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Somerset – top UK summer holiday destination

 

Somerset is fabulous for summer holidays

Enjoy a fantastic summer holiday in Somerset

A summer holiday in Somerset is more popular than ever this year.  The fall in the value of the pound certainly makes going abroad far more expensive. Not having to go to the airport reduces stress levels too – no delayed or cancelled flights to contend with and what about the long haul flight in the seat next to the crying baby, not this year!

We think Somerset has a lot to offer for a summer holiday.  With so much coastline and a hugely varied landscape from the Somerset Levels to the Quantock Hills there is lots to explore and enjoy.

Stunning Cheddar Gorge in North Somerset is a great place to visit in an area of outstanding natural beauty.  It’s Britain’s biggest limestone gorge, with cliffs rising to 450ft and a designated walk along the top of them, guaranteed to blow the cobwebs away!  With a stalactite cave, an open top bus tour and a look-out tower adults and children alike will have a great day out.  For the more courageous, there’s adventure caving and rock climbing.

A trip to the beach is a summer holiday tradition for many and in Somerset there’s loads of choice.  Burnham-on-Sea is a classic seaside town with an Edwardian backdrop of buildings overlooking the wide sandy beach, perfect for getting out your buckets and spades – you can even have a donkey ride on the beach and why not enjoy an ice-cream on the shortest pier in the UK.  Further along the coast is Kilve, a fossil hunter’s paradise and a great place to investigate the many rock-pools that appear at low tide.  There’s a lovely grassy area at the back of the beach for picnics, barbecues, cricket and all sorts of fun and games.

Now, let’s face it, sometimes the weather does get a little damp in the UK, so your summer holiday may not be end to end sunshine!  Grab those opportunities and visit some of the excellent indoor attractions that Somerset is home to, you’ll be glad it rained!

Why not keep with the watery theme and visit SeaQuarium at Weston super Mare?  We particularly liked the moon jellyfish, just like watching aquatic ballet and the underwater tunnel with a huge selection of creatures circling above you.  There’s so much to learn about here and you can get hands on involved too with some of the rock pool creatures.

Another of our favourites is Fleet Air Arm Museum showing the history of the airplane from the very early days of the biplane (you get a real sense of their fragility and the bravery of the pilots), through to the modern day. Along the way you can learn the physics of flight from a model plane inside a wind tunnel and hear about the military and human stories of the second world war.  There’s plenty here to make a day of it.

Whatever you choose to do during your summer holiday, we think Somerset has a lot to offer, we know you’ll enjoy it, come and take a look.

Enjoy a visit to Exeter with our top tips

Things to do in Exeter

Exeter Quay

The city of Exeter makes a great destination in Devon, whether it’s for a day trip or for longer, there’s heaps to do and see.  In a nutshell, Exeter is one of the oldest cities in England, dating back to Celtic times, where it’s location at a crossing point of the River Exe would have been strategically important.  Today it acts as a gateway to the rest of the gorgeousness of the south west.  But enough of that for now, today it’s all about Exeter.

Here are our top tips…..

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5 great places to visit in the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds makes a great location for a relaxing short break or family holiday with a wide diversity of great things to do.

It’s the epitome of rural England with its rolling hills, quaint villages, churches and stately homes built in distinctive, soft yellow Cotswold stone.  Here’s a few of the things we’d suggest you include in your plans:-

Historic villages and market towns

The Cotswolds charm lies in its pretty medieval villages and market towns with their mellow limestone walls – picture perfect rural England full of honey coloured thatched cottages.  Perfect for sauntering around on a lazy afternoon, buying some of the local crafts or indulging in a delicious cream tea of warm scones and home-made jam in a cosy teashop.

Our choice would be Bourton-on-the-Water, often referred to as “the Venice of the Cotswolds” with the River Windrush trickling through its centre, handsome stone bridges spanning it and quaint cottages to admire.  Enjoy a relaxing lunch and a locally brewed ale in one of the cosy pubs and don’t miss the exquisitely detailed model village, which even has the sound of the choir in fine voice, echoing from its miniature sized church.

Highgrove Garden

It’s probably the only garden visit where you take your passport and go through security, but doesn’t that give you the sense of something special on the other side?

