‘I love that’ then bring them together for an eclectic centrepiece. It could be different candles, ornaments, old perfume bottles that you could put a few flowers in, photo frames, teapots or serving dishes – you can use anything that makes the table feel ‘different’ to what you sit at day in, day out.

How to Create the Perfect Easter Table

 

I hope my ‘how to create the perfect Easter table during lockdown’ advice will be helpful during this difficult time. Enjoy a scaled down family celebration with a simpler emphasis. In my view, sometimes a less formal celebration can work just as well as a larger family gathering. Keep your eye on our blog for more at-home party planning tips. Some brighter TLC moments in tough times.

Continue reading  
 Nov 28th 2019

4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts

4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts

As experienced event planners, the TLC team know a few tricks of the trade when it comes to creating a fabulous but stress-free Christmas party. And when it comes to organising your Christmas party at home, our team of experts is on hand to help you this year with 4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts that a big on style, and low on stress! You know, those little Christmas party planning secrets that will elevate your party so that it looks like it was lifted straight out of the pages of a glossy magazine, with minimal effort. All the glamour – no stress!

Limited budget? Short on time? Tired, stressed and trying to squeeze your party planning in amongst the growing list of festive tasks? No problem. Follow our 4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts below and we’re sure you’ll be hosting a party to remember for all the right reasons. But shhhhhh, don’t tell everybody…

Events director Jess Randall shares décor ideas to delight your guests.

“I’d always recommend sticking to one colour palette when decorating your room and the festive table. Decorations don’t have to be expensive, but if you stick to the same colour palette throughout – you’ll create a look that’s far more elegant than the price tag suggests! Introduce tones of a rich deep red and use a colour fade effect to take it through to the palest pink. Navy blue, through sky blue to lightest turquoise works brilliantly with a touch of silver for a contemporary look. Or opt for a modern white and silver scheme – perhaps adding a deep grey or natural green accent.

4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts

“I’m also a huge fan of DIY, especially if you’re quite artistic. You can achieve some really high end looks at a fraction of the price and with minimal effort.

“One idea is to create a stylish festive table topper by measuring your dining table and getting a piece of clear Perspex cut to fit. Arrange winter foliage, flowers and inexpensive decorations (they need to be flat) on top of your table, then simply place the Perspex over it all. Weight this down for a few hours, so that the table top is flat. It provides a gorgeous setting upon which to dine – and a real talking point! I have also done this with old newspapers, magazines and Christmas artwork created by a client’s children too, to create a unique festive table-top!”

4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts

“Our 4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts is about saving time, without losing style.  So I look for lovely shortcuts that do double duty as décor and dessert. For example, with a rustic design (popular this year) have small bowls of satsumas, apples and nuts lining a table which can be eaten with dessert or a cheese course, and add in simple candles for light.  Have iced gingerbread as place markers and a sweet treat with coffee (you can buy these of course and just ice the names on!). Or have a lazy Susan in the centre of the table – dress with mini desserts, tealights, fruits and goodies to give a stunning focal point and sharing dessert.

4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts

Feeling inspired by Elsa and Ana in Frozen 2 or simply looking to create a frost-covered winter wonderland for your party. Well our very own ice queen Jess, shares some of her coolest ideas in our 4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts; including a show-stopping centre-piece.

“A simple and easy icy tip is to buy lemons and limes in advance. Cut into slices. Lay flat on a tray and freeze. Once frozen, place into a bag and keep in the freezer. Then, simply add to drinks as you need at the party. They help to keep the G&T chilled and add little citrus hit too! Similarly, you can place cranberries, raspberries or blackberries and a little water into ice cube trays and freeze. They make for fun festive ice cubes!

“One of my all-time favourite party hacks that looks sensational is to create the most amazing seasonal table centre with a frozen vodka or tequila bottle. Here’s how you do it: cut the top off a 1 litre plastic bottle and place a 770ml bottle of vodka, tequila or whatever sprit you fancy inside. Gin is still very much having a moment, as is flavoured or premium vodka. Fill between the plastic bottle and bottle of booze with distilled water and place leaves, berries, sprigs of herbs, holly, seasonal berries and sliced oranges around the side. Stand this carefully in your freezer and leave for at least three hours or until everything freezes. When your party is in full swing and you want to serve, simply run the plastic bottle sleeve quickly under a tap. It will slide it off to reveal a festive ice-wrap around the bottle.”

