Wedding Dining Tips and Advice

Planning a wedding is a stressful and time consuming endeavour. You need a venue, decorations, entertainment and food. When you’re catering to a huge number of guests, picking the right food is not easy. You need to cater to different special diets, different tastes and preferences, and potentially different ages too. Here’s a quick look at how to pick the best wedding food.

How to Choose Wedding Food

If you’re having a full wedding day, then you will need a main meal for your guests, as well as snacks and treats. How you arrange the main meal will depend on your budget and the scale of the wedding. For a small, intimate wedding you might get away with a single choice, but if you’re having a bigger party then you might want to offer a few different choices for your main course, or even a buffet.

When it comes to snacks, comfort food is a good choice. Whether that’s sliders or other finger food, or a sweet trolley so the guests can graze or make up a bag of sweets to take home, your guests will have fun with tasty treats.

How Much Does Wedding Food Cost?

Costs can vary massively depending on the vendor that you use. The ‘average’ UK wedding costs around £30,000 according to research published by Brides Magazine, and you can expect to spend nearly £4,000 on catering if you’re hosting a day-long wedding with a separate reception.

You don’t have to spend that much though, and there are ways that you can cut costs even if you are planning on having a big wedding. It takes a bit of time and thought to find the best ways to reduce costs without visibly skimping, though. For example, don’t make the mistake of assuming that a buffet will always be cheaper than a sit down meal. While that is often true if you’re getting the hotel you’re staying at to cater the wedding, it isn’t always the case. With external caterers, you might find that you would save money by opting for the sit-down meal.

A few other ways to save money on wedding food include:

  • If you’re allowing children at your wedding, then consider offering a dedicated kid’s menu instead of having the kids be served a smaller version of the adult meal. Kids in particular will really appreciate sweet trolleys, especially with pick and mix style offerings.
  • Serve a selection of canapés instead of a full starter. Most people feel over-fed at weddings anyway.
  • If you’re offering alcohol, limit it to a few luxurious drinks instead of a full bar.
  • Opt for a low service option – barbecues, street food, or self-carve, instead of full table service. It’s the food people remember, not the wait staff.

To an extent, the amount of money that you need to spend will be dictated by the size of the wedding. If you’re trying to feed more than 100 people then it’s going to cost a lot of money. If you’re hosting a wedding that is limited to your closest friends and family then you will be able to offer a much higher quality of food for a much lower price. Only you can decide whether it makes more sense to trim the guest list or try to save money on other areas – but the venue an food are some of the most expensive single purchases when planning a wedding.

How to Decorate Wedding Food Table

Most people don’t get a lot of experience with formal dining these days, so navigating table service can be tricky. The decorations you choose for the dining area are one area where you can have a big impact without spending a lot of money.

There are a few simple things that will make your dining set up seem truly luxurious:

  • Match the buffet tablecloths and setting to the tablecloths used for the guests
  • Incorporate, discretely, the colours you chose for the rest of the wedding – use them for place settings, candles, etc
  • Consider using floral boquets as table centrepieces – but make sure that they’re flowers that don’t have a strong aroma that might interfere with your guest’s enjoyment of the food.
  • Use colourful garnishes around finger food, snacks, and buffet pieces to make them look even more appetizing.

Lighting is important too. Dark mood lighting is good for an evening meal, and there are ways to light the dining area other than the standard chandeliers. Consider using stick candles, floating candles, twinkle lights, or even hanging rope lights around the tables.

Wedding Paying Etiquette: Who Pays for What?

Planning a wedding is something of a social minefield – even starting with the proposal itself. Should it be a surprise? Is the man supposed to ask permission of the bride-to-be’s father? Can the woman propose? How long is an acceptable engagement? Who pays for the wedding? The questions are endless, and the etiquette is confusing. With the finance question in particular it is incredibly difficult to figure out what the right thing to do is – in part because everyone’s financial situation is different, and every culture is different, so the correct answer is often “whatever feels right for you as a couple”.

