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!

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 Jun 5th 2020

Events That Made Me Podcast

Events That Made Me Podcast

16 June 2020: In the Events That Made Me podcast, airing on June 17, 2020, TV Presenter Eamonn Holmes OBE has spoken of the pressure he has felt being in the spotlight for so many years, as well as fears over keeping his job as one of the UK’s best-know TV presenters. The This Morning frontman admitted to host, to celebrity event planner Liz Taylor, that the need to ‘stay relevant’ and ‘continuously reinvent’ himself has been a challenge.

Events That Made Me Podcast

The ‘Events That Made Me’ interview examines events that have shaped the lives of a series of well-known celebrities. 60-year-old Eamonn discussed the pressures to stay in the public eye: “As good as you do, staying in employment, people like me have got to stay relevant. To stay relevant, you have to know your market …. you’ve got to see the trends coming and you have to reinvent yourself. “What I would say about my job is that getting on the conveyor belt is very, very tough, very hard, but – staying on the conveyor belt is harder.” Listen to Clip

During the 30 minute chat, Liz and Eamonn delve deep into his 40 year career in broadcasting, including how his peers would ‘laugh’ at his insistence that he wanted to be a TV reporter when he trained in journalism. Eamonn says: “My journalism lecturer would go round the class and say, right, ‘what do you want to do when you qualify’ and people in my journalism class would say, ‘I want to write for the Irish Times’, ‘I want to write for the Guardian’ or I want to write for the Independent’ and when it got to me I would say, ‘I want to be on TV, I want to be a TV reporter’. And the class would laugh. I suppose their point was you shouldn’t really express ambition like that, but to me it was direction, it was the area of journalism I wanted to be in.” Listen to Clip

It was this clarity on his future that eventually led to Eamonn’s big break, and a career that would see him become the face of Morning Television first at GMTV and then later as the anchor of Sky Sunrise, positions he held for a combined 26 years. Eamonn continued: “A year later the journalism lecturer called me and she said: ‘You always said you wanted to work in television didn’t you, well there are auditions being held at Ulster Television for farming reporters, do you fancy that?’ I didn’t know the first thing about farming, and I told her that, so she said: ‘rule number one of journalism Eamonn – find out!’

“I did find out, I did get the job, against very stiff and more experienced competition and I got it on the basis, I suppose, of style over substance, because I knew how to behave on TV. It was absolutely incredible because that changed my life.”

For the full interview, listen to ‘Events That Made Me’ at https://podfollow.com/etmm-liz-taylor

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5 June, 2020: A labour of lockdown love for our CEO, Liz Taylor. The Events That Made Me podcast is finally here, and has been well received by listeners.  Already featuring in Apple’s top business shows, the podcast combines fun, fearlessness and life lessons.  Liz discussed the events that have shaped her guests’ lives, both personally and professionally.

Events That Made Me Podcast

Commenting on the podcasts Liz said:

“I believe throughout all of our lives there’s one specific event that we can say affected the course of our journey. There certainly has been for me. Coupled with the fact that I spend a great deal of time getting to know the people that I work with and finding out what makes them tick, I felt there was a great way to share some of these events and experiences to help others. And so, my Events That Made Me podcast was born.”

 

Catherine Tyldesley

In the first podcast, actress Catherine Tyldesley talks of how she secured her role on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2019. Importantly, why it took producers two years to get Catherine to agree to put on her dance shoes. “I had a huge fear of dancing. When the opportunity for Strictly came up I thought, this scares me, so I should do it. I think you should face your fears head on.” Click for audio clip.

And how it felt to secure her famous role on Coronation Street: “As a child I was always talking and singing. I then fell in love with drama and I can’t imagine doing anything else.” She adds: “I’d grown up watching Corrie and was a huge fan. Landing that job was a dream come true.” Click for audio clip.

Simon Lycett

Simon Lycett explains why his challenging public-school upbringing led him through times of bullying to a place of greater strength. The chance meetings led him to create flowers for Muppet creator Jim Henson. And later for the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. Any why pride has been one of the important, but sometimes unspoken, emotions in his life Click for audio clip.

Now a celebrated florist to members of the Royal household, Simon explores the series of events that, as Liz quotes: took you from the Muppets to the Royal family”. Simon says: “I have been fortunate enough to work on the wedding of Prince Charles to the Duchess of Cornwall. I created the flowers for the dinner that the Queen held the night before William and Kate married….and the flowers for Princess Eugenie’s wedding to Jack.” Click for audio clip.

“I’d like to do flowers for the next Coronation. Wouldn’t it be an amazing, iconic thing.”

Liz adds:

“I’m talking to a whole host of really fascinating people about events shaping their lives, and there’s an interesting mix of answers. Cath Tyldesley talking about the positive effect that competing on Strictly Come Dancing has had on her confidence. Mr Daytime TV himself Eamonn Holmes explaining why you shouldn’t ‘hide your light under a bushel and how meeting me was the most expensive lunch of his life! To the incorrigible raconteur Christopher Biggins, on why meeting Sinatra changed the direction of his early life, and how I’m A Celebrity then transformed his later career.”

