I love winters. It is the only time of the year when we can sit down and read a newspaper in our living room. I live in Ahmedabad and the temperature is an average 38+ degrees Celsius. So during winters, I use this space to the maximum. Apartment therapy’s series on ‘how to entertain’ got me write out my ideas for this favourite winter activity. I drooled over the inexpensive, yet awesome options that IKEA provides and decided that we need to have our version of the same. Since I am obsessed about handcrafted options for almost everything, I’ve made my ideas as handcrafted and personal as I can!
Over years, I’ve hosted parties with as much as 30 guests in a 2 bedroom, hall, kitchen apartment with my ever limited crockery and on really tight budgets. I love having people over, I love the laughter and the conversation and am sure that budget and time will never constrain me ever. Inspite of such constraints, I refuse to use that plastic glass or order pizza. So here is my list of things to do to host that perfect party.
Dress up your home..
- Clean up. You are not aiming for a sparkling new home here, just make sure your bathrooms (and the adjacent bedrooms) are turned out right.
- A small arrangement of the following in the bathroom will work great. A couple of hand towels, handwash, a small tea light candle. I’ve used my old jam bottle for the effect. You can add flowers of your choice to this arrangement. Marigold, anyone?
- Tackle your living room. I don’t have a couch at home. I use floor mattresses, so I get out my pillows to add to that comfort. Do not use light coloured sheets. Light a lamp in your living room. Get out all your old stack of bottles and light candles in them. A typical tea light (non-scented) burns for about 6 hours.
- Pull out those Diwali diyas and string lights. Decorate your TV or your potted plants with the string lights!
Be a smart Cook!
- Though ordering in sounds the easiest thing to do, trust me cooking at home works out a lot cheaper and definitely way healthier. Go heavy on simple starters and have a simple main course.
- I make a lot of dips all this time. My favourites are hummus, satay sauce and a simple boondi raita. Super simple to make, I store them all the time in my fridge (except the boondi raita!) Pour this into tea cups, bunch them together and leave it at a few vantage points. Keep tooth picks handy. Buy plenty of crackers(I like the Parle variety), Monaco biscuits, inexpensive plain chips. Roast roast plain papads.
- Pani Puri is another simple, yet interesting snack for an evening.. Boil potatoes, mix it up with some dry spices, buy a huge pack of puris and make the paani (follow the instructions on the pack, add some boondi to it and you are done. For a twist, you can spike the water with alcohol (rum or vodka would be just fine). A piece of advice, make sure you spread loads of paper below this container and discard it as soon as the pani puri is over. You don’t want people walking over that mess all evening!
- Serve bite size cheese cubes and if you have the time, string them with pineapple cubes and black grapes on a tooth pick.
- Chop mushrooms into four, add a little salt, chilli powder, lemon juice and sauté for a few minutes. A quick tasty starter is ready.
- Salad! Sliced cucumber, tomatoes and onions. Avoid the salt.
- After gorging on all this, your guests may not be hungry for dinner. So if you are making dinner, plan to make a wholesome single dish- a biryani or a pasta. You have that boondi raita for the accompaniment.
- If you are serving alcohol, serve pitcher drinks. You can make a drink of vodka, Rooh Afza (a rose sherbet) and mint leaves. Not only does it look beautiful with it’s pink shade, it tastes awesome. Top up with soda. I recently had a Khus drink, with white rum, soda and lemon. Sliced lemons in the pitcher looked so beautiful! So go on, be creative!
- Keep loads of ice and bottles filled with water. A few extra bottles of soda, a range of soft drinks and loads of tissues.
- Keep a shoe box or carton in each corner. You’ll have less to clean up the next day.
During the party
- Plastic glasses make it look like a children’s party. If you are not sure of getting out those expensive glasses, buy Kullads. The in-expensive terracotta glasses, add that dash of innovativeness to your party and offers the local potter some business. (Photo Courtesy: Tripadvisor.com)
- You can use Phirni bowls (again terracotta) for the Pani Puri. Once the party is over, Wash them, dry them and stock them up for the next party.
- Arrange your food on the table or the counter, along with a few diyas. Lemon wedges and mint leaves look ravishing on the table. Your guests will be impressed even before they start!
So put that music on and get going! Have a great party and please share your suggestions, comments and experiences :)