How to plan a zero waste kitchen tea

Someone close to you is getting married, and you have the honour of planning the bridal shower. Yeah! Or is it? You really want it to be special, but cringe at the idea of having to chuck bags and bags full of waste at the end of the day, never mind the single-use plastic utensils and décor that usually take centre stage at such events. We also cringe at the idea, so let us help you with a few suggestions so that you can attempt to host a zero waste bridal shower.

Here we go!

1. Go digital

If the crowd will allow, consider sending out digital invitations, as well as making use of digital channels to send out reminders, the gift registry and any other arrangements. There are numerous apps and programs that you can use for this if you are not deft enough to design and distribute by yourself. Look at evite.com, sendo and paperlesspost.com for digital solutions.

2. Recycled paper, or growing paper

If you have to use paper, use recycled or a product like Growing Paper – their paper is handmade and contain seeds so you plant the paper afterwards. At least it is not ending up on the landfill. For recycled paper, have a look at Papersmith. They have an extensive range of earth-friendly paper, including rock paper!

3. Have a mindful registry

Encourage the couple to list only items that they need, or really want. And even then, find the most earth-friendly option. Where possible, and if acceptable to the couple, you can suggest gentle pre-loved items, or even ask for digital gift cards, money, or even experiences to be gifted instead of things the couple will never use, end up having doubles (or more) or throw away. For more zero waste gift ideas, read my post on eco-friendly gifting here and zero waste kitchen ideas here. Also, zero waste easy swaps for incase you would like to gift some of these essentials.

4. Ask for unwrapped gifts, or give alternative solutions

If there are physical items on the registry, and if you know there will be guests who will insist on giving the bride something, ask them to rather not wrap the gifts. If that feels too impersonal, you can suggest alternatives, such as the Japanese art of cloth wrapping called Furoshiki – guests can wrap gifts in kitchen towels, blankets, handkerchiefs, serviettes or other pieces of material. Guests can also use containers such as baskets (just skip the cellophane), cast-iron pots etc.

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5. Skip re-usable, use the real deal or if not possible, go for compostable

For the cutlery, crockery, serving ware and glassware, as far as possible stick to actual plates, knives, glasses, etc. If you do not have enough, you can ask a few select guests to bring some with or even hire in. if none of these is an option, and you have to make use of disposables, then at least by disposables that are compostable. They are not that more expensive, and you get an amazing variety. Green Home started this particular movement in South Africa, go check them out.

6. Think about the décor, and use what you already have

You do not need tons of décor. Use what you have, and be smart about it. For the most part, you will need a table cloth or runner (depending on the type of table. For beautiful wooden tables nothing is necessary), a centrepiece and maybe something to complete each place setting. If you are using actual plates and cutlery and glasses, you are already 20 steps closer to making the event look stylish, chic and expensive, without any décor! Keep all your glass bottles and use them as vases, cut and paint the cardboard inner found in toilet rolls to make centrepieces or napkin rings, use framed photographs as part of the theme, basically, anything can work if you do it with flair, stick with a theme and have a bit of fun.

7. Go back to nature

If possible, have the event outdoors. Although not necessarily a cost-saving option, it does help to elevate the mood. People feel happier when outside. You can consider a picnic or a high tea under the trees. There can be a cost-saving element if you consider you do not have to have lighting, aircon or fans, and that if you have a picnic there is also no extra costs for tables and chairs. If you can’t have it outside, then bring outside in by including a lot of plants, natural light and a cool breeze.

8. Stick with a theme

Pick a theme, and then start asking around if people maybe have things that will fit into the theme, that you can borrow for the event. Great themes to consider include Gatsby (think feathers and pearls), breakfast at Tiffany’s (lots of baby blue and more feathers and pearls), Alice in Wonderland (miss-match teacups, funny signs, and bright colours), and rustic (tin cans, veld flowers, burlap and succulents).

