How to throw a showstopping Jubilee shindig like royal party planners

From Aldi fizz to the Queen Mum’s favourite recipe and why you should store cocktail sausages in a Thermos… How to throw a showstopping Jubilee shindig like the royal party planners

  • Britain’s in-demand party planners, chefs and stylists share advice on parties
  • For the Queen’s Jubilee they say to keep your street parties simple 
  • Top tips include bedsheets as tablecloths, Thermos flasks of cocktail sausages

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee promises four days of pomp and pageantry. The celebrations begin on Thursday, June 2, but the highlight for many of us will be the Big Jubilee Lunch on Sunday, June 5 — a chance to toast Her Majesty’s 70 years on the throne with our own street parties. 

Want to throw a bash the neighbours will never forget on a budget? Keep it simple, says our panel of Britain’s most in-demand party planners, chefs and stylists, some of whom have helped organise parties for the Royal Family. 

Their top tips include using bedsheets as tablecloths, filling Thermos flasks with cocktail sausages, buying all your fizz from Aldi and preparing the late Queen Mother’s favourite main course. 

‘The best Platinum Jubilee menus will be classic, with a touch of nostalgia,’ says cookery author Skye McAlpine (pictured)

And, if you really want an affair to remember, order personalised rosettes for your street’s Jubilee dog show now. Here’s how to ensure that your party is streets ahead of the competition…

A MENU FIT FOR HER MAJESTY 

‘The best Platinum Jubilee menus will be classic, with a touch of nostalgia,’ says cookery author Skye McAlpine, who thinks nothing of throwing a dinner party for 30. 

Her mother owned a Mayfair catering business and she now has 220,000 followers on Instagram. ‘Simplicity is key, so I’d avoid cutlery and stick to finger food,’ she says. 

Skye’s mother owned a Mayfair catering business and she now has 220,000 followers on Instagram. Skye is used to throwing parties for many guests

‘The sheer scale will add grandeur. Aim for one glorious feast, with everything laid beautifully on the table. You can elevate sandwiches by wrapping them in greaseproof paper, tying them with twine or red ribbon and adding a mini Union Jack flag. A bowl of strawberries with nothing more than lemon and sugar will also decorate the table. 

‘One household could host the ice-cream. Buy cones and make signage so it’s clear where everyone needs to head. 

‘I love homemade food but it’s a party and it should be fun. That means not being up until midnight making sausage rolls. If you’re short on time, buy them — no one will know.’ 

‘Party architect’ Johnny Roxburgh agrees that minimal fuss wins the day. ‘Everyone loves a chipolata. We do ours in honey and mint — they never fail,’ says Johnny, who has held a royal warrant and produced more than 14,000 luxury events, including a party for 2,000 at Buckingham Palace. He is organising the street party for his Norfolk village. 

The celebrations begin on Thursday, June 2, but the highlight for many of us will be the Big Jubilee Lunch on Sunday, June 5 — a chance to toast Her Majesty’s 70 years on the throne with our own street parties

‘Equally, coronation chicken is something every living soul loves. For something more extravagant, serve the late Queen Mother’s favourite dish, ‘oeufs Drumkilbo’ — a very decadent shellfish cocktail that combines poached lobster, prawns and anchovy. It is to die for and a real favourite of the Royal Family.’ 

Chef Alexandra Dudley thinks you can’t beat a traditional poached salmon. Alexandra, who has catered parties for up to 150, says: ‘To celebrate Harry and Meghan’s wedding, we hosted a lunch for 50 people. We poached two whole salmon (if you buy them from Waitrose, the supermarket will lend you fish kettles at no extra cost). 

‘Chop up baguettes quite rustically and have them in big baskets. It’s all about abundance without spending loads, and good bread and butter will always be appreciated. Another great hack is to put cocktail sausages into a Thermos flask — it keeps lots of them perfectly warm. 

‘Focus on colour. A huge plate of tomatoes covered in olive oil and basil looks really inviting. And everyone loves cheese straws. Use bought puff pastry — just twist it and add your favourite cheese. 

‘With savvy shopping you can keep costs to between £7 and £9 a head with coronation chicken, potato salad, a mixed salad, cake and a little wine, or gin cocktails. If you are buying the best organic ingredients, expect prices to climb quickly.’ 

Alexandra suggests making food part of the entertainment. ‘Ask every household to bring a Victoria sponge, then have a tasting and vote for the best.’

