The A to Z of Entertaining

Advance Planning
Get the ball rolling by sending invites out early. Valerie Lange, events manager at Speakeasy says, “Between three to four weeks before the party is a safe time to send out the invites. And it’s always good to send a reminder a week as well as a day before.” A good place to get some custom-made ones is Kartoe. They offer bespoke services like hand calligraphy and wax seal stamping (100 invites from $1,500).

Lance says, “It’s important to weigh what is crucial to spend on and what can be compromised. Get quotes from more than one vendor and do not just settle for the first. In order to get reasonable prices, it’s also best to start planning in advance as there are always extra charges for last minute services.”

Food’s at the center of most good parties, so you better get it right. Big spenders can try Dolcetto by Basilico’s Take Home A Butler package ($2,988 for 10 people)—you get luxe dishes like Sevruga caviar and roasted wagyu beef with truffle sauce, three bottles of vino, and a Four Seasons butler to set up and serve the meal for up to four hours. For something more affordable, the folks at Preparazzi provide set menus—like salmon wellington for four to six people ($120)—delivered straight to you. Also, private chef Eric Low from Lush Epicurean can whip up anything from Mediterranean to Asian chow for six to 20 (from $80 per person). If you’re cooking the meal yourself, make sure you have plenty of extra food. Chef Low says, “For a sit-down meal, always have two extra plates on hand; for cocktail parties, 20-30 percent more canapés than you think you’ll need. You never know when unexpected guests turn up or mishaps happen.” C is also for Champagne—here’s where you can get great sparkling wines for under $50.

Delivery Services
To wash down all that grub, you need an ample supply of booze. Instead of hauling heavy bottles home, get them sent right to your doorstep. Drinks Fellas offers unusual liquors like Butterfly Boston 1902 absinthe ($116.63) with free delivery (minimum order $200). Also, E Wine Asia sells everything from sparkling to fortified wines with free delivery (for orders $200 and above), standard delivery in two working days ($15 delivery charge) and express next-day delivery ($30). Sometimes you just need a nice cold brew, so pick from 300 craft suds at Thirsty—The Beer Shop. They’re having a 10 percent discount for 24 mix-and-match bottles (minimum value of $200) with free delivery through December 31. Owner Roland Utama says, “To cater to different palates, we recommend hosts have beers covering four taste profiles: light and refreshing like the Redor Pils ($7.90), floral and aromatic like BrewDog Punk IPA ($8.90), rich and flavorful like Orval ($9.90), and a sweet and fruity cider such as Brothers Toffee Apple ($9.90).”

Expert Advice
If you have no idea what to do, it’s not the end of the world—call in the professionals. The folks at Fine Palate will plan everything for you, be it a cocktail party (from $85 per head) or a sit-down soiree ($210 per head). You can also try RED Events, which offers private parties from $120 a head.

So you find balloons and streamers tacky and boring. To spruce up your space, get professional flower arrangements at Boenga instead. Though pricey (an arrangement for a table of six costs $2,500), their designs are popular with the high society crowd. If blooms are not your thing, fret not. Lange says, “A nice table centerpiece can also make a big impact: a big vase filled with fruit or candy, a nice designer cake, birds in cages, fishes in bowls or even fancy hats.”

Going Green
When you’re hosting indoors or out, using green tableware will make you feel better about throwing it all away after the party’s done. Pick up biodegradable plates and cutlery from Olive Green (plates from $60 for 500) or L’earth (from $1.20 for 50 forks).

Home or Away
One of the biggest headaches when hosting a party is deciding whether to have it at home or rent a space elsewhere. Corazon Events Management’s managing director Adrian Teng (see Teng’s top party tips) says, “You do save a bit of money when you have a party at home but sometimes there are practical considerations. You can’t fit 200 people in your house.” For away-from-home ideas, historic old bungalows and even popular watering holes are pretty memorable spots.

Break the ice with appropriate (and entertaining) questions. And make ice—really cool looking ice at that—with the ice ball mold ($12.90 for two) from ToTT. The large sphere of ice melts slowly so you don’t get watery cocktails.

