Planning a Party..
Family Get Togethers, Christmas Parties, Birthday's, Christenings, Communions,
Confirmations, Weddings and lots more…
Holding parties at home is a wonderful relaxed way to catch up with family
and friends, that is if you plan and organise before the event.
Over the past 10 years I've organised my fair share of parties from cozy
little get togethers, small and large parties, communions, confirmations,
weddings, to bbq's & corporate events for very large numbers.
I've learned a lot along the way so now it my turn to share my secrets
to success so you can plan a great party any time of the year….
Breakfast/Brunches are a great way to catch up with friends in an informal
party kind of way.. anything goes for breakfast/brunch from eggs cooked
every possibly way, smoked salmon bagels, warm croissants, big jugs of juices,
warm pastries, Breakfast/brunch is it doesn't have to last all day ..
Drinks/ Cocktail parties are a also great way to entertain a large number
of people and even groups that do not know each other. Don't worry you do
not have to provide cocktails drinks - simply a selection of whatever drinks
you prefer to serve but generally people serve wine, beer and water lots
of water for the drivers is always important. Be mindful when you invite
people over for drinks that you specify the times it starts and ends or
you will have a full on party on your hands, which is ok of course if thats
what you intended. However if your intention is to have people over in the
early evening after work or over the weekend just for a few hours specify
this for example ….
'Join us for Christmas Drinks ay our house on Sat 17thDecember from 4
to 6 for drinks and nibbles' -
Tried & Tested Tips that work….
*Write or type up the guest list and keep it safe as you will use it to
record who is attending.
*Be realistic about how many people you can fit comfortably in your house
and take into account where bathroom & cloak room facilities are located.
*Send the invites.. via text, email, post whatever suits you.. but always
put a RSVP on for at least 10 days previous. Text and email are great as
they allow you to follow up the stragglers very quickly and with little
*If you are on a budget plan the party as far in advance as possible this
gives you plenty of time to spot the bargains.
*Write up a budget and stick to it!!!
*The simplest menus are the cheapest to prepare, the more choice you have
the more food and ingredients you need to purchase.
*A cold buffet is the easiest to prepare as it can be totally prepared in
advance and place on platters & bowls ready to serve without any heating
at the last minute.
*Think about the potential guests that you are inviting to you r party,
do they are hearty appetites, are they fussy eaters, have they any specific
dietary, medical or religious requirements. (I always allow for at least
10% vegetarian) unless you know your all your guests
*Choose your menu..keep it simple, pick what I call crowd pleaser dishes
(not just what you like)
*When you have chosen the menu - write up the shopping list with ingredients,
this takes more time than you think so make yourself a cuppa, enlist the
help of a friend and do the complete list including drinks, ice, candles
etc… this way you have control over the whole event and budget…
its also will stop too many trips to the shops saving, time, money &
a lot of hassle!
*Calculate the quantities you will need to purchase be exact multiply from
the recipe how much you will need for the number of people you will be catering
* Now add 10% extra, you always need a little extra!
* Plan to bulk up main courses with side dishes like green salad, pasta
salad, roasty potatoes & baskets of bread. This way if you have a few
more unplanned visitors you will be fine.
* Allow half a bottle of wine per person plus a few extra bottles,
allow 2 beers per hour per person + extra bottles, you will always have
people driving so allow for this with water and soft drinks…
Day of the Party
* Get the house sorted early in the day, don't leave till the last
minute, clear down the kitchen and any other room you are using for the
party. Empty the dishwasher, Clear all clutter, dishes etc. into cupboards
leaving room to pop food about the worktops and room for people to lay their
* Get out all the crockery, glassware, cutlery, napkins etc. and lay
it out on a worktop or table.
* Pick out your music list… crowd pleasers unless all your friends/family
like your style of music.
* Pop tee lights about in little holders ready to light
* Cook as much as you can the morning or early afternoon of the party
- if you are serving a hot dish ensure its easy to keep warm (in chaffing
units or on the stove) if its nibbles/bites of food you are serving prepare
a mixture of hot and cold food that can be prepared well in advance…
* When people arrive welcome them & direct them to a self serve
drinks area and tell them to hang on to their glass! Have a selection of
drinks ready chilled or in the case of red wine open 1 hour before the party
(only a few bottles) Set up a self serve area for drinks and let people
help themselves, that way if everyone arrives more or less at the same time
you are not in a panic. You can control this by only leaving some drinks
out - not an entire bar! Always leave jugs of water and soft drinks out
for self service (people drive and like to help themselves)
* Or if you are lucky enough to have lots of help - give someone the
job of getting the first drinks for people when they arrive - however remind
them to keep their glass for refills!