Start shopping now and freeze things such as chicken, suggests Alexandra, who adds: ‘There is still a global champagne shortage, so be prepared to shop around. Ice is often forgotten, so ask everyone to buy a bag or two now and keep it tucked away at the back of their freezer.’ 

Finally, why not plump for a pig roast? ‘If you have it pre-cooked and carved at the butcher’s, then collect it ready to serve, it works out cheaper,’ says Charlotte Boston, managing director of the Cotswold estate Cornwell Manor, which hosts weddings costing up to £250,000. 

She is organising the Jubilee street party for her local Oxfordshire village. ‘Then it’s Eton mess and Victoria sponge for pudding,’ she adds. ‘All the things that scream pretty, fresh, English garden party.’

CROWN YOUR TABLE IN STYLE 

‘Don’t use expensive table linen. Go to the haberdashery at John Lewis and buy cheap white cotton for a couple of pounds a metre,’ says Alexandra. ‘There’s no need to hem it — it doesn’t matter if it’s slightly frayed at the bottom. 

‘You can patchwork it with more expensive fabric if you like, or buy a beautiful runner from By Hope (byhope.co.uk) for £60 that you will use again and again. 

‘Lay London (laylondon.com) is where you can rent the entire tablescape if your budget allows, from around £30 a person. Try Mason & Painter (masonandpainter. com) for great vintage tableware, mismatched plates and decor from £6.50, although identical glassware always looks fantastic. That’s where Ikea is your friend. I have about 80 tumblers that were £1.20 each.’ 

Start shopping now and freeze things such as chicken, suggests Alexandra, who adds: ‘There is still a global champagne shortage, so be prepared to shop around. Ice is often forgotten, so ask everyone to buy a bag or two now and keep it tucked away at the back of their freezer.’

Skye suggests: ‘Have alternating tablecloths in red, white and blue down one central table so it looks striped — or choose summer pastel shades and ask people to bring a white bedsheet each to use as tablecloths. I would have an eclectic mix of serving dishes lined up along the table, then later cake stands piled high with dessert.’ 

As for decorations, M&S are offering good-quality fabric Union Jack bunting for £6 per 3m, while the Middleton family business Party Pieces (party­pieces.co.uk) has 50 Jubilee – coloured balloons for £12.99. 

‘We will have our party on the village green,’ says Charlotte, ‘with a display of old photographs of the village showing how it used to look. We’re planning a 1950s dress code.’ 

‘You could bring the red, white and blue theme into your flowers,’ suggests florist Willow Crossley, who styled the evening flowers for Meghan and Harry’s wedding and works for fashion brands including Ralph Lauren, Dior and Chanel. ‘But red roses will be imported from miles away and bluebells don’t love being picked — they wilt very quickly. 

‘I’ll be going for full-on colour instead: lilac, hot pinks and vivid greens. It’s better to bring the Jubilee colours across in ribbons wrapped around your containers. 

‘Bonne Maman has great-shaped jam jars for flowers, so start collecting them now. As a guide, the height of your flowers should be 1.5 times the height of their container — and vary the heights so it looks loose and wild: a riot of colour. 

‘Early June is the best time for British flowers, with roses, foxgloves, tulips, stocks and Solomon’s seal, which looks like a bigger lily of the valley and is just my favourite thing in the world. Add herbs for scent — sage, rosemary or geranium leaf will all deliver a delicious fragrance. Or I have a Jubilee ‘Box of Joy’ coming soon that will include sweet peas and peonies (willowcrossley.com). 

‘You can ask all the houses involved to make floral wreaths for their front doors. If you want the event to look very chic, you could suggest they’re all green and white — or get the children involved in making them, and anything goes.’

GAMES FOR THE JUBILANT 

‘Buy a long roll of plain paper for the tablecloth and get the children to paint it with their version of the Jubilee,’ says Johnny. ‘Make it a competition for the best section. 

‘You can also hand out prizes for best crown or tiara. Make giant Coronation coaches with tinfoil for a photo backdrop: a large cutout so it looks as if you can sit in the coach. Or life-sized cutouts of the Queen that you can put your face into. 

The late Queen Mother’s favourite dish was ‘oeufs Drumkilbo’ (pictured) — a very decadent shellfish cocktail that combines poached lobster, prawns and anchovy

‘If you have enough space, egg and spoon, sack and three-legged races are great fun. Sit back and watch how competitive people become.’ 