9. Plant-based eats and treats

Although the jury is still out whether veganism or even vegetarianism is actually better for the planet or not, you can still do your part to decrease the consumption of meat. For the bridal shower, serve plant-based, or at least vegetarian eats and treats. Think quiche, gourmet salads, pasta bakes, or even sandwiches. For a more out-there shower, you can even do pizzas! Be creative and have fun when designing the menu.

10. Cloth is the answer

Do not even consider paper serviettes or those horrible vinyl/plastic table cloths. Not only do they look tacky, but they are also super wasteful. Use cloth table cloths, serviettes and runners. If you do not have your own, and you cannot borrow from someone you know, then hire them in. It costs a fraction of the cost (unless you can make it yourself) and you are helping to extend the useful life of these items.

11. The flower question

The environmentally-friendly option would be to choose bulbs, succulents or other clippings that will grow again if you place them in water or plant them. The next best thing would be to use branches and soft twigs to braid wreaths and other décor pieces such as napkin rings or even placemats. If you really want to have flowers, then gift them afterwards. Either the guests can take them home, or drop them off at your local nursing home, hospital or other institution where some happiness and sunshine will be much appreciated.

12. Drinks

For wines and sparkling wines, choose organic earth-friendly brands. In South Africa, we are blessed with a large selection of wonderful wines, made intentionally and ethically. For any other drinks, steer clear of anything in plastic – glass is best. And skip the straws! Even paper ones are wasteful.

Although none of these tips is ground-breaking, most people will not even consider that there might be an alternative to their habitual bad practices. Just remember, for some of the guests it might sound foreign – they either have no knowledge about how damaging their consumption patterns are or in some sad cases, they simply do not care. So approach the whole situation delicately and gently. Explain where necessary, but for the most part, do not make a scene. Give the arrangements through as if it is the most natural thing in the world, and hopefully, the guests will fall in line.

If you have any other ideas, tips or solutions, please share!

Wedding day emergency kit: Do not be caught without the following 15 things!

Wedding day emergency kit by Laughing Chefs caterers

Wedding day emergency kit: to make sure you can handle anything that is thrown at you

Although never planned, and hopefully not anticipated, anything can happen. For that reason, make sure you have a fully stocked wedding day emergency kit ready to go. In it should be all the needed tools to fix everything from smudged mascara to the apocalypse breaking out mid-ceremony. Here is our list of essentials you should rather not be caught without on your big day

The Wedding Day Emergency Kit:

  1. Needle and thread, or a small sewing kit
  2. Clear glue (super glue)
  3. Water
  4. Something salty to snack on
  5. Hair pins, hair ties, small comb or brush and hairspray
  6. Lipstick and gloss, plus extra makeup to fix smudges, chapstick
  7. Tissues
  8. Pain pills and something for heartburn or indigestion, allergy meds
  9. Perfume and deodorant
  10. Floss and mints
  11. Cash
  12. Feminine hygiene product of choice
  13. Nail file
  14. Lotion
  15. Sunscreen

Are there any supplies we missed that you wouldn’t be caught without on your wedding day? Share them with us in the comments below!

Secrets, tips and must-haves to make your next picnic the most magical one yet

Is there anything more romantic than a picnic? I will venture a guess – not really. Stripes agrees, she has seen the number of picnics booked in the name of love and romance.

I don’t know what it is, but the whole idea of taking a basket full of delicious things to eat, out into the great outdoors, where you battle the elements in order to eat in relative peace, seems to rank somewhere at the top of the “most romantic things to do” list. I myself am a lover of picnics, not because of the food or the idea, but because when you do attempt a picnic with your loved one the settings and surroundings automatically force you to connect. There is nothing else to do except eat and talk. You can lie on your back and watch the clouds, or listen to the birds. Then eat and talk. Glorious. For most, the fun starts there – with the unveiling and unpacking of the goodies. But for us, the picnic-planners and picnic-packers, there is a lot of work to be done before this special event can take place. The success of your picnic rests on the panache with which you pack, and two undisputed tips – steer clear of any store-bought food, and be well prepared.

