Before having children, Paul and I used to have friends and family round for parties, gatherings, table tennis tournaments, pool competitions and other random celebrations on a regular basis. It was rare for us not to have a house full come the weekend and you were never quite sure who’d be hanging around for breakfast the next day. Bacon butties and strong cups of tea all round!
But when our two sleep thieves came along and we were barely able to lift ourselves off the sofa of an evening never mind welcome anyone in to our home, hosting raucous parties became a thing of the past in favour of early nights and hangover free mornings. But we were still partial to the sizzle of bacon and a hot cup of tea after being woken up by teething babies all night long.
Now that the boys are four and six and mostly sleep well and don’t wake up too early, we’ve found ourselves wanting to open our doors and our home once more. Maybe not for deafening karaoke parties in to the early hours (not entirely practical with two little ones trying to snore away upstairs) but instead, late afternoon / early evening BBQs with good food, great drinks, and an amazing playlist. A chance to catch up with friends, have some fun, but be tucked up in bed at 10 pm with the threat of merely a mild headache the next day rather than one that lasts in to Monday (ageing is not kind when it comes to hangovers … or anything else for that matter).
Completely out of practice, we were so happy to welcome the team from Shloer and Great British Bake Off’s Candice Brown to our home during the summer to give us some hints and tips on hosting a big family BBQ. Not only was it fun to spend the day filming (surprisingly, as I’m not a big fan of being in front of camera), it has subsequently inspired us to host more parties at our home. Although, I’m still not fond of the clearing up the next morning.
Here’s what I learnt from the hostess with the mostess, Candice, about throwing an amazing BBQ for friends and family …
A BBQ doesn’t have to be about boring burgers and sausages. Try something a little bit different like this Moroccan-style leg of lamb. The marinade is incredibly simple to make and the leg of lamb easier to BBQ than what you might expect. Serve with pitta breads, salads and tzatziki and your guests will feel very spoilt.
Think beyond the usual soft drinks when it comes to non-alcoholic options. On the day of our big family BBQ, we took a bottle of already delicious red grape Shloer and, with a splash of orange juice, a dash of chopped fruit, and sprinkling of mint and crushed ice, turned it in to a divine sangria.
Despite being a huge fan of faffing with pretty things, decorations have always been the last thing on my mind when it comes to hosting a party. Probably, because sorting the food and drink already seems like quite a sizeable task. Candice showed me so many quick and easy ways to make my garden look lovely and it really made a difference to the setting, from a wheelbarrow filled with ice and drinks to a bucket with flowers and floating tea lights. They really set the scene.
Don’t forget the kids! Keeping the children entertained leaves the adults free to chill out and enjoy themselves. A giant Jenga was a huge hit with all the children as was a wigwam and blankets scattered across the lawn.
We might be heading in to autumn but with the addition of a few layers, I think we can carry on barbecuing in to winter. We just won’t need as much ice for our drinks!
Here are a few ‘behind the scenes’ photos from our day filming with Candice and Shloer.
What do you think?
Pop over to the Shloer Facebook page for more hints and tips on hosting parties. Or if you have any top tips yourself, let me know in the comments below.
This post was written in collaboration with Shloer.