We began to organize and plan our party about a month ago, and let all our friends know the date well ahead so they could reserve it on their calendar. So important during the busy summer weekends! Then last Saturday was finally the day. We prepared most of the food on Friday evening, and got our shopping done on Thursday. We ordered two kegs of beer at a great local brewery, which we could just pick up on the day of. I had bought colorful paper plates, napkins, cups and all that stuff the last time I was at IKEA. As much as I hate it from an environmental aspect, disposable is really the way to go here. I don't know about you, but I do not have 30 plates or enough cutlery for such an event, and it makes clean-up so much easier. Plus, no drunk people dropping your fine china in a daze! Just make sure you opt for recycled paper plates and stuff.
Doing most of the work way ahead of time saved us all the stress on Saturday. All we had to do was set everything up, pick up the kegs, and wait for our guests. I even had time to lounge in the sun and enjoy a strawberry-watermelon vodka margarita. Might as well get a head start - *hiccup* !
We gave our guests a flexible time slot, and wrote from 6 pm onwards til open end on our invite. At about 6:30 pm, the first people started to arrive. I was so busy hosting and making sure everyone had a drink and was taken care of, plus of course talking to everyone and having fun, that I didn't even have time to take that many pictures. But here's a few that I took! Because of privacy reasons, I'm not posting any pictures of my friends on this Blog right now. I'm not sure if everyone would like that, due to my public life.
We set up the seating area outside on the patio obviously, and our apartment has a wrap-around glass front with a huge sliding door. So you can basically open up the front of the apartment to connect with the patio - very cool! We set up the food on our dining room table in pretty, colorful bowls and dishes, along with all the plates, cutlery, and non-alcoholic drinks. That way, everyone could just help themselves buffet style, and all we had to do was fill up the dishes again when they were running low. We had made all the salads in gigantic Tupperware containers, which we stored in our cool basement overnight because they didn't fit in our fridge.
Tossed mixed green salad with tomatoes in the centre, and a massive quantity of potato salad that was just perfect for the BBQ. We made about 6kg of potatoes for that salad! We washed all the lettuce and stored it in ziploc bags in the fridge for easy refilling.
I made several homemade dressings and dips. It goes without saying that everything is made from scratch here! I don't eat ready-made food and I'm not about to serve my guests something out of a can or a jar. On the left is my homemade salad dressing - I used a hand mixer to emulsify and it and it came out so creamy and smooth. I filled it into an empty plastic water bottle, and just filled up the sauce jar when it was running low.
I also made a Spicy Peanut Sate sauce (pictured on the right, above) and that was also a big hit, with some people asking for the recipe. It was mainly chunky peanut butter, sautéed onions, ginger, chili, and some Thai herbs and spices. I made it a couple nights ahead of time.
I also made fresh Tzatziki with Greek yogurt, cucumber, and loads of fresh herbs from my garden, and Hummus, which is made from Chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, lemons and Tahini (sesame seed paste). We bought several loaves of bread for dipping up the sauces.
This Melon & Pancetta Bacon Pasta salad was absolutely delicious and I'll definitely make it again sometime. It also contained tons of basil and fresh mint leaves, and a yummy dressing. I used three different types of juicy, perfectly ripe melon and it was so refreshing - a perfect summer dish! Yummy.
Fresh crusty olive bread for dipping the Tzatziki, Hummus and Spicy Peanut sauces. We also bought different baguettes and more breads to refill the basket.
All I can say is: Cheers! This was 30 Liters of beer - this picture was taken the day after when the beer had long been swilled away. Kegs are the easiest and most cost effective way to offer your guests an alcoholic beverage. It comes way cheaper than buying bottled beer or wine, and you can often get some really interesting varieties at some micro breweries. We ordered a 20L keg of an amber beer, and 10L of a light lager. Make sure you also have some non-alcoholic stuff to drink too, though!
Now we obviously didn't have seating for that many people, so we organized some extra tables and benches from someone we knew. They were a pain to transport by car since they are really long, but each table and bench combo fits 8 people comfortably. Then we pushed our own patio table together, so that everyone had space to sit and eat. They fit perfectly on our big patio, and it was so great to finally be able to use all that space! On the tables we served a variety of chips and also olives as little snacks and appetizers, so that our guests would have something to munch on right away while mingling.
Since everyone likes different things to put on the BBQ, we asked everyone to bring their own meat and grilling food. This is pretty much standard practice in Switzerland when invited to a larger BBQ party, because meat is really expensive here when compared to other countries, so no one ever expects the host to buy meat for 30 or more people - well unless it's a wedding or something like that. If I throw a smaller dinner party, I'll of course pay for the meat, but for a larger party, it's really the easiest way to make sure everyone has what they like, also for vegetarians! That way I made sure to provide all the rest.
We lucked out and had absolutely phenomenal weather, and a gorgeous sunset. We put our stereo speakers outside and blasted fun, summery music - Cuban Salsa, Lounge, drum&bass, downtempo - you name it! It can get quite windy sometimes on our rooftop patio, but luckily that evening was very pleasant and warm. The sun set and I lit all the candles. I don't much like electric or solar lights on the patio, so I got loads of candles and put them in a bunch of empty jam jars. Super inexpensive, wind-proof, and if you get the larger IKEA tea lights (not the standard smaller ones) they will last you for many hours.
I also purchased these three large, ultra-wide candles from IKEA which I had burned down to the right height over the course of a few weeks prior. Both the candles, and the candle vases here, are from IKEA. Put some sand, or salt (cheap alternative), on the bottom of the vase, then stick your candle into that as a perfect base. When it was dark, I carried out and placed one vase on each table. I also had lots of lanterns going, unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the beautiful night time atmosphere at our party, which sucks!
These thick candles need to be lit for several hours if you want them to burn down evenly, so they take a bit of thinking ahead. Light them in the afternoon if you plan to use them in the evening for a party, so that the wax will burn all the way to the edge. Otherwise, you will get a candle tunnelling problem, which can cause the wick to not burn properly after a while.
We have two bathrooms in our place, so we made one for men, one for women. I wanted to make some humorous signs, so I printed these out from the computer.
Channing Tatum for the Ladies...
And sexy Rosie Huntington Whitely for the men!
It was an absolutely wonderful party. With a bit of planning ahead, it can be very easy and stress free. Just don't leave everything to the last minute! Buy your groceries at a discounter, make dishes that features seasonal produce to avoid high costs, or buy things in bulk. It wasn't that expensive to throw such a party for that many people, and it's definitely something I plan to do again! Everyone had so much fun, and we were laughing, eating and talking well into the night. Make sure to set the right atmosphere with music, decorations, lighting and even some pretty flowers.
Here are some of the containers that I planted for our patio - I have a couple more that I didn't photograph yet. I love the tall grasses blowing in the breeze, which adds some interesting movement, and the flowers at the base add some color.
My lavender in bloom! This is my all-purple container.
I hope you enjoyed my post! Leave a comment below if you're planning to throw some kind of a BBQ or a party this summer, and what you've got in mind for decor and such. I just love entertaining in our new place.
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