There are some traditional guidelines, however. Here’s an overview of who would usually pay for each part of typical English wedding.

The Bride

Traditionally, the bride is expected to pay for the groom’s wedding ring, and for his wedding present. These are the only expenses that she faces.

The Groom

The groom faces more expenses than the bride, being expected to pay for the engagement ring, the bride’s wedding ring, presents for the bridesmaids, usher and best man, ceremony fees and many of the trappings of the ceremony (such as the choir and bell ringers), transport to the reception for the couple, transport to the ceremony itself so that he and the best man arrive in style, and other extras such as corsages and buttonholes.

The Bride’s Family

The bride’s family faces the lion’s share of the expenses for the event itself, being expected to pay for invitations, order of service sheets, cake, the bride’s dress, venue hire, catering, entertainment, flowers at the church, transport for the bride, the photographer, toastmaster, and other general event staff.

The Groom’s Family

The groom’s family would traditionally pay for any marriage license or other legal expenses, as well as for the honeymoon for the bride and groom.

The Wedding Party

The wedding party are the non-family members that face the biggest expenses. Wedding party members are usually expected to pay for their own attire for the wedding (including shoes), and also to pay for any expenses associated with getting to the wedding or staying overnight. The Best Man is usually responsible for organising any stag do, and the head Bridesmaid is usually responsible for organising the hen night.

Close Friends

Close friends aren’t obligated to spend money on the wedding, but they may host engagement showers, wedding showers or post-honeymoon parties. It is traditional for friends to bring a gift that is about the same value as the cost per head for the catering/reception as well, although most couples would gladly say that they would rather have the pleasure of the guest’s company than the monetary value of the gift, if the guest cannot afford to pay.

A modern wedding can cost as much as £30,000 so it’s understandable that the cost be split among as many people as possible. It is becoming more commonplace for people to spread the cost in more open ways though. For example, instead of having expenses that are exclusively for the bride’s parents, or exclusively for the groom’s parents, the families simply split the costs down the middle.

Many couples live together before getting married, and have shared finances, so it makes sense for them to just share the cost of the couple’s own expenses. In some cases, the couple could have one or both partners being on their second marriage, or one member of the couple may be estranged from their family and not want to have anyone else chip in with the wedding costs. Indeed, given the changes to the education system, in some families a young adult could be in a much better financial situation than their parents, and therefore not want to put the financial burden of a wedding on their families.

As you can see, there is no right or wrong answer. Whether you opt for a small registry office wedding or something much bigger and more traditional is up to you. Try to remember that the day is just a celebration of your relationship, and while it is nice to have everything exactly as you would like it to be, it’s just a marker of the start of the rest of your life together. Don’t let others influence the day that you plan, and don’t feel pressured to go into debt to have the “perfect wedding”. Start your marriage in the best way, and enjoy a long and happy future with your spouse.

Wedding Photography: Shooting Like a Pro

A good wedding photographer is an essential part of any wedding plan, but it’s great to have some extra shots of your own as well. The photographer can’t be everywhere, and who knows what cute, funny or memorable moment you might capture if you take your own camera.

If you’re going to a wedding, why not spend a few minutes learning how to take some good photos? It takes a lot of time, practice and specialist equipment to truly become a skilled photographer, but these simple tips will go a long way towards improving your photography skills, and will help even a novice take some stunning shots.

Which Camera for Wedding Photography?

There’s an old saying that “a bad workman blames his tools”, and while that is true, it’s also true that if you have bad tools you can’t expect to get stunning results. Snapping photos on a camera phone won’t give you the kind of shot that a professional photographer would be able to get. Even an inexpensive ‘point and shoot’ dedicated camera will produce better results than the cameras on many phones.

If you want to reliably get good shots in a wide range of lighting conditions (the dim church, bright daylight outside, the party, artificial light in the reception, etc), then you will need a high quality dedicated camera. At the moment, it is hard to beat DSLR cameras for versatility and quality.