Picnics should be about comfort, ease, and joy. Nobody wants to use all of their energy carrying heavy baskets full of china and silverware, to a site that is km far, to sit on chairs (that you also had to carry) passing around cucumber sandwiches as a first course. Or worse, take out the carefully prepared food only to find everything is wilted, limp, or spoilt. For any picnic, there are a few must-have items, without which you will struggle, or even simply fail.

Something to pack the food in

A basket, or a dedicated picnic rucksack, works the best. You do not need anything special, whatever you choose must simply meet the following requirements:

  • Light enough to carry, even when packed full of goodies
  • Keep your cutlery and crockery safe, and clean
  • Keep the food and beverages cold and safe
  • Be able to house the dirty and empty things once you are done, without leaking juices onto the car seat

If you need 2 pieces in order to meet these requirements, then so be it. Maybe you will use a basket or rucksack to carry the cutlery, crockery and glassware, and a cool box for the food and drinks. Or you have a basket that is big enough for everything, plus insulated so it will keep the food cold. Just find something that will be practical and useful.  A few tips: a full cooler stays colder for longer, so ensure that it’s filled with about 75% food and the rest ice. If you don’t have enough food to fill it to ¾, then add more ice. Place ice at the bottom, followed by the heavier foods. Fill in with the lighter items. Pack the cooler directly from the refrigerator, and preferably use ice packs or slabs of ice. Another hack – freeze water in empty milk bottles and use instead of ice packs. And of course, once there always place the cooler in shade and not in direct sun. When packing your basket or another container, start with the items you will need last. Place them in first, e.g. the cutlery and crockery, the condiments, insect repellent, etc. Then follow with the perishable items and things you need as part of the setup. The last thing you place in your basket is your picnic blanket since that is the first thing you will need once you reach the picnic site.

Equipment

Make a list of the food that you are planning to serve, as well as the drinks, and determine what you will need in order to serve this menu. E.g. if you are drinking wine, ensure you pack a wine opener for the corkscrew. Bread, then pack a breadknife and breadboard. Cheese, you will most probably need a sharp knife, so pack one carefully. Don’t forget a cloth (you can pack a wet cloth in a lunch box or glass jar, making cleaning up a breeze) or napkins, and salt and pepper. If you will make use of a table, covered with a table cloth, remember to pack in weighted clips to hold the table cloth down. And remember something that you can use to collect all the trash. You must leave the picnic spot in a better condition than what you found it in – trash free.

For cutlery and crockery, we would recommend going the low waste, single-use-plastic-free route. Opt for bamboo or paper plates, bamboo or compostable knives and forks, and glasses that can be re-used. Avoid anything that is made from plastic or polystyrene that you will have to throw away after use. Metal is another option. For napkins, we recommend cloth, and empty containers and rubbish can be placed in the (hopefully) empty cool box for sorting and disposing of at home.

Food safety

A cool box, or ice packs, are essential to make sure that your food remains cold and safe for eating. Keep your cool box or insulated basket closed, only opening once you want to eat, and eat immediately once you have reached your destination in order to keep the food out of the temperature danger zone. Keep sauces separately, only adding them once you want to eat. Pack hand sanitizer or have another way of cleaning hands before eating.  If you are travelling or walking particularly far and don’t have adequate cooling options, avoid using mayonnaise or dairy products in your food.

Special touches

A blanket, cushions if you can carry them, an umbrella for shade if you won’t be under trees, and insect repellent are just a few of those things that you might not think of, but that is needed to make the picnic special. To ensure there is something cold to drink, freeze water in bottles. The frozen bottles can be used as ice packs, and once defrosted you have cold water to refresh yourself and your company.

The food

As important as the setting might be, the highlight of the show remains the food. When planning your picnic menu, you need to keep in mind it needs to be food that can be transported, that can be served at room temperature, won’t spoil in a cool box with only ice packs, can keep (so you don’t have to make it and serve it immediately), fall in the taste of your company, and provide a balanced meal. Here you have the choice of either going for finger food – smaller dishes and bites that don’t require cutlery and crockery to eat, or more traditional dishes, where you do need a plate and knife and fork in order to enjoy. A few dishes are iconically associated with picnics, such as Scotch eggs, chicken drumsticks, sandwiches, potato salad and quiche. Guaranteed crowd-pleasers, but definitely not the only options out there.

