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How To Plan Your Own Great Get Together

In celebration of the late Jo Cox join this year's Great Get Together

This month sees the return of The Big Lunch, an annual event created by The Eden Project with the belief that we’re better equipped to tackle the challenges we face when we face them together, and in the true spirit of this community event, organisers have teamed up with the brand new Great Get Together, in honour of Jo Cox, to bring together people from across Britain; in celebration of community, commonality and connections.

Here TOAST takes a look at this inspirational event, and share our guide to throwing your own Great Get Together with your own family, friends and neighbours this year.



There’s no doubt that June is an action-packed month. Fom Royal racing at Ascot to dancing in the mud at Glastonbury, getting wet at the Festival of the Sea on the Isle of Wight to head banging and rocking out at Download; there really is something for everyone, but did you know that this month also plays host to the biggest community event that the country has seen since the Queen’s celebration-filled Diamond Jubilee?

Taking place across the UK, the launch of The Great Get-Together will be hosted by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and super star chef Jamie Oliver, alongside the Jo Cox Foundation and dozens of other community groups, NGOs and faith groups. Tens of thousands of community get-togethers are being planned for the weekend of June 17-18, following the first anniversary of Jo Cox’s tragic death last year.

People from across the UK are invited to come together with friends, neighbours and others for street parties, picnics, barbeques, bake-off competitions and all sorts of other festivities. The weekend will be an opportunity to celebrate all that Britain’s diverse communities hold in common, and it is expected to be the biggest event of its kind since the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. 

“There's nothing better than a good get-together with friends, family and amazing food. The Great Get-Together takes it to a whole new level! Food connects us to the best things in life it breaks down barriers, and gets people talking and sharing happy times like nothing else. This is an awesome initiative, and I’m really proud to add my support.” enthused Jamie Oliver.

Thebiglunch

The Big Lunch

At the centre of The Great Get Together is the UK’s annual meet up for neighbours - The Big Lunch. Taking place on Sunday 18th June this fun and tasty event is an idea from the Eden Project made possible by the Big Lottery Fund. Over the past eight years Big Lunches of all sizes have brought people together in all kinds of communities, in all sorts of venues – from al fresco parties in streets and back gardens to parks and local community venues. Thousands of events have taken place each year, with a whopping 7.3 million people taking part in 2016 in over 90,000 events.

In a time seems where it seems more important than ever to come together, pause and enjoy life, The Big Lunch has teamed up with The Great Get Together to support and encourage people all over the UK to take positive actions that strengthen local connections and build stronger communities – whether it’s cooking, decorating or planning a few games through events,  the Great Get Together is a brilliant way of getting to know neighbours that you might have never met, or would like to know better. It’s also a great opportunity to flex your entertaining muscles and get creative! Plus who doesn’t enjoy a jolly and delicious meal anyway?

So if you fancy taking part and fancy organising your very own Great Get Together, here's TOAST’s guide to doing just that;

TOAST'S GUIDE TO CREATING YOUR OWN GREAT GET TOGETHER    

Fix A Date

The most important thing about having a Great Get Together or Big Lunch is bringing people together, so if the date (Sunday 18th June) doesn’t suit you or your neighbours then hosting your lunch on another date is absolutely fine. In fact it is positively encouraged! It doesn’t matter when it takes place, just so long as it does! Sometimes trying to find a date that multiple people can do can be tricky - try using a tool like Doodle which makes it easier to check everyone’s availability. 

Pick A Spot 

Whether you want to organise a street party for all your neighbours or a smaller gathering for just a few – you can host your Great Get Together or Big Lunch wherever you like. Many of the first Big Lunch events were little more than two or three homes getting together in a back garden, and many still are, but don't be afraid to do something bigger, and choose a location in your community, from fire stations to beaches, church halls to residential streets — even mountain tops! Be as creative as you like. 

Invite Your Guest  

You can invite a few of your neighbours, members of the local sports club, WI or darts team - it’s up to you! If you’re planning to do it in the street or local park where there’s lots of space then why not invite a few streets, or even the entire postcode? The more the merrier as they say.

Depending on how many people you invite you might want to put up some posters or pop leaflets through your neighbours doors, and in this digital age you can set up an event page on Facebook or EventBrite so you can get an idea of numbers and monitor RSVPs. The Eden Project Communities website also has a selection of Big Lunch posters and leaflets that you can download and print off for free, and the Great Get Together also has lots of handy tips too.  

The Big Lunch

Plan Your Menu 

Keep it simple so there’s not too much stress involved - ask guests to bring a bottle of whatever they would like to drink plus one dish to share – this takes the pressure off and also means that you don’t have to spend your entire day in the kitchen preparing food, as there should be plenty to go around.  

