With the summer party season fast approaching, this is the time when the barbecue’s cobwebs are dusted off, the marquee is unpacked and the paddling pool blown up and put down in the garden in the hopeful expectation of a glorious summer.
And of course summer is a wonderful time for celebrating, with weddings and parties, be they social or work-related, at home or in a designated venue, bringing together friends, family or work colleagues, and for networking and forging new friendships and…but stop! Before you get carried away, there are some key things you need to consider when planning a party or gathering. So here are my top tips for a happy, memorable (for the right reasons) and safe event:
Tip #1 Event Flow
What is an event flow? Well, it is what it says on the tin. It is how the event will flow through the day or evening, what happens at the beginning, middle and end of the event, and what punctuates it – eg, will you be letting off fireworks, or Chinese lanterns during the evening, or will you have an entertainer or DJ? Run through it in your mind, imagining how it will all look and work, and think about timings, what and who needs to be where and when, so that you feel confident that the event will look, feel and run the way you want it to.
Tip#2 Risk Assessment
Go from front of house to garden, imagining hoards of people tramping through, crowding in the kitchen or around the barbecue, dogs, children, music, and general mayhem, and what impact each of those things could have. So for example, where is your barbecue situated? Is it too near the neighbours’ garden, so they will have to put up with the smoke, or can you move it somewhere else, and if you do move it, what impact will that have on cooking and serving up? Do you have a water feature or pond which could be a hazard for young children. What about fireworks, is your garden big enough to accommodate setting them off, or do you have too many trees for it to be safe to set off Chinese lanterns?
Tip #3 Weather
Ok, it will either be warm or hot and dry, or wet, or both – this is Britain, after all! So you’re going to need small but very important kit on hand to deal with any weather related issues. A first aid kit – yes I know you’ve got one but can you put your hands on it right now? Check its contents, because chances’ are it won’t have the key ingredient you may need on the day. Sun cream, spare sun hats, and insect repellent and bite cream are also very important to have to hand, especially to keep children safe.
You will also need to make plans for any electrical equipment you may be using outside. If you have cables, make sure you’ve got a tripping circuit breaker which will cut the electricity immediately if anything untoward occurs, and that your outdoor plugs have flaps.
Tip #4 Contingency Plan
Ah, the good old British weather! As we know, we cannot rely on the summer to be dry, so what to do if it rains? Of course, you can come indoors, particularly if you are having the party in a private house, but you can’t bring the BBQ indoors – no, seriously. So make sure you’ve thought about how you will manage if you have to cook indoors, or if you’re using an external venue, what they have available for you to use in such circumstances.
Tip #5 Insurance
You have home contents insurance, right? Firstly, check that’s it’s up to date, that you’ve paid the premium, and then check that you have public liability insurance included within it. Most home contents insurance includes public liability, but do check and make sure it doesn’t contain any exclusions, such as not covering you for BBQ or firework accidents. Your guests are what is termed “lawful invitees”, ie they have a right to be in your property because you have invited them, and as such are entitled to be protected from any hazards which may be lurking in your home or garden. The test for such hazards would be what the reasonable person would be expected to minimise, what precautions the reasonable person would take to minimise risks to their guests.
So there you have it – my 5 top tips for a happy, safe and memorable summer party.
But if this all sounds too much like hard work, I’m just a phone call – or email – away…