A DSLR camera is a ‘Digital Single Lens Reflex’ camera. This means it is a digital camera with a viewfinder that shows you exactly what you will see in the photograph. Before the days of digital viewfinders, this was a huge benefit.  Today, it’s the other points that make a DSLR a good choice.

Compact cameras have a single lens, and you’re limited in terms of how you can zoom and the conditions that you can work in. DSLR cameras have interchangeable lenses, giving you more flexibility. They have bigger sensors so they can get the full benefit of increased megapixel ratings without the issue of “noise” on the photographs, and you access the zoom by turning the lens barrel yourself, instead of by using a dial that triggers a motor. This makes the zoom near instant and more responsive, so you won’t miss out on those ‘in the moment’ shots.

Which Lens for Weddings?

Figuring out what lens to use when is one of those things that photographers learn over time. It takes time and study to understand the technical features of different lenses, and practice to figure out which ones you should use when. If you don’t know about focal lengths or exposures, then browsing a catalogue to look for a new lens would be like reading a book in a foreign language.

For your first lens, while you’re just learning photography, you would be wise to go for something fairly versatile, like a 50mm f/1.2 – 1.4 lens. These cope well with a wide variety of lighting conditions, and even let you take good photos in low light without a flash, which is why top-quality photographers such as Jasmine Star choose them as their go-to lenses (

Once you’re ready to branch out and do soft-focus shots, dreamy scenes and macro shots of the ring, you’ll want to add a few more lenses to your collection. You can get an idea of the options that are available to you here (

Lenses can be expensive, so you probably don’t want to spend a lot of money on a huge collection of them, but a day to day lens, one for wide-angle photography and one for macro shots would be a good goal. You can expand your kit as you go, based on your interests. So if you are interested in sport photography then you might want to add a specialist lens for that later, for example.

Where to Stand When Taking Wedding Photos

Before the wedding, it’s a good idea to figure out what you’re going to want to take photos of. Remember, firstly, that you’re a guest so you don’t need to be running around and trying to capture everything. Be bold, and be willing to take the odd shot here and there during the formal bits, but don’t get in the way or interfere with the ceremony.  If you can move around without interfering with the experience of the other guests, then do so.

There’s no need to just stand at the back and take shots straight on. Be willing to go to the side or even up to a balcony above the action if you can do so. That’s where the really interesting shots will come from.

But remember, you’re not there to work the wedding. You’re there as a guest, so enjoy the moment and have fun!

Skittles Album Covers: Iconic Album Covers Recreated Using Sweets

There are many things in life that we all enjoy, but few things beat great music and your favourite sweets!

Here at Sweet Trolley Hire we provide people’s sweets for weddings and parties, so we’re constantly meeting the two in the middle. Well, we thought we’d go one further and recreate some of the most famous and iconic album covers of all time using sweets – skittles to be specific.

Iconic Album Covers Recreated

The College Dropout, Kanye West

Pink Floyd album cover recreated

The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd

Iconic Albums Recreated

Aladdin Sane, David Bowie

Iconic Album Covers Recreated

Divide, Ed Sheeran

Album covers recrated

Random Access Memories, Daft Punk

Iconic Albums Recreated

Blur: The Best Of, Blur

Iconic album covers recreated

The Velvet Underground & Nico, The Velvet Underground & Nico

Why These Albums?

A quick search of ‘the most iconic album covers of all time’ will show you that most of these album covers are considered to be some of the best of all time. Not only that, but these albums are truly great.

The College Dropout, Kanye West

Love him or hate him, you can’t ignore him. Released in 2004 The College Dropout announced Kanye to the world as a solo artist and is highly considered to be one of the best hip hop albums of all time.

The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd

The album cover from Pink Floyd’s 1973 classic is widely considered to be one of the best album covers ever. We couldn’t consider recreating the most iconic album covers without considering this one.

