We saw the Queen turn ninety last month. It’s quite some achievement. She’s a quarter of a century past retirement and still putting people less than a third of her age to shame with her work ethic. The country loves her, which is why we’re always up for a good shindig when she’s accomplished another milestone.
Whilst her actual Birthday was on 21st April, the official celebration events is mid-may – between 12th & 15th. It’s all followed by the Queen’s official Birthday – Trooping the Colour – on June 11th. So here’s how you could celebrate… with a Street Party.
What’s really great is that local authorities all over the UK – who generally have a reputation for putting all sorts of admin in the way of a good party – seem to be loosening their public sector grip for Ma’am. Wandsworth Borough Council is a great example. They are actively encouraging residents to get together with neighbours and family to celebrate – in the Best of British and most traditional of ways – with a street party. That encouragement comes with some huge incentives too. Firstly, they’re waiving the usual £88 fee to apply for organising an event and close a road, which, as they point out, means more to spend on bunting, flags and food. They also stress that some roads – like our own Garratt Lane – are major routes and can’t be closed.
So, with that, here’s our guide to holding a street party in Wandsworth – and all the things you’ll need to think about.
Make it Official
Wandsworth Council have a dedicated web page with contact details and a link to apply for holding a street party. You’ll need Council blessing to be able to hold your shindig and their window for waiving the fee is between official events on 12th May and 11th June.
Talk to the neighbours you know and find out how much support they can offer. For the neighbours you don’t know make up some invites with reply slips so they can tell you how they can contribute.
Tables & Chairs
You’ll need some tables. Somewhere to lay out all that lovely grub. Ask around – most residents should be able to bring something suitable – be it a fold up camping table or trestle. If you have a local village hall, you might see if you can borrow a few matching trestles to put out end to end. Of course, if you’ve got some suitable furniture in your storage unit you might pop down and use that.
We’d suggest a bulk order for paper Union Jack table cloths, napkins and paper cups. Then you’ll need the obligatory bunting to tie between lampposts and telegraph poles. You can choose between simple red white and blue pennants or Union Jack prints.
One bit of good news is that the Food Standards Agency have said that as street parties are one off events, they can’t be considered food businesses, soon won’t require a license.
Encourage every one attending to contribute something. Traditional Favourites include salad bowls, Coronation Chicken, Scotch Eggs, Trifle, Fruitcake and of course, lashings of Scones, Strawberry Jam and Clotted Cream. Drinks-wise you’ll need a few catering sized teapots to keep the troops adequately supplied in Chai. For the kids we suggest steering away from the surgery fizzy drinks in favour of that old British favourite – orange squash.
Games & Prizes
The food is only half the equation. Street parties should bring residents together, which is where the games come in. There are a huge range of options, but classic like Face Painting, Egg & Spoon and Tug of War for the dads (maybe teams from opposite sides of the street) will all go down well. You might also go for a regal Fancy Dress theme – Kings, Queens, Princes, Princesses would seem appropriate.
If you are thinking of running a raffle or lottery, you won’t need a license for that either. There’s a lovely clause in the regulations whereby anything declared an “incidental non-commercial lottery” – as long as prizes are distributed on the day.
There is of course one thing you don’t have any control over – the weather, it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve got a few Gazebo tents on hand to weight down in the street and keep any showers off the guests and food.
Whichever Wandsworth street you are organising your Party in, we hope it goes well and you all have a wonderful time.