Ideas For ‘Seasonal’ Parties

Decorating your Christmas tree

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4 easy steps & 2 brilliant videos

Decorating your Christmas tree should be fun and easy, so make this happen by following our 4 easy steps and watching the two videos from Monkeysee and Robeson Design.  There is no better way to welcome in the Christmas spirit than by snuggling up in the dark with a festive drink with your family and friends to enjoy your beautiful Christmas tree.

Step one – Artificial or Real?

Before decorating real trees always soak the tree overnight and make a diagonal cut in the base before placing in your planter.  Avoid placing it near direct heat as the needles will drop more quickly. Following both of these tips will help to preserve your Christmas tree for longer.  For both real and artificial trees use plastic bags or a tree skirt to catch all the pines when decorating as it will make your cleaning  easier.

Read  instructions before you begin assembling the tree.  When unpacking your artificial tree make sure that you take time to organise the parts of your tree into sizes, colour codes and the base.   If you were well organised last year then your tree will already be wrapped or tied together in groups, labelled and semi-fluffed!  Fluff your tree.  Fluffing the tree is consuming but essential for artificial trees because it adds volume to create a bushy full tree.  For this reason when packing up my tree I  prefer to loosely wrap sections of the tree into sheets, plastic or smaller boxes,  clearly marking each section to ensure the tree does not get squashed.

Step two

Unpack all of your decorations and lights and also lay them out into colours, themes, palettes, and sizes.  Remember to keep all your packaging and labels intact to reuse for next year.  Rather than just placing decorations over the tree consider picking a theme.  If you want to be bang on trend then opt for  whimsical, vintage or nature inspired Scandinavian theme. Classic two colour contrasts such as snowy white and silver or in red and gold are timeless, traditional tartans or have a contrasting mixture of modern colours have a wow factor.  Alternatively show off your creative side and make your Christmas tree unique by using some with sentimental value such as family heirlooms, decorations from babies first Christmas or homemade by your children.

The way you place lights will have a huge impact on the overall look of the Christmas tree and it is difficult redo the decorations if not happy with the results.  So, it is a good idea to image the decorations on your tree and map everything out mentally before you begin.

Step three

Before  decorating untangle your lights,  lay them out on the floor, switch them on to test and change any bulbs that may have blown. Adding lights before decorating with ornaments is much easier rather than try to fit them in afterwards.   Know the exact position of where you want to place your tree, calculating that there is enough cable to reach the electrics, there is enough passing space and there is no trip hazard risk.  Only once your have done this you can begin decorating your tree with lights.

Make sure that the lights are turned off. Then I wrap lights onto a small stick and simply unwind them off the stick, it is very effective as it has saved lots of tangles and overstretching.  Hold the stick at arms length and loosely drape the lights onto your required layout. I tend to work from the inner branches out halfway, wrap around the tree and loop onto the next working from the bottom to the top. Use a timer or smart app to reduce the amount of times you need to be near the tree, therefore reducing your risk of knocking it over.

 A Video by Monkeysee.

Step four

Lay stringed decorations such as beads or tinsel on lower branches, working around the tree, outwards and upwards.  Baubles and hanging decorations should be even for a traditional look. Get impact by grouping several big ornaments together or suspending icicles and iridescent decorations on the tips of the tree. Large poinsettias, bows and berries look beautiful if you have a rustic tree but overcrowding the tree with them can look messy.  To keep your tree looking it’s best secure  loose decorations with crafting wire.  Stand back and admire your work. Make adjustments if you need to make things more symmetrical.   Now is the time to snuggle up with a hot chocolate or mulled wine by the fire –with all your hard your you’ll be sure of giving your guests a  warm welcome this Christmas.

If you want your beautifully decorated Christmas tree to appear in our own video then please email us your image through the contact form or email us directly at info@thepartyguide.co.uk

 A Robeson Design

Christmas Tree Product Review

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Buying a Christmas Tree?

If you have not bought a Christmas tree yet or if you need to replace yours then it is time to hit the shops as the prices are coming down!  Overnight Argos has reduced the prices on some of their trees and other store may follow. Over the past week we have been reviewing the best Christmas tree buys and have reviewed 10 product, narrowing them down to our top 5.

If are rushing to the shops to grab a bargain then there are 3 things that you may wish to think about:

  1. Do you want real or artificial Christmas Tree?  If real you will need to check whether it is fresh and the needles are firm.  Ask whether the shop give a guarantee if the tree dies before Christmas and if it is a low needle drop?  When buying an artificial Christmas tree examine it to make sure that it does not look too plastic and that the metal hooks are not too awkward to slot into the frame.
  2. What size of tree do you need?  Take some measurements from floor to ceiling and imagine how tall you want your tree when the tree topper is in place. Where will you place your tree, and will there be enough passing space around it?
  3. What type of ornaments do you prefer?  The final look of the Christmas tree will alter depending on what type of branches your want. There are so many too choose from such as pine, fire, pre-lit, snowy, coloured etc. The general rule is that pine trees look better with light decorations such as bows and tinsel. Fir look better with heavy baubles and dramatic decorations.