Pasta salad is perfect for picnics – usually hearty, they hold up well. If you want to pack a leafy salad, don’t dress the salad until you are going to eat it. For layered salads, always start with the heaviest ingredients at the bottom, working up towards the lighter ones like the lettuce. Other salad ideas include Middle Eastern couscous salad, a Greek orzo salad, or even a lighter-carb sweet potato salad. Adding vegetable dishes or bites can be a bit trickier as they usually do not handle the heat and transport that well. But there are options, such as zucchini fritters with minted tzatziki dip, pumpkin fritters, or chargrilled veg skewers.

Our favourite menu for a picnic? A selection of cheeses, cold meats, pates and spreads, olives, roasted peppers, gherkins, hummus, crudites and other meze bites, with fresh bread and real butter. Nothing fancy, just good produce that you can pair and add to make a wonderful meal. Social food.

A nice tip? Pack fruit, nuts and biltong for extra snacks along the way, especially if you are travelling with kids and the journey might take longer than you planned.

To end, chocolate brownies are always a winner. Other ideas: cheesecake in a jar, cookies, traditional scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, or a coconut loaf cake.

For drinks, anything that can successfully be kept cold can work. Ice tea is super refreshing on a hot summer’s day, lemonade or ginger beer (both homemade of course) being another stellar option. And for the grownups, sparkling wine or a chilled white or rose wine is wonderful. Just remember your glasses, and pack enough ice! You can also pack in sangria or spritzers, or pre-mixed G&Ts with the cucumber or lemon slices packed separately. Whatever says sun, outside, and great company. Our best hack to ensure your drinks remain cold (other than freezing them) is: chill as usual, then decant into a flask. That same flask to keep your coffee hot on road trips will keep your drinks nice and cold.

When packing the food, ensure the containers that you are using are leak proof. Place everything in the fridge to chill, and only pack them into your cool box at the last minute. Top with ice packs to ensure safe transportation.

The entertainment

  • Make getting to the picnic a scavenger hunt. Leave clues or a “treasure” map for your family to find their way to the picnic destination.
  • Bring along a board game, boules, a rugby ball, or a Frisbee for some outdoor fun. If kids will be joining you, try to pick a spot with a playground nearby.
  • Plan a hike and bring the picnic with you. Stop when you get hungry or find a scenic spot to eat.
  • Set the mood with a sunset picnic. If it’s allowed, bring a few votive candles and a small bouquet of flowers to add to the ambience.

Those are our top tips for making a magical picnic. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we hope you implement them for a romantic night out. And if you are worried about your skill in the kitchen, or simply do not have the time to cook and plan, you can always order your picnic from us!

Stripes is wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day, but even more, that you will feel the love the whole year round!

22 things to trim from your wedding to streamline your budget

Stripes has seen her fair share of weddings, and the number one thing she will always comment on is the obscene amount that people are willing to spend on one single day. And although Laughing Chefs tries to see every budget as a guideline and not a target, some of the budgets that we have come into contact with have been sky high.

Why? She always wants to know. Why would people spend so much on one day, just so that they can start their lives together in debt? Or with parents who have to struggle because they spent everything on the wedding. Even if you have enough money, not even endless piles can justify spending money on those things that most people are not even aware of. Never mind the mindless forking out of cash, you are also contributing to a consumption-driven culture, waste, and unachievable expectations of every budget bride out there.

Every girl (and boys – they are not excluded) dreams of her big day. She wants everything to be perfect, from the dress right down to the serviette rings. And that costs money. If you do not have a lot to go around to start with, Stripes has compiled a list of 22 things that you can leave out, without your guests even noticing. Not only will this save you money, but also countless hours of research, sourcing, making, and worrying. Although there are a lot of things she can add, she decided it was too early in the year to write a lengthy article so she decided to stick to these 22 points.