The garden of HRH The Prince of Wales certainly offers something unique and it’s well worth pre-booking a tour to see the magical garden that’s been created there.  Surprisingly quirky and innovative – some of the delights include a colourful and elegant wildflower meadow, an idiosyncratic wall created from many of the unusual gifts given to HRH over the years, and the Rapunzel like treehouse of the young Princes.  The tour finishes at a beautiful building housing the restaurant and café.  It’s worth stopping here to savour the food and contemplate the delights of the garden.  The finale to your visit: the opportunity to buy plants that you’ll have seen in the garden, a lasting memory.

Charleston House  

A great family trip where you’ll find yourself stepping into a time capsule of 17th century living at this enchanting manor house, owned by the National Trust.  Built as a sign of prosperity by a rich woollen merchant, you enter the world of a bygone age.  Families will particularly enjoy the explorer packs available, which entice you into searching for the 400 year old mulberry tree, or test your wits by trying to name the cloud shapes clipped into topiary.  Believe it or not (it’s true) the game of croquet was actually invented here.  You can try your hand at a game on the original pitch where it all began.  Both the house and gardens are a joy, but don’t forget your picnic, if you want to enjoy the delights of an alfresco feast spread out on a rug in the sunshine.

Cheltenham Races  

Hear the thunder of the hooves on turf and roar on your chosen horse.  There’s nothing quite like the excitement of a day at the races to get the pulse racing.  Cheltenham is home to the world famous festival of jumps racing.  But, as well as this world class event there are other meetings throughout the year to indulge in.

Part of the great fun of a race meeting is the complete involvement you feel in each and every race; whether you’ve bet £1 or staked the family silver (we don’t recommend this!). Dress up in your finest, sip chilled champagne, enjoy a meal at the Roux brothers restaurant or go for the ultimate and treat yourself to a private box.

Whether you back a winner or not it’s a thoroughly entertaining day out.

Birdland Park

 If your group includes children, then hunting for dinosaurs may be right up your street. The Jurassic Journey transports you back 65 million years into a world where you’ll discover life size creatures, from the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex to the tiny baby stegosaurus.  Trackers kits are supplied and your inner pre-historic explorer might even come across dinosaur eggs, fossils to dig for and maybe some old bones.

You’ll be tempted to linger but the park has lots more that’s worth exploring – cute newly hatched chicks to cuddle, penguin feeding to watch and if you’re really feeling daring a snake to dangle round your neck.

Whether you choose the Cotswolds for a short break or a longer holiday there’s plenty to see and do and our Cotswold Manor makes a great base for a large group.

 

 

Rent a pop stars Chateau!

I had a call from Miles Copeland (familiar name I thought) introducing his castle in the Perigord region of France to me. It sounded fab and when he sent some images through of his castle, I became even more intrigued. It seemed to have an abundance of accommodation and facilities and had been his personal holiday home in Europe for the last 25 years used by family and friends (some pretty high profile ones too – Cher, Ellie Goulding, Jon Bon Jovi) – hence his passion for the place! Time to pack a bag a see it for myself.

There are 3 airports within 2 hours of the castle (Bordeaux, Limoges, Bergerac) – I picked Bordeaux as I could fly from Bristol (£40 return!!) and Miles kindly offered to pick me up as he travels into Bordeaux occasionally for supplies. As we were driving back to the Castle I was fascinated to hear some of the stories about bringing Sting and The Police to a global market – more hand to mouth than you may imagine!

Location wise you are deep in the countryside but the local towns/villages like Brantome surprise you with Michelin starred restaurants and Perigord specialities of foie gras and truffles. The main town of Perigord is only 35 mins away and provides an easy days distraction.

As you approach the castle you catch glimpses of it on a wooded hill, but when you pull up to the original gateway you realise you are about to go back in time. We were met by Ian who lives on site and manages everything from housekeeping to maintenance – an asset to have around and a wealth of knowledge about the surrounding area.

It takes a while to understand the lay out with the Outer Bailey (where the serfs would have lived and provided services to the castle eg blacksmith etc) and the Inner Bailey (through another impressive gateway this time surrounded by a dry moat), where the nobility would hang out. Today, however, you rent the Inner Bailey as a starting point (for up to 15 people) and then add the various towers and the Outer Bailey accommodation as required.