Aladdin Sane, David Bowie

An artist in his own right, David Bowie was a visionary and one of the hardest working musicians in modern music history, releasing a staggering 25 studio albums. Aladdin Sane being the sixth, and arguably, one of the best, this 1973 beauty had to make our list.

÷, Ed Sheeran

Being released in March 2017, Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (divide) probably can’t be considered as a ‘great’ just yet, however, this album broke several records on its way to chart topping success. There’s no denying the simplistic nature of this album, and his previous X (multiply) album, are both pretty striking.

Random Access Memories, Daft Punk

Described as ‘art’ by TIME, the Random Access Memories album cover is a wonderfully simple and memorable album cover from Daft Punk’s 2013 record.

Blur: The Best Of, Blur

We’ve all tried to recreate this album cover when playing with various photo studio software, but Blur did it first back in 2000. 17 years on we thought we’d give it the sweet treatment with out Skittles album covers.

The Velvet Underground & Nico, Andy Warhol

Much like The Dark Side of the Moon, Andy Warhol’s design for the Velvet Underground & Nico’s self-titled 1967 album is widely regarded as one of the best album covers of all time. We couldn’t talk about iconic album covers and mention this one.

Here’s a bonus album cover for you…

Why include Ed Sheeran twice? Well, we made this one before Ed released his latest album and we couldn’t overlook his latest record, but we didn’t want this to go to waste, so here it is.


A Comprehensive Guide to Wedding Venues in Nottingham

If you’ve not figured quite yet, myself and Rob, are based in Nottingham and we supply our sweet cart for weddings all over the city, but where are the best wedding venues in Nottingham?

Having got married recently, I know that finding a venue can be a bit tricky at times, so I thought I’d gather a few of best wedding venues in Nottingham all in one place so you know where to look when you’re trying to find the perfect wedding venue.

I’ve split the wedding venues into categories of the most popular types; hotels, stately homes and barn style weddings.


There are many hotel wedding venues in Nottingham, so I’ve tried to narrow it down to a few of the best choices.

The Old Vicarage Boutique Hotel

hotel wedding venue Nottingham

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The Old Vicarage is a stunning venue with beautiful grounds. The hotel is family run, so you get a much more personalised, tailored service when it comes to planning your day. Along with a dedicated wedding planner, you receive exclusive use of the hotel and grounds including the gardens and can also have access to the bandstand.

Location: Southwell (NG25 0NB)
Capacity: 30 people

Eastwood Hall

hotel wedding venue eastwood nottingham

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Location: Eastwood (NG16 3SS)
Capacity: 240 (wedding breakfast) 300 (evening reception)

Located just off the M1, Eastwood Hall is perfectly located and easy to get to. The venue has a stunning, long drive way up to the hotel, perfect for photos and gives a grande entrance too making a great first impression for guests. The hotel also has a state-of-the-art gym and sauna, so not only can your guests stay at the venue, but they really can make a good break of coming to your wedding!

Bestwood Lodge

bestwood lodge wedding venue in nottingham

Location: Bestwood Country Park, Arnold (NG5 8NE)
Capacity: 100+

With various suites to accommodate for a range of wedding types and party sizes, the Bestwood Lodge hotel in Arnold is a great option. With beautiful gardens and plenty of greenery for your guests to enjoy, the hotel grounds look stunning and offer plenty of photo opportunities.


wedding venue Nottingham junction 27


Location: Annesley (NG15 0EA)
Capacity: 100+

Not the most ‘traditional’ looking hotel, the Dakota is a new hotel located just off junction 27 of the M1, so is very easy to get to for guests. The hotel has only been open for a few years, so is modern and very well presented with everything still in great condition. With plenty of rooms on offer, your guests can very easily stay over and enjoy the wonderful bar area with open fire in the morning.

Kelham House Hotel

hotel wedding venue nottingham

Location: Newark (NG23 5QP)
Capacity: 150

Offering beautiful, pictures grounds and traditional styling, Kelham House is a beautiful wedding venue located in Newark-on-Trent.

With three rooms to choose from they can accommodate varying party sizes from small weddings to parties of up to 150 people.

