Unusually we went out twice in one week and both experiences have made me rethink what constitutes a good night out. Of course good company and booze come top of the list, but after that, what separates a good night out from a really memorable one?
The first night out was with a friend who has lost a great deal of weight and has shrunk from a 16+ and is now in a Karen Millen size 10 dress. For her, the priority was to get really dressed up in her new wardrobe of clothes that she has dreamed of for the last decade. They had a big night out in London and were due to spend a fortune, so wanted our night to be a chance to dress up but not too expensive. I thought a local brasserie would do the trick and promised that I would wear something clingy (Herve Leger dress and very light suede jacket) so that she wasn't the only WAG there.
We started with a bottle of champagne at home and then hit the road, the problem was that the restaurant was really average serving expensive pizzas and lacklustre meat and fish dishes. You just knew that there was no chef cooking and most of the food was the boil in the bag variety that could be prepared by anyone with 10 minutes training. The bill was £140 for the four of us after wine, drinks, coffee, service etc, and what was meant to be an inexpensive night out was just a fairly pricey mediocrity.
A couple of days later we went to some friends who live nearby, with 3 children under 5, and just having moved into their new house, we got a hurried phone call saying only, 'Kids sleeping, barbeque on, come now and take us as you find us'. We drank until 2am, ate mountains of burgers and kebabs and polished it all off with pavlova and hot chocolate. Our contribution was a couple of bottles of wine and the pavlova, the beef was from a local farm as were the strawberries. Both the hostess and I were dressed in the local 'evening out' look,me, skinny jeans (Next), sparkly top(Temperley) and cardigan. Her jeans Jbrand, tunic top Tory Burch (we both thank live 5 miles from Bicester Village so outfit choices are not as extravagant as they might sound).
We had such a great evening that it made me question why we ever bother with those 'middle of the range' restaurants, with food that you could do yourself for a fraction of the price.
Now that most of our friends have teenage offspring, rather than babysitter-needing little ones, all other nights with friends will be home based and here are some of the ideas/my checklist that I was hoping will make this possible....
1. Make sure everyone in the house puts away everything that they have used during the day before they go to bed.
2. No more piles of ironing, wash and put away and iron at wear.
|How my sofas look most of the time|
3. Always have a bottle of fizz in the fridge and some nibble-y bits in the larder. I must stop eating and drinking everything in sight.
Love these salads in jar idea, just add dressing and shake and great for lunch the next day...
5. Allow guests to bring something, when they offer, they genuinely want to help, so rather than saying no, I will let them do cheese or pud.
6. Work out how the chocolate fountain works (has been in the attic for years)
7. Interesting lighting makes any evening special, people rarely eat by candle light or fairy lights so I will make it memorable and it costs little, the 8 year old in all of us still loves tea light candles and fairy lights.
I bought these on ebay for the garden and they are brilliant and solar powered