Juggling a Million Things
To keep track of everything that’s going on, use planning and organization apps. With Dragon Dictation (free for iPhone), you can convert spoken words to written text (awesome for reminders). There’s also Remember The Milk (free for iPhone and Android) for to-do lists. And if you want to be really thorough—important for more formal shindigs—Super Planner ($12.38 for iPhone and Android) helps with nitty-gritty details like budget, amount of food and venue capacity.

Keeping it Flowing
The most important factor in a great party is lubrication; it all ends when the booze dries up. But there’s no need to worry that you’ll be stuck mixing drinks all night. Samuel Wong, bartender at Jigger & Pony, explains, “Preparing high volume drinks like punch bowls ahead of time is not just convenient for you, it can result in better flavors. Simple recipes are also best as they allow the host to concentrate on entertaining guests.” Jack Ong, a partner at Drink Fellas, adds, “It’s good to have a range of liqueurs as they mix well with other alcohol for easy cocktails. For example, a good quick drink to make would be Mozart chocolate liqueur or Vedrenne Crème de Cassis with sparkling wine.”

Looking Your Best
Party planning is tough. Don’t forget to take care of yourself with festive spa specials so you look fresh for the big do. The Spa at Mandarin Oriental has a dedicated Party Preparation Package ($340) that includes a full body massage, facial and foot massage. Another way to get your mind off the frantic preparations is Spa Esprit’s Cheeky Chai Detox Massage ($235 for 105 minutes) which expels harmful toxins, stimulates cell metabolism, and rejuvenates skin through a massage, scrub and wrap. Once your skin’s feeling fresh, get a professional make-up artist to do you up for the event. Cleo Chang, founder of Cleo Chang Make-up charges $200 for her services. To make sure your look has staying power through the evening, she says, “Bring along loose powder and lip gloss for a quick touch-up. You don’t want your face to look greasy under spotlights and camera flashes.”

Grab your guests’ attention with some wacky live music by Stew Bamrah of the Bamrah Bros. He plays funk, Afro-Brazilian and reggae on the electronic didgeridoo and the mandolin. Or, create your own mixtape; just don’t let your ego or rarefied taste in music get in the way. Veteran local DJ Debbie Chia explains, “Make a mixtape that doesn’t scream who you are, but provides what the party needs. Put together feel-good tracks that get people singing along and maybe even making out by the end of the night. Start with something upbeat and keep the energy level up with vocal tracks and songs including other live elements.”No money for live music or DJs? Try an online radio station. puts together playlists based on your favorite artistes, Live365 gets you plenty of variety—everything from classical and country to hip-hop and Latin music—and Sonar gives airtime to local beat makers like Vanessa Fernandez, Good Times, and X’Ho.

Nostalgic Venues
Colonial black-and-white buildings make gorgeous party venues. Nestled in Labrador Park, Tamarind Hill is a stunning space that can accommodate up to 130 (sit down) or 300 (cocktail). Rates are around $20,000 a night (5pm-12am) for a cocktail shindig inclusive of haute Thai nibbles and drinks. Prices for similar-style bungalow 7Adam start at $2,000 for 30 to 50 (just the bar and lounge area) and run up to $15,000 on weekdays and $20,000 on weekends for the whole house, which will hold 350 people. For anyone with an artistic streak, display space Red Sea Gallery is also available for events from eight to 200 people. Expect to pay around $10,000 for 80 people.

Look smart with the perfect party outfit put together by a personal stylist. Karen Ng at Glitz will pick out a complete look (hair, jewelry, makeup and clothes) from $1,000. There’s also Club 21 Style Services available at $300 per hour (free if you spend $1,000 at the store). Lani Chan, head of Club 21 Style Services, has got plenty of tips for staying cool and looking chic in our hot and humid weather. She suggests, “In the tropics, ladies can wear sparkly tops with shorts and bejeweled heels, and guys can try some nice jeans or colorful corduroy pants.”

Double chins, red eyes and that notorious extra five pounds—it isn’t easy to look good in photos. Al Tan, director and photographer at studio LiveMoments, has some choice tips on how to look great. He says, “Pictures from a high angle may make you look like Tweety Bird (big head, small legs). Instead, try taking from chest level: it’ll make your legs look longer. And if you can’t help but feel like a block of wood when taking pictures, lean against something. You look more natural.” He and the folks at LiveMoments will act as your event photographers, roaming around snapping and printing instant images. Packages start at $1,088 for four hours. Alternatively, LiveStudios Interactive Photography provides a photo booth complete with fun props so you’ll get the most out of the instant photos. Prices start at $850 for two hours.

