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Planning The Perfect Night In with The Squad

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Get this party started

 

You’ll know when it’s time to throw a party for your best female friends. A promotion at work, the dumping of a toxic ex, a new mom to-be in the house, someone about to move abroad? These are all reasons to set up a not-to-be-forgotten evening for your besties, which will go down in history as the ultimate celebration of a noteworthy milestone.

Send e-invites

For starters, who’s going to be on the guest list? It more or less depends on the space you have to entertain and how many guests you can feed and water. A good number is more than five but less than 20. Gather up their email addresses or cell numbers via WhatsApp, then go to your paperless invite of choice. Your wedding planner mate will be able to advise you on which option to select, to set the tone for the bash that lies ahead.

 

There’s Greenvelope, where you can customize everything up to the virtual envelope liner; Evite, where inputting your contacts is seamless and photos taken on the eve can be sent on to everyone later via post-party reminder; Paperless Post, that offers the prettiest templates and allows you to track your RSVPS without a hitch; and Riles & Grey, which saves the date on the calendars of guests and releases seasonal designs so you’re always ahead of the crowd.

 

Decorate up a storm

 

You can save on decorations by having a look at what’s lurking in your dress-up drawer. Some themes are easier to navigate than others, such as Vegas Casino (just

breakout the cards and anything black, red and white that fits in, from tablecloths to feather boas and balloons); or Arabian Nights (where cushions are arranged in circles on the floor, taselled throws become bedouin tents when hung from above and a desert theme can be drawn on the wall in chalk for easy removal afterwards). A Murder Mystery theme is also popular these days (search in the garage for props like clocks, frames, scrolls and cigarette holders); or what about a Pretty in Pink affair, where you set things up to resemble Barbie’s bachelorette pad and invite a beautician to come over and dispense pedicures to all those attending. What a treat!

 

Once you’ve settled on a theme or color scheme, hit the Chinese Shop or dollar store and see what you can find lurking – inexpensively – in corners. You may alight on an el-cheapo mini roulette wheel (for the Vegas Casino theme); a massive palm tree balloon (for the Arabian Nights theme); a mock mirror (for the Murder Mystery theme); and a set of Barbie plates, cups and serviettes (for the Pretty in Pink affair).

If there’s one thing you should treat yourself to, advises party planner Brian Worley, is a huge bunch of fresh flowers. You could cut them yourselves at a nearby chart farm, or buy them in support of a local seller rather than a big supermarket. Either way, they’re well worth the money because they will “brighten the mood” and “complement your chosen colours”, he advises. Plus, they’re likely to last a lot longer than the party for your private enjoyment thereafter.

Have a champagne campaign

 

Next up, decide on your poison of the night. The idea is to provide each guest with a welcome drink, from a cocktail of choice to an upmarket bubbly, served in anything from a themed paper cup to a vintage crystal glass; and, if you can manage it, to provide a random selection of wine, beer and soft drinks thereafter. Alternatively, politely request that each person “brings a bottle” of what they particularly like, which will work easier on your pocket and ensure party attendees are kept happy when the corks start popping.

 

If you know your girl squad is heavily into cocktails and you’ve selected this option for the welcome drink, you may wish to do a little research ahead of time to ensure you have all the required ingredients on hand – from the necessary crushed ice to the tutti-frutti toppings and squizzlestick decorations.

Think munchies, music and more

It’s a few hours ahead of time, and you’re busy filling up platters on the snack table. Fresh is best, so ideally these items were bought a few days ahead and frozen, or you picked them up that very morning. Have you considered all the dietary requirements of your guests? Some may be vegetarian (even vegan?), so ensure you have some veggie patties on hand if your main dish is a Great Gatsby Burger, grilled on the weber.

In winter, a tureen of tomato soup, bread and decadent cheese selection should accommodate most folk, while these days, with the summer approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, a few bountiful salads and fruit skewer-type offerings should prove pleasing for the health nuts. Once the drinks start flowing, we all love a guacamole dip with nachos, salmon mousse and cream cheese on a crispy sliver of baguette, or lean chicken breast and gherkin slices on a stick.

What’s important, in the planning phase, is to think color, freshness and health, and to consider what your guests most like. You really don’t have to cook an entire roast turkey with all the trimmings – this is not Thanksgiving and you’re not setting out to impress the in-laws (Thank heavens!). A huge vase stuffed to the rafters with theme colored bonbons or fortune cookies will go down a treat; or set aside your most massive glass bowl to fill with chocolate mousse, ice cream and other trifle ingredients once pudding time rolls around.

Have you decided on the main activity of the night? Are you going to boogie down to a party list on Spotify; chat up a storm with those you haven’t seen for ages; bond over a beverage and a bite; settle down later for a sleepover and romcom on ShowMax? A touch of all of the above? As the saying goes, you’re only as strong as the drinks you mix, the tables you dance on and the friends you party with. So mix, dance and party wisely – and remember to record it all on instagram for posterity.


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