Party planning on a budget

Those of you who read my last post will know that when it came to turning 30 this year, I wanted to be treated to a long awaited meal at Midsummer House in Cambridge. It was a fantastic experience and worth every one (of Pete’s) pennies, but it did mean there was little budget left for celebrating in any other way and I wanted to do something to celebrate with family and friends as well. So I turned to party planning on a budget and tried to think of ways to make it lovely without spending too much.

So I set myself a small budget and got planning a summer BBQ. Luckily lots of our guests, myself included, love the more vegetarian side of any menu (Well, I say that, I know some of the men would have loved a big steak on the BBQ but they didn’t get it!). We made lots of pasta, cous cous, salad and bread and just went for chicken and chipolotas on the meat side so the food bill wasn’t too bad at all.


Dessert was Mary Berry’s tranche meringue – all this meringue made from 10 egg whites! And I also made cruchie ice cream, which isn’t cheap but is so worth it – recipe here. I was then completely overwhelmed that my sister made me a 30 cake and a friend arrived with a Bailey’s filled chocolate cake – I was one lucky lady.

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I love a bit of party styling but it often comes with a price. So instead of hiring glasswear, china and cutlery, I went for cheaper alternatives. We found some great plastic plates from Tesco, which sound horrendous but were somehow much better and studier than the paper alternative. I used some wooden cutlery we had leftover from our wedding and wrapped it in a vintage napkin (again from the wedding) and tied it with garden string – no cost at all!

We took advantage of Tesco’s free glass hire and ordered 48 hi-ball for beer and cocktails, but they were pretty boring looking. So I decided to add glittery rim to perk them up a bit. I ordered some of this edible glitter and then dipped the glasses in lime juice (they were going to have mojitos in them later!) and then gold dust. The finishing touch was a flamingo stirrer from Tiger in the Grand Arcade – just £1 for 10. They looked fab and it was great fun to see all the party guests with glitter round their mouths. Just be warned though, Tesco don’t look too kindly on glittery glass return so perhaps scrub them a little better than we did when you take them back!

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So that’s it. I am 30 and I had a wonderful week of celebrations – big thank yous to all my fantastic family and friends. Secretly I am thrilled to enter my 30s – I have never been a fan of clubbing and I am hoping that requests to join sweaty, pervy dancefloors will now subside a little. Here’s to the decade of dinner parties and fine wine!

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Bone White China is a Cambridge-based food and lifestyle blog founded in 2009. Written by Sian Anderson and Alex Higgs and featuring fellow mums and friends Charlotte (our baking queen) and Charley (our style guru). We’re passionate about celebrating the everyday, simple pleasures, having fun, motherhood and supporting other locals.