It all started when I was 21, a shy-er, skinnier and perhaps a little stroppier girl who thought she was older and wiser than she was : ) I was often in Zurich and my gorgeous friend Thilo – a Scientist/ Mathematican and I loved to make parties because we both loved to dance and we both loved to drink and we both loved to make people incredibly happy. We still do.
We cooked and shopped and invited people over and sang our hearts out to the cheesiest songs to the coolest rock anthems. Even RadioHead drawing us to tears was fun. Every party we had, we would learn from to make the next one even better, trying to out do the last one.
Five years ago, when I moved into my flat, Thilo came to London to help me with the housewarming party. We applied our party rules:
Invite everyone you know, clear all the surfaces, move all the furniture, make a playlist, get enough drinks, make some food, be welcoming and have fun.
200 people turned up and the house was rocking, shaking with grooves and buzzing with aspirations for a new life ahead. It is completely apt how this house turned into a dinner party/ party venue.
I was really pleased (ok I did a Chandler dance too) when Courvoisier asked if I would like some Courvoisier Punch for a party – without a blink -of course I would! I love Courvoisier not just the cognac but also what they stand for and what they represent for innovative talent from business to art, public life to food and science to entertainment.
This time round, about 70 people showed up and as always, we had the most amazing time! I asked everybody to bring a dish. If they can’t make something, then to buy something, like cheese or cake; bring a bottle although we had bowl after bowl after bowl of Courvoisier Punch!
Mia make Couvoisier Punch – Photo By Lucy Keyon Jones
This is really easy to do, as when you are having a party, you certainly do not want to stress out making hard cocktails (unless you have a barman) with a tiny shaker as well as playing with your guests. Its also boring when you have to wait for a drink – they should just always be ready so this is an excellent way to make it quick and enjoyable.
(these 2 pictures by Fred Ponnavoy)
The food I made: (lesson to learn: take pictures of it)
-Moroccan Lamb Kebabs: marinated the cubes of lamb in paprika, cumin,
ground ginger and chilli powder. -Pig’s Cheeks with Cider, Apple and Leek Pies -Cheesy Swirls -Vietnamese Lemongrass & Garlic Pork Kebabs -Vietnamese Chicken, Carrot & Papaya Salad
My friends made great efforts and bought the best venison fillets, thai style marinaded chicken, to beef fillet tataki, scallops to homemade cakes and pies to all sorts for the BBQ, (whom my friend Aaron loves being in charge of)! What I really love about my friends is that they know to be foodie when they come over and they all love food. When choosing what to bring, the range was extensive and creative, people went to so much effort which always makes a good party.
Fred Ponnavoy, the Head Chef of Gu, bought two suitcases of equipment over to make the best little dessert canapes I have ever had in my life – they were brittany shortbread base with blackcurrant and raspberry cream with fresh raspberry, pistachio and mint sugar. I scoffed the second one in secret.
It happened to be my birthday aswell – (lucky me and my friend Chris who shares the date) – a great excuse for a party and summer celebrations. It started off being a BBQ in London Fields but as rain was predicted, I moved it in house. It didn’t rain an inch that night.
Late in the night, there is always a guy (Johnny Angelo Benson) coming with an Alsatian – stealing hocks and sausages!
It was a great party, a meeting of great old friends and new friends. Some dancing, Beyonce stylee and lots of eating and drinking. A celebration of life!
(Photos by William Overstall & Me)
Here are some things I learned about throwing parties (still learning so am grateful for tips myself)
I invite people a month or so before but a week before the date, I ask my guests to reconfirm as life happens and not everyone can make it, you can’t expect people to remember and you want the desired amount of people so it gives you time to invite more guests if some can’t make it.
I’ve been meaning to write invitations and send it in the post but that one I have never got around to doing – will save it for when someone would like to marry me.
I ask people to bring a bottle and a dish/ or bought food such as cheese or cakes etc – I feel this gets people involved and its a good icebreaker.
If you have some house rules, like no shoes or don’t spill stuff-wipe-it-up in my case, let your guests know so they will wear the right socks, paint their toe nails etc.
Make sure you have a playlist of good dance tunes from cheese to cool. No one likes a too cool for school party.
Decide on your own menu and stick to the plan, do a shopping list and only get what you need the day before. Often I change my mind or want to make more things on the day, this often causes stress and delays. Only make more if you have time because you were good and sorted out your home the day before.
I do all the shopping for it the day before. Get as much done as possible the day before, depending on how much time you have on the actual day.
Remember that your guests will bring food so you do not need to make x amount of everything per each person, or it will go to waste. Make for two thirds or half of your guests. If you snooze you loose.
Move everything valuable and breakable from your surfaces, people are good but accidents happen and the last thing you want is to be on your knees sweeping up whilst half drunk. (know where your dustpan and sweep is just in case).
Make the place warm and inviting by setting out candles, lights and your decorations. Flowers help a lot! Always have at least one vase of flowers.
Make sure your menu does not require on the spot cooking or you will be standing by the hob all night. Thats sweaty and no fun at all.
Do a timeline of what needs to be done, what needs to go into the oven, when it needs to be cooked, if it can stand cold and stick to it – this way you can manage your time and not freak out just before the guests arrive. But depending on what you are cooking, don’t do it too soon or it might dry out or won’t taste fresh.
Try not to stress, its never nice to go somewhere and the host is stressing or to not even see the host at all because they are in the kitchen (still cooking). Do as much the night before, get up early and enjoy the day of preparing for a party, knowing that all your friends will be in one place, dancing to Madonna and Jay Z, that you are doing it for them and it should make you happy.
Hire a cleaner to help you the next day.
(photos by Seb Ratcliffe & William Overstall)
Take photos and smile lots!
I am pleased to announce that I have been asked to be a Courvoisier The Future 500 Member – I am totally chuffed to bits! I am very honoured and can not wait to go to their events and maybe host some more myself and do things that I may need help in doing.
Thank You – Universe, Courvoisier & Lucy Kenyon Jones from Focus PR