I took a couple of days to explore the castle and grounds. I did get lost a few times as there are many living areas for formal and informal occasions – the outdoor courtyards provide stunning settings for dinner alfresco and the Troubadour dining room is straight out of the Middle Ages replete with suits of armour. The pool and tennis court are both easily accessible and the snooker/games room is a real ‘man cave’ with beer fridges and TV/sound systems. The Dovecot is a stunning space and I imagine an ideal party venue – candlelit and full of atmosphere. There are over 200 acres of grounds around the castle and one afternoon we took the quads bikes out to explore. They also keep a friendly hog in the paddock looked after by Ian.

My thoughts were drawn to how much fun this castle could be for a group of friends and family and I came away with a good feeling that we had found another Big House property to add to the portfolio, somewhere that offered something different. There will obviously be some compromises to staying in a castle; the plumbing and heating work fine but castles are draughty and don’t expect air-conditioning. Most of the fittings are genuine antiques and great attention has been given to sourcing decorative items and paraphernalia, but if gothic is not your thing then a castle may not be your best bet! However the feel of the spaces and pace of life was very appealing and left me with a sense of wanting to return with a group a friends!

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How To Plan An Awesome Hen Or Stag Party

Being asked to plan and organise a hen or stag party for someone you love is a wonderful privilege that can be a great deal of fun. Needless to say, an event such as this is also a huge responsibility so if you are feeling the pressure – don’t worry, we have got your back!

Start At The Beginning

The very first thing you need to do, in to pinpoint a suitable date for this event confirming availability with the most important guests, starting with your bride and groom!

Sounds simple enough, but believe it or not, this task alone can be frustratingly time consuming in reality. For the majority of us, the process of taking time out for a stag or hen do involves a great deal of negotiation. Pets, children, partners and work are just a few examples of the commitments we have to consider before agreeing to disappear on a jolly for a couple of days!

The most logical option is to set up a round robin email to discuss possible dates with the group who are to be invited. Be warned; it will invariably take some time to pin point a date that you can all agree on. The more guests you invite, the more complicated the task will become.

With this in mind, it is crucial to start planning as early as possible, so that you are able nail a date that suits the majority.

Agree Your Budget

Before you can proceed with any planning, the next big decision to tackle is the budget for this event. This is another fine balancing act, as you need the budget to be sufficient to allow you to plan an astonishingly good party, whilst being mindful to avoid creating any financial barriers that could make it difficult for some guests to participate. Discussions about money are invariably a little uncomfortable, but this is a key step before you reach the fun planning stage , where you get to indulge in exploring your ideas and options…

The Search For A Fabulous Group Venue

Finding a great venue for a party is one thing, but finding a great venue, which offers the perfect facilities for your party and sufficient accommodation on site or nearby, will take a little more effort.

The Big House Co have a great selection of venues for a stag or hen group, where you can enjoy your re wedding break in the most indulgent surroundings. If you are stuck for ideas our experienced and helpful staff can assist you with everything from your catering and activities, to providing inspired solutions and ideas to help you put together a completely awesome package for your group.

Structure & Organisation

Some careful organisation at the outset will give your hen or stag party the structure it needs for everything to run smoothly. Here are a few key tips:

 Plan & Print Your Itinerary

Have the plans and activities arranged in advance and give each guest a printed copy. This way everyone knows what they are doing and all guests, including you can simply relax and enjoy.

This info should be emailed to each guest– but bring some paper copies along so that you can hand them out to everyone in person. Be sure to factor in plenty of down time around your activities and shenanigans!

Provide Useful Guidelines

Let everyone know about any must have items well in advance so that they are able to pack effectively for the trip. Try printing this information on your itinerary, keeping everything in one place.

Collate & Share Contact Info

Collate a list of up to date contact info for each person who will join you on the stag or hen do. This will serve several important purposes. First and foremost it will enable your group to stay in touch prior to the event to share the excitement and finalise the little details, but this list will also help you to look after one another during the event. If for example one member of the party is separated from the rest of the group or has not arrived somewhere on time, you will all have their number, making it easy to check where they are and ensure that they are OK.