Create a feast of festive fayre with these insider tips from TLC’s answer to Mary Berry, festive foodie Frankie Lyons.

Let’s face it, we don’t all have the time to be cooking and freezing endless mince pies weeks in advance of a festive get together. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying from a good local bakery and piling them high on a cake stand in the centre of your table. Sprinkle your haul with icing sugar (make a template in the shape of a star out of cereal box cardboard, and sprinkle icing sugar through this to give the pies a professional finish). Dress the plate with festive garden greenery, satsumas, nuts, chocolates and some sprayed pinecones to create a festive table decoration and dessert in one!

If you are happy to bake – the easiest trick is to simply bake dessert in festive shaped moulds. Christmas trees, Santa, Rudolph….all available as small metal baking cutters or cake tins in discount stores. Use as a mold for chocolate orange brownies or festive flavoured cheesecakes – we love rum and raisin! Simple.

And for the children, a hot chocolate station is included in our 4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts.  The difference – you simply make the hot chocolate in a slow cooker to save time slaving over a hob, and leave on low to keep warm.  Minimal management needed.  Have an array of toppings for kids to help themselves to; cream, marshmallows, sprinkles and perhaps Brandy for the parents!  Serve in inexpensive Christmas cups (which they can use as a take-home present) with a candy cane on the side. Delicious and fun.

Party like an A-lister and ramp up the glamour, without the big budget price tag, with these simple switches from our CEO and creative director Liz Taylor.

Forget expensive champagne. Switch it up using sparkling wines such as Cava or Prosecco or one of the ‘own brands’ that always do well in blind taste tests. Mix with Pomegranate juice and dress with a sprig of Rosemary to create a ‘Poinsettia’ cocktail – gorgeous – or satsuma juice for a pimped-up Bucks Fizz. Any good celebrity party focuses on presentation though, so look for interesting glasses to serve them in. Vintage champagne goblets are always a favourite with my clients – you can scour car boot sales for them. An uber stylish way to serve up cocktails.

“Souper Canapes. Canapes may be featured at many celebrity parties, but they can be expensive to buy and time consuming to make. Try this. Buy inexpensive vintage tea pots and china cups (e-bay, jumble sales) and then make a quick homemade veggie soup (or buy a good chilled soup if you prefer). Pour the hot soup from the tea pots and serve as ‘canape’s in the china tea cups. Very stylish.

“A huge trend at celebrity parties is to personalise the guest’s party experience. This can be done simply. Buy individual baking pots with lids from discount shops (similar in style to Le Creuset, but far less expensive). Make one homemade casserole, but decant and serve in the individual dishes. A rustic treat! Place individual gravy jugs and salt and pepper pots at every place setting. Looks so much more stylish. Buy chocolate plaques and have them iced with guest’s names (Thornton’s chocolate stores can help here!). They are great as a place marker and chocolate treats with coffee! “

If you enjoyed our 4 Christmas Party Planning Shortcuts, check this out too: Festive Brunch 

Continue reading  
 Oct 30th 2019

Planning the Perfect Christmas Party

Planning the Perfect Christmas Party

Liz Taylor, founder and MD of the Taylor Lynn Corporation, took time out of her events schedule to share her tips on planning the perfect Christmas Party with guests who were invited to a networking lunch at Sheffield’s stunning Whirlowbrook Hall, part of Vine Hotels. Guests had the opportunity to hear advice and anecdotes from this award-winning event organiser. Here’s what she had to say:

“It’s only 90 days away and you can’t take the Christmas out of Christmas.”

But everyone does have a different perception of Christmas and there is no right way or wrong way. What is essential is that in planning the perfect Christmas party, you take a drop of eggnog, a bunch of mistletoe, raise the curtain and kiss goodbye to the old, as you celebrate bringing in the new. In any event, expectations are high – especially in my world, where the client has turned to a professional to create the theatre.

corporate event planners in manchester tlc limited

Festive Trends

As founder and MD of the Taylor Lynn Corporation, I have been planning and producing corporate and private events for over 30 years. The 5am starts and the 2am finishes. The constant challenge to reinvent, reinterpret and re-energise an event. The bigger the challenge, the greater the sense of achievement. I am passionate about what I do. I want to share with you a little of the theatre, drama, passion and backbone; with my tips to planning the perfect Christmas party.

