Professional party preparations

Want to organise an amazing party but don’t know where to start? Try buying some booze and turning up the music. Actually, way better advice would be to have a chat with Kate Ayres-Rouse. Kate knows everything about party preparations; since 2013, she’s the sole owner and manager of Fine Dining in Style, the Algarve’s leading private catering company. Here she reveals her four top tips.

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine August 2016

Pictures by Birch Photography, Charlotte Cockayne Photography & Blush Photography


Kate and her team have organised weddings and other events for up to 160 people. Many of these happenings take place in private villas, but sometimes special venues are hired such as the Quinta dos Vales vineyard in Estômbar or the museum in São Brás. After working in the luxury catering industry for years, organising events like a birthday party in the middle of an orange grove, nothing really fazes Kate and her team anymore. “Once we organised a party cruise and beach picnic for a group of teenagers with a Club Tropicana theme. It included piñatas and inflatable parrots: which I flew to the UK to collect when the suppliers hit a delivery problem!”

In the summer Kate regularly works 16 hour days to pull off a memorable event: “It involves long hours, tremendous physical and mental reserves, plus meticulous planning to make sure that everything really is ‘alright on the night’ – but to see the joy on people’s faces, and be on the receiving end of their delight for organising a truly memorable event, makes it worthwhile.”

Kate’s four top tips for professional party preparations:

1. Plan well in advance

“Planning is key. Give yourself (and us) enough time to deliver what you want, whether that’s a dinner for 10 or a party for 100 persons. If you want a set date for an event, book it well in advance: event organisers and other professionals (like photographers and musicians) are in high demand. Also understand that business in the Algarve is very seasonal. If you’re going to be on holiday in the middle of summer, so are a lot of other people.”


2. Realise you get what you pay for

“Like most things in life, when organising a party, you get what you pay for. We offer a high quality but still value-for-money service, but we occasionally have to politely turn down business from prospective clients. Some don’t realise the cost implications of bringing in a private caterer to a venue, and the extra overheads that entails compared to going to a restaurant or hotel where everything is already in situ. Be realistic. Set your budget, price up what you really want, and see if you can afford it. No budget equals massive headaches for everyone. Despite what people say, there’s ALWAYS a budget! It doesn’t matter how high or low, you have to start somewhere.”


3. Don’t sweat the small stuff

“However much preparation goes into an event, be aware that circumstances can alter, from changes in the weather to guests arriving late. Be flexible and have a sense of humour as well as a back-up plan. We always do. Don’t sweat the small stuff: your best-laid plans of where everyone will have the arrival drink, for example, can change the moment a large group of people decide they want to move to another part of your garden. It’s like trying to stop the tide; you just have to let them go. So once you get to the start of the party, know you have done everything you can and let the party find its own rhythm.”


4. Never ever underestimate how much people drink!

“We work on a 5 glass per person minimum on a 4-hour open bar, plus a large bag of ice per person to keep drinks cool both before and during service. Clients are often surprised when they see our recommendation for drinks, but we seldom bring much back. Especially if it is a party with a pre-arrival cocktail, dinner/BBQ and an after-party; 8 hours of enjoying yourself equals lots of food and lots of booze. My recurring nightmare is to run out of drink or food, so always make sure you have more than enough. And leftovers are at least good for the next day, when you probably won’t want to do anything else but relax.”


See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine August 2016

Posted in Features.