Hen and stag parties are frequently the foundation for new and long lasting friendships. They provide time for bonding whilst having an absolute blast together! So, finally yet importantly, this contact info will help your group to stay in touch in the run up to the wedding and beyond!

Create The Ultimate Dream Team! – Part 2

In our previous blog, we looked at the benefits of team building as a tool for pulling your ultimate dream team together. Here are some suggestions for individual team building exercises that you could incorporate into your next event. ..

Introductions

Jumping straight into activities can be a little awkward, especially for staff who do not know a great deal about each other. Help your team members to drop their barriers by asking them to take turns in introducing themselves and giving one fact about themselves that most people in the room don’t know.

You can expand on this exercise, by using it to tie all other activities together nicely, by using it in between each new activity. Rather than asking for a random fact, choose a specific question such as “If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?” or “You’re going to be turned into an animal. Which one do you want to be and what is your reason?” This simple activity will get people engaged and encourage them to let down their guard, have a giggle and share some of their qualities, contributing to the bonds within the group.

Willow In The Wind

Ask your team to stand in a circle. Choose one member to stand in the middle, fold their arms across their chest and then, once the group is ready and focused ask the central person to fall backwards. The objective is for the person behind them to catch them and then push them sideways to the next person in the circle and so on. The group can pass them around, spinning them until they return to facing in their original direction. This trust building exercise relies on a focussed and mature group as allowing a co-worker to fall is not acceptable!

Towers

For this exercise, you need to split your team into smaller groups and give each group a large sheet of paper and a pack of drinking straws. Give your teams a time limit and ask them to build the tallest structure they can. This is a fantastic problem solving exercise as your team will have to debate possible options and rethink as they encounter design issues, which will be inevitable with such flimsy building materials! Award a prize at the end for the tallest tower.

Minefield

For this game, you could do with some blindfolds but can equally make do by trusting your team members to close their eyes! Choose a large indoor or outdoor space and scatter the area with obstacles to play the part of the “Mines”. These could be office chairs spread around; you could use balls or books – whatever you have to hand.

Split your team into pairs – one will be the blind and the other will be the leader. The objective is for the blind team member to get from one side of the space to the other without touching any mines. The leader needs to stand outside of the obstacle area but close enough to be able to hear. You can up the ante for this one by finding a way of creating things for a person to step over or duck under.

Get Involved!

Lastly, be sure to get involved yourself, as this is an important part of developing your own relationships with your team. Feedback in the workplace is invaluable and team building exercises can create a culture of peer-to-peer feedback. Getting involved in your own events is an effective way to build a foundation on which you will find it easier to give future feedback as a leader, and on the flip side your employees are more likely to feel able to approach you with their own concerns and ideas.

Happy team building!

Create The Ultimate Dream Team! – Part 1

Before I start talking about Team Building as a tool to transform your workforce, if I may, let me tell you a little story. When I was a teenager, I learned to rock climb. The outdoors, the exhilaration, and the self-mastery were fantastic for my self-confidence, but I took something else from it too. Many years later, even though I don’t climb any more, some of my closest friends are those same people I scaled cliffs with. We built strong bonds because in our chosen activity we had to do something which pulled us together – we built trust. We learned to intuitively know how to make the most of each other’s strengths and weaknesses and encourage each others’ greatness – when to let the other take the lead and when to take up the slack (sometimes literally in this case!) We learned that having someone catch you when you fall, tens of meters above the ground is a great way of fostering trust! Thankfully, while rock climbing is certainly an option for your team building event, there are many other ways we can build trust and mutual understanding within a group of people, and many fantastic reasons to do so.

Fostering A Shared Purpose

This is the premise behind the team building concept. In any given business, your staff may be working together on tasks or projects, overlapping their efforts or even working alone, but their activities always contribute to the strength of the whole and a sense of this shared purpose is an important thing to foster. The collaborative nature of team building activities will allow your team members to develop better communication, improve their capacity for organization and problem solving, bring out leadership skills, foster mutual support, boost morale, and make your team feel valued. A team building event provides a great opportunity for you to observe your team and discover strengths and weaknesses within the group that you may not otherwise have seen, better allowing you to manage the group.

