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How to have the best party at home on a budget

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An expert suggests how to host a successful event in your home during the summer holidays, from cranberry and champagne jelly to the booze and invites, and all within a budget that won’t break the bank

It is December and there is no need to schedule a party because it is happening all around us. But should you, like myself, enjoy spoiling the people in your life, throwing a party – with lovely sunny days and an upbeat feeling in the air – is ideal.

We tracked down, Genevieve Farry, a top expert in the events game, to show us how to do it – and on a budget. Let the party begin.

Flowers in jelly: Every child from six to 60 loves jelly, so this summer we’re wobbling it in feminine fashion. How about cranberry and champagne flavoured jelly poised in cute jars with edible flowers lurking in the sublime surprise?

Pineapples as vases: Elegantly hollowed pineapples bursting with bright summer blooms are a perfect and fun spin on a vase. Paw paw boats We are seriously crushing over our paw paw boats packed with fresh summer fruit. Good fun and healthy. Did I mention they are totally Instagram-worthy?

SUPER FRESH There are many ways to feature the botanical look and feel in your food for parties at home. Think leaves, pineapple vases and flowers set among sweet treats on the table. Picture: Genevieve Farry

Botanical ice: Embellish cocktails for a simmering summer evening with fruit-filled ice cubes and fresh flowers foraged from your garden.

Palm-leaf place mats: Tired of usual tablecloths? Switch this up and try a more tropical, organic feel with palm or other monster leaves as place mats, staying trendy with all things botanical, floral, bright and bold for the holiday season.

We are loving florals and fruits in whimsical ways this summer, and this is how you can do it. Genevieve Farry, destination wedding planner and events manager at Vicky Crease Catering + Events Picture: Genevieve Farry

And now the nitty-gritty

First and foremost, figure out your budget: How much do you want to spend? Tot up everything, then decide what has to go. Worst-case scenario: Slash the guest list to only nearest and dearest.

Think: No venue charges: Every Christmas many bartender, or even a few, and help with cleanup.

Timing is everything: A sit-down dinner costs plenty. Instead do sundowners to take heat off the pocket. Do bite-sized foods – one hot treat; perhaps a basket(s) of breads plus plates of delights such as crunchy crudités with heavenly hummus.

Picture: Genevieve Farry

Go paperless: Do digital invites, then create an online guest list to monitor responses. You can also specify when the fun begins and ends so you don’t get stuck with lingerers until 3am. Be specific about what to wear andwhat’s plotting, and make it clear about partners or “bringing along a friend(s)”.

Don’t go the full Monty: Filling a bar is pricey. Instead, buy a variety of fancy non-alcohol spritzers, thus allowing guests to top up from their own bottles. By all means provide wine and beers, but if your budget is tight ensure guests know it’s a Bring Your Own Booze evening.

Decorate: Appropriate music, interesting drinks and delicious snacks have just about got you buzzing, but don’t forget your final decor. Safely positioned candles, floral fancies, brown paper on walls with crayons provided for guests to leave fun messages, strings of lights – anything to set the mood.

Picture: Genevieve Farry

Accept help: If friends ask what to bring, “your presence is a present “is the wrong answer. For the wine, try “a bottle of what you fancy will be great,” and for wine or spirits, “I will be providing great mixers”. If you have a herb-growing guest, ask them to contribute to the botanical vibe.


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