Stately Homes and Country Houses

Trumpton Hall

trumpton hall nottingham


Location: Trumpton (NG11 0AX)
Capacity: 175

Winning the East Midlands Romantic Wedding Venue of the Year award for 2016, Trumpton Hall is a must-see if you’re looking for a traditional, stately home wedding venue.

With a choice of rooms and even a lakeside pavilion, this is a great option to make your ideal wedding day become a reality. Head over to their site and download a wedding brochure to find more details.

East Bridgford Hill

wedding venue nottingham: east bridgford hill

Location: East Bridgford (NG13 8PE)
Capacity: 100 (indoor) 135 (outdoor)

With the option of an indoor or outdoor ceremony, as well as offering a bespoke service tailored to your wedding, East Bridgeford Hill is are great option for a Nottingham wedding venue.

There is a selection of five different rooms, all of which offer different styles and sizes, so you can find the one that best fits your needs. The grounds and building itself are all beautifully styled and maintained offering stunning backdrop for photos and videos.

Colwick Hall

colwick hall, nottingham wedding venue


Location: Colwick, NG2 4BH
Capacity: 500

Being able to cater for large wedding parties of up to 500 people makes Colwick Hall a must-consider venue for larger wedding and bridal parties with a large families.

Offering a classic image and beautiful grounds, Colwick Hall is everything many brides dream of. Although they have a large capacity, they offer reduced number packages for smaller weddings and even offer the option of a firework display at the end of the night.

Swancar Farm Country House

country house wedding venue in nottingham

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Location: Trowell, NG9 3PQ
Capacity: 140

Swancar Farm Country House is a stunning venue, and one of the most popular wedding venues in Nottingham, that offers a rustic style and decor to your wedding. The ground and exterior offer grand welcome with the interior giving you a more vintage and rural theme.

With a choice of several rooms and settings, you have plenty of options for different party sizes, different options and have the option to hold the ceremony at the venue also.


How to Write Party Invitations

If you’re planning an incredible party, then you’ll need to invite your guests in suitably incredible fashion.  That’s where party invitations come in – physical ones that mark the occasion as more significant than the events that you’re only invited to via Facebook! Here’s our best tips and advice for how to write party invitations.

What should party invitations include?

Obviously, there are certain key pieces of information your guests will need to know if they’re going to attend:

  • Where and when the party will be held.
  • How guests will be expected to dress.
  • Some indication of how the invitation should be responded to.

This last feature will typically come in the form of an RSVP, which literally means (respondez s’il vous plait) to say either that the guest will or won’t be attending.  You might even want to include a special card in order to make responding even easier.

How to word party invitations

You’ll want to adjust the tone of your invitation according to the gravity of the situation.  If it’s an informal Hallowe’en party, then a series of spook-tacular puns might be in order.  If it’s a more formal occasion, like a fundraising dinner, then you might want to make things a little more sensible.  For weddings, the personal approach often works best – write from the heart, and then get some trustworthy and honest person to take a look before getting the invitations printed.

When should party invitations be sent?

You’ll want to send out invitations well in advance of the party itself.  If you’ve put a lot of planning into the occasion, then you’ll want to give your guests the maximum possible opportunity to sort out their schedules.  Moreover, you’ll want as accurate a picture as possible of how many people are going to attend, as this will allow you to plan the celebration more effectively.  There’s no point, after all, in ordering an extra buffet cart if there’ll be no-one there to enjoy it!

This is especially so for major celebrations like weddings, which are often held in a foreign country. Give your guests plenty of time to make the necessary travel arrangements.

How to reply to a party invitation

Of course, while penning an invitation is something that requires a little bit of thought, so too does replying to one.  Your reply must necessarily include one crucial piece of information – whether or not you’ll be attending.  But you’ll also want to convey your gratitude at having received the invitation (ideally in the very first sentence) and your delight at being able to attend, or regret at not being able to attend.  Where appropriate, close the reply with a ‘see you soon’.