When it comes to cooking, larger crowd-pleasing recipes that can be mostly made in advance are always a good idea; you could try Aphrodite’s Turlu Turlu with chickpea rice on TheEdit, or Chicory Kitchen’s incredible Persian slowed cooked lamb with pomegranate molasses. For something lighter you could opt for Anson and Curtis’ delicious Classic Tuna Niçoise Salad, and for the all-important veggie option why not try Cashew Catering’s potato, ginger and apple beignet with salsa romesco. All of these recipes and more can be found over on TheEdit now.

Persian Rice With Saffron Chicory Kitchen

(Images: Chicory Kitchen)

And to finish things off - nothing brings people together quite like cake and it always adds a sense of occasion. You could impress your guests by making and decorating a real show stopper yourself using one of Craft & Crumb’s nifty cake kits - their blue bunting kit would be ideal.  

Or for a real treat then why not ask each guest to bring a cakey creation of their own (small or large, shop bought or not) and lay them all out on one big tempting table, ready to be devoured at the end of the meal!
Craft Crumb Bunting Cake W

Decorate

Make your event welcoming and stylish by putting up some beautiful bunting. TOAST’s Little Black Book is filled with brilliant bunting hire companies that will deliver the very best bunting to your door and all you need to do is send it back when you’re done! For something a little more substantial, we love Lark decor's large triangular flag bunting. Or for a colourfull twist (and always a big hit with the kids) then check on Bubblegum Balloons' brilliant balloon garlands – they are seriously impressive, super colourful but also really easy to erect. 

Balloon Garlands

When laying your table consider either buying or hiring a lovely table cloths from Gilded Linens, or The Sweet Party Shop has a gorgeous supply of sequin linens to purchase, which will always make an impact, and of course fresh, summery flowers will look gorgeous too;  

"From June to July, some of our favourite wildflowers are in bloom. We've been using lots of astrantia and antirrhinums, better known as snapdragons. They've got this lovely ombre effect with bright colours at the base working up to a creamy ivory tone at the tip. They last incredibly well and give any arrangement a more informal look” enthuses Sara Gordon of stylish online florist Bloom & Wild.

Wildflowers are perfect for a relaxed party,” adds Nicola Roberton of Foxgloves & Roses. “If you want to really wow your guests, make a hedgerow runner for the centre of your table, using a series of plastic trays and florist foam bricks as the hidden base. Then cover with garden and hedgerow greenery, grasses and herbs. Don’t try to be neat you want different heights and textures, so that it looks as natural as possible.  

"Finally, add flowers roses from the garden, cosmos, clematis, astrantia and scabious look beautiful in this type of arrangement. You can add simple jars of mint or rosemary herbs and perhaps lay sprigs of rosemary or lavender on the napkins.” 

Vase selection is the biggest thing for me” advises Florence Kennedy of top London Petalon“A good rule of thumb is to make sure the stems you use are a length that's double the height of the container you're using, that way they don't feel too cramped. Obviously it's a guide rather than a hard rule!”

Florence Kenndey Patalon Flowers

(Image: Florence Kenndey Petalon Flowers)

Bloom And Wild Foxgloves And Roses

(Images: Bloom & Wild and Right Foxgloves and Roses)

To make life easier use disposable cutlery, napkins and paper plates – but that doesn’t mean that it has to be boring or naff! These colouful vintage style paper plates from Talking Tables offer a stylish and convenient alternative to washing up, as do their brilliant matching teacup and saucer sets!

Truly Scrumptious Vintage Tableware

(Images: Talking Tables: Teacup & Saucer Set, £6.99 per pack of 12 paper cups and saucers, Plates, £3.99 per pack of 12 paper plates in 6 assorted designs from Talking Tables).

For a more modern, exotic touch then check out their Cuban fiesta range, featuring trendy squared-shaped bunting and brightly coloured pom poms garlands, totally tropical paper plates and some seriously cool wooden cutlery that has been dip died in vibrant colours.

Cuban Fiesta Square Plates

(Images: Talking Tables: Cutlery, £5.49 for a pack of 6 forks, 6 spoons and 6 knives, Plates, £3.99 per pack of 12 paper plates). 


Finishing Touches 

For an added bit of fun and to keep guests entertained then why not organise a few games? Party games can also act as a brilliant icebreaker if there are people who don’t know each other. Vintage hire company Sid & Olive have a range of traditional outdoor games including all the old favourites such as a sack race, bean bag toss, rustic ring toss, the tin can game and more, and there are also more modern games like giant wooden Jenga, giant Connect 4 and even a limbo set to really get the party started! Have some paper and colourful crayons on hand for younger guests and some upbeat music playing in the background to create a fun and welcoming atmosphere at your Big Lunch.

Sid Olive Props

Sid And Olive(Images: Sid & Olive Garden Games)


For more information on The Great Get Together and The Big Lunch take a look at their websites The Great Get Together: https://www.greatgettogether.org and The Eden Project: https://www.edenprojectcommunities.com/thebiglunchhomepage 

Don’t forget to tag @ToastLifeUK in all your celebrations – we would love to see your photos!

The Great Get Together Logos

 

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