Partying on a budget

I’m just recovering from a particularly festive weekend – our eldest daughter has just turned 18 and had two parties to celebrate – one for her friends and one for family, so all in all the credit card has had a busy week.
It got me thinking about celebrations in general and the pressure on us to push the boat out. I’ve been to some fabulous dos this year – all involving serious tentage and exotic flower arrangements and I was beginning to panic about my ability to rise to the occasion.
So much so that this time last week I was in a real flap about the family party – it was to be a lunch time do and people were travelling for miles so a little more than a warm cider and a sausage roll was called for..
My normal tactic in times of party panic is to reach for the king prawns, close my eyes and tap in the pin number. But this year my daughter and I sat down and planned this properly. We called in some people power, worked out a menu which didn’t consist of ready made canapes and a shedload of smoked salmon and bought all the wine and fizz on line (award winning Cava from Asda for under a fiver a bottle – thank you very much). Had I really had my act together I could have slashed a couple of quid off the fiver delivery charge and hired the glasses for free, but hey, I’m a novice at this budget lark. So I popped round to our local and borrowed swanky champagne flutes for the price of a £20 deposit and a promise to be careful – we were!
There wasn’t time to hire a marquee – and besides our garden is 3m square, so we splashed out on a canvas gazebo from Argos (£16.99 and we got our money’s worth in entertainment value just watching the kids put it up).
The whole family spend the previous night clearing up and making cakes, while I was in the kitchen roasting chicken and glazing ham – all that was missing was a blazing row and Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings and it would have been Christmas Eve…
But it worked, and it was fun, and the bill came in at just under £8 a head with enough booze and cheese left over to hold a reprise next weekend – which us just as well because that’s when our youngest turns seven……