Easy entertaining: Christabel Beeson’s tips

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Depending on your approach, entertaining can be a fuss-free affair or something that’ll get you into a flap. Christabel Beeson is a London-based entrepreneurial event creation expert who knows what makes the difference between a fun-filled affair and a total flop. She runs regular workshops and exciting events (including her new Festive Rocktail masterclasses), which you can book into on the upcoming events page of her website. Here, she provides her tips for making your occasion one to remember, for all the right reasons:

  • Quantity matters
    How much food and drink should you serve? A lot! I’d always add more provisions than you think you should, because there’s nothing worse than running out of food or alcohol. Any leftovers can be eaten for midnight munches for any lingering guests, and of course the alcohol will survive for another party!
  • Make your menu work
    Don’t do something too fussy. Instead, keep it simple and delicious. A great idea is to plan for something that you can prepare beforehand so that you can enjoy the party. A stressed host creates a stressed ambiance! I’d think about what’s in season, what colours look good together (something bright and vibrant), then think about what dish you can do beforehand, even the day before. Stews and curries are great for this, as they are even better the next day. Garnishes are also very important: don’t forget the herbs! Pomegranate seeds also look beautiful, and can simply and easily bring a dish to life.
  • Deciding on drinks
    In terms of cocktails, if you can have a bartender I’d have two cocktail options. Decisions are not what people want to make at a party. For this, I’d suggest one vodka (most people will be happy with this) and then a gin or tequila-based option. (Tequila is always a great party spirit as it immediately puts people in the mood.) If there is no bartender on hand, I’d do a big jug of pre-mixed cocktail, so people can just help themselves and you can relax. Another great option is to just have an ice-filled trough or bucket containing bottles of mixers, and a bottle or two of gin, vodka or rum. Here, people can have some fun creating their own drinks (and you don’t have to!). Cocktails are important as they immediately get the party started, but it is good to mix it up and have some other options available too. I’d provide some prosecco, wine and beer, and definitely have a few soft drink options available. My favourite is a nice elderflower or ginger fizz. Fever-Tree make some great ones.
  • Party playlists to lift the mood
    When it comes to festive parties, I’d prepare music far from what you might expect. I wouldn’t try and be too Christmassy. Keep most of the festive tunes to the first 30 minutes, while people are arriving and settling in, then definitely mix it up with some upbeat classics. I find Spotify fantastic for party playlists. Someone may have already made the playlist you’re looking for already!
  • Prettying your party space
    If you have a theme in mind and know what you are looking for, eBay is fantastic and practical (especially if you are pushed for time). For inspiration, I’d go for Covent Garden Flower Market; it’s a haven of party inspiration! A trip here can be great for forming a theme or colour scheme for the party. It’s a treasure trove full of incredible decorations.
  • Dress your drinks
    Pick up some edible flowers from Covent Garden vegetable market or online. These are a great touch and can make the most simple cocktails feel special. Remember to think about what you are serving your drinks in as well; good glasses are important! Amazon does some great cut glasses and, again, is really practical if you are throwing together a party on a tight schedule.
  • The must-haves
    The key ingredients to a fabulous party are: tasty food (substantial, yet nothing too heavy that will induce any food comas), enough booze and ice, good friends, and some classic tunes.


What are your party planning tips? Comment below to tell us how you keep your event-planning cool.

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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