Overall there were 2 trees that scored 10/10. It was very difficult to pick which one we preferred so we had a joint top tree as they were designed to fit into different style homes.  Many of the larger trees in John Lewis sold out quickly. Argos had some fantastic value Christmas trees and if there were any quality issues you can feel secure that they operate 30 day money back guarantee. In general Debenhams seemed to be  expensive in comparison to the other shops so they did not make out top 5 list are I have given 2 links for really nice Christmas trees.   With Amazon it was not possible to physically examine the Christmas trees and so we had to research information from the internet and there seemed to be a lot of mixed reviews about the quality.

 

Christmas Tree Product Review Results

  • Cooper Green Pine Christmas Tree, 7ft.  10/10  It the shapes look very natural, with thick the pine  and frosted cones which add an authentic, rustic touch.  Buy from John Lewis for £150.00.
  • Snowy Woodland White Flock Christmas Tree, 6ft. 10/10  This striking coloured Christmas tree is ideal for adding unique style to any home. Gorgeous, full branches offer generous space for decorations, which look beautiful in contrasting or complementary shades in any modern interior. Buy from Marks & Spencers for £125.00
  • Prelit Snow Tipped Christmas Tree –  9/10 A 7 foot pre-lit Christmas tree with snow tipped branches and 200 warm lights included. It is very busy and feels good quality. Buy from Argos for £89.99 (full price £104.99)
  • Nordmann Fir Real Christmas Tree with Stand 8/10.   These are the perfect and symmetrical trees that you see on the John Lewis Christmas TV advert.  They look bushy, have soft foliage, excellent needle retention plus they smell divine. Buy from John Lewis Size and prices vary from 5-6ft for £65 to 7-8ft for £100 (pot depends on tree).
  • Evergreen Slim Christmas Tree, 6ft.  7/10  A very tall and slim tree which would be perfect in smaller homes, especially as the choice is so limited. The branches were fairy thick and it felt quite sturdy enough to carry lots of decorations. This made our top 5 has it is such good value. Buy from Argos for £14.99  (full price is £19.99).
  • Real Christmas Tree at IKEA. £25 with a voucher! Not in our affiliation group but we had to mention the fantastic bargain at IKEA because they are giving a £20 voucher away with all purchases of their trees but the offer is only valid *26/11/2015 and 23/12/2015.  Check their T&C’s
  •  Skye Snowy Fir Christmas Tree, 7ft. This is a magnificent Christmas tree as it has lots of heavy snowy branches. You can almost image that you are outside. The only reason why it has not made it higher up the list is that we need a balance of different sized Christmas trees. Buy from John Lewis for £180.00
  • Noma 7ft ‘Shetland Forest Pine’ artificial Christmas tree. The Shetland Forest Christmas tree is a traditional mixed tip style that will look great in your home.  The Noma Christmas trees are known for their outstanding quality.  Buy from Debenhams for £250.00
  • Noma 6ft ‘Scottsdale Fir’ pre-lit Christmas tree    The traditional ‘Scottsdale Fir’ pre-lit Christmas tree. It has 300 warm LED lights and an 8 hours on/ 8 hours off timer.  It is made by Noma and so you can be assured that it is manufactured to very high standards.  is a traditional style that will look great in your home. Buy  from Debenhams for £300.00
  • Slim Green Colorado Spruce Artificial Christmas Tree (2.1m / 7ft).  We can only make base on product review on other views written by consumers.  In general it sounds as if it is a reasonable price for a reasonable product. The size is suitable for an average room. The negative feedback is that the tree drops some of its needles.

 

 

Diwali Sweet Treats

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Food and Drink During Diwali

Diwali is the festival of lights, but is more synonymous with sweets. A variety of Diwali sweet treats are prepared, and there are certain sweets which are Diwali specialities. Various kinds of laddoos, barfis and halwas are made. They use besan, rice flour and semolina and all purpose flour as base ingredients to which sugar, condensed milk and yoghurt are added and spiced with cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. The sweets are generously garnished with dried fruits like cashews, almonds, pistachios and walnuts.

The sweet making for Diwali is a social activity where women commence to preparatory work a good month before Diwali. Powders and ingredients are procured and spices are readied. All the preliminary work like cleaning and milling are done two to three weeks before Diwali. Different sweets are prepared for the different days of Diwali. On the first day of Diwali, lapsi is a must. It is made of large grain cracked wheat fried in ghee accompanied by a curry of long beans. On the second day the speciality sweet is anarsa, a dish made from rice and jaggery, which can actually take upto seven days to prepare. On the third day puris fried in ghee and dipped in sugar syrup is invariably served.

