I usually resist the urge to enter competitions, as I am very rarely successful and therefore have become embittered (with the exception of the Rare Pamper Night Raffle Victory™ of 2010.) However, when I saw that great blog Little Stuff was running a competition in association with Two Little Fleas to win £750 of vouchers to spend at John Lewis on your perfect Big Night In, I couldn’t resist. I was brought up to speak of John Lewis in revered tones, and it’s something I never bothered to rebel against. John Lewis is just great. Going there is like going on a guided tour of my favourite things I never knew existed. So, rashly throwing both caution and bitterness to the wind, I hereby enter:
Even with a big night in, I still think it’s all about the little stuff. The details; the trimmings. I usually pride myself on being perfectly capable of planning a big night in on a budget of £7.50 – that’s wine from our local Italian deli for £4.99 – really very nice – a film (such as Wimbledon!) from entertainment exchange for around 50p and a box of Lidl’s seashell chocolates (£1.99.) But given a massive £750 as a budget for a big night in, I still think I’d focus on the small stuff and then blow some cash in a grand finale-type way. Firstly I would gather together a bunch of friends willing to risk an event designed entirely by me. Given the criteria, this might be a ‘select few’ type gathering, but frankly it wouldn’t be much of a night in without some lovely friends who live a long way away, so I’d immediately spend £150 on rounding up Sarah from the Isle of Wight, my lovely sister-in-law from Devon, my best buddy Lois from Kent, and my sister from Nottingham.
Firstly: there must be cake. Marie Antoinette certainly knew a thing or two about hosting a night in, even if her PR needed some attention. And cake clearly requires a cake stand. You can’t, in my opinion, beat Orla Kiely when it comes to design, so this stand would host my (in)famous lemon drizzle offering, plus some fairy cakes. And that is actual fairy cakes, none of your cupcake nonsense: the buttery interloper of the cake scene.
As the cake stand has a retro vibe about it, * it seems only right to serve some retro snacks. I’m proposing to party like it’s 1989 with some iconic mint matchmakers, bottles of babycham and immaculate pyramids of Ferrero Rocher! A budget of £750 would allow for some decent-sized pyramids, a la the Ambassador’s reception, or indeed the Pharaohs themselves, I feel.
*I’m not suggesting actual vintage cake, by the way, that’s a mouldy step too far.
However, anyone invited to my BIG night in wouldn’t have to be dressed for the ambassador’s reception. You can’t beat a PJ party, and having a BIG budget is the perfect excuse to purchase some new PJs.
There would, obviously, also be Prosecco. It’s not really a party without Prosecco. Well, it is, but just a different kind of party. And any excuse to buy a new cosy yet stylish throw – this beautiful Avoca one would look perfect on my sofa. Or my bed. Or just on me. It just emphasises the cosy nature of a night in, and is also a selection of pleasing autumn-ish colours. AND it’s called ‘Jellybean.’
Entertainment-wise, I always think you can’t go too far wrong with proper party games. Why should the kids get all the fun? Pass the parcel is hilarious, particularly if you include comedy forefeits (do your very best Simon Cowell impression. Sing in a Dutch accent, That kind of, y’know, mature thing.) And it could be something really nice -or indeed another box of matchmakers – inside the parcel. That game where you choose a name and put it on your forehead and have to ask questions to guess who you are supposed to be. “I’m Margaret Thatcher, aren’t I? No? Joan of Arc? No. Madonna? Madonna? OH.”
This leaves me with approximately £260.05. Always handy to have a 5p left over – for the moneybox marked ‘next big night in’.
So then, with the remaining £260*, in a grand musical climax, I would hire someone to play real life live music. I’ve blatantly nicked this idea from my friend Ali’s recent party where acoustic guitar band Barricades Rise played to a crowd of entranced toddlers and parents in her dining room. Beautiful. Ukuleles are always welcome in my living room, although as it would already be fairly full of PJ- wearing, retro-snacking, party-game-playing ‘grown-ups’, they might have to sit on our dining table. A truly unforgettable night in, I think you’ll agree.
*I’m not sure if they’d play for £260, so I might bribe them with some leftover babycham and a matchmaker or two.