Bunting, flags and jubilee trifles at the ready… the Queen is gearing up for a right royal knees-up to mark her 70 years on the throne – and we’re all behind her.
From Thursday, for four glorious days, parties, parades and exciting fizz-fuelled get-togethers will fill our homes and streets.
But where to begin? At a time of soaring household bills, how can we throw the perfect champagne-style Platinum Jubilee party on a lemonade budget?
Step forward royal warrant holder and party architect Johnny Roxburgh. He has planned more than 9,000 super-posh events, from Prince William’s wild jungle-themed 21st to the Queen’s more sedate 80th birthday bash. It’s safe to say he knows the monarchy’s tastes and requirements inside out.
“Palace parties feature wonderful flowers and unbelievable candelabras, but the Queen is careful with how she spends her money,” says Johnny. “She hates waste and she loves to recycle.”
So while we might not have the grand palace or the glittering jewels, Johnny can give us all the tools we need for a platinum-plated party for less than a fiver a head…
Choose flower power
Fresh flowers and a sprinkling of herbs will make supermarket-bought finger food look uber fancy.
“There’s no getting around it – a plate of sausages is just plain brown,” says Johnny pragmatically. “But you can make even cocktail sausages look fabulous with a snip of herbs. Or pop your scotch eggs on a bed of rose petals.
“I like to place pots of parsley in the centre of the table so guests can help themselves and add finishing touches to their plates.”
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Serve a fizz combo for all
Every guest should be given a flute of fizz on arrival – except the kids. And Johnny knows exactly how to make it extra-special. “Pop a raspberry and a sugar lump into the flute and top with sparkling wine,” he advises.
Makes the money go further, doesn’t it? “For extra oomph, add a splash of brandy to create a jubilee cocktail.” Don’t mind if we do…
Replace planet-harming plastic forks with glam gold
Don’t worry. Guests won’t expect the 24-carat stuff from Buckingham Palace. You can buy seriously stylish sets now from supermarkets such as Aldi.
Johnny says, “It’s as sophisticated as it is contemporary. Just let your guests help themselves.”
Say yes please to cheese
Brie, stilton, a bunch of fresh grapes… cheese boards are always a winner. Now, let’s dress them up.
“Pair cheese with ruby-red radishes and glossy black grapes – the colour of the black pearls in the Queen’s jewel collection,” Johnny suggests. “Add crunchy celery and little bowls of sun-dried tomatoes, crisp crackers and ‘coronation’ coleslaw – delightful!”
Go big on the cakes
If you’ve gone to the effort of baking a few cakes, or taken advantage of your supermarket’s sweet offering – no one’s judging – you may as well show them off.
Johnny says, “Cake stands don’t need to be expensive, and they add height to your table. I like to mix all the cakes up so that everyone can choose their favourites, from angel cake to eclairs and a classic Victoria sponge – and don’t forget the tea cakes (my favourite).”
Show off your sides
Ok, so a dollop of jam or cream in a bowl isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing thing to look at, but you can jazz it up very easily. Johnny’s recommendation?
“Pick a range of jams like vibrant blackcurrant, classic strawberry and rich raspberry then tie a bunting flag around the jars. Sit them on a tray of rose petals and sprigs of mint to create the wow factor.”
Plan for fuss-free service
A jubilee party is no sit-down meal. If you’re planning to invite the whole family, along with friends and neighbours, you need some simple finger food.
It’s easy to serve, and means you won’t be slaving away in the kitchen for hours.
“These celebrations are all about sharing,” Johnny reminds us. “Sit guests at a long table and let them dive into traybakes. For little ones – or big ones – serve up scotch eggs and snack sausage rolls.”
Quaff the Queen’s cocktails
Rustle up your own take on the Queen’s gin and Dubonnet cocktail. But don’t let beers take a backseat, either. Everyone has their own preference.
“I offer guests a variety of drinks,” says Johnny. “Must-haves are sparkling white and rosé wine – even better if it’s a magnum, so it looks like you’ve pushed the boat out. Hand round novelty drinks like flavoured liqueur, too. I’m a big fan of Aldi’s Eton Mess gin.”
Assign jobs to everyone
Big shindigs require all hands on deck – and that includes the kids.
“Jubilee parties are all about including everybody. Put people in charge of paper plates, bunting or baked goods, and get the children (and adults) doodling on the tablecloth – felt-tip sketches of the Queen, Union flags, little corgis… anything goes.”
Sing your heart out
“Nothing will unite us more as a nation than a sing-song,” says Johnny. But keep it classic with traditional tunes and throw in a few fun songs for the kids, too.
“Print out the lyrics on paper decorated with Union flags. Choose songs like Auld Lang Syne, Danny Boy and The Lambeth Walk. And don’t forget the national anthem,” adds Johnny.
Remember: it’s all in the detail
It’s the little details that will make your party go with a real swing, according to Johnny.
“To make drinks special, place a raspberry in each compartment of an ice tray, freeze in water, add to a glass and pour on your drink of choice. Pop strawberries on Victoria sponge or cheesecake – and you can’t have a party without the Queen’s favourite chocolate cake.”
Don’t spend a fortune
Make a budget and stick to it. “You don’t want people to feel out of pocket. Spend, spend, spend is not the spirit of the Platinum Jubilee,” says Johnny. “You can prepare a perfect party for 10 for under £5 a head at Aldi. They’ve got bargain cake stands and cutlery, sausage rolls and Scotch eggs, spirits, fizz and desserts. But if you want to push the boat out, they sell magnums of wine too!”
- Royal party architect Johnny Roxburgh has teamed up with Aldi to help shoppers throw a jubilee party fit for royalty. Visit aldi.co.uk.
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