I often get asked early in the year what the coming trends are for this much anticipated time. This year I am in the middle of designing and delivering a Christmas dinner for 80 guests in a marquee immersed in chocolate brown velvet, pull out crackers with menu details and guests names at each place setting printed in a lush copper plate. A deconstructed Christmas tree decorated with bronze and copper foliage and baubles – all built on a square truss overhead, so it becomes the roof of the dining space. A gospel choir during reception entertaining with Christmas favourites, and a band from Paris to rock the room. So, I’ve taken some traditional and mixed it with a variety of colours and textures to give it that touch of TLC.

Planning the perfect Christmas Party inevitably attracts trends. We have provided the décor for private clients where they have spent circa £50k on dressing door frames, trees, banisters. These had to reflect the traditional New York and American movie vision of Christmas that we soak up in those old films.

Then there is the contemporary – where you select ice baubles and use them as name places, throw faux skins over the back of chairs. Then put the light-up reindeer in the front garden. Twee? Maybe. But providing it’s tucked behind a tree, it’s fun.

Be bold with colours and dare to be different. Teal, deep reds, copper, gold, orange shades – the rich hues that can be found in winter flowers and foliage.  In this vain, I’ve just bought 24 copper water glasses which are amazing for £1 each. They will sit at my table on Christmas Day amongst the wood, the bark and tiny tea lights; offering a rustic feel. My Christmas this year is natural bark – baccara roses and candles.

But what of corporate Christmas. For me, there are three vital ingredients that contribute to the TLC wow factor in planning the perfect Christmas party, and are the basis for a successful event – exclusive imagination, individuality and that moment least expected. Let me explain……

Exclusive Imagination

Its allowing someone to think out of the box and take a concept and create magic. Here’s an example. A 21st birthday – the girl who still had the magic of youth and wanted Narnia. And Narnia she got.

Set designers descended and built a magnificent wardrobe door. Creatively lit this was the focus as guests drove into the car park. Our Narnia queen guided them in – through a wardrobe of mink coats that touched the sides into a walkway of characters on stilts and a pathway of leaves. As they walked along the path, they turned a corner with two huskies on a sleigh guiding them into Narnia. Continuing their journey through the snow – with snowflakes falling from the ceiling, before eventually arriving in Narnia. Perspex tables with magnificent white birch trees growing out of them, and a multitude of candles against crystal glassware and opaque crockery. A combination of Narnia and a white Christmas. Anticipation, exclamation and exclusive imagination in abundance.

Exclusive imagination – of ideas, of concepts, of entertainment and of venues. Infusing your Christmas event with some exclusive touches can make all the difference. Take this venue, here at Whirlowbrook Hall, as an example. Exclusive hire means you can party here until the early hours without worrying about the DJ upsetting anyone next door. Hire the space, and you are lord and lady of the manor. Dress the space to your own taste and you’re assured of the staff’s full attention – no sharing them with other companies.

When it comes to entertainment – invest in the best. I only work with exclusive entertainers – phenomenal ensemble bands and the best DJs from the continent. Companies will often ask me to just book their Christmas party entertainment because they know that we don’t offer average. My belief is that this is an area where a little more should be invested. When we orgnaise parties and clients ask if we have a DJ for £150, we don’t. You get what you pay for and mixing music is an art in itself.

 

corporate event planners in manchester tlc limited

Related Topic: Can you Host a Christmas Party in January?

Individuality

Individual interpretation is a bit part of planning the perfect Christmas Party. As I said before, you can’t take Christmas out of Christmas, but you can interpret it in a unique style. Take every element of the party and re-imagine it. Food is a great example. We fuse food and theatre to great effect. The rise in informal catering has allowed us to be imaginative. Sushi bars. Gourmet pizza. And a traditional fish and chip van as guests depart. Food stations merging into theatrical props. For a more formal meal – take the traditional Christmas turkey and transform it into individual pies served miniature jugs of gravy on the side. Sticky toffee pudding served in shot glasses. And Christmas pudding – serve as a martini. Yes, it is a cocktail!

