‘Come Dine with Les’ – A surprise 60th dinner party for my Mum

You must all know by now that I like to host a party… especially a dinner party! So when my sister suggested to me that we should hold a surprise 60th birthday party for our Mum in my parent’s half-built barn conversion, I was in!!

Don’t worry, the barn had walls (albeit breeze blocks), a floor and a roof, so it was pretty much a blank canvas for us to play with. The best thing about this pop-up party venue was that it had beautiful exposed oak roof beams – great for hanging fairy lights from… and a disco ball!

We originally thought about hosting a full-blown party for our Mum with a DJ, buffet and inviting all her family and friends. In the end, we decided to keep it a bit more of an intimate affair and have our very own dinner party with a private chef. Mind you, we did still have 18 guests for dinner plus the children for the after party!!

As the barn was literally just a barn, we had a lot of party supply sourcing to do. We wanted to give our Mum a very pretty party so chose a pink and gold theme with a bit of sparkle thrown in for good measure.

I dug out my Christmas lights from the loft to use for the beam lighting. My bulb lights are from Cox & Cox and my warm LED fairy lights are from Wyevale Garden Centre. Dad got his disco ball light out – as any Dad would, of course! This is the party ball light we have which is fantastic for getting a real party atmosphere.

My gold sequin table cloths were bought from eBay several years ago and were previously used for Matt’s 40th Masquerade party and my 30th Gatsby party (can you tell we like a party yet…!). They provide a great backdrop for any party table. Here is the link to the ones I have.

We opted for a banquet style dining table and sourced the trestle tables, chairs, table linen, crockery and cutlery from South West Event Hire. They were fantastic and could not fault the service or the hire. The glassware was from Waitrose – my go-to place for glass hire as I combine it with my party food order.

All the table decor was on loan from my friends at Layered Lounge. They have such gorgeous items which enabled me to create a beautiful, eclectic look. My favourite items were the glass candlesticks, the frosted amber candle holders (as they gave such a warm glow to the table), and the mini pink bud vases. The colour combinations worked so well, together with the fresh flowers I picked up from the supermarket. To add that final touch to the place settings, I sourced some personalised chocolates from eBay, linked here.

Here are the table decor items I used:

I am a huge fan of candles. Not only do they provide light, ambiance and a sense of occasion, they can give such a wonderful aroma to a room (and in my case, a barn!). I used a mixture of real candles and battery operated ones to ensure we were safe when the party got going. Tea lights and pink and white dinner candles were used along the table with scented candles from White & Gray placed on the window sills. Battery operated pillar candles were used on the floors in lanterns and amongst real ivy cuttings along the window sills. I would highly recommend these battery operated pillar candles from Layered Lounge as they look so real and have a great timer feature.

I have never created a balloon cloud before but would definitely do one again as they are so easy, yet so effective. It brought the colour scheme together nicely and did a great job at creating a party wall feature. The balloons and tape were kindly gifted to me by Bearcub & Co Designs as part of this set.

The cake was made by one of my sister’s friends @Louise_bakes. She did a fantastic job – the cake looked and tasted amazing! To add the finishing touch, I had a gold 60th birthday cake topper made by Bearcub & Co Designs.

As with all family parties, and this one was no exception, everyone got stuck in with the party preparations. All members of the family chipped in to help make the venue ‘just right’ for our Mum. We had Dad helping to put up the fairy lights, Matt and the boys weeding the driveway, my brother setting up the garden lanterns and my sister painting the garden fence! It was a full blown family effort, and I loved it!

With the venue all under control, efforts turned to the food. My close friend Chris, @SamphireandSapphires, is currently training at the Chef Academy of London and has worked in fine dining London restaurants and alongside Michelin starred chefs.

She graduates in July and has hopes to branch out with her own private dining chef business. So, when I mentioned to her my plans to host a dinner party for my Mum’s 60th she literally jumped at the opportunity to cater for it!

Together we worked out a menu that would a) be one that my Mum would like and b) be achievable for her to do on her own, for 18 people.


This was our menu;



Mackerel Paté with Beetroot and Cucumber Pickle served with Sesame Crackers


Coquilles St Jacques
Goats Cheese with Edible Flowers served with Pickled Beetroot(v)


Wild Mushroom and Garlic Risotto with Superfood Salad Leaves (v)


Raspberry Liqueur Crème Brûlée


Somerset Brie
Black Bomber
Red Storm
Old Amsterdam
Montgnalo Affine
Grapes & Crackers


I can honestly say, Chris was fantastic! She meticulously planned each and every element of the menu and took everything in her stride. The food tasted wonderful and was beautifully presented. If you are thinking about holding your own private dining event, I can highly recommend Chris! Perhaps we come as a blonde duo – Chris cooks and I set up the event…!! Haha!

To assist Chris, my brother and foster brother helped with the dinner service. Surprisingly they really loved helping out as it made them feel like they were fully involved with the event – more so than if they just sat at the table with my Mum and her friends.

My good friend Georgie (@lifeinthecottage, who I have known for over 25 years) photographed the party. She is amazing! And I think you will agree, she did a brilliant job of capturing the evening’s celebrations…

There’s something very special about creating your very own party – especially when it’s for your Mum!

Thanks for reading x


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