By Katie Wilson
As we countdown to restrictions being fully lifted for the first time in over a year, who’s ready to party?
Dancing is allowed again, as is being in a room with more than 30 people – but if you’ve forgotten how to throw a party as it’s been so damn long, event experts Sugar & Rind are here to help.
Sugar & Rind is the UK’s first website where you can book everything for a party in one place, from the cocktails and canapés to DJs, waiters and decoration.
We speak to founder and party pro Philly Mackinnon, who reveals her expert tips for throwing the ultimate post-lockdown bash.
From easy party food to clever lighting tips which make your outdoor space look magical, here’s how to really impress your party guests.
How to throw a post-lockdown party
Make sure there’s a dance floor
Dancing is what many of us missed most during lockdown, so now it’s finally allowed again one thing people will absolutely want to see at a party is a dance floor.
Disco balls, which reflect the light and really bring the club vibes, can be picked up for as little as £20.
Neon signs on the wall also look great and instantly add party feels. You could buy a ready-made design with the shape or words you like on it, or you can buy LED flex and create your own if you fancy getting creative. They come in various lengths and colours.
These signs look great wherever you decide to put them, but I’d recommend near the DJ booth for maximum effect.
Create different party zones
This will depend on how big your space is, but if you have the room consider creating different party zones.
As guests arrive, direct them to the ‘cocktail zone’ with ready-made drinks they can easily help themselves to. This is where people will initially be catching up and chatting, so should be free from loud music so they can hear each other talk.
You should also add a bar area, which acts as a focal point for guests to gather around throughout the night.
For later in the evening, there needs to be a designated chill out zone, which is best located outdoors if you have a garden.
This could be as simple as a few seats with blankets as the temperature starts to drop, or you could add a firepit with low benches for people to sit around until the sun comes up.
Have a ‘dine anywhere’ approach
Stuffy dinner parties are out. Ditch the traditional sit down and have lots of lovely informal seating arrangements instead. Think comfy seats, low coffee tables, cushions, outdoor rugs, and fold away chairs so you can create extra space later on.
When it comes to the food, take the pressure off serving a full meal and order a selection of beautifully presented platters instead.
Grazing platters are very on trend right now and come in lots of options, from antipasti to tapas, meze, cheese – even dessert platters.
Bowl food – small dishes such as risotto, curry or chilli – is another great ‘dine anywhere’ option, and can be served by waiting staff if you are having caterers in.
Add clever lighting
When the sun goes down, the party really gets started, so make sure you get the lighting right.
Festoon lights are a great way to instantly add a party feel to your garden – and best of all, you can keep them up all year round.
Another thing that can completely transform your outdoor space, which you might not have thought of, is adding lights to plants and trees.
If you have a tree in your garden, wrap fairy lights around it. You’ll be amazed at how effective this simple trick is.
I love to add solar lanterns to flower beds, which will come on as darkness falls. Just don’t forget to charge your solar lights for 48 hours beforehand.
Go all out if you have the budget
This is the first party anyone has been to in over a year (if they’ve been following the rules), so make it a party to end all parties.
Really bring the wow factor and surprise your guests by doing something they will remember forever.
It could be hiring a mixologist to serve proper cocktails or having a flair bartender put on a show. This is a fabulous opener to any party, especially if it’s a big birthday or occasion.
If you missed out on an Ibiza holiday this year, bring the Cafe Del Mar vibes to you by hiring a live performer to play alongside a DJ, like a percussionist or a saxophone player.
And if you need to keep the sound down later on, consider having a silent disco so you can carry on the party all night – and the neighbours will never know.
Check your guest list
Pay close attention to your number of guests in relation to the space you are using. This is super important and very often overlooked, but is vital for the vibe of any party.
There is nothing worse than a huge room and not enough people in it.
It’s much better to be crowded, even if it’s a bit hectic to begin with, because it will always thin out as the night goes on.