Remember, remember, the fifth of November… Guy Fawkes Night, Bonfire Night, Fireworks Night; whatever name you give the 5th November, chances are as a child you spent it wrapped up warm, stood in the back garden, tiny gloved hand clutching a sparkler trying excitedly to write your name in the darkness while somewhere, too closely ahead, your dad tried not to kill himself, or you, while lighting shop bought fireworks after a couple of beers. Ah, the eighties…
My birthday falls on 6th November so it was predestined that this would become the running theme of my early childhood birthday parties. As I got older and we moved to London, parties at home were replaced with trips to much grander, but ultimately soulless, public fireworks displays until in my teens I became completely nonchalant about what was once my favourite day of the year.
And now, as I flirt outrageously with 35, I have decided it’s finally time to throw myself the ultimate Bonfire Night party. Read on for my tips for a party your guests will be talking about for weeks to come.
A Warm Welcome
Regardless of how many layers they’re wearing, the likelihood is your guests will start to feel the chill after a just a few minutes of being outside. Be the host with the most and roll up extra blankets and scarves in a basket by the door. Tell your guests to help themselves if they get too cold. A move guaranteed to earn you brownie points.
Burn Baby Burn
It’s not always practical to build a bonfire in your back garden. Luckily there’s a modern alternative available in the form of a fire pit. With models starting from as little as £19.99 a fire pit provides the perfect focal point for your celebration. Arrange seating around the fire pit and encourage your guests to toast marshmallows while they chat.
Light Up the Dark
Ambience is everything and whilst you can rely on the entertainment to do most of the work for you here, attention must be paid to lighting. My go to for outdoor parties is usually festoon lights but as you’ll be lighting a bonfire and shooting rockets into the sky these probably aren’t safe or practical. Instead, opt for strings of battery powered fairy lights in mason jars. I prefer warm white bulbs but coloured lights will add to the festivities.
Add Some Sparkle
Tacky in nightclubs but magical outside in the garden, no Bonfire Night party would be complete without sparklers. Put loose sparklers in mason jars and place them around the garden for your guests to help themselves. Make sure to have a couple of buckets of sand available for people to dispose of burnt sparklers and remember never pick up a sparkler if you drop it.
What’s on the Menu?
The great thing about throwing a party outdoors in November is you can serve hearty party food. No need to stress over canapés; cook up a big batch of spicy vegetarian chilli con carne in the kitchen beforehand, then fire up the barbecue and serve hot dogs and burgers. Set up a condiment station with mustard, ketchup and onions for people to build their own gourmet delights.
A Twist on Tradition
I always loved the idea of toffee apples but the difficulty of trying to eat this classic Bonfire Night treat usually left me disappointed. The great thing about time is that eventually someone comes up with a better way of doing something and in the case of toffee apples that something is the Toffee Your Own Apple Station.
Place sliced apples on a wooden board along with dipping bowls of toffee and chocolate. Simply finish off with some toppings; I suggest hundreds and thousands but go wild and use your imagination.
Keep Them Sweet
Bonfire Night for me will always invoke memories of sipping hot chocolate in my pyjamas before bed, so what better way to honour that memory and round off the evening than to serve your guests a decadent Salted Caramel Rum Hot Chocolate. This recipe serves one so multiply the measures to accommodate your guest list.
In a small bowl mix 25ml of dark rum with 2 tsp of dulce de leche until smooth. In a saucepan warm 150ml milk. Bring to a simmer then remove from the heat and add 50g of chopped milk chocolate. Stir until melted then place back on the heat. Once warm, add the caramel rum mixture and a pinch of sea salt. Pour in to a mug and serve.