Alexandra suggests making food part of the entertainment. ‘Ask every household to bring a Victoria sponge, then have a tasting and vote for the best. 

‘Keep everyone pulled together at the table by writing a quiz about the Coronation that they can answer in teams.’ 

SIP A SUMMERY GIN SPRITZ COCKTAIL

‘Supermarket cheats are where you win,’ says Johnny Roxburgh. ‘I’m a big Aldi fan, as it has very good gin and champagne. We hosted our wedding anniversary party for 700 people in 2019 and all the gin and vodka came from Aldi. Once it’s gone into a cocktail, no one knows. 

‘For really good glasses, I’d suggest Jones Hire (joneshire. co.uk). The Baroque Platinum glasses are made of fine crystal with a wide platinum pattern rim and cost £1.35 each, without VAT, to hire. The firm will collect them dirty, so no one gets stuck with the washing-up. 

‘If you prefer to buy, I’d recommend Caspari (uk. casparionline.com) for the best-looking disposable options from £3.50. 

‘If you’d like your wine to double as table decorations, try The Uncommon Wine of ­England,’ says Alexandra Dudley. ‘Its range comes in beautiful cans (pictured). It will stay cold for much longer than wine in bottles. 

‘We will be serving a summer spritzer,’ says Charlotte Boston. ‘For a 1l jug, mix 150ml gin, 75ml elderflower cordial and 500ml tonic with 200ml of pink fizz, then pour over ice.’ 

‘If you’d like your wine to double as table decorations, try The Uncommon Wine of ­England,’ (pictured) says Alexandra Dudley. 

‘Have mellow music on arrival, perhaps a guitar vocalist,’ advises Christina Rhodes, the managing director of Black Rabbit Projects, who specialises in million-pound experiences for the rich and famous. ‘Consider one-on-one interactions with a performer — portraiture artists work well and can add details specific to your event, such as the street name. I would bring in an acoustic roaming band, dressed in tweeds, too.’ 

Can’t afford a band? Any party will be remembered for the playlist, so pitch it right, says Johnny. ‘You need songs that speak to 40- year-olds. If it’s too funky, Granny will be sobbing in the corner. Too retro and it will annoy the 18-yearolds. You need to sing the National Anthem at some point. Look to The Proms for inspiration.’ 

‘We hope to have a dog show to be judged by Ann, our most senior resident, who remembers the Coronation,’ says Charlotte. ‘There will be prizes for the fastest dog to catch a sausage, the dog most like its owner and the one with the waggiest tail. We will have Jubilee rosettes for all entrants.’ 

TIMING IS EVERYTHING 

Timing with military precision is key. ‘People will want to watch the pageant on TV on Sunday afternoon, so you need to start your party by 12pm,’ says Johnny. ‘You want to have had lunch and be sitting, armed with a great cocktail, ready to watch it, with a bowlful of whatever they announce is the Platinum Pudding.’ 

The nationwide competition was launched by Fortnum & Mason in January. There is now a shortlist of five, including a frangipane tart and an amaretti trifle, and the winner will be announced on May 12. 

‘To watch the pageant,’ says Johnny, ‘the screen needs to be positioned so the picture isn’t obliterated by sunshine, with cover from rain and all electrical connections in waterproof boxes.’ 

‘It’s important you get everyone there at the same time, with an official start and finish time,’ says Charlotte. ‘Don’t leave it openended so people drift in and out.’ 

Christina suggests you plan for something new to happen, or for a new food or drink to arrive, every hour. 

‘Sending an invitation or printing a flyer that spells out what will happen will make it more of an occasion,’ she adds.

‘Use a company like Green Envelope (greenvelope.com) and design something digitally. You can import a guest list and message people directly.’

A VOID A ROYAL KNOCKOUT 

With such a big event, there is plenty of scope for ruffled feathers. ‘Appoint one person to head up the organisation,’ suggests Christina, ‘but it must be a team effort. 

‘Don’t forget the plan B for weather. Have raincoats and umbrellas to hand out, and a tent or gazebo to house the drinks and music.’ 

Set a clear budget and have someone responsible for managing it, says Charlotte. 

Finally, don’t fall foul of local government rules on licence applications for amplified music, selling alcohol and being able to legally close your street to traffic. Some applications carry a small cost, and for many councils the deadline to apply is tomorrow.

  • For more information, visit gov.uk/apply-hold-street-party 

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