My most inspiring moments are honestly on my treadmill every morning. With my eclectic mix on full blast music takes me into a most creative corner where I find the impossible. For a Wizard of Oz inspired party, we offered a 10-foot witch greeting guests – and I mean greeting them. A custom-built animated statue guided them into a wicked inspired set, and then at the appropriate time, the entire wall dropped and there was the yellow brick road. The detail in the room and on the tables was insane, with Perspex tables resting on large ruby red shoes. The entertainment … Diana ross and a serious DJ! Now that’s wow.

Putting your own mark on an event is all about the details.

The Moment Least Expected

This is the greatest wow factor moment planning the perfect Christmas Party. When a wall drops on a drum roll … when pyrotechnics burst into the room to announce employee of the year or when a ceiling drops hundreds of hidden petals when they say, ‘I do’.

Take a festive party for a financial services client. Guests ferried in private cars to a farmer’s field in Surrey [a surprise in itself for the well-dressed guests]. Walking on a purpose-built footpath carved through wintry woodland – and then – a stunning marquee nestled in the landscape and sprinkled with TLC’s winter magic. Oversized frosted trees. A spectacular lighting production bathing the rustic wooden bar and tables in light. This surprise venue created out of a challenge. We scoured the county for the right venue – no luck. When I hit a brick wall, I start digging. If we don’t have a venue – we build one. We hired a farmer’s field and erected a fabulous marquee. We cut back the woodland to create an entrance walkway – placed hundreds of candles along the way and voila! A wow moment for festive party goers that they will remember.

corporate event planners in manchester tlc limited

And let’s not forget one of the most surprising moments at any Christmas party. When the Duke of Cambridge bounds onto a stage to sing Livin’ on a Prayer with Jon Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift. A charity event that I was involved with on just two weeks’ notice. Dr Zhivago inspired. Kensington Palace the venue. The guest list a Who’s Who. The photos of the Prince and the Rock Stars went global.

Exclusive imagination, individuality and the moment least expected…. three of my top tips in planning the perfect Christmas party.

All well and good you might say – these sound like unlimited budgets. My mantra is that it’s never how much you spend, but how you spend it. If you have £500 to throw into a reception – don’t invest it in an inexperienced and underrated musical act. Invest it in a ten-foot vase filled with an abundance of flower heads that takes the breath away. Or a bar full of festive inspired cocktails served in a milk bottle that oozes dry ice and sustainable branded straws! Paper of course!

planning the perfect Christmas Party

At home, styling can be simple but effective too. Take the festive lunch table. Here’s three different styles you could choose from:

Contemporary Chic

If you are opting for linens, a contemporary feel should use a plain, white, crisp tablecloth as your starting point. Bring your table to life with a gorgeous electric blue silk table runner. Use clear and blue ‘crackled effect’ glassware to enhance the colour scheme. Place tall candles into crystal or glass holders and put chunkier ones straight onto mirrors down the table centre. Dress with frosted ivy, twigs, pinecones and leaves. Crockery and cutlery are always best kept simple with contemporary white linens, so opt for silver or chrome cutlery. Add lots of miniature ‘snowflake’ crystals for sparkle and you’ll have an elegant, contemporary table.

corporate event planners in manchester tlc limited

Downton Inspired

Or go more traditional in planning the perfect Christmas party. Downton Abbey is influencing styles again with its recent reincarnation at the cinema. Black Watch Tartan linens and deep purple napkins tied with a gold napkin ring. Add some traditional glamour to this look by using gold candelabra on the table, or some of the fabulous deep gold candles now available. The gold in this style should be deep, and rich, not the highly polished commercial look. You are creating a very traditional and slightly vintage feel, so a more burnished gold is better.

Handmade or Homemade

Let’s not forget, and TV’s Kirsty Allsopp would be proud of me here, that the ‘handmade’ family Christmas style is still popular. Choose a very simple red gingham cloth and then adorn with homemade décor items. Create a table centre out of a three miniature gingerbread houses filled with chunky candles, or hessian wrapped bowls of nuts, cinnamon sticks, dried oranges and pinecones. It’ll be wonderfully scented. Just add simple tea lights and red napkins tied with raffia to complete the look.

Glassware is something that really shows quality – don’t leave the crystal in the cupboard, get it out and enjoy it! A simple tip is to tie matching Black Watch Tartan ribbon around the stem of each glass; you could even add a delicate sleigh bell for additional tinkle! For a more earthy Christmas style, add a hessian bow to some of the chunkier wine glasses to reflect the less formal feel of the table.

