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Party hacks: how to throw a soirée in style

Published on November 27, 2019
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Inviting a crowd over for a seasonal shindig? Chris Robinson, general manager at Riverstation in Bristol, reveals his personal recipe for a humdinger of a Christmas party


Keep it simple

When it comes to decorations, less is most definitely more. Chris says: ‘Stick with one colour scheme and try not to go too off-piste. It’s also a great idea to incorporate some natural elements.’ This year’s aesthetic focuses on pairing organic items with lots of white and mixed metallics.

Add sparkle and highlight

Lighting is key for setting the mood. ‘It can completely alter the atmosphere,’ says Chris. ‘At Riverstation, we use all sorts from spotlights, lamps and strip lighting to large and small candles.’ Add variety and mix it up to provide focal points in different areas of the room and at different heights.

Think about creating a welcoming entrance as your guests arrive: ‘In exterior areas, simple string lighting can be very effective – but avoid bright white lights as these can be very harsh.’ You can usually choose between white and warm white bulbs – the latter is the definite go-to.

Create layers of delight

‘It’s all about the experience,’ says Chris. Plan ahead and craft a top-notch playlist (see food Spotify playlists overleaf – you’re welcome) and make sure it’s playing as visitors arrive, have games on standby, prep your piano-playing pal for late-night carols: whatever gets your crowd going.

Master the menu

‘One of the showstopper elements of a successful Christmas party is providing food that appeals to all tastes,’ Chris says. So take into consideration your guests’ likes and dislikes, then prepare a menu that will entice everyone. ‘Don’t ignore dietary requirements – people will remember,’ he warns.

Keep the sips special but simple

‘Just as important as the food, festive cocktails (and mocktails) can be the highlight of a December do,’ says Chris. Don’t aim to become a master mixologist overnight though; you’re more likely to wow by practising a few options and serving these with aplomb.

One easy win is to serve cocktails that can be made in quantity and served from a jug so you’re not fiddling about trying to prepare drinks as the crowd builds up. Negronis and bloody marys are perfect for this, or rustle up a batch of the winter warming Sloe Chaplin cocktail from Wrecking Coast Distillery on page 29 which looks wonderful when ladled out of a beautiful punch bowl.

Prefer to leave it to the pros? Hand over the hard work and book your December do at Riverstation.


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