To listen to the podcast, click here: Events That Made Me and please leave your feedback on the show. Our next guest will be announced shortly and feature on June 17, 2020

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 May 29th 2020

Team building during social distancing

Team building during social distancing

My team is incredible. Their loyalty and commitment over the last few months have been exceptional. As many of us tentatively head back to our place of work now lockdown measures are lifting, team building within a business has never been more important. But team building during social distancing comes with unique challenges. Let me explain.

It’s clear that our offices will look and feel very different with new social distancing measures in place. Some with physical divisions to keep workers apart. And of course, many companies have taken the decision to continue to work remotely. But within this ‘new normal’, companies are faced with an impossible quandary. How do you bring your team together without, bringing your team together?

Team building during social distancing

Why team building is important in business

Even before most of us even knew what a coronavirus was, team building activities were hugely important. The many benefits of team building include a workforce getting to know one another better. Camaraderie, boosting performance and fostering innovation and creativity.

When delivered properly, team building and staff recognition events can help your workers to engage with your vision and values and become more loyal to your company. Team building will lower staff turnover and boost staff morale. And let’s face it, we all need a morale boost right now?

Team building during social distancing

What can team building achieve?

But don’t just take my word for it. There have been many studies into the benefits of team building and how encouraging a positive workplace culture and fostering an engaged, happy workforce can result in increased profit and productivity.

I read a survey by research-based consulting company, Gallup, for instance, which revealed that engaged employees are 17% more productive with absenteeism reduced by 41%. The same study found highly engaged companies to be around 21% more profitable.

And according to the University of Warwick, happy employees are up to 20% more productive than other workers.

Why do team-building activities while social distancing?

With our teams segregated, these qualities are of utmost importance if businesses are to recover from the coronavirus shutdown. As the world of business regains its focus, the companies that will thrive are those who foster team spirit and bring employees closer during the tough times. Team building during social distancing will allow employees to continue socialising and communicating. In addition to learning new things about one another in order to promote the kind of bonding that makes physical space disappear.

Team Building During Social Distancing Ideas

Here are team building during social distancing ideas that can keep your team focused and motivated during the transition back to work. These team buildings exercises can be adapted to overcome the physical challenges of social distancing, so that when employees return to the office, it’s almost as if they never left!

Scavenger Hunt

Individuals and teams can participate in a virtual scavenger hunt. A perfect team building exercise due to the friendly competition that they bring. Combine different elements of fun, problem solving and interaction in order to bring a team together to meet an end goal.

There are a number of different online platforms for this however with the Scavify app, everything is brought together efficiently in one place. The app includes a list of tasks for players to complete by uploading photos, taking videos, answering questions and scanning QR codes. The app takes the hassle out of organisation with automatic scoring, the ability for individuals to track their progress, real time leader-boards and photo-streams to see completed tasks as they happen. It also allows for social media integration which is so important during this current climate. Try it at https://www.scavify.com/

Fancy Dress Friday

Forget casual wear Friday! Dressing up is the new dressing down. With a lack of variety in our daily lives, weekdays can easily merge into one. Therefore, it is crucial that leaders in a company are able to liven up team meetings and boost morale when we head towards the weekend. Employees are given a different fancy dress theme each week to attend the online meeting in. Prizes are given out for the best dressed. It’s a great way for employees and employers to get to know each other on a different level and have fun. Breaking down barriers that may never have fallen while in the office.

Knowledge Share Training Days

Online training is a great way to further diversify your team’s skills, as well as sharing knowledge between departments. Ask for volunteers to create a webinar or online forum to share some of the transferable skills involved in their job. Or get your team involved in areas of the business they’ve not worked in before like social media. You may even discover some untapped talent.

Team building during social distancing

Alternatively, your team could sign up to a webinar run by a professional in your field. Due to the power and availability of online webinars and the fact that professionals want to share their knowledge so willingly during these tough times. Tthere have been a huge number of webinars run by our favourite professionals. You can run a zoom session alongside so that your team can interact during the breaks or downtime.

And team building during social distancing doesn’t have to stop professional development. Spreading your cultural horizons as a team can still have the same outcome. Famous faces, galleries, museums and performers are giving unrivalled free access to content like never before. So, make an event of it and attend that virtual gig, performance or exhibition together.

Team building during social distancing

Despite our best efforts as a nation, it doesn’t seem that coronavirus will be going anywhere anytime soon. Optimistically though, companies are embracing the challenge of adapting to new ways of working in order to survive. Within that, team building during social distancing should be near the top of the priority list. Afterall, a company’s true resilience and strength to recover comes from its greatest asset: its team.

Social distancing will affect bringing the team together for a company meeting too.  Here’s one way in which you can safely meet: Social Distance Meeting

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