Personalise your table for maximum effect. The first way to do this is with your crackers, which must be quality whether that is bought or homemade. Try using different paper or materials to craft them with personalised gifts inside.

The other key personal touch is your place settings. You could get your children to craft gingerbread name plates with iced names written on top, or simply write names in gold pen onto holly leaves or a plain glass bauble that matches your colour scheme. Simple. Inexpensive.

Christmas parties arranged by the Taylor Lynn Corporation the party planner in Manchester

To Conclude

I have said this before, but it’s truer now than ever. After 30 years I get up event morning, decide what diet I am on that day, and then embrace the madness. I love it. I am lucky enough to have worked in my dream job. My team inspire me. My events challenge me still.

2020 marks TLC’s 25th anniversary – a time to reflect, celebrate and innovate. We have plans. Big plans. No sitting on our laurels. We are forging into 2020 with a healthy order book, unlimited imagination and a hunger to take the company to new levels. Bring it on!

www.whirlowbrook.co.uk

Continue reading  
 May 3rd 2019

Five ideas for a football inspired party

Five ideas for a football inspired party

Whether you are heading to Wembley on 18 May or watching on TV, the Emirates FA Cup final is always a good excuse for a party. This year Manchester City and Watford will battle it out to bring home the iconic silverware. To get you in the mood, here are our favourite five ideas for a football inspired party.

1. Play with your hero

For true fans, if you can’t see your team win the FA Cup the next best thing is playing on a pitch side-by-side with your sporting heroes. During May and June many Premiership stadiums offers access to their pitches for people looking for an extra special birthday or corporate football inspired party. Play with a Legend. It offers three-hour party packages that include playing time and socialising with the footballing icon after the match. The birthday party package includes full kit hire, a qualified referee, and a footballing legend to play in your game of 7 or 11 a-side. They will also join you for post-match drinks in the bar to share stories from their career. Footballers available for hire include Ian Rush, Emile Heskey and Teddy Sheringham.

2. Soccer Superstars

For the little football lovers in your life there are lots of indoor and outdoor pitches you can hire by the hour and set up your own mini-tournament. Some sessions are run by professional coaches and can include a wide variety of football inspired party games. Think keepie-up competitions and shoot-outs. For youngsters, a winner’s trophy is a nice touch to have, and medals for every competitor to take away as party favours. After all that activity, the young sportsmen and women and their parents will no doubt have worked-up an appetite. Find a pitch that offers an adjacent party room for hire. Decorate it with a football pitch dancefloor. Tables suspended on giant floral footballs. Linens in the colours of your favourite teams. A cascade of flowers blooming for football boots as creative table displays. Ideas are endless.

Five ideas for a football inspired party Five ideas for a football inspired party Five ideas for a football inspired party

Related Topic: See our Penny Dreadful Inspired Party

3. FIFA champions

Third on our list of five ideas for a football inspired party, set up your own championship experience. Use technology such as X Box FIFA 19 for a football inspired game party. Unlike individual video game play, a party experience heightens the drama as players compete against each other in the same space. You can choose whatever the prize will be – even having knock-out rounds to take home your own party silverware. The best bit is that players can choose their own team, so no matter who you support there is a chance of seeing your colours in the final.

4. Penalty Shoot-Out

Nothing beats the drama of a final penalty shoot-out. And you can recreate the excitement by hiring an inflatable penalty shoot-out for your football inspired party. There are inflatable goals with either Velcro target areas or a series of holes to shoot through with a backdrop to collect the balls. They work well for outdoor parties or in a large indoor space and appeal to both young and old footie fans alike. Simple but fun for a smaller venue….add a Sabbuteo football table and watch grown men battle it out on the pitch! Let the tournament begin!

5. Hear from the best

Last on our collection of five ideas for a football inspired party is for a larger celebration. If you’re planning a more formal football inspired party such as a sportsman’s dinner, as well as football themed décor and entertainment, nothing beats the authenticity of hearing from one of the sport’s well-known greats. Combine with a dinner of match day foods – posh pie and peas, bottled beers chilled to arctic temperatures, piping hot cones of fish and chips and maybe a decadent Mars Bar (the staple of the terraces) inspired dessert. Footballing after dinner speakers for hire include Andy Cole, Ron Atkinson, Michael Owen, Kevin Keegan, John Barnes and Bryan Robson.

