Top tips for stress-free seasonal party planning

PUBLISHED: 15:54 14 November 2016 | UPDATED: 15:54 14 November 2016




The festive party season is upon us, but arranging big nights out, or cosy nights in, can leave you feeling fraught. With just a little organisation, and some outside help, you can ensure your celebration goes without a hitch.


Whether you’re hosting an intimate dinner party or a buffet for the masses, the centrepiece will almost always come from the butcher and Andy Shaw of Shaw’s Quality Butchers in Chingford, says it’s important to order at least one week in advance to avoid disappointment.

‘Your menu may well be based around what you buy from the butcher and you don’t want to be left running around at the last minute,’ he says.


When it comes to choice in the run up to the festive season, people often want to save turkey for Christmas Day, opting instead for a rib of beef or crown of lamb. Andy says: ‘The quality of the meat is the key, then it’s up to you whether you want to keep it simple or add marinades and sauces.

‘For buffets, ham always looks impressive at the centre of your table and is always popular, whether cooked in coke or cider or glazed with hone and mustard. We also sell homemade pork pies and scotch eggs which make a tasty addition to any buffet.’


If you want to entertain at home, but lack confidence in the kitchen, Bebs Bites in Woodford could be the answer to your prayers. Their authentic Indian cookery lessons offer practical experience in creating the perfect dish, step-by-step, and the opportunity to learn a little about ingredients and spices.

Owner, Ranjeet Khare, says: ‘Our classes are really hands-on. It’s not a case of everyone watching me cook, it’s about me being there to advise and support them as they work through recipes themselves.


‘Hopefully, by the end of class, they will have learned a set menu which they will feel confident enough to replicate at home.’

Bebs Bites has recently branched out into fusion cuisine, taking in Italian and Arabic cooking, along with introducing a catering service, perfect for people who don’t want the stress of creating their own dishes.

Ranjeet explains: ‘I go into the home and prepare everything for the party so the host simply has to warm it up. That leaves them free to focus on socialising, not cooking.’

With your food all sorted, thoughts turn to drink and Banquet Inn has the perfect solution for parties. They cater for groups ranging from 30 to 20,000 people, setting up a bar in your home and serving drinks throughout the evening. They also have two mobile bars which they can park in your garden.

Owner Andy Cranch says: ‘Too often people forget about sorting out the alcohol, serving warm beer and a very limited choice. We offer a massive range of drinks, all served at the right temperature.

‘Your guests will all have different tastes and we can cater for everyone, for example we often have up to 50 different types of gin alone.’

In the run up to Christmas Banquet Inn also offer seasonal beverages from mulled wine and hot cider to warm cocktails and rum and ginger beer. Andy says: ‘We turn up, set up and serve which leaves you free to relax and enjoy your party.’

Sometimes arranging a night out on the town can take as much, if not more, organisation that at-home entertainment. Deciding on venues for drinks and dinner, arranging transport and childcare can prove to be a military operation, but Liquorice in Buckhurst Hill has the perfect solution to getting your evening off to a great start.

They hold wine tastings at their Queen’s Road venue, the perfect place to kick-off your evening out. Owner, Jo Eastwood, says: ‘We offer pre-booked tastings for up to 10 people and it’s a lovely, unique way to try something new, learn a little and get yourself in the party mood.” Liquorice can also help set the mood for a dinner party or festive celebration, hosting a tasting for guests in your home.

If you’re feeling flummoxed as you attempt to prepare for a dinner party, the knowledgeable staff at Liquorice can help, making recommendations and offering a wine-matching service. Jo says, “We have a fabulous selection of wines, craft beers, small batch spirits and champagnes to accommodate all budgets.

‘All our staff are very approachable and they would be happy to help you choose the appropriate drink for your dinner guests. We also offer a great range of crystal stemware gifts and even provide glass hire for parties which can really help take the stress out of organising an entertaining evening.’

So, whether you’re heading out to celebrate or looking to host an intimate dinner party or something a little more raucous in your own home, your local high street has everything you need, right on your doorstep, to ensure your festive nights in, or out, are a great success.

Banquet Inn



153 Queen’s Road, Buckhurst Hill IG9 5AZ


Shaw’s Quality Butchers

29 Station Road, Chingford E4 7BJ

020 8529 3174

Bebs Bites

High Road, Woodford Green IG8 0QJ

07971 302 927


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