The sweet treats vary from region to region. From polis, mawa kachori, moti pak, sohan papdi to chirote, sheera and badusha the variety is mind boggling. Savoury items like namkeens and chidva are also prepared. The mithais can be eaten as such or can be accompanied by tea, or various kheers and shrikand.

Diwali Treats

 

The Meaning of Diwali

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Meaning of Diwali and how it is celebrated around the world

Diwali is a festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains all over the world. Not just in India, but Indians have carried the festival with them to London, Singapore, Malaysia and the United States.

Diwali signifies the triumph of good over evil. Many events in Hindu mythology are associated with Diwali. It celebrates Lord Rama’s return to Ayodhya after fourteen years of exile.

It celebrates the marriage of Lord Vishnu with Goddess Maha Lakshmi. It also marks the vanquishing of the demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. When Narakasura begged for mercy, Lord Krishna granted him that the day would be celebrated with great enjoyment. Diwali is celebrated as a festival of light. Here, light is only symbolic and means that darkness should be dispelled. It also signifies the birth of a new year and hence a fresh start. Lord Maha Laksmi, the Goddess of wealth is also worshipped on this day.

Diwali is an official holiday in Singapore, Nepal, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Fiji and Malaysia, besides India. Last year the US President Barack Obama offered warm Diwali wishes to Indians all over the world. In London, Indians visit the local Lakshmi temple, and prepare sweets and light lamps and incense sticks at home. They meet and greet friends and relatives. In Guyana, people clean the house and illuminate it besides indulging in sweets and other festivities. In Malaysia and Indonesia also, the festival is celebrated in much the same manner as in India.

Meaning of Divali

 

20 Things to remember on Bonfire Night

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Remember, remember the 5th of November? Well, these 20 things at least…

  1. Several weeks before your event check if you need to obtain a licence from your local authority for your party?
  2. You need to have a large open space and ensure that you work out clearance distances of how far away your guests need to be away from the fireworks. Check the wind on the evening of the party and be prepared to alter your distance.
  3. Before buying fireworks look at the most popular brands (Black Cat, Ghenghis, Fireworks Crazy & Kimbolton) and see which ones’ best fits your space and make a plan of type of display you want to achieve by thinking about the duration of each set of fireworks, different firework types such cakes, roman candles, rockets, and mines, colour schemes and heights.
  4. Keep all animals indoors.
  5. Serve any food that can be eaten without fuss i.e. hot dogs, toffee apples, and bags of popcorn.
  6. The entertainment will be in toasting and eating chestnuts and marshmallows so have lots of skewers and suitable foodstuff.
  7. Serve warm drinks such as hot chocolate and top with whipped cream and marshmallows for the children. Hot mulled wine or hot toddies for adults.
  8. Who is handling the fireworks and are they competent?
  9. Dig a large pit (approx. 12ft wide and 18 inches deep) for your bonfire and put a circle of stones around the outer edge to contain the fire. Make sure that there is no shrubbery around that can catch fire.
  10. Notify your neighbours so they can plan for the noise and parking disruption.
  11. Light the fire 10 minutes before your guests arrive.
  12. Keep a large supply of dry wood and kindling materials such as newspapers and plywood to keep topping up the fire.
  13. Make sure that someone is in charge of checking that the fire does not extinguish.
  14. Keep children way from the fire and under close supervision.
  15. Always make sure that the end of the sparkler is never touched, even if your sparkler has gone out, as it will still be very hot.
  16. Define a suitable dress i.e. warm clothing, hats, gloves & scarves and boots.
  17. Do children have gloves for handling sparklers?
  18. Before allowing children to handle sparklers ensure they understand how to handle them.
  19. Suitable music is Katy Perry- Firework, Ellie Goulding- Explosions, DJ Fresh & Rita Ora- Hot Right Now, Take That feat. Lulu- Relight My Fire and The Prodigy- Firestarter
  20. Suitable games for children are lucky dip, ring toss, hook a duck.

Bonfire Night

Create a Pirate Outfit

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 Create a pirate outfit
PIRATE OUTFIT

Part eight – Pirate Outfit

The lovable rogue, Captain Jack Sparrow has increased the popularity of pirates for Halloween. The pirate  outfit is versatile and suitable for all ages.

 

A great look can be created with face paint and a bandana, white shirt, buckle belt and leggings to complete an effective look. A hook, parrot and eye patch make the perfect accessories for your pirate outfit.

 

Step one

Paint the outline of an eye patch and string with a small brush. Or you could use a real eye patch.