* Make it easy, have an opener close by, ice in a bowl etc.
* Finally have a great time & always accept help!
Recipes that will help you along the way!
Honey Mustard Chicken
This is a fantastic simple dish and really caters for everybody. you could
serve this dish hot or alternatively slice the chicken breast lengthways
and use as part of a cold buffet.
Serves 6 & is easily doubles up to make larger batches.
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 tablespoons of lemon juice
3 tablespoons of honey
4 tablespoons of soy sauce
3 tablespoons of wholegrain mustard
2 cloves of garlic bashed & chopped vv finely
½ cup of chicken stock
6 chicken breasts … whole, sliced in half or cubed.
Combine all of the above ingredients in a bowl. add chicken and allow
to marinate, if possible for an hour.
Heat oven to 200 (400F) Gas 6) and place in a casserole dish covered for
the first 10 mins. then turn breasts, spoon marinade over and cook for
a further 15 mins…
Serve as part of a cold buffet with:
Honey roast ham, baby roasty potatoes, green salad, lemony coleslaw, broccoli,
feta & tomato salad, fruity couscous & a good selection of rolls/breads.
Coq Au Vin - A Classic French Country Dish
This is a classic French dish that is wonderful to serve up at a buffet
for a group of people as it is a crowd pleaser, it is ideal to make the
day before and reheats perfectly..
8 Chicken breasts cubed
8 slices of bacon chopped into bite sized pieces
5 good handfuls of mushrooms sliced
16 small onions or shallots (peeled)
¼ cup of brandy - warmed
½ bottle of red wine
2 cups of chicken stock
= about 3 / 4 parsley sprigs, 2 Thyme, & 2 Bay leaves tied together
1 tbls tomato puree
2 tbls butter
Few grinds of fresh black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tbls of parsley
Preheat oven to 180 c /gas 4 / 350F…
On the Cooker Top _ in a flameproof casserole dish melt 1 tbls of butter
and fry off the bacon - remove with a slotted spoon & reserve.
Pop the Chicken pieces in and brown off in the butter - takes about 5 /6
mins - CAREFULLY pour over the brandy and cook for a further 2 mins.
Return the bacon back to the casserole and pour over the stock, wine &
bouquet garni. Stir well, Cover the casserole and pop in the oven for about
Meanwhile cook off the onions and mushrooms by melting 1 tbls of butter
in a pan and add the onions & cook for about 5 mins until golden brown.
Now add the chopped mushrooms and continue to cook for a few more minutes.
Remove the casserole from the oven, add the onion & mushroom mixture,
salt, pepper & tomato puree, continue to cook on the cooker top with
the lid off for about 10 mins this will help reduce the sauce. (remove the
bouquet garni prior to serving)
To Serve: Scatter some chopped parsley over the top & Transfer the entire
casserole dish to the table ….
This is another great recipe for a large group of people...
Chicken W Creamy Sunblushed tomato & basil
18 Chicken Breasts cubed
8 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 chillis chopped vvv finely (if you do not like chilli omit)
3 red onion finely chopped
½ bottle of white wine
2 tbls Paprika,
6 cups of chicken stock
4 cans of Whizzed Plum tomatoes
2 cups of cream
3 red peppers,
3 handfuls of sunblushed tomatoes
3 handfuls of torn fresh basil leaves
(chopped basil bruises and loses flavour)
A little flour
Fry off, onions for 5 mins then pop in the garlic, chilli & paprika
& cook over low heat for another 5 mins… this is necessary to get
the infusion of flavours.
Add the whizzed tomatoes, wine and the stock. Cook for 20 mins. It should
boil then simmer with the lid off, stir occasionally.
(This ensures you get a really rounded flavoured sauce)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees..
Meanwhile - chop the aubergine, courgette and peppers into bite sized pieces,
place on an oiled baking tray- drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15 mins
in the oven ..
Pop the cubed chicken into the tomato mixture which has been cooking for
20 mins.. if necessary add some more stock
Cook for at 20 mins, and then pop in all the veggies, (including the sunblushed
tomatoes) the cream & basil.
Continue to cook for about 5 mins… Pop into a large warmed serving
dish and serve with baby roast potatoes or pasta….
This is a fantastic dish as its rich in flavour and is a serious crowd
pleaser. Make up to 48 hours in advance, cool in batches - decant from saucepan
to smaller containers and transfer to the fridge when completely cooled.
These are great to serve either hot or cold. and can be cooked early in
the day and if you wish to serve warm just refresh in the oven for 10 mins…
Baby Roast Potatoes w rosemary & garlic
8 handfuls of baby potatoes
10 whole garlic cloves
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Remove from the oven and drizzle w balsamic vinegar…