It was a pleasure to recently organise a three day party for a couple from New York who wished to celebrate his special birthday with their friends, most of whom flew in from America and Russia to join them for a gathering in Suffolk at the exquisite Wilderness Reserve.
A group of nearly 30 guests had the good fortune of staying in three properties, very close to each other (The Walled Garden, Garden Cottage and the Cartshed), with each bedroom luxuriously furnished, warm, and with a high-spec bathroom.
Upon arrival guests were taken to their unique named bed rooms which we had labelled with heart-shaped slates, as well as welcome bags containing the weekend schedule, a quiz about the birthday boy, Suffolk rusks, an Essential Suffolk magazine, discounts at Southwold boutiques such as Collen & Clare, and the all important paracetamol and water for late party nights!
The guest’s experience began with a traditional English Afternoon Tea – including all the favourites of dainty cucumber sandwiches, tiny scones with homemade jam and clotted cream and of course some wicked cakes!
The following day the males strode out further onto the Estate to play at being British Gents – with their flat caps, wax jackets, tweed trousers and discretely sporting thermals from head to toe – they set up a base camp in the parkland with a Bell tent for shelter and warmth, and subsequently enjoyed Clay Pigeon shooting followed by archery. Tuition, practise and a short competition created some friendly rivalry!
Meanwhile the ladies enjoyed a hands-on cookery lesson in the light, spacious kitchen at the Walled Garden making sweet and savoury breads and jam. Following a light lunch, beauticians arrived at the property to offer massages and manicures to all the ladies.
A gap in the schedule allowed the guests to relax in the Wilderness hot tub and sauna – they could be seen in their fluffy white gowns, refreshments in hand, exploring the depths of the garden, despite the temperatures being near to freezing outside!
MURDER MYSTERY IN THE WALLED GARDEN!
Later that day the house party enjoyed trying to solve a cryptic Murder Mystery scenario over dinner at the beautiful ‘planked’ table, with six actors causing much hilarity! A few mojito’s after dinner and even the shyest of guests were performing karaoke with a generous ‘compère’ who stayed well beyond time!
Saturday morning dawned and despite the action packed previous day and evening, all were on the transport to Southwold at the appointed hour. Southwold, on the East Coast of Suffolk, about 20 minutes from the Estate is the perfect antidote to most people’s hectic, busy working lives; we guided guests for a bracing walk along the seafront past the colourful infamous beach huts and lighthouse, which blew the cobwebs away, then back into town for a traditional English lunch of bangers & mash or fish & chips, at Sutherland House. Most guests enjoyed a tour of Adnams Distillery with a few gin tasters to encourage purchases!
COCKTAILS & RETRO DISCO
A final ‘gala’ birthday evening with the Walled Garden turned upside down; guests eating at round tables in the transformed ping pong room, and dancing in the kitchen area which had been enhanced with additional lighting, smoking cocktails and a ‘50’ branded photo booth – accompanied by a delicious caramel cake and entrancing cheese stack – ensured guests were reluctant to depart for bed until the early hours!
The sadness of the weekend drawing to a close was softened by a delicious brunch including French Toast, Eggs Benedict and gallons of coffee, accompanied by a final birthday cake for a departing guest also celebrating a milestone birthday – who even took some back to the US on the plane!
Suffolk became known as the ‘County Of Cakes’, as guests realised they had enjoyed a total of six different cakes over the course of the long weekend!
JENNY’S TIPS FOR ORGANISING A SUCCESSFUL HOUSE PARTY GATHERING
Ensure that everyone, both guests and contractors, have a map detailing the appropriate entrances to the event. In this instance we created a map for all visitors. Also ensure that there is adequate outside lighting at entrances and in parking areas.
As not everyone will know each other, an icebreaker always works well upon arrival. We often organise Scavenger Hunts at the Wilderness Reserve, which are always well received by all ages. Guests work in small teams to answer questions and complete tasks both inside the properties and around the Estate – often using the complimentary Pashley bicycles.
Alternatively, at another rural Estate, we have divided guests into teams and provided everyone with Wellington boots (having previously ascertained their sizes), which they have ‘pimped’ with tissue paper, balloons, fabric and pompoms. They then wore these for a Scavenger Hunt around the Estate!
3. SEATING PLANS
Ensure that there are seating plans for all meals and write each guest’s name on both sides of the placement so that those opposite can be reminded of their fellow diners’ names.
4. CLEARING UP
Ensure that you have enough assistance booked to help with the ongoing process of tidying up and preparing for the next activity or meal. The Walled Garden has four dishwashers, but they still need loading and unloading!
Alternatively, enlist the help of Inspired Event Management and we will take care of everything, ensuring that you feel like a guest at your own party!
Contact: JENNY LOYD on 0775 26 23483