Theming A Party

One of the key decisions when planning a party is to theme or not to theme?

Theming is the perfect way to personalise an event and sets the scene for the type of party you envisage for you, your family and friends. I always suggest that it should be carried through in all of the planning starting with invitations and following through to design, food and drink, and can be done in subtle but eye catching ways. 

A good starting point would be to decide the dress code which could be simple and elegant or flamboyant fancy dress. I always think that personalities shine through at a party that has a themed dress code and is such an ice breaker as guests arrive. 

My most recent event was in February, just before lockdown, and held at the fabulous Bombay Sapphire Distillery in Hampshire. At the first site visit I quickly realised that this was a perfect opportunity to theme the party embracing all that is Bombay Sapphire, from the botanical ingredients that go into making the gin, to the amazing glasshouses at the venue. I was thrilled when I put my ideas to the client…and she loved them!

I was lucky to work with fantastic suppliers, from the calligrapher who designed the placement and escort cards, through to the caterer who came up with the most incredible bespoke themed menu specially designed for the evening. 

The large room that guests were to dine and dance in started as a blank canvas with incredibly high ceilings so we needed lighting and flowers to create atmosphere as well as make it more cosy. We achieved this with huge palms placed on candlesticks on the tables which were beautifully up-lit with colour washes resembling the plants that grow in the hot houses at the distillery. They acted as a great noise leveller as well as creating impact when guests arrived from the drinks reception. On the tables we placed lemons under cloches along with herbs (coriander, rosemary and camomile) and on the floor, huge ferns in wicker baskets, along with beautiful zinc and bamboo furniture. Each guest received a miniature personalised Bombay Sapphire gin bottle to take home and a baby camomile plant. 


To start, the guests had gin, lemon and coriander infused salmon with cucumber and wasabi emulsion and we substituted melon for salmon for our vegetarian guests.  

Followed by lamb rump with an orris root and coriander crust, pressed carrot puree, grilled aubergine, tempura sweetbread and a thyme jus with delicious mushrooms instead of lamb for vegetarian guests. 

We created a patisserie table on a colonial stand complete with parrots and pampas grass and incorporated mini puddings such as baked yoghurt with gin and rhubarb compote and a passionfruit posset with grains of paradise shortbread. 

Not forgetting the drinks, the distillery provided guests with delicious gin cocktails all made to a secret recipe! 

My huge thanks go to the following for helping to create a really special surprise birthday party that I hope will be remembered for years to come:

Food: Kalm Kitchen

Photos: Flo Brooks

Tableware: Crystal Hire

Music and Lighting: Matt Maurice Event Music

Flowers: Susie Babington

Furniture: Folly Hire and The W Collection

Calligraphy: Victoria Shute