Stripes says, the rule of thumb is to decide what you want to remember from your wedding day, together with what is the most important to you. Then allocate more budget to these things, taking away budget from things that are not that important to you. But, she says, remember that food is usually the measuring stick used by guests to label a wedding as having been good or bad, and in the end, you only have your photos to remember the day by. So spend more on your food and photographer, and less on those details that most guests never pay attention to, such as;

22 Things you can trim from your wedding, without your guests noticing:

  1. Go paperless

Lately, there has been a shift towards digital in every plane of life, so why not extend it to your invitations? Send out your save the dates, or pre-wedding invitations, via email or a chat service such as Whatsapp or WeChat. If you really want to go the printed route, stick to simple yet elegant designs, normal paper or cardstock, and no embellishments, foil work or other details that cost an arm and leg and usually end up in the trash afterwards. You can also invite everyone digitally, and then print a few elaborate and beautiful invitations for your grandparents, and one that you can keep as a memento.

  1. Skip the open bar

Instead of having an open bar, with a set limit or without, rather opt for a wine bar or pre-order a select amount of drinks that are then served throughout the night. If these drinks run out, or guests would like something else, they can buy for themselves from the cash bar. A wine bar is a wonderful option – a number of bottles are placed on a table, together with glasses. Guests then help themselves. What makes this option, even more, cost-effective is because guests are pouring from one central point you don’t end up with a bunch of open, half-drunk bottles of wine that you can do nothing with.

  1. Use what you already have

Incorporate items that you already own into your décor. Doing this saves money, but also ensures that your stamp of individuality is on your wedding. Items that you might already own: glass jars for flowers, beautiful shawls or pashminas for tablecloths, old books, etc. Also, get a list of décor items that are included in your venue hire, or if not included get the prices. It can work out cheaper hiring in from them since you avoid transport costs.

  1. Get married off-season, or on a weekday

For brilliant cost savings, consider getting married in the winter months, or if you want a summer wedding, on a Friday or even a Sunday. You can also look at a mid-week wedding. Some venues offer as much as 20% off for weekday or Sunday weddings, and usually 10% off for Friday weddings. Stripes know that Laughing Chefs has nice specials for the winter months.

  1. Learn how to wedding plan

If you really want to be hands-on, the best cost-saving advice that Stripes can give you would be to take a course in wedding planning. There are numerous workshops and courses out there, and although usually directed at individuals who would like to make wedding planning their career, you can learn a thing or two applicable to your own wedding. Stripes says she has heard rumours of exciting things to come at Laughing Chefs but will keep you updated.

  1. Bulk out your bouquet with cheaper options

With flowers, the biggest expense is not the physical blooms but rather the labour involved in buying, transporting, and arranging the blooms. Pick your flowers carefully, then add elements that are cheaper but that will add flair and drama, or make the bouquet softer/dreamy/etc. For example, berries, feathers, foliage, bulbs, etc.

  1. Serve a signature drink

Serve a custom-designed cocktail or signature drink instead of a full bar.

  1. Candles instead of flowers

Using large pillar candles as your centrepiece not only increases the elegance and flair, it also decreases the costs. You can hire refillable candles at a fraction of the cost of flowers, and candlelight creates the most beautiful ambience.

  1. Change the serving style of the food

French service or plated is your most expensive options, followed closely by waiter service of finger foods or canapes. The most cost-effective serving style is family-style, where the waiters’ place bowls of food on the tables and guests help themselves. The misconception is that buffet is cheap, but if you do a nice buffet and you do it well, it can work out more than plated food! Be honest and upfront with your caterer to ensure you stay within budget.

  1. Limit your guest list

Invite only people who play a part in your life. Skip the plus-ones, and forget the guilt-invites. Decide on the number of guests that your budget will comfortably cover and stick to that number. If you have a lot of friends or even family that didn’t make the cut but with whom you still want to celebrate consider throwing an after-the-fact party and invite them all.

