“Oh, Nina, what a lot of parties. Masked parties, Savage parties, Victorian parties, Greek parties, Wild West parties, Russian parties, Circus parties, parties where one had to dress as somebody else, almost naked parties in St John’s Wood, parties in flats and studios and houses and ships and hotels and night clubs, in windmills and swimming-baths, tea parties at school where one ate muffins and meringues and tinned crab, parties at Oxford where one drank brown sherry and smoked Turkish cigarettes, dull dances in London and comic dances in Scotland and disgusting dances in Paris … and now, a party in a concussion ward …”

Thus did writer Evelyn Waugh portray Britain’s Bright Young Things, the premier party animals of the 1930s, in a searing indictment on a generation of work-shy, absinthe-swilling, upper-class gadabouts. Eighty years on public outrage at the shameless pursuit of pleasure has not diminished – but a recent focus group (alright, my neighbour) suggests we’d all rather dance in a tequila fountain than go to work today.

With whom would you prefer to spend an evening: enterprising hedonists or disapproving wowsers? Thought so.

Then, as now, partygoers have all the fun. And just as there are professional partygoers, there are professional party planners. And you, dedicated sybarite, are going to need one.

Party. The word symbolises – indeed, defines – fun. So synonymous with fun is this five-letter word that ‘party’ is now not only something you attend but something you do: “Let’s party!”

Let’s party! Two words from which much champagne pours (with a nervous-breakdown chaser as preparations begin). Now, the immutable laws of physics decree that nothing spoils a good time more than hard work, which is why people-who-party hire party-people to launch their good ship Good Time. It makes perfect sense to pay the pros to hoist, haul and heave-ho: you’ll need plenty of wind in your sails to steer the evening to its final port of call.

Today’s party says as much about you as your guests will if things aren’t up to scratch. Do you care about your guests’ enjoyment, comfort and wellbeing? Will you be remembered for good taste and savoir faire or dips, chips and tinnies?

The Golden Rule: throw money at the problem.

Discount spumante and lumpfish roe might save tuppence ha’penny now but the rank whiff of Cheap Host will dog you into the next life. And you can’t put a price on dignity. The aim of your salon/knees-up/bacchanalia is to generate goodwill and enjoy a cracking good time. Thoughtful details will be noticed – flowers, quality tableware, linen napery, fine cuisine, and a thoughtful beverage selection that aids social intercourse but won’t reduce the ebullient to imbecilic.

Veterans from the party trenches agree it’s virtually impossible to host an elegant soiree on your own. Event managers recommend hiring professional wait staff if the number of guests exceeds 20, particularly if you plan to serve cocktails. There’s no point offering a full bar to a big crowd if the host is forced to spend all evening behind it.

Music is a vital – this cannot be overstated. While you may be tempted to use the hired stereo to showcase your idiosyncratic taste, a gracious host will leave the M?t?rhead CDs at home – along with anything else in the aural-trauma genre – in the interests of public safety (and potential litigation).

Social observers have speculated that Ben Ean and beer nuts were considered sufficient amusement thirty years ago because nobody thought to call the caterer.

Ten years later we simply wouldn’t entertain without expert input.

Today we simply wouldn’t risk the shame brought on by a DIY do.

By recognising your strengths (amusing conversation) and limitations (soufflé), you’ll find it easy to relinquish control to a caterer. An event expert will encourage creative input, and consult on logistics, venues, themes, décor, menus, refreshments, service, staff and entertainment.

A specialist helps you streamline, enhance and visualise your ideas and works collaboratively to bring the party to life – so you can be life of the party.

Let your imagination lead you to unexpected places: turn the office loose at an amusement park; say “I do” on a Docklands cruise aboard a restored Sydney ferry; launch your product in a labyrinthine 19th-century cellar; blow out your birthday candles at a country race meet; launch next season’s collection amid a collection of classic cars; toast your good fortune beneath the soaring dome of a heritage-listed city landmark; or host a party at home – then rock up on a Harley.

A good event consultant can supply everything you never thought of for grand or intimate gatherings, including security, kid’ activities, audio-visual and staging technology, live music, DJ, and equipment hire.

Now you know the why of event catering. Now decide the when.

Peter Hayton spends the year staging major catering events – his client résumé includes the Rolling Stones, Cirque de Soleil and England’s Barmy Army. With an amazing selection of Melbourne venues, Peter and his team at Advanced Catering Concepts are able to create any size event you desire. Peter is based in Cheltenham, Melbourne, Australia, and can be contacted on: 0436 390 788

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