Cheese and wine
Hosting a foodie birthday party doesn’t have to mean hours in the kitchen. Throw a chic cheese and wine night by choosing some top quality cheese for impressive cheeseboards, and your favourite bottles of red or white for drinking. Check out our guide to the 22 best British cheeses to buy for some interesting picks, from creamy cheddar to lesser-known styles. For an easy crowd-pleasing centrepiece, make this baked camembert studded with pecans and rosemary. For the wine, our wine expert Kate Hawkings has plenty of recommendations, from the best English wines to Italian red wines.
Mexican food is perfect for a party – vibrant, colourful and great for sharing. Classic nachos are always a winner and easy to make for a hungry crowd. For a taco night, these birria tacos are a project but the results are worth it for a memorable party feast. Alternatively, take a DIY approach: serve bowls of marinated fried chicken, guac, salsa, coriander and crumbled cheese for guests to build their own tacos. These sweetcorn tacos are a quick and easy vegetarian option. Have fun with sides, too: serve bowls of refried beans, elotes, spicy Mexican rice or Tajín roasted cauliflower bites.
Sharing boards are an effortless way to host a party crowd and yet still always look impressive. In summer, this simple deli board or chic Scandi-inspired smörgåsbord require minimal cooking. This cosy baked feta board is a clever way to upgrade serving cheese and wine. You also don’t have to follow a recipe for a sharing board – simply choose a selection of your favourite snacks and arrange generously on large platters or boards. Think about different colours, shapes and textures to make your board stand out.
There’s plenty of ways to throw a big Italian dinner party. One popular option is a pizza night. Make a double or triple batch of our homemade pizza dough and stock up on toppings from pepperoni to pineapple for everyone to customise their own favourite pizza order. You can even end the night with a giant chocolate chip cookie pizza!
Host a decadent birthday brunch for a weekend celebration. Kick it off with Aperol mimosas, our twist on a classic – check out our full brunch cocktails guide including bellinis and bloody marys for more inspiration. For food, make a batch of easy waffles and put toppings in bowls for everyone to help themselves. Think berries, chocolate sauce, jam and crushed biscuits. For a savoury option, try a big sharing shakshuka (can be a vegan shakshuka, if needed) that guests can all dig into and serve with plenty of crusty bread.
If you’re a fan of sushi, have fun building your own impressive sushi platters as a group. Follow our step-by-step California rolls sushi guide which is easy for everyone to follow and ideal for beginners. For something even simpler, these sushi sandwiches don’t even have to be rolled. Experiment with different fillings inside – this vegan quinoa sushi is good for any dietary requirements, whilst these temaki hand rolls are another fun shape to create and are filled with veg.
If you love baking, why not host an afternoon tea at home. Start classic with simple finger sandwiches, or try something different with spicy crab club sandwiches. Coronation chicken lettuce cups are a lighter twist on this afternoon tea classic. Scones are a must: try our classic scones recipe, then serve with homemade lemon curd or strawberry and Pimm’s boozy jam if you want to push the boat out. Finish off with a selection of your favourite cakes served on a tiered cake stand for an extra flourish – we’ve chosen our best cake stands to buy here. Try dainty Viennese whirls, mini loaves of banana bread or slices of traditional Victoria sponge.
Get creative with the drinks and become at-home mixologists at the next birthday party. Have a few pre-mixed cocktails ready to go when guests arrive: try this bottled contessa cocktail recipe or start with an elderflower and raspberry mocktail. We’ve also tried and tested the best bottled cocktails to buy for an even simpler start. Once guests arrive, have fun shaking cocktails together. Stock up on a few bottles of key spirits to give you variety (gin, vodka and rum or tequila are a good start), plus a selection of juices and mixers and plenty of ice, then experiment! Make classic cocktails or shake up your own inventions. Our round-up of the best cocktail accessories to buy will ensure you have the right kit, but clean jam jars (with secure lids) can also double up as cocktail shakers.
While a birthday cake will be the star of the show, those with a sweet tooth can have fun and get creative decorating bakes together. Bake a large batch of cupcakes in your favourite flavour (go classic vanilla, rich chocolate, indulgent Biscoff or fruity strawberry cupcakes) then lay out with bowls of icing. Our basic buttercream icing will go with any cake flavour, or try chocolate icing for some variety. Add sprinkles, berries, sweets and crushed nuts and get decorating. If your birthday is around the festive season, you could bake and decorate a batch of gingerbread biscuits instead. Check out our picks of the best cookie cutters to buy for a range of fun shapes.
For summer birthday celebrations, a birthday barbecue is a no-brainer. Barbecue classics such as hot dogs and burgers are easy to cook for a crowd, but there’s still room to get creative, too. If you love seafood, try our sharing BBQ salmon or BBQ squid recipes. Put new spins on barbecue classics to impress foodie guests, such as butter chicken wings or a centrepiece of sticky peanut pork ribs. Check our our best outdoor entertaining ideas for more summer party inspiration.
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