  1. Champagne is for toasts only

Get only enough bottles to allow for one glass per person. Ask the venue or caterer to pour the champagne at the bar or in the kitchen then serve to the guests. This way you ensure everyone gets, with little wastage.

  1. Consider a Wedding Breakfast or Brunch

Breakfasts, brunches, and afternoon teas are usually more affordable than evening receptions: They’re shorter, the fare is lighter, and guests tend to consume less alcohol early in the day.

  1. Go all-inclusive

Find a venue that includes a list of things in their packages. Some listed items might seem pointless to you, such as specifying that they have toilets for men and women, but once there you will be grateful. If the venue includes décor, see where you can tweak your theme to incorporate those items, even if it might mean having to change your colour palette slightly.

  1. Change the style of the wedding

The less formal the party, the more affordable it will be. Instead of a full, sit-down dinner, opt for a brunch reception or more laid-back cocktail-style meal. Choose a venue with a low-key vibe, like a barn or farm, which lends itself perfectly to a simpler, more relaxed celebration with fewer bells and whistles.

  1. Bouton-ette your bridesmaids

Instead of costly and elaborate bouquets for your bridesmaids, rather opt for a single bloom pinned to their dresses boutonniere style. Not only will you save money, but you will also allow your wedding party to make a statement.

  1. Elaborate decor and expensive place settings

Don’t feel guilty about skipping things like place cards, fancy aisle runners, chair covers, or little handwritten menus or signs. Guests will either not notice that you went with the plain or basic instead of the more expensive option, or they will notice but not care. Instead, choose a venue that is beautiful as it is, and lends itself well to the chosen look.

  1. Make cake the dessert course

Stripes has seen scary things, such as almost an entire wedding cake being thrown away because guests just never got round to eating it. They were too busy nibbling on the dessert buffet. To stop this from happening, or at least minimise your risk, serve your wedding cake either as the sole dessert course, or paired with one other dessert. This kind of forces guests to have cake, and eat it too. Just make sure your wedding cake is actually nice and edible!

  1. Wedding coordinator

Hire a wedding coordinator to save you time and money. Most brides think that hiring a wedding coordinator will break their budget, but it’s a little-known fact that wedding coordinators can actually save you money after you get all the discounts and perks they have arranged with partner vendors. But use caution when selecting a planner: Anyone can call herself a “wedding planner.” Look for someone who is certified or have a proven track record. Phone past clients if you want 100% peace of mind.

  1. Order two cakes instead of one

Cake one – the beautiful one decorated according to your theme and colour palette. Cake two – a simple sheet cake in the same flavour as the main cake, which is cut up and served from the kitchens. Guests will never know, and you save pockets of money! If you want to be adventurous or have a large guest list, you can even do a few flavours of sheet cake.

  1. Decrease the hours that you need a photographer for

Speed up the traditional or symbolic acts that you want to be filmed. Move the cake cutting, first dance, and bouquet toss to early in the night. Guests won’t necessarily work out why, but you will – by getting these things out of the way the photographer can leave early, thus cutting down on the per-hour costs.

  1. Change expensive bubbly for less expensive options

What is in a name? A few 00 after the R, that is what. The sad reality is that most wedding guests cannot tell a sparkling wine from an MCC, let alone a glass of champagne. And I can assure you, most of the time up to 80% of all guests do not drink dry bubbly. To stop them from wasting your expensive stuff, rather opt for less expensive sparkling wine, and choose the sweeter varieties instead of the dry.

  1. Wedding favours

While precious mason jars filled with homemade pastries and jams are now in vogue, they’re unnecessary expenses that your guests probably won’t even remember in the first place. If you want to send something home with them, get a few paper boxes and place them at the wedding cake. Guests can then take a slice home to enjoy later.

These are the 22 things that Stripes wishes she could say to almost every bride that comes through the door. Remember it is about your marriage, not your wedding. Oh, and money doesn’t grow on trees, spend it wisely.

Anything that you can add?