Choosing Appropriate Activities To Suit Your Team

When planning an event, consider the different characters within your team, and whether they would enjoy a physical challenge or whether mentally focused activities would be more appropriate. Ensure that the event is well planned and engaging – activities need to be fun as the goal is to build positive association with working cohesively. If you have a higher budget, there are fantastic companies that offer all-inclusive team building events but if your budget is lower, you can always run the event yourself.

Change Of Scenery

While you can organise events and activities in the workplace, it’s great to get your team out of their work environment if possible. Putting them somewhere new will encourage conversations that are more personal rather than work related chat and create a relaxed, open atmosphere in which your staff can step out of their comfort zones and new dynamics can flourish.

Consider investing in a Team Building book or spend some time looking at team building websites to research ideas that will help you to organise an unforgettable and highly successful event!

 

Five Ideas To Steal For A Memorable New Years Eve Party!

Without a doubt, New Years Eve is one of the most exciting nights on the calendar, and hosting a party is fantastic fun but can also be a little daunting. Why not use some of our ideas to create a buzz that will make your New Years Eve party so memorable – that your guests will recall it for many years to come!

  1. Initiate A Cocktail Competition

Encourage your guests to each bring the ingredients of a cocktail. Not only will this spread the cost of the evening but it will also mean varied interest throughout the night. A huge diversity of cocktail ideas can be found on-line and not all the cocktails need to be alcoholic, which will allow your guests to pace themselves as the revelry gets under way. It can be fun to create a festively decorated cocktail bar in the main area of your party. You can hold a vote for the best cocktail at midnight by putting names in a hat, and award prizes for the best creations!

  1. Make Your Party Sparkle

Glitter is very trendy at the moment and can create a fantastic aesthetic for a seasonal party. Gold or silver are traditional for New Years Eve get-togethers, but you can choose any colour scheme you wish and use it to subtle or dramatic effect. Create a twinkling party environment by scattering glitter on surfaces and table tops, decorating your party space with glittered Christmas ornaments of your chosen colour, or getting crafty and using glue to make just about anything sparkle! You can up the ante by purchasing some edible glitter, which can be sprinkled onto deserts, mixed into the Champagne for the midnight toast or added to a festive Punch. Complete the look by using low lighting and adding candles, which will allow the glitter to catch the light and create a glamorous atmosphere.

  1. Make it a Mad Hatters Party

All that is required for the makings of a Mad Hatters Party is that your guests wear some kind of eccentric or unusual head-attire. Some may already have something perfect in their wardrobe and crafty types will embrace the opportunity to make something unique, but getting in the spirit of this idea doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. A few decorative feathers in the rim of a normal hat can make it into something really fun and the headwear offered in fancy dress shops make the options endless. Gather a few spare hats for those who didn’t have time to get something together! You will be amazed how wearing something a bit different brings out the party spirit in your guests…

  1. Choose A Food Theme

From cuisine of different countries, to different eras, the possibilities are vast when it comes to themes for feeding your party guests and using a theme will make the dining experience part of the entertainment. For example; a Midnight themed menu could be governed by blue and purple tones, and might involve blue cheese based recipes, squid ink pasta and berry deserts. You could even serve this theme as a midnight supper! Another fun theme is miniatures, which could include miniature vegetables, which are often available during the holiday season and miniature style canapés.

  1. Set Up A Photography Station

If you or a friend is handy with a camera, you can set up a photography station to create some entertaining memories. Choose an area that won’t be in the way of the celebrations and perhaps put out a few chairs for your guests to use. Prepare some amusing props such as masquerade masks or some retro or vintage fancy dress items. Once the party mood is well established, encourage your guests to pose and capture them on camera to share in the New Year so everyone can remember what fun they had!

Big House on tour

There’s no substitute for seeing a house first hand, so last week five of us from Big House HQ did just that and went on a fieldtrip to deepest Devon to the gorgeous “Devon Manor” that we are delighted to have as one of our Big Houses.Driving through the village, past a butchers and bakers (worth checking out the jam doughnuts) – though no candlestick maker, to the stone pillars of the former rectory. The electric gates swung open and we wound our way up the drive, with lovely views emerging over the valley as we arrived at the house.

