We’re bringing our a-game to put together festive winter soirees (indoors or outdoors) that are equal parts fun and effortless. To help us really get a handle on the prep, we chatted up of some of our favourite party organisers, caterers, and floral artists. The booze
“People remember two things about a party: the beginning and the end,” said Punit Jasuja, event planner, interior designer, and creative director at Second Floor Studio, “so welcome your guests with a bright cocktail that’s been brewed beforehand.” We suggest keeping it fresh and light so guests can pace themselves and then either continue with your drink or make their way to their usual preferred tipple after. “To end the night, send them off with a parting gift: something like candles or a bag of cookies”, he continued.„“Nothing gets guests more excited than a good dessert, so make sure you have something scrumptious to end your dinner with.” — Karan Singh Parmar, owner of Twelve Tomatoes"„ The blooms
Whether it’s indoor or outdoor entertaining, fresh and seasonal flowers are incredible and require no additional decoration. They add life and fragrance to a room. Think stems of tuberose (Rajnigandha), or the classic festive go-to: marigold and rose petals scattered on beautiful ceramic trays and and bowls. “November is a good time to bring areca palms and peace lilies indoors”, Karan Singh Parmar told us, a florist and gardener whose runs an incredible floral bouquet subscription service in Delhi, as well as a service to help create beautiful terrace gardens. “You could also add plants like mother-in-law's tongue and ferns to add warmth to the space as the chill sets in.” Parmar likes to put blooms in shiny brass vases for more festive (and ethnic) gatherings, a burlap wrap for a vintage-inspired garden party, or a stainless steel and glass vase for a contemporary touch.The room
To offset the cold, create cosy corners kitted out with cushions, throws, rugs, and warm lights for guests to settle into. Good scented candles add warmth (and a twinkle) to the space, but if you feel uneasy about leaving one unattended at a party, throw fairy light into a large hurricane lamp or infuse the room with the lush scents of a reed diffuser. And if you’re concerned about consistency, Jasuja puts those demons to rest. “Symmetry is overrated. Don’t worry if your set of wine glasses has suffered a few casualties. Different shaped glasses create variety, interest, and diversity.” Sample this advice while picking cushions covers as well, playing with prints, shapes, and sizes to add intrigue.The food
While we’re all for experimenting with flavours, for a larger party we go with what we know. Save the experimenting for when you’re alone or in a small group, when your night doesn’t hinge on the food being perfect. “I love stacks of heavy and light canapés; what we call a flying buffet”, says Alice Helme from CAARA. If you’re serving dinner, serve it at an appropriate time, and get it out of the way so you can move on to the partying, and later desserts. “One pot meals are perfect and fuss-free, like a Coq au vin with an easy green salad and crispy baguette on the side”, she continues. For the drinks, stock up with alcohol and mixers, and leave it to the guests to help themselves (unless you have a bartender holding up that end). “A strong drinks table or tray is essential. Have everything set out ahead and at hand”, she finished.
As for the host, “keep your drink handy and smile”, laughs Karan. This last element is usually the hardest to come by, but with a little prep you can be that mythical creature, the genuinely relaxed host.