Leiston Abbey

Thrifty summer party

Food & Drink

It is here! Finally. The promise of a Summer without any Lockdown restrictions. It’s time to put down the remote, move away from Netflix and step out blindly into some much-needed sunshine.

by Charlie Smith-Knight

Yet trailing in the pandemic’s wake, like a petulant younger sibling that just realised it’s not their birthday party, comes a cost of living crisis. So, it seems we are not entirely out of the woods yet. 

But fear not, if your finances are waging a war more biblical than that of David and Goliath, this thrifty girl has some tips to help slay that particular dragon by cutting the cost, so you can continue to spread some joy and throw your own party successfully this Summer. 

First of all, because let’s be honest it always starts with food, is the Pot Luck Provision. Of course, barbequing is the classic British summer party staple and for good reason. There is nothing more glorious than mildly charcoaling some sausages whilst trying to make sure the paper plates don’t blow into next door’s garden. But being responsible for this holy grail of British tradition does not need to fall entirely on your shoulders and this is where you can employ the Pot Luck Provision. The principle of which is simple: ask your guests to bring a dish. If you can cook, this is an excellent opportunity to show off your skills and if you can’t, then it is likely that edible snacks are going to be provided by a more culinary proficient friend or family member. The day I found out my sister puts egg in her potato salad was genuinely revolutionary. From homemade coleslaw to Moroccan cous-cous, you have no idea what secret ingredients your friends have hidden up their proverbial chef sleeves or what you can be passing off as your own genius idea in the future (thanks Vicky!). A problem shared is a problem halved, as they say. 

Next up, the drinks, and why not round up the bottles lurking in the back of your alcohol cupboard. Save some money and create your own cocktail. Follow the golden rule: 2 parts spirit, 1 part sour, 1 part sweet. If it tastes great, give it the family name. If it doesn’t, maybe name it after an ex or that girl that ruined the name Jennifer for you in High School. Either way, lemonade covers a multitude of sins and everyone appreciates some fresh fruit cut up and artfully arranged in a pitcher. For those designated drivers, why not whip up a cold brew coffee jug. Take some ice, room temperature coffee and whiz it up with milk or ice cream. 

When it comes to entertainment, never underestimate the value of a pack of cards. Poker hasn’t been around for a thousand years without reason. You can also pick up some well-priced garden games online and I promise it won’t be just the kids that enjoy a game of inflatable target ball or the novelty of giant Jenga. Either way, grab your Bluetooth speaker, run up a playlist and blast out some Mungo Jerry to set the scene.

On the subject of scene-setting, let’s not overlook decorating. Never forget that fairy lights aren’t just for Christmas. A well-placed string of twinklers can add a touch of magic to any average looking perennial border. There’s no need to worry about matching either. Pull out those odd souvenir cups from your travels, random blankets and mismatched plates. It’s not chaotic – it’s eclectic. Create your own little corner of Bohemia and drape some old tablecloths over a few pallets for a unique al fresco dining experience. Dot some candles along your new makeshift table, add a vase or two of flowers and throw scatter cushions on the grass. Then you won’t need to fret about whether there’s enough garden chairs rammed in the back of the shed. Et voila! Beatnik chic in your own back garden. 

So, if your budget has less wiggle room than a Kardashian’s dress, there’s plenty to keep you having fun, even if it’s
only Daylight savings time working in your favour. The truth is, it’s important to remember you’re only as rich as
the company you keep. Take some deep breaths, enjoy the sun and have a few laughs. Just don’t forget your citronella candle.