Engagement events by the Taylor Lynn Corporation

Continue reading  
 Apr 2nd 2019

Five top tips for a high-octane motorsports inspired party

Five top tips for a high-octane motorsports inspired party

With the countdown on to the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monaco at the end of May, it’s time to bring the glamour and thrill of the racetrack to your party plans. Always a winning design, motorsports décor works equally well for a birthday celebration or corporate event. Here is a selection of ideas to get your plans motoring, with our five top tips for a high-octane motorsports inspired party:

Five top tips for a high-octane motorsports inspired party

1. The wow-factor arrival

For the ultimate wow-factor at a motor-racing themed party you can’t beat having a championship race car parked in the driveway. It’s the ultimate selfie magnet and Instagram winner. Some companies hire out Formula 1 show cars that they will fully customise with your chosen branding. Other companies rent out actual championship cars such as the BENETTON FORD B190B driven by three times F1 world champion Nelson Piquet.

Five top tips for a high-octane motorsports inspired party Five top tips for a high-octane motorsports inspired party      

2. A racetrack entrance

Switching the red carpet for a black and white chequered or race-track runner is a great way to set the scene. Add to the atmosphere by playing the new Formula 1 super-hero style theme-tune as a background soundtrack and everyone will be revving-up to get the party started.

Once inside, stick with the chequered theme with flashes of red for the décor. And mix the theme up using tyres for plant arrangements, a chequered dance floor and large trophies as wine coolers.

Five top tips for a high-octane motorsports inspired party

Five top tips for a high-octane motorsports inspired party

3. The thrill of the race

It’s every motor-racing fan’s dream to hit the track in a Formula 1 car. And dreams can come true at your party if you hire a racing car simulator. There are different styles and sizes, some coming as huge outdoor structures with attached awning. Based on real-life Formula 1 race circuits, your guests will get to sit in a race-car seat and take part in simulated race challenges with other guests. Some racing simulators allow for up to 8 guests to race at once. It is a fantastic choice of entertainment for large events and can be used by anyone aged 7 and upwards.

Five top tips for a high-octane motorsports inspired party

 

Related Topic: Creative Ways to Serve Your Party Catering

4. Scalextric championship

Fourth on our list of five top tips for a high-octane motorsports inspired party, is an entertainment gem. Hiring a Scalextric race track and cars is a great way to get guests interacting. With a wide range of cars to choose you can go for the Formula 1 racers or the old British Rally classics. Depending on your event there are also options to add bespoke branding to both the track and cars. Up to 8 cars can run simultaneously.
In addition, if you want to up the racing stakes, why not add a fun prize and hire a winners’ podium with chequered backdrop. Outside the racing, this can also be used as a selfie opportunity. And to add to the fun, provide guests with a choice of motor-racing hero card-masks as part of a selfie-prop kit, to liven-up the pics. Social media gold!

5. Refuelling station

The wonderful thing about a Grand Prix theme is there are so many brilliant opportunities to build the idea into all aspects of the party to make for a high-octane wheelie good night. So, your buffet tables or food stations become pit stops and refuelling stations. Drinks can be served from petrol-pump style dispensers. Dishes served from racing helmet shaped food stations. Guests handed steering-wheel designed plates. For quirky food choices we love oil-change, cola jellies and traffic-light fruit skewers. And for the full Formula 1 effect, don’t forget the champagne!

 

Continue reading  
 Mar 27th 2019

From catwalk to party inspiration from London Fashion week

From catwalk to party inspiration from London Fashion week

It’s not just High Street retailers who look at inspiration from London Fashion week for pointers towards the next big thing. As event organisers we also have our eyes on the catwalk. This way our work stays fresh, reflecting the latest stylish ideas and trends. Here’s some of the trends to expect to go from catwalk to party in 2019, with our guide to the best party inspiration from London Fashion week:

Drama and imagination

There is always a hint of drama to the catwalk but this year there was a definite move towards show-stopping statement dresses. The models didn’t wear these, rather it was the dresses that wore the models. Some of the voluminous taffeta and tulle creations on display hint towards an Elizabethan extravagance. While at the same time, stretching into the realm of fantasy. Such dramatic statements were seen in the beauty look too. Large painted tears, eye-lashes and a move away from the natural. On the party scene to go over-sized. Expect drama and fantasy to become key concepts, particularly in impactful décor and imaginative plays with scale and shape.

