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Fun with the girls

Linda loves getting her home ready for a night with her girlfriends|

One of my most favourite things is getting together for a great girlie night out. ‘ at home! I’m sorry, boys, but that’s just the way it is!
That’s not to say I can’t be tempted to dinner at a restaurant with the husband, supper with friends, and, of course, the Barker family get-togethers are legendary, but I never lose sight of the fact that I adore my girl friends to bits and time with them is something I always look forward to.

Get the party started

Preparations are key to a successful night, it always takes a bit of effort to get things just right, but well worth it if you’re aiming for
a night out to remember ‘ though I must admit there have been some very memorable nights out with the girls where none of us can recall very much|

Table dressing

If the girls are coming over for dinner then make sure your table is all set prettily beforehand, so you don’t end up with a load of last minute mismatched plates and dishes.

Fresh flowers are a must for any dinner parties and even a small seasonal arrangement makes such a difference to the room. At this time of year you can still use flowers picked from your garden or a window box ‘ it certainly needn’t be too elaborate, but it will always enhance the mood of your entire evening.

Believe it or not, it’s sometimes a bit of a struggle for me to get all my plates and glassware co-ordinated (and I’m the one running a mail order business that specialises in getting the details just right!), but you know what they say about cobblers’ children going barefoot and all that|If you are having a glass of champagne beforehand, make sure you serve it in something appropriate, like these fabulous hammered finish flutes, (pictured above), which I think are particularly lovely. My cunning trick is to put the silver flutes into the freezer half an hour before the girls are due to arrive, so that they frost up beautifully when the champagne is poured.

The good news is that black accessories are still very popular, they first stumbled into our stores a few years ago (notably with the very clever John Rocha and his glassware collection for Waterford Crystal) and I’m happy to say they still look stunning. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d want to trade my plain glassware and white bone china for anything else, but I’m happy to be wrong with products
that obviously get things so right.

When the evening light disappears it’s time to light the candles. I have both ‘low rise’ small black flower candles and ‘high rise’ dinner candles in an attractive candelabra, all available from Really Linda Barker If you can’t trust yourself to blow out the flower candles when you move from the table, then stand them on some small saucers beforehand.

Whether it’s wall-to-wall Stone Roses, Keane, Kate Bush, or an evening of eclectic and unpredictable shuffling, make sure your iPod is synched, sorted, and ready to go

Don’t forget the music!
Thankfully those days of lining up endless CDs are long gone with the arrival of the ubiquitous MP3 player, and like most of you, I am having a love affair with mine. Whether it’s wall-to-wall Stone Roses, Keane, Kate Bush, or an evening of eclectic and unpredictable shuffling, make sure your iPod is synched, sorted, docked up and ready to go.

Food, glorious food
OK, now if you are cooking then make sure all your food is ready to eat at short notice. I would usually make a big quiche with a few salads and buy my pudding ‘ leaving me more time to make a few canapé style snacks.

Bruschetta is my long standing favourite. When time was particularly tight I once even resorted to decanting an Indian meal from my very good local takeaway into china dishes, but everyone understands the pressures of diaries now, and certainly none of my friends ever mind too much. The key to relaxed food is not to get stressed out about it, if you’ve got a good deli nearby then don’t be afraid to use it. A great big platter of sushi was all I had time for on one occasion, and it went down a treat. Actually I like to serve light, healthy foods anyway, and in my experience most girls prefer small nibbles and what I call ‘pick at’ food, as long as there’s a deeply unhealthy pudding to finish!

The only thing left is to get ready, but don’t leave yourself with only five minutes! Getting ready for a night out is a lovely part of being a girl so enjoy it!

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