Easy Ways to Manage to Manage your Health During Wedding Planning

It’s no secret that wedding planning can be one of the most stressful times in a bride’s life. Between finding a venue, a caterer, and trying to decide on details as simple as what chairs to have at the reception, it can get very overwhelming. Being that there is no “maternity-leave” for wedding planning, lots of brides-to-be have plenty of other things to do and places to be in the months leading up to the wedding. It can be so difficult to manage all the things left to settle while living your life at the same time. Days seem to fly by and as you get closer to the wedding, and all the chaos can put a huge amount of stress on your health. With all the stuff that needs to be taken care of, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. The last thing you need when you’re trying to be the most healthy and productive you can be is to get sick or exhausted. These tips are simple little reminders to support your physical and mental health during the stress of wedding planning.

Make a List

The wedding planning process usually starts as early as possible because there is such a long list of things to decide on and ultimately arrange. One of the worst things you can do is to wait too long and end up bombarding yourself with an overwhelming amount of errands in the months before the wedding. This can add a crazy amount of unnecessary stress on top of the existing anxiety you’ve already built up. All this stress and anxiety can cause a lack of sleep, decreasing your energy levels and make you sick. One of the best ways to sustain your health and effectively manage your time and energy is to make a list. If you know nothing about wedding planning, do some research and create your list of things that need to get done before the big day. Find out what needs to be done now and what can be done later on. If you don’t know, talk to someone who knows, whether that be a friend who’s recently gotten married or a wedding planner. Look online and find out what’s going to work best for you. Even when you feel defeated, take a deep breath and remember that it will all get done eventually.

Budget

High on the list of stress-causers is money. Weddings are very expensive and there are clearly a lot of different things that need to be paid for. Preparing yourself for the amount of money you’re going to spend can decrease the amount of stress you feel when it comes time to pay the bill. Again, do your research and decide what you’re willing and able to spend, based on what things can potentially cost. Deciding what you can and will spend before you spend it can give you more comfort in knowing that running out of money is avoidable. Another good tip is to put a little money away in a jar or container every day so that you accumulate a bit of a safety net. Even if you don’t end up using the backup fund, you can easily use that money to get something a little more expensive than you weren’t able to afford before!

Sleep!

Though this might be a lot of people’s favourite thing to do, it seems to get pushed to the back burner when there are so many things going on. Don’t let sleep get bumped to the bottom of your list. When you don’t get enough sleep, you lose focus and concentration which will no doubt make running wedding errands even more difficult than it was before. It can also have a lot of physical effects on the bride-to-be like illness, dry skin, and cold sores. While lotion and cold sore medication are good solutions, avoid getting these by planning your activities throughout the day so you’re done with them at a decent hour and you can get a good night’s sleep. Set a goal every day for a time that you should settle down and sleep so that you’re fully energized the next morning.

Moderate Exercise

Working out can be an important part of a bride-to-be’s routine in the months leading up to her wedding. Every bride wants to look and feel their best for the big day. Finding time to meet wedding planners and explore venues along with going to the gym can get extremely difficult. Making a daily schedule in a planner along with the list of things you need to be done for the wedding will help you organize your thoughts and keep you from scrambling at the last second. Keep in mind also that it’s perfectly fine to exercise a bit less if you’re feeling burned out. Perform some low-intensity workouts so that when you get home from the gym you still have enough energy left to do some planning. Take a walk, do some yoga or any other of your favourite activities that won’t keep you from being productive the rest of the day. That way when you’re done, you can take on more of that to-do list.

Take a Break

This may be tough to swallow being that you already feel like you have so much to do with so little time. You might be feeling like you should be using any last dark hour of the night to be arranging any last detail that you can, but one of the best things you can do when all the tasks life throws at us happen at the same time is to take a break. Take a deep breath, sit for a minute, and do nothing but give your mind and body a rest. Take a day off from work, enjoy some personal time in which you have nowhere to be and nothing to do. You most likely need a recharge to give yourself a burst of energy that will make the next day productive.  

Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy this time. Despite all the stress, planning a wedding should be a time to be creative, have fun, and spend time with your loved ones. Don’t hesitate to ask for help because there’s always someone around who’s been through it. And if you start to feel burned out, take a break and take care of yourself before you take care of anything else.

