Despite performing for a living at many a party, I am the queen of hosting. I dread to think at the amount of money I’ve spent over the years inviting (or dragging?) people to my dinner parties - what starts in my head as an excuse to try out new recipes, becomes a quest to make every detail and morsel perfect.
In these pursuits of the perfect party, I’ve discovered that whilst of COURSE the food is always the star of the night, making sure your guests are entertained (especially if you’re spending your time painstakingly sculpting ravioli) is very important.
And whilst some occasions deserve a bushel of gold sprinkled on them, others are just casual, and their budget matches that. So here is a countdown of ideas to suit all budgets - sweet, fun and innovate entertainment concepts that will set your dinner party apart from the rest, and distract from any culinary disasters…
This fun little game is easy to explain, and is free as long as you have an A4 sheet, pens, and imagination. It has three rounds, so can be played before or after each course! Hilarity ensues. We got addicted to this game at Christmas, and now it makes a monthly appearance.
Sara's Favorite Things has some great instructions!
5. PARTY FAVOURS
Cost: £3-7 per guest
Sweet and innovative little party favours can go down a treat with guests and be such a talking point. Check out these amazing ideas…personalised fortune teller games, temporary tattoos, or hangover teas….
These are all available from Not on the High Street.
4. CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY
You definitely need the right crowd for this one! If you’ve never heard of this game, the tagline is ‘A Party Game for Horrible People’ and it’s not wrong - which I guess makes me a HORRIBLE person, because I love it! The game involves filling in the blanks on the black card, with an answer out of your hand of white cards. A wonderful example…
3. COCKTAIL BAR WITH RECIPE BOOK
Dependent on what you’ve got in your liquor cupboard and fridge, or willing to spend on this one, it can really keep your guest’s attention - and distract them if you aren’t the best cook in the world! In one area of the room, set up a bunch of liquors, mixers, and then a selection of fruits, sugars, and syrups. Then place a cocktail recipe book in the middle - here’s a great one:
The only other thing you need is a cocktail shaker - or if you have one to hand and are feeling brave, a blender! How about a competition for the best cocktail? You could be the judge. You may need it after hosting this one…
2. CLOSE UP MAGIC
A close up magician is a timeless way to entertain at a party. With astonishing table tricks and illusions, their skills never fail to impress me - I’m good friends with one, and the few times I’ve seen her do a trick, I beg her to tell me how it’s done and she never does! They’ll set you back a few quid, but for those special occasions, are a wonderful and memorable show.
1. DANCING WAITERS
The singing waiters have been a huge trend in recent years, but dancing waiters are the next big thing. If you have a good budget and really want to make it a party to remember, go down the surprise route and hire some undercover waiters, or even guests, to stir up your party even more than the cocktail bar would!
Club Mob specialises in bespoke, surprise performances where the undercover staff cause a ‘scene’ such as a spectacular drinks spillage, which turns into an argument…only until the music starts, when they reveal they are the entertainment and start to dance, and the guests turn from horrified to amazed. Why not also plant an undercover violinist or guitarist to join in?
Whatever your budget is, it’s important not to forget those little imaginative touches that will last as much in your guest’s minds as that beautiful boeuf bourguignon. And don’t forget - you get to have fun with them all, too! Take a break and do an easy starter or main to enjoy some quality time around the fishbowl, or cocktail bar…just don’t get too involved and forget what’s in the oven!!!
Alex Evans is a keen home cook, having been worked in hospitality and private catering in previous years. She is now the director of Club Mob, a London based company that provides bespoke flash mobs to parties, events and venues around the UK. She most of all enjoys the moment after a performance, where she can sit down to a deserved good meal!