It’s not often we’re gifted an extra long weekend, but that’s what’s happening this year, with a Bank Holiday added on Friday June 3 to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Plus, the usual late May bank holiday has been pushed back to Thursday June 2, meaning a four-day break at the end of spring for many of us.
If you’re choosing to celebrate 70 years of Her Majesty’s reign with a party, now’s the time to start thinking about the food and drink, decorations and other plans for a right royal knees-up.
Photo of the Queen at a state banquet. Picture credit: Chris Jackson/PA Photos.
Here, experts offer top tips on how to organise and host a brilliant Platinum Jubilee bash…
1. Start the preparations early
“Whether you’re planning a small gathering in your garden or arranging one of the thousands of street parties expected across the UK, the earlier you get organised the better,” says Sarah Allsop, creative manager at Party Delights. “The more you plan, the less stressful things will be, and you can sit back and enjoy the fun with your guests.”
Make sure you’ve got the go-ahead for any al fresco activities, she continues: “You will need permission from your local council if you and your neighbours are planning a street party and you want to close a section of the road to traffic. If you want to hold your party on external private land or green space, then the landowner will need to give their approval.”
Getting these permissions in place is definitely not a last-minute job – check what the deadlines are in your area and make sure to apply promptly.
Picture credit should read: Alamy/PA.
2. Get the invites out
Next up is the guest list and invites, which is key when it comes to planning other elements of the party.
Allsop says: “Having an idea of numbers will help you to decide on how much space you need, the seating arrangements, your food and drink and what type of entertainment you might like to have. Get your invites out at least a month before and make sure you ask guests to RSVP.”
3. Choose your menu
Once you know how many you’re catering for, you can decide on your food and drink selection.
“Most people will opt for a buffet or afternoon tea-style menu,” Allsop says. “Afternoon tea is quintessentially British and fits perfectly with such a royal occasion.”
Ameer Kotecha, author of The Platinum Jubilee Cookbook (Jon Croft Editions, £30) set up the Platinum Pudding competition (platinumjubilee.gov.uk) to find a dessert to celebrate the occasion, the winner of which will be announced in mid-May.
“Obviously, I would recommend people serve up the platinum pudding as part of their street parties – the idea is it should be like a successor to the Victoria Sponge,” Kotecha says. “Then I would say try and think of things that maybe have a connection to the Queen and to the monarchy. The way you can tell is because they’ve been given royal warrants.”
For example, you could incorporate chocolate from Bendicks or Charbonnel et Walker, McVitie’s digestive biscuits or classic summer tipple Pimm’s.
Kotecha adds: “Try and feature Pimm’s in your dessert somehow or [use] McVitie’s digestives in a cheesecake. It’s quite a fun way of showing off British produce and the great stuff that we have.”
For larger gatherings such as street parties, it can help to share the load, Allsop says: “Allocate each of your neighbours something to bring for a shared table. Traditional items such as sandwiches, cakes and scones are typical but really anything goes.
“You might want to have some hot options on hand too, like pizzas or a large pot of stew. When planning your menu, make sure you ask guests if they have any dietary requirements so you can cater for them appropriately.”
Picture credit: Alamy/PA.
4. Decide on your decor
“A party isn’t a party without decorations – and for an occasion like this, there’s no such thing as too much,” says Allsop. “In terms of colour, a traditional red, white and blue theme with Union Jacks and crowns aplenty will certainly be the popular choice. But if you want something a little more subdued then purple, gold and white can all feel very regal.”
For street parties, bunting is a must. “We have seen an incredible demand for it at Party Delights already and are selling thousands of metres a week,” says Allsop. “You can also create your own decorations by looking for printable options online or make traditional paper chains with red, white and blue card.”
5. Dress for the occasion
A dress code isn’t compulsory, of course, but suggesting an optional theme can be a fun addition to the party – just make sure to tell guests in advance so they have time to plan their outfits.
“Ask guests to dress to impress in their finest clothing, wear a particular colour, or even come as their favourite royal,” Allsop suggests. “For more of a light-touch dress code, jubilee party accessories such as hats, tiaras, wigs and masks are the perfect alternative.”
6. Keep the kids entertained
“If there’s going to be lots of children at your jubilee party, then you will want to make sure there is plenty to keep them occupied them all day,” Allsop says.
“Invest in some garden games or a pinata. These are great fun for all ages, even the adults,” she suggests. “Setting up an arts and crafts table with lots of jubilee themed activities can help keep little hands busy. Or, if the British weather is kind and the sun looks set to shine, set up the paddling pool or some garden water games to keep the kids cool as well as entertained.”
Picture credit: Alamy/PA.
More helpful tips, advice and support for organising a successful event can be found on The Big Lunch and also on the Street Party website.