How to host a stress-free party (without breaking the bank or going insane)

We are at that time of the year when we flitter from one party to the next. Life is busy and hurried, and inevitably your turn comes around to hosting. But hosting does not come naturally to all, and even if it does, being tired and busy can take its toll. So when you have to host your family or friends or colleagues or whoever, use this quick guide to ensure you take the stress out of impress, and enjoy the party as much as the guests.

1. Simplify

The main purpose of this website – simplify your life. When hosting, make everything simple. Invite only as many people as you can comfortably host. The more people you have over, the harder it becomes to keep everyone happy. Work out the menu with dishes that you can prepare in advance, or that need minimal fuss before service. Use shortcuts if there are any – buy pastry instead of making, order in a cake if you don’t have time (or skills) to bake, etc. Even better, get caterers in to do it for you…

2. Have a budget

Have a budget and stick to it. Decide how you want to divide the budget – how much are you spending on food, on drinks, on flowers, etc.

3. Pick a suitable date and invite your guests well in advance

Pick a date that that will give you enough time to plan. If you normally only get off from work very late on a Friday, then rather opt for a Saturday. If Saturdays are just crazy, then go for a Sunday lunch. Long weekends, weekends with major sporting events, school exam times; all of these events can limit the number of guests who would be able to attend. Avoid conflicting dates and times.

4. Do as much as you can before the guests arrive (even the day before)

Clean the house, set the table, make the punch, chill the wine, prep the veggies. Do anything that will not spoil or go bad overnight. Try and get as much of the running around work done as possible.

5. Enlist help

We are not all great at everything. If you cannot cook to save your life, order in. If your taste in music makes people want to sleep instead of boogie, ask a friend. Delegating a few tasks to friends or family who offered is key – ask them to pick up the ice, for instance.

6. Decide on the bar menu

Decide what you will be offering, and what you want guests to bring themselves. If you are giving wine, make sure that it is chilled. Have a signature cocktail in mind? Plan it out and ensure all the ingredients are available and ready. Bonus tip: pick a cocktail that can be made in bulk, and served in a jug, e.g. margarita, mojitos, pina coladas, etc. Steer clear of drinks that must be made and served immediately such as martinis, sex on the beach and so forth. You do not have to offer a full bar, usually, juice, water, and wine are sufficient. Set up the bar area the day before. On the day, bring out the ice and cold drinks and voila! Done. Bonus bonus tip: don’t have enough fridge space to chill the drinks or enough freezer space for all the ice? Use your washing machine! Fill your washing machine with ice and chill the drinks in there. As the ice melts the machine will drain the water leaving you with no mess and no water to empty the next day.

7. Create a playlist

Music is essential to set the tone and mood of a party and is also a key way of getting your guests to relax and interact. If you do not own enough music to make a sufficient playlist, make use of a streaming service such as Spotify or Apple Music – often these services give you a period of use at no charge.

8. If kids are going to be attending, set up a dedicated area for them to play in

If you can keep the kids happy, you can keep the parents happy, and then you are another step closer to a no-stress event. The adults will be able to enjoy the party a lot more if they know their kids are occupied, fed, and taken care of. Have a plan B for when the kids become restless and bored, for example, have a movie ready to be played or some other activity.

9. Let the guests serve themselves

Have a bar area set up with all of the things your guests might need to help themselves. This way you do not have to play bartender all night. Same with the food – set up buffet-style so that guests can informally help themselves.

Planning a party can seem like a daunting task, but having a clear idea of what you need to do and when you have to do it by will keep you organized. If you are organized, you are calm and stress-free. And if you are stress-free then you can enjoy your party. When working out your own timeline, double the time that you think something will take, and add extra time in for those unexpected surprises. And remember to schedule enough time to get ready yourself. Some of the items that you need to keep track of:

• Planning and inviting

• Following up on RSVPs

• Shopping

• Prepping and cleaning

• Decorating