Step two

Fill it in with black paint and also make sure the model has their eyes closed.

 Step three

Paint the outline of a bandana across the forehead and on the opposite side of the face.

Step four

Fill in the bandana using a large brush and red paint.

Step five

Gradually stipple the face with black or brown paint to create stubble.

Step six

Add scars by painting thin lines in red or brown.

Create a Devil Outfit

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 Create a devil outfit
DEVIL OUTFIT

Part seven – Devil Outfit

 

 

Whether you’re a cheeky little devil, a sexy devil or simply just a demon, we’ll help you create the perfect devil outfit for Halloween.

Step one

Decide whether to use a base paint on the whole face and neck. If so, choose a red colour.

Step two

Using a very thin brush, paint a line of black over the eyebrow, following the natural shape, but creating an exaggerated arch.

 Step three

Apply plenty of red or black eyeshadow. Using a smoky eye technique will create a sultry temptress look for a sexy devil and creating dark circles will appear demonic. Keep it more natural for children.

Step four

If going for the temptress look, use an ivory foundation and powder to create perfect porcelain skin. Apply blusher with a contouring brush to define the cheekbones.

Step five

Outline your lips in red or black. Apply a dark lipstick, dab off with a tissue and apply powder before reapplying another coat. This will help it last.

Step six

Devil costumes are easy to make or buy in any supermarket or fancy dress shop, or you could even create a look from your own clothing. Accessorize with horns, a cape and a trident.

How to create Cute Witch Face Paint

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 Cute Witch facepaint
CUTE WITCH FACE PAINT

Part six – Cute Witch Face paint

 

Witches can be cute as well as scary, especially for children’s Halloween outfits. They key to having a great cute witch look is to make sure that the face paint isn’t too dramatic and  that the costume has plenty of lacy ruffles.

When using any kind of face paint for children, be aware of any potential skin sensitivities, especially around the delicate eye area.

Step one

Use a base paint on the whole face and neck. White or pale colours give a softer look.

Step two

Paint a thin line of black over the eyebrows with a thin brush. Ask children to close their eyes.

 Step three

Follow the line up and away from the natural shape of the eye to form an exaggerated arch. Extend the line down onto the bridge of the nose.

Step four

Paint the whole eyelid and edge of the nose bridge in a blue or purple toned colour. Use a fine brush to keep the lines sharp.

Step five

Feather the top and bottom of your eye line in small, sharp strokes. Paint black stars, a wart or a crescent on the cheek.

Step six

Follow the curve of the lips and paint in your chosen colour. Pinks are softer and cuter! Dab translucent powder on the lips and reapply to set the pain to last longer.

How to create Hag Witch Face Paint

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 Hag Witch facepaint
HAG WITCH FACE PAINT

Part five – Hag Witch Face paint

You can create many different types of Halloween looks with facepaint, with witches being very popular. These next few guides will focus on hag witches and cute witches, suitable for both adults and children.

A great tip for creating a truly scary hag witch is to build up layers of face paint to create a strong base, which will emphasis the folds of your skin and have the benefit of lasting all night.

 

Step one

Use a base paint on the whole face and neck. Good colours to use are white, grey and light brown or green.

Step two

Paint along the folds of the cheek to the mouth, in dark colours such as purple or brown.

 Step three

Paint bags under the eyes by following the natural line downwards from the corner. Feather the lines with a brush and cotton bud.

Step four

Follow the same method across the forehead and over the eyebrows and exaggerate all frown lines.

Step five

Paint fine lines for wrinkles all along the mouth. Paint the mouth black, tan or red.

Step six

Shade the cleft of the chin. Blacken one or two teeth with mascara

Day of the Dead Halloween costume

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 Day of the Dead
DAY OF THE DEAD

Part four – Day of the Dead

Dia de los meurtos is a mexican festival on 1st and 2nd Halloween to celebrate the souls of dead relatives. The European version is All Saint’s Day, although not celebrated with quite the festivities of the Mexicans.

 

Since the 20th century, it’s been a public holiday in Mexico and often celebrated with extravagant street parades.

Step one

Paint the whole face with white face paint to create a base. You could also just paint half the face or leave it out altogether, if you prefer.

Step two

Use black paint or eyeliner and a fine brush to draw the outlines for the eye sockets. Outline the tip of the nose, working into a point on the bridge, just below the eyes.

 Step three

Fill in the black areas of the eyes and nose, allowing the paint to dry as you work. Keep cotton buds and tissues nearby to remove any rough edges or spilled paint.

Step four

Draw a line around the top and bottom lips, and short vertical lines across the mouth and cheeks.

Step five

Decide what type of artwork you want, such as spider webs, flowers or spirals. Flowers are said to attract the dead!

Step six

Complete your outfit by wearing hats and elegant suits, or even bridal wear.

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