https://www.tlc-ltd.co.uk/penny-dreadful-inspired-party/

Bold colours

Bright passionate red was the colour of choice for many designers this season. Expect flashes of flame red to accentuate and add vibrancy to party décor. And this is not just the red carpet. We’ll see red in flower choices, such as the striking and exotic anthurium andraeanum, sometimes called the tail or flamingo flower. Along with more use of tropical flowers we can expect to see a more colourful, tropical vibe coming through. These tropical influences were also seen on the catwalk in the yellows, greens, pinks and purples of Molly Goddard’s colourful tulle designs.

https://www.tlc-ltd.co.uk/penny-dreadful-inspired-party/

Vintage florals

The vintage party inspiration from London Fashion week will be big. The floral look has been around for a while now and is already well and truly absorbed into all aspects of party planning. Particularly popular for tea parties, it is a trend that can influence events at all levels. From table décor, to food, lighting to music. It has both a feminine and a retro feel. The current catwalk trend for florals hint towards a chintz feel in décor that would stretch beyond inspiration of afternoon soirees to pretty, period balls.

party inspiration from London Fashion week
Back to the 1980s

The appeal of the 1980s is still strong. We’ve seen this on the cat walk with the plume skirt. You can expect this to come through to events in the type of entertainment being requested.  Also in a mash-up of styles for themes and décor. In many ways it was the decade that taste forgot, but it as also the decade where fashions were dictated by musical tastes. For an event organiser this give a wealth of ideas to mine. Think too about returning to popular TV programmes, board games and the earliest computer games for inspiration.

party inspiration from London Fashion week

Feathers

The sight of a plume of colourful feathers always screams look at me. There were plenty of these moments on the London catwalk last month. Feathers, whether real or created from taffeta and wool, are fantastic choices to add a fun, attention-grabbing glamour to an event. See them used as table décor and archway entrances. As well as inspiring the more elegant bird-cage themed bars, food stations, and table planners.

party inspiration from London Fashion week
Glitter and glamour

Lastly, for real party inspiration from London Fashion week – think two words that are made to go with party. Glitz and glamour. Last month the London catwalk had both aplenty. Showing a range of faux furs covering shimmering, sparkly and crystal embellished gowns. Expect to see this sense of glamour to influence a move to Hollywood-style cocktail parties, crystal table wear, sparkling entrances, and glittering lights.

party inspiration from London Fashion week

For more party inspiration, take a look at this Penny Dreadful Party!

Continue reading  
 Mar 19th 2019

Birthday celebrations at The Ivy

Birthday celebrations at The Ivy

For the team at TLC, there doesn’t need to be an excuse to gather friends together.  And for Liz Taylor, a recent birthday was all the reason that she needed to plan birthday celebrations at The Ivy.  As the leading party planner in Manchester, TLC’s team of event organisers had a raft of creative and fun ideas for the day…but this was purely a personal occasion, and all about our MD, Liz.  And so here’s how she chose to celebrate.

The private Geisha Room at The Ivy, Spinningfields was the gorgeous venue.  22 of Liz’s friends enjoyed a Champagne lunch and entertainment.  They laughed. They danced. And all agreed – every Sunday should be this good!  Here’s a peek at Liz’s birthday celebrations at The Ivy:

Birthday celebrations at The Ivy Birthday celebrations at The Ivy Birthday celebrations at The Ivy Birthday celebrations at The Ivy Birthday celebrations at The Ivy Birthday celebrations at The Ivy Birthday celebrations at The Ivy  Birthday celebrations at The Ivy Birthday celebrations at The Ivy Birthday celebrations at The Ivy Birthday celebrations at The Ivy Birthday celebrations at The Ivy Birthday celebrations at The Ivy Birthday celebrations at The Ivy  Birthday celebrations at The Ivy Birthday celebrations at The Ivy

Happy Birthday Liz!