Laurence, the owner and his spaniel were there to greet and show us around. You walk through the front door and the house immediately feels so welcoming, you can smell the fire is lit and the oak hall with its impressive staircase just shout “country house”, yours for the weekend.

devon-manor-winter-view

It would be a tough call whether to bother getting your luggage out of the car on arrival, when you could just sink into one of the large, cushion filled sofas, with a cup of tea or something gently clinking against glass. With great south facing light, views over the countryside and elegant surroundings this is the heart of the house. Adjacent to the kitchen, the dining area gives plenty of space for your special celebration meals or simply chatting with your friends over warm croissants and coffee.

Venture upstairs and you’ll discover 8 of the bedrooms, all en-suite bar one, so no bathroom rota required! We loved the décor, very individual and the light and airy feel of the rooms, the gorgeous steel bath too, that may have been used by JFK, no less.

Outside, adjacent to the house, the barn forms a courtyard with a ground floor bedroom and a 2 storey studio, perfect as a family suite for 4. With a snooker room, gym and dance room there is plenty to do – but if it’s summertime, maybe the highlight will be the pool (shallow, so swimming only) and sauna area. The loungers surrounding it and the suntrap created by the walled garden, all look great for a lazy afternoon.

There’s a very eco vibe to this house from the bio mass heating system and solar panels for the pool to the cleaning products used and the spa water pumped direct into the kitchen. Check out the chickens too, fresh eggs for breakfast and there are Llamas coming soon.

If completely self catering isn’t your thing then there are recommended local chefs who will come to the house, but we thought it was pretty cool wandering down to the village pub, also owned by Lawrence (the home owner). Here, too, you see the stylish refurb that’s been undertaken and with 5 lovely bedrooms your group size could always expand and enjoy the best of house and pub!

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7 Great Tips For A Farewell Party To Remember!

Young people enjoying a party Saying goodbye to a friend or family member in anticipation of an upcoming new chapter such as a move to a different part of the country, or another part of the world is never easy.

A farewell bash is the ideal platform for saying goodbye as a group, allowing you to have a fun filled experience, sending your loved one off with plenty of happy memories.

The following tips will provide you with some great ideas and insight, helping you with the task of planning a farewell party that everyone will remember for a long time to come…

#01 Choose The Perfect Venue

Your choice of venue will depend on many factors, but primarily you need to consider the convenience of any location, making sure that it has a suitable capacity to cater for your numbers comfortably.

For a longer, weekend event; look for a great venue with sufficient accommodation for groups; for example a large manor house, where you can enjoy a luxurious and intimate environment in complete privacy.

Whether you are planning an evening event or an extended celebration, be sure to choose a venue with plenty of parking for all of your guests.

#02 Select Your Theme

Themes tend to be a fairly easy choice for a farewell party. Whether the guest of honour is retiring at the end of their career or heading off into the blue yonder you can choose a suitable theme taking inspiration from any given situation, career or destination. You could alternatively choose a more random theme that celebrates that individual’s passion. This could be absolutely anything from unicorns or star wars, to something more expected – such as maps and aeroplanes for a travel theme.

Choose a theme that reflects the individual’s personality best, after all, the point of this celebration is to demonstrate how much they mean to you all!

#03 Get Your Invites Out Early

Be sure to get your party invites out well in advance, as this will ensure that the majority of those invited will be available to attend.

A well designed physical invite is always lovely to receive, however you could consider sending a digital invite and you could also back up by creating an event on Facebook.

#04 Dec The Halls!

Decorate your venue choosing a variety of items that compliment your theme. This coordination will help to tie the whole look of the event together, creating a professional and utterly gorgeous looking background for your farewell party.

Again, you want to make this as personal to the star of the party as possible, so look for ways to incorporate the story of their past, present and future for a truly personal touch.

#05 Catering For Your Party

Planning and executing the catering yourself is likely to prevent those responsible for the organisation of the party from being able to relax and enjoy it all themselves. Look for an option that will involve minimal fuss, such as hiring a professional catering team or arranging for a fish and chip van to rock up unexpectedly!