Quirky Costumes
Nothing to wear for a costume party? The Wear House rents out belly dancing getups ($50) as well as SIA flight attendant costumes ($40) to ladies; gents can get togged out in colonial police garb ($50). And at Masquerade, you can get dressed up as a pirate ($50) or Cleopatra (from $80).

Why pay for expensive things you’ll only use once? Events Partner offers designer furnishings such as the Chivari chair (from $10.20) and Tulip table ($59.50) for one to three-day rental, providing extra seating (without having to resort to cheap foldable chairs). Music buffs can lease sound equipment from Music Warehouse, where they have event packages (from $190 for three hours) including professional standard loudspeakers, amplifiers and microphones.

If you’re having the party at home, you’ll want to stash away any embarrassing items in the medicine cabinet and incriminating photos. At bigger events, it might even be a good idea to hide valuables and breakables (like that antique heirloom vase you were counting on to pay for your retirement). As an extra precaution, you can hire a bouncer from JT Security at $30 per hour (minimum eight hours).

So you’ve got the recipes, but none of the kit to make it happen. Pick up all the equipment you need at ToTT like a Cuisinart blender ($550.10)—perfect for anything from soup to daiquiris—and fancy wine glasses by Helicium (from $107 for two). If you’re really adventurous, get a molecular cocktail mixology kit ($117.50), which allows you to make alcoholic caviar beads, airs and jellies. Also try LemonZest for some F&D brand martini glasses ($31.80), cocktail shakers (from $31) and muddlers (from $9).

Ultimate Party Trick
Sabering Champagne (lobbing off the top of a bottle, cork and glass rim included) will certainly leave a lasting impression on your guests. David Coleman, CEO at Asia Wine Society—which runs classes on sabrage—explains, “The process involves a firm tap at the top of the Champagne bottle, just below the lip, from a blunt sword. A precise hit at the weakest point and the pressure of the Champagne in the bottle will take the top off. Be careful, the bottle top can fly as far as 10 meters away!” Getting you hands on a sword however won’t be easy. Call the folks at Asia Wine Society and they’ll hook you up with a specimen imported from Europe.

Keep non-meat eating guests happy with the menus at Marmalade at Home available from $52 for a buffet (minimum 50 pax)—including plenty of salad and savouries like mushroom quiche—and $80-100 for a four-course sit down affair. Well-known “pay-as-you-wish” Indian institution Annalakshmi also offers five- to seven-course catered meals (there are set prices though). Expect to pay $40-60 per head for a group of around 10.

Wine Bars
Since alcohol’s essential to keep the party going, what better place to host your event then at a wine bar? Most don’t charge anything for the use of their space, but do require a minimum spend. Speakeasy will accommodate around 80 (standing) for a minimum spend of $1,500-2,000 on weekdays and $2,500 on weekends. And at WineBos you can rent their cozy attic with a minimum spend of $500-$800 for 12 people. The space will take up to 25 (with minimum spend of $1,000). Those on a tighter budget can hit homey neighbourhood joint The Oak Room, where you need to spend just $700 for 30 people on a weeknight (6-11pm).

When the whole affair’s over, you’ll want to get your guests out the door ASAP, so you can get started on cleanup. If they’ve had a bit too much to drink, call taxi and limo services to get them home safe. Limousine Cab offers a range of options from a seven-seat maxi cab for $50 an hour (minimum two hours) to a minibus for 19-23 for $100 an hour (minimum three hours) and will drive them to as many locations as needed within that time period. Alternatively, The Sixt Limousine Fleet offers town cars like the Toyota Camry (seats three) for $55 an hour (minimum three hours) and luxury minivans (seats six) for $60 an hour (minimum three hours).

For guests who just won’t leave, pull out an inflatable mattress ($29.99) from Giant.

Zero Mess
In the aftermath of a particularly wild bash, E Cleaning Solutions will cleanup after you for around $600 if it’s an outdoor party.