Continue reading  
 Jan 25th 2019

Six Ways to Upgrade Your Mocktails

Six Ways to Upgrade Your Mocktails

Let me be clear. There is nothing ‘mock’ in a TLC mocktail. A cocktail with or without alcohol can still be part of an incredible party experience.  Dry January throws the spotlight on alcohol-free living, but we’re very often asked to plan dry parties and weddings throughout the course of the year.  And it’s fair to say, TLC has mastered the art of memorable non-alcoholic cocktails along the way. And, one thing has become clear… alcohol or not, a cocktail should be part of the theatre of your party. A creative element to whet the taste-buds, and excite the senses. So, here’s how to take your dry drinks reception to the next level with my five step mocktail masterclass; six ways to upgrade your mocktails:

It’s All About Presentation

Ensuring mocktails taste good is vital, but the secret to truly up-styling mocktails is in the presentation.  And we’ve come a long way from the obligatory glace cherry and paper umbrella!

Present glasses on vintage bird cages. Add a little ‘flair’ into proceedings with a professional mixologist. Dry ice is another sure-fire way to deliver with drama. 

To take it to the next level, consider how and what you serve a drink in. Clue – not just a glass. Tin cans. Miniature bath tubs. Vintage thermos flasks. Yes, I have used them all.

Is there a way to tie it in with theme/ambience of your party?  Can you make the bar itself more spectacular – integrating into the theatre of your event?  Having once served ‘Fairground’ mocktails in plastic bags complete with faux fish, from a rotating ‘carousel’ bar with suspended vintage horses, I’m proof that if there’s a will (and a creative mind in the driving seat), there’s a way.

Make Creative Counterfeits

If your idea of an alcohol-free gin and tonic is to just serve tonic, it’s time to up your game and our list if six ways to upgrade your mocktails is the first step. Classic cocktails are a delicate balance of flavour that can taste off kilter if simply served up sans alcohol. Regain the balance with inventive combinations of ingredients that imitate the taste of alcohol (with none of the downsides).  Chamomile, cardamom, mint, cloves and rosemary mimic the botanical flavours of gin in BBC Good Food’s Gin Free G&T.  Or brew up a spicy ‘mock rum’ syrup using pineapple, cinnamon and black peppercorns – a brilliant base for a virgin Pina Colada.

Turn up the Heat

Use a heady blend of spices to add warmth and depth of flavour to your mocktails.  Most people love the combination of cinnamon and cloves in mulled wine or spiced apple cider – both of which can easily be made alcohol free. Irish coffee lovers needn’t miss the warming sensation you get from a hit of whiskey.  Why not try sweet garam masala to spice up a latte or aromatic nutmeg and orange as a sin-free swap.  And spices aren’t just for winter drinks, the simple addition of ginger and chilli syrup would put the punch in this Summer Fruit Punch from All Recipes.

Experiment with Savoury

We’re all familiar with adding herbs to savoury dishes but they’re currently having a real moment in the world of mixology.  Traditionally ‘savoury’ herbs like rosemary and sage offset sweet flavours, infusing drinks with enticing aromas.  

And the flavour revolution doesn’t stop there.  Bell peppers, quails’ eggs, and of course olives, are all popular cocktail ingredients – well not everyone has a sweet tooth!

Try this refreshing Rosemary Citrus Spritzer from The Kitchen.  Rosemary adds enticing fragrance to the citrus notes, with a touch of honey for sweetness.  Just heaven served on the terrace in summertime.

Related Content: Seven Ways to Host a Christmas Drinks Party

Get Fancy with Edible Florals

Presentation is essential when up-styling your mocktails. In my view, the most elegant mocktails come dressed for the occasion. 

Edible flowers are decoratively divine.  They each have their own delicate flavour so it’s worth experimenting to find the right floral finish. Calendula, for instance, has a slightly citrus flavour. Nasturtium is sweet and peppery, where pansies are slightly salty taste.

A really simple way to introduce botanicals is by freezing them into ice cubes. Alternatively, this Raspberry and Rose Mocktail from Interflora uses rose water and rose petals for a sophisticated update to a traditional raspberry cooler.

Make Time for Tea

Last on our collection of six ways to upgrade your mocktails is a classic British drink. We’re a nation of tea lovers.  So why not host a tea party with a grown-up twist serving refreshing tea-based mocktails.  The classic flavour of a mojito can be reproduced with mint, tea, lime and soda.  Or combine tropical mango, ginger and lime with green tea in this invigorating Tropical Ginger Green Tea Mocktail from the tea experts at Twinings.

 

Continue reading