Your quintessential guide to creating a memorable soirée
Summer – and the gloriously sunny festive season it brings to those of us fortunate enough to live in the Southern hemisphere – has finally arrived, offering those cherished celebration moments we eagerly anticipate all year. It’s a season that beckons us to unwind, to reconnect with family and friends, and to welcome them into our homes to raise a glass to the year that was and the promise of the new one that is waiting to welcome us.
It’s a time to pack the cooler boxes and hit the beach, to fling open the doors to the garden and to make plans for everything from braais to drinks parties, sundowners and bubbly-fuelled celebrations. Importantly, it’s the time of year when we can fulfil those “we must get together” promises, share our stories, and make memories for the years ahead.
With so many entertainment opportunities presenting themselves at this time of the year, life can begin to feel a little overwhelming, which is why we compiled our special JAN Entertaining Guide, which is included as a special supplement with JAN The Journal Volume 12. It is a celebration of the good life in all its elegance and covers eight different occasions, so you can plan the perfect bubbly party, Christmas lunch, sophisticated cocktail soiree, or memorable New Year’s Eve bash. Our special guide includes tips to create the perfect ambiance, insights to streamline your organisation, and quintessential food and drinks selections your guests will love.
To get you in the party mood, we’ve got some useful hosting advice to transform your gatherings into unforgettable moments. Let’s raise a glass and celebrate!
Your Summer Entertaining Made Easier
- Set the date for your soirée a couple of weeks in advance so that guests can commit to being there and you know the numbers you are catering for.
- Suggest a dress code to conjure up the scene – “dust off your heels and sequins” for a catered party for example lets people know exactly what they’re in for.
- Tell people what they need to do – bring a bottle, Uber rather than drive, no children, etc.
- Make sure you have vegetarian food options and plenty of soft drinks for designated drivers.
- State your time parameters.
CATERING TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS
- Canapé calculator: you need an average of 10 bites per person. So, if you have 30 guests, you need at least ten platters with 30 bites on each.
- Estimate one half to a full bottle of wine per guest and account for around 2 glasses of wine per hour per guest.
- When it comes to glassware, aim for two to three wine glasses per guest and at least one champagne flute for arrivals and toasts.
- Make a casual get together interactive, all you do is supply the meal components – think make-it-yourself pizza and burgers, poké bowl bars or Mediterranean pitas.
GET YOUR SPACE PARTY READY
- Clear the decks – tidy countertops.
- Empty the dishwasher and the dustbin.
- Clean the bathrooms and stock them up.
- Light candles and scent your space.
- Kill the overhead lights and use ambient lighting.
- Set up a drinks trolley or tray with relevant garnishes and accessories.
- Have a backup plan for power outages.
- Set aside a space for coats and bags.
MAKE YOUR GARDEN GLOW
- Think of your outdoor areas as additional gathering spaces for parties and get togethers.
- Move a small couch, some Persians, and oversized cushions to the lawn to create an outside lounge.
- When it comes to fairy lights and candles, more is definitely more – create areas of pooled light in dim corners to encourage people to congregate and chat.
- Move the bar outside and make it homely with nearby seating.
- Light up the firepit for late night convivial vibes.
- Take pressure off your home by serving dessert from a well-lit spot outdoors.
HOW TO POP AND POUR
- Your bubbly needs to be ice cold. Chill it for at least 24 hours before the first guests ring your bell.
- The best way to “pop” a bottle of bubbles is to gently ease the cork from the neck, keeping the palm of your hand firmly over it to avoid any whizzing corks.
- To pour, balance the neck of the bottle on the side of the glass, while holding it at a 45° angle from the bottle (kind of like you’d pour beer). This will cause the bubbles to foam less when you pour.
- Aim carefully and pour the glass about a third to a half full (never full).
- Bubbly left over? Use a champagne bottle stop with a suitable seal.
AND, OF COURSE, BE A GOOD GUEST
- RSVP promptly.
- Arrive and leave on time!
- Follow the dress code.
- Bring the host a thoughtful gift.
- Engage with fellow guests.
- Always send a thank you.