How to make party invitations by hand

Nowadays, most of us organise our social lives entirely digitally.  But there’s still something to be said for the charm of sending out real, physical invitations.  By the same token, one might take things a stage further by crafting invitations by hand.  Not only will this result in more personal touch, but it’ll allow you to have a lot of fun along the way!

Ideas for Wedding Table Centrepieces

When you’re putting together the tables for your wedding reception, it isn’t quite enough to simply find the right number of chairs, and ensure that there’s enough food and drink to go around; you’ll also need a few decorative flourishes to indicate to everyone that this isn’t any ordinary sit-down meal.

These decorative touches might include showy place mats and name tags, all in a style that’s in keeping with the rest of your wedding decorations. But typically the largest and most important decoration of all will be the one in the centre of the table: the centrepiece.

A table centrepiece can be shop-bought, but if you’re feeling creative, you can make one yourself for that extra personal touch. Let’s examine some popular choices of ideas for wedding table centrepieces.

Table number

Of course, as well as looking fantastic, your tables will need to indicate to your guests where they should sit. For this reason, you’ll need to assign numbers to each of your tables. But this number can be decorative as well as functional. Why not carve your numbers from wood, or inscribe them onto miniature chalkboards? There are many different ways to get the message across, and so coming up with a creative one shouldn’t be too taxing – but if you’re in need of inspiration, then be sure to take a look through this list from confetti daydreams.


Birdcages are popular decorative items at weddings. Until just a few decades ago, birdcages were also popular for actually caging birds, and all manner of beautiful and exotic shapes were crafted for them. Most people now prefer free-roaming cats and dogs to confined budgerigars, but the classic dome-shaped design lives on as a wedding table centrepiece. Traditionally, they’re white, which fits nicely with popular wedding colours, and they make an excellent holder for tea-lights and candles.

Flowers, confetti and petals

If you’re looking to inject a little bit of colour into your wedding tables, then a set of flowers might be exactly what’s called for. Match them up with the other flowers you’re using at your wedding, and you’ll have a nice consistent theme running through the entire day. If you feel like a set of flowers would dominate the table, then you might instead scatter a few petals across the centre. You might achieve the same job with confetti. If you’d like to save money, you can simply re-use the flowers from the ceremony – just get everything decorated while no-one’s looking.


If you’re looking to show appreciation for your guests, then a few choice gifts might be just the way to do it. If we’re talking about a centrepiece, then you’ll need something that isn’t going to be fought over, but which will still be fun at the table. A pyramid of small jars, each containing sweet stuff, might be what’s called for – your guests will be able to keep their jars when they’re finished!

Why Sweets can be Perfect Wedding Favours

If you’re looking for party favours to give to your wedding guests, then you’ll find few better candidates than sweets. Your guests will love them – and during a wedding, they’ll feel more justified in indulging their collective sweet tooth. After all, occasions don’t come much more special than this one! Let’s take a look at more reasons why sweets can be perfect wedding favours.

Where did wedding favours come from?

Wedding favours are thought to have first come about in the form of a ‘bomboniere’, a small decorative trinket box containing sugar cubes, used by European aristocrats to demonstrate to their friends that they were wealthy enough to afford sugar. By the thirteenth century, however, sugar had become more affordable, and so almonds began to be used instead. It wasn’t long after this that some exceeding clever person put the two together, and the tradition of presenting guests with sugared almonds came to be. It was thought that the bitterness of a raw almond and the sweetness of sugar would represent the richer-for-poorer nature of the marriage to come – though modern couples tend to be a little more optimistic, and opt for entirely sweet things.

Which sweets to put in wedding favours?

If you’re putting together a selection of sweets for your wedding party favours, then you’ll want to choose the sort that your guests will enjoy eating. Fortunately, one of the key merits of putting out a lot of small sweets is that you’ll be able to provide a diversity of flavours to suit everybody. That way, you won’t need to appeal to the lowest common denominator, and have the minority of people who don’t like chocolate miss out. If your guests have quite specific tastes, then you can always allow them to choose their own sweets – that way no-one will be disappointed!