Take inspiration from the individual’s favourite foods, or the cuisine at the destination they are moving to… Alternatively, you could give them a lasting reminder of a local favourite – such as Cornish pasties, or cream teas, to give them a pertinent reminder of something they will miss terribly once they move away!

#06 Dedicate A Skit To The Guest Of Honour

Personalise a little skit for the guest of honour, drawing on the creative skills of your group to come up with a fitting piece! This can be a great way to entertain all attendees, particularly when the skit is injected with personal anecdotes and humour. A great starting point is to begin with a famous song, story or poem, inserting your own content to personalise and entertain.

#07 Celebrate Your Stories & Connections

Invite all guests to contribute something personal in writing and use this content to create a very special farewell gift for the person who is leaving. This could be as simple as asking all guests to complete a short sentence, such as; “The thing I am going to miss about you most is…”, a short paragraph sharing how the guest met the guest of honour, or the invitation to divulge an amusing memory.

Collate these little gems in a book, to be read aloud at the party. This book would provide an incredibly special memento for the leaver to treasure.

Customised photo boards and books also make a great focal point for any farewell party. Get creative and encourage all guests to dig deep for their most precious images to illustrate their relationship with the guest of honour. The resulting compilation is sure to entertain all and what a marvellous way to demonstrate your love and appreciation of that individual at their farewell bash!

Hosting A Sophisticated Halloween Bash

Halloween parties can be so much fun for adults and children alike, but the garish mass-produced plastic decor that fills the shops every autumn is no use to anyone planning a glamorous and sophisticated event to celebrate Halloween…

Hosting a more sophisticated Halloween bash will require a little imagination and creative flare, but with the fantastic tips we share below – you are already half way there!

Less Is More

Rather than go over the top with a whole ton of Halloween themed decorations, take a ‘less is more’ approach, adding subtle details that will give greater impact. For example:

  • Add a single delicate bat or spider to a frosted celebration cake for decoration.
  • Use squid ink creatively to add a Halloween edge to your dinner menu. Something along the lines of spaghetti al nero would be an awesome choice!
  • Chalk paint is easy to purchase and can be applied to glasses, bottles and surfaces creatively. Try adding it to bottles or glasses before applying your guests names or ‘drink me’ in beautifully formed italics.
  • Place settings will also look fantastic in a monochrome theme, simply apply guests names, (or fun alternatives) using a calligraphy pen, for an elegant and ever so slightly eerie look!

Create The Perfect Halloween Atmosphere With Candles

The last thing you want at any Halloween party is bright overhead lighting. Dim lighting created with multiple flickering flames will be far more conducive to setting the scene. Be resourceful, using recycled bottles and jam jars, old candelabras and candlesticks, or metallic tea light holders to create the look you are going for.

Keep in mind that it is crucial to place your candles carefully as you don’t want any of your guests wigs or capes getting singed, (or worse), accidentally.

Decide On A Suitable Colour Theme For Your Event

Decorating the venue where you plan to host your event is so much easier once you have decided on your colour palette. Orange is the most obvious colour to spring immediately to mind when you think of Halloween, (thanks to pumpkins and autumnal hues), however for a stylish look this should be used as an accent colour; perhaps with a few well-carved pumpkins and some seasonal, orange toned floral arrangements on the table.

Working with a monochrome backdrop, your accent colour will pop out effectively. Try dressing your dining table with a black tablecloth and black crockery, then bringing it to life with some shiny cutlery, antique look candlesticks and your chosen centrepieces for a colour pop.

Create A Wonderfully Eerily Focal Point!

Choose a key area to serve as a focal point for your Halloween celebrations, and go all out with the creativity in this particular spot.

A cocktail bar is a fun choice for an adult party, with plenty of scope for creativity.

Create a cocktail menu with a variety of bright green, blood red or slightly gross themed cocktails for a bit of fun and curiosity.

You can also get incredibly inventive with your glassware. Think along the lines of laboratory experiments and get your hands on some laboratory style, glass beakers for mixing up your drinks. Small glass vials would be a fantastically good choice for an ominous serving vessel too!

Use skulls, mirror glass, masks, obscure antique finds to add mood and mystery and a spooky vibe to your cocktail bar. The more random and weird you can make it, the better!

The Team That Plays Together Stays Together!

