Party Central

That’s what my flat was until after our 10th anniversary party, at which point it became mess central. And because I had to pass 2 exams in my Chartered Institute of Marketing diploma programme, and move flat, and submit 3 assignments on top of working full time during the month leading up to the party, much of my party planning and preparation was done at the last minute.

The positive side to this, is that I learned some shopping lessons, which I am now passing on to you.

Lesson 1: TK Maxx at the Fort is better than the one on Sauchiehall Street

Particularly for the home department. We bought 32 glasses and 2 enormous yet fashionable serving platters, all for under £40. While we were there, we nipped into the ASDA home shop and bought plastic plates and utensils and a white table cloth (for £5!).

Lesson 2: Majestic Wine Warehouse are here to help

Yes, they’re no longer located at Charring Cross. Booo! But the one in Bearsden delivered a case of very reasonably priced rose cava, a half case of wine, and 64 glasses direct to our door on the day of the party. They offer many party services, including free loan of glasses (you will have to pay a deposit, which you get back after you return the glassware), free loan of coolers, and ice sales. It meant that whatever else happened, I was going to have booze and glasses for the party.

Lesson 3: Debenhams and John Lewis - basically the same stuff at different prices

In my search for party platters and chip and dip sets, I looked at many department stores, and I realised that Debenhams and John Lewis sell essentially the same dishes and barware (not the same brand, but looking very similar), but Debenhams, though very good quality, is cheaper.

Lesson 4: Don’t buy when you can borrow

Talk over your party plans with your friends - you’ll be amazed at what people are willing to do. Many of our friends brought food, chairs, we even had an excellent volunteer DJ.

Lesson 5: Be flexible with your menu

I had all these plans for food I was going to make, but didn’t end up making any of it. In the end, most of the food consisted of easy party treats from Costco and Sainsbury (tubs of hummus, ready-made Spanish Tortilla, crudite and dips, crisps) and anything else was either brought by friends, or recipes I’d found and was able to delegate to helpful family members. Most people can follow a recipe, so if your menu is all down on paper, it’s easier to pass tasks on to others.

Lesson 6: If you toss a bunch of treats onto a 3-tiered cake stand, it looks like you have a gorgeous, extravagant dessert

I used a silver cake stand from Confetti on Queen Street, and covered it with mini cinnamon rolls, French fancies, chocolates from Thorntons, cupcakes from Marks and Spencer, and pieces of coffee cake. It looked beautiful. Their heart shaped confetti was also an inexpensive way to decorate our table top.

Lesson 7: Flash with bleach will get red wine off the wall

One of our friends decided it would be fun to cover as many surfaces as possible with red wine. We love him, but we’re never letting him drink red wine in our home again. One particularly lovely house warming gift he gave us was an enormous stain on our white wall and beige couch. We’re still waiting to see if the wine came off the sofa cover (we took it to our favourite dry cleaner, Aqua on Great Western Road near Southpark Avenue) but the wall stain was gone after some vigourous scrubbing with a rag and some Flash with bleach spray. Now we’re just waiting to see how effective on carpets the Wine Away spray from Lakeland is.

Lesson 8: Take time off work

Our party was fairly large: a family lunch with 14 during the afternoon and then about 30 to 40 in the evening for a buffet and many many drinks. Taking a couple days off before, and a few days off after made it possible to do everything I needed to prepare and to recover. The party was on Saturday and I’m still cleaning!

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