As well as being delicious, sweets can also be decorative. They can help to remind your guests whose wedding it is that they’re celebrating. So, if the groom is a keen golfer, we might have sweets shaped like golf balls, and if the bride is a dentist, we might instead enjoy miniature teeth. These sort of minor personal touches are what will help make your wedding distinct from every other wedding your guests have ever attended.

Alternative, cost-effective wedding favours

Cheap wedding favours often run the risk of seeming a little on the stingy side. But many couples will look to economise on their wedding favours. This is entirely understandable; if you’re going to buy small gifts for hundreds of people, then the costs can quickly escalate. But one needn’t spend an enormous amount in order to achieve great results – your guests won’t come to your wedding in order to receive gifts, but to celebrate your impending marriage. For this reason, novel party favours like sweet carts provide a way to repay your guests without making cutbacks elsewhere in your budget.

Personalised wedding favours

Like every other element of your wedding, your party favours should offer a little piece of your personality. Not just to help keep the whole event thematically consistent, but because a wedding should be a celebration of two people and their quirks. Naturally, this personalisation might be done to the sweets themselves – but you might also make changes to the way they’re packaged. Personalise each bag with of sweets with the significant details of the day itself, or the couple’s initials.

By treating your wedding favours to the same degree of personalisation as you did your invitations and other wedding stationary, you’ll be able to keep your day distinctive and memorable for everyone attending it. And isn’t that the point of a wedding favour in the first place?

How to Organise a Themed Party

If you’re thinking of throwing a party to mark a significant event – or perhaps just for the sake of throwing one – then a themed party might be just what’s required to make the occasion really special. But holding a theme party is something that requires a little planning. Let’s consider how we might go about it and how to organise a themed party.

What does a themed party mean?

A themed party does exactly what it says on the tin! It’s a celebration whose every element is united by a single theme. A good example of this is a Halloween party, where everything must be spooky and kitsch. Simple!

How to choose a party theme

When you’re choosing a theme for your party, you’ll need to strike a balance between the strange and the familiar. In order to get your guests excited about your party, then you’ll want a theme that’s a little bit on the unusual side – but one that’s not so unusual that everyone who receives an invitation bemusedly asks Google for an explanation. Ideally, you’ll want your theme to be relevant to what’s being celebrated, the time of year, and the host – if it’s your birthday then making everyone dress up as something beginning with the initial of your names work really well e.g. if your name is George, then people could come as a the Grinch or the Green Lantern, or whatever!

When looking at the time of year to help choose your theme, think of cultural celebrations and popular culture too. If you’re having a party in December, you can run with a Christmas theme. Or if there is a big film release around the time of your party, such as  Star Wars, then a Star Wars theme doesn’t seem too random for people to understand the reason.

How to plan a themed party

Depending on how elaborate you’d like your themed party to be, you’ll need to do some preparation before sending out the invitations. Decide how far you’d like to go before you get started – since when you begin to jot down ideas, things can quickly spiral out of control! So-called ‘mission creep’ is a problem that’s thwarted even the best-laid plans – so be sure to keep yours under control. Start by composing a few lists, containing suitable music, foods, costume ideas and decorations. Establish a budget at the earliest planning stage, and stick to it.

How to design your party theme

While most people consider the term ‘theme party’ to be synonymous with the term ‘fancy dress’, the truth is that a theme can extend far beyond that. The music being played, the food being served, and the decorations can all help to create that consistent vibe that really makes the difference at a theme party.

If your theme is the 1920s golden age of jazz, for example, you’ll want to play swing music – perhaps with a contemporary twist so that your guests aren’t taken too far out of their comfort zone. It’s important, after all, that we introduce a theme where it will improve the party, rather than detract from it. A horror-themed party, for example, is unlikely to benefit from a discordant, nauseating soundtrack from a horror film or video game.