A strong team of employees is not something that happens overnight. It takes time for a group of individuals to connect and form the type of bonds that will enable them to work together cohesively.

Smart businesses are well aware of the direct link between a cohesive team and a truly successful business, fully recognising the crucial role that teambuilding plays in helping any dream team to gel as one!

Teambuilding Events Benefit Your Business In Numerous Ways

If the mere mention of the word ‘teambuilding’ makes your employees eyes roll, you are doing something very wrong indeed. The benefits are plentiful, but this relies on the organiser having a creative approach, as well as a genuine understanding of the purpose and true value of this type of event.

For example:

  1. Productivity

When a team of colleagues are given the space to focus on and discuss their current processes as a group, in an informal environment they are able to brainstorm and come up with fresh ideas to boost efficiency and make the business even more successful.

  1. Relationships

In a typical workplace environment, many roles have no overlap, which provides little opportunity for many relationships to evolve and grow. A teambuilding event is the ultimate space for everyone to get to know each other that little bit better, whilst interacting and having fun together as a group.

  1. Communication

Nothing breaks the ice like a well-planned teambuilding event! With the time and opportunity to enjoy and explore conversations of a more fun and personal nature, (over a cheeky glass of Pimm’s), communication and connections can grow stronger than ever before.

  1. Strengths & Weaknesses

You may find that your teambuilding activities reveal hidden talents you were previously unaware of, as some skills that were perhaps not evident within the workplace come to light!

Of course on the flip side, in addition to highlighting strengths, this type of event can also highlight weaknesses within the team. Keep in mind that all insight can form the basis of constructive improvements…

  1. Morale

On return to the workplace after a fabulously executed event, employees enjoy stronger relationships and a deeper understanding of all of the complex personalities within the team. This tends to have a notably positive impact, improving workplace morale. 

Making It Count

If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing properly, and a night or two at an appropriate venue is an effective approach for anyone planning a fun filled and productive event.

A longer event makes it possible to achieve a greater balance, by incorporating plenty of relaxation, activities and fun, maximising the benefits for both the attendees and the business.

Plan something special, choosing a unique venue for your corporate event. Your efforts are sure to be rewarded, with a stronger, happier and far more successful team!

The Wedding Guest List Challenge

Putting together a guest list for your wedding can be a surprisingly challenging and time-consuming process for many couples, and with this in mind, we share some great tips below to assist you in completing this task with minimum hassle!

Newlyweds with friends taking selfie

Establishing Numbers

Knowing the approximate headcount for your guest list is a priority from the outset because without this figure you cannot begin to make decisions about the venue or develop your budget.

Once you have a number to work with you can establish the projected cost per head and evaluate whether this is a realistic number to work with!

Time Is Of The Essence

However long you think this task is likely to take, try doubling it – and then some. This is one of those tasks that is guaranteed to take far longer than you ever anticipated. Balancing your guest list around your budget, your own personal opinions and the expectations of others can be a truly tricky arena to navigate.

Think of this as your first major task to tackle as a couple following your engagement. Giving yourself plenty of time to work on your list together is crucial, as breaks may be required!

Intimate Affair Or Massive Blowout?

Whether you choose to host an intimate event with your closest circle of family and friends or a gigantic blowout surrounded by guests from every era of your lives so far, it is important to remember that your choices will directly influence your event and your experience of it.

Many couples find that on reflection, a small crowd was perfect choice for them, as instead of feeling obligated to spend a huge proportion of the day greeting guests, they were able to focus on interacting, partying and celebrating with their loved ones.

For some people of course, a huge bash is the only way they would want it..!

Establish The Rules

The rules are that there are no rules – other than the ones that you decide on as a couple! In times gone by couples would feel obliged to invite each and every living member of their family to attend their wedding, where as these days it is not unusual for couples to take all kinds of different approaches, with many opting to scale down their wedding for a more contemporary and intimate affair.

It is important to establish rules and stick to them, considering whether children will be invited, how you will determine which guests are invited to the ceremony and which are invited to attend the reception only and so on…

Once you have these rules in place you will find it far easier to work through your guest list, falling back on these initial guidelines whenever you need them, until you reach an agreement on a final guest list that you can both feel proud of!