For a Christmas celebration, you’ll obviously want to decorate your home accordingly, play ‘I wish it could be Christmas every day’, and serve sweets with marzipan and spiced orange. At Christmas time, you’ll find the shops are packed to the rafters with suitable materials. But if your theme is a little more bespoke, you’ll be able to flex your creative muscles. What about a piracy-themed buffet, packed with scurvy-repelling citrus treats? Or a party based on a fictional universe, like Star Trek or Game of Thrones, where you serve versions of actual foods enjoyed by your favourite characters?

With a themed party, the possibilities really are endless – but so few of us are willing to really explore them. If you’d like to set your party apart, then, you’d do well to make it a themed one!




How to Eat Sweets Within a Healthy Diet

If you’ve been watching the news over the past year, then the chances are good that you’ll have seen a report about how we in the UK are far fatter than we ought to be. The reason for this might seem obvious: we take on board more energy than we consume, and the difference is stored as subcutaneous body fat (that’s the stuff that’s stubbornly lingering around our bellies, bums and thighs). Once upon a time, blame for this was attached to fatty foods like pastries and sausages. But the ire of medical professionals has now fallen on a new bogeyman: sugar.

This is a potential problem for specialists in sweet things, since a sweet without sugar wouldn’t be anywhere near as – well – sweet. The good news is that you needn’t live like a monk in order to fight this problem, you need simply enjoy sweets as part of a sensible, balanced diet. Let’s consider how…

Which sweets are vegetarian?


While few of us would place sweets in the same ethical category as a lamb chop or a Big Mac, it must be recognised that many sweets contain traces of animal product and so vegetarians will want to avoid them.

Among these animal products, the most often-cited is gelatine; a jelly-like substance which helps to keep marshmallows plump and jelly babies juicy. Gelatine is a protein found in bones, cartilage, tendons and skin and since few people want these parts of the animal in their dinner, gelatine is inexpensive and widespread. But gelatine isn’t the only animal substance you’ll find in a pack of sweets. Carmine, for example, is a sort of red food colouring created by mashing up insects.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t sweets out there that vegetarians can enjoy! Check out this list of vegan friendly sweets from PETA. There’s loads of our favourites on this list!

Image from pinterest

Which sweets are gluten free?

Gluten is a form of protein found in several sorts of grain, which has a tendency to linger in your gut, irritating the microvilli (tiny, fleshy pillars designed to maximise the surface area, and therefore digestion).

When these microvilli become inflamed, the result is nausea, fatigue, nutritional deficiency and a host of other digestive problems. Every year, thousands of Britons are diagnosed with gluten intolerance – and many thousands more experience the symptoms, but have yet to get properly tested.

The good news is that many sweets, like chocolate, don’t contain gluten. That said, even if gluten isn’t listed on the ingredients, it might still be present in small quantities due to contamination at factory level. For particularly sensitive suffers of coeliac disease, it’s worth trying just a small sample of a suspect foodstuff at first – that way any side-effects can be minimised.

What sweets can I eat on a diet?

Foods containing high amounts of fructose or sucrose (ordinary table sugar) will contribute to weight-gain – both directly through the calories they contain, and indirectly by impacting the body’s production of ghrelin, a hormone which governs appetite – making it harder than ever to cut back on those calories.

The problem with sugar is that it’s hidden everywhere in absurd quantities – in everything from mayonnaise to orangeade. The solution here is to eat whole foods wherever possible, and enjoy sweet things only as an occasional treat. That way, when you do indulge yourself, it’ll taste all the sweeter. And what better occasion could there be for indulgence than at a wedding!

What the experts say

The NHS advise that we get around thirty grams of added sugar in our diets every day – which is around the same amount that you’ll find in a Mars bar. For children, the limit is lower – around 19g for children under six, and 24g for children under ten. Naturally, this is an average, and there are certain occasions where it makes sense to relax the rules slightly – such as a wedding, birthday or Christmas celebration.