How to Throw a Last Minute Birthday BBQ in Style!


I’ve given myself more to do. Unavoidable really as it’s Mr Pregnantcitygirl’s Birthday. Our bank balance wasn’t what it was when I spent every day trudging in and out of the City at silly hours so less money = more effort! We have a BBQ every birthday. He is a BBQ nut, so no presents this year just a big party.

I’ve neglected to mention one small issue – it’s next Saturday and I’ve arranged nothing so far. I’m usually so organised but I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. Some personal stuff that I haven’t been telling you- stuff that maybe you will hear about when the time is right. I’ve been writing about it but not publishing so far. So, less than a week to go and a party to organise….

Well, of course I find that 25% of our friends are already busy, one family is struck down with chicken pox and more fall by the wayside with flu at the last minute. We are left with a manageable 25 people. This means bulk buying isn’t really worth it (phew!). There are three main components to a Birthday Bash in my opinion; food, drink and cake and this year’s buzzwords are ‘ease’ and ‘value’ and ‘quality’.

My main problem has always been over-catering, if I’m honest. BBQ’s are so easy for this. Go to a restaurant and you either order a burger or sausages or chicken, you don’t order all three! Catering for a BBQ, I’ve always expected everyone to have at least one of everything which generally means a lot of wastage and overstuffed fridges and freezers at the end of the day, if I am sober enough to pack everything properly! This year, I’ve decided to be a bit more savvy, as well as making my life easier; this is where Ocado comes in! My trustee grocery delivery people. They are seen as the upper-middle class option, I know, which is nothing bad in my view as long as I’m not paying upper-middle class prices! Their offering is huge, anything slightly exotic that I cannot find in my local supermarket is there at the click of my mouse. The thing with Ocado is that if you shop smart then their prices rival the most competitive. Look for offers, wait for ‘free delivery’ offers that come through via email regularly as do 15% off vouchers. They also price match the competition. You would be surprised if you compared. Anyway, this year I made a decision to get everything brought to me on the day. No worries about storage space for meat, everything fresh and no need to leave the house. They have offers on BBQ food with ‘3 for £10’ on a vast array of yummy options – far too many for me and my propensity to over-cater so I went with some very simple but really effective choices all running special offers so I made a massive saving overall on my order. The Aberdeen Angus Beef Burgers, now 3 for £5, ( just a touch more expensive but worth every bite), Heston’s Duck and Sour Cherry Sausages (wow! – enough said), Organic Cumberland sausages, chicken breasts marianted in Paul Newman’s BBQ sauce ( all profits go to charity) and Ocado Cypriot Halloumi and mini Scottish salmon grills for the non-meat eaters. I also bought two bags of new potatoes and made a yummy potato salad. Asked three friends who cook well to make salads (corn with red onion and coriander, coleslaw and rice) and we were all set. Even the paper plates arrived with the shopping, 50 for £3.75, much easier than going on a search for them elsewhere.

Food, done now on to the drink. I might shock you here if you don’t know me well but bearing in mind my always being on the lookout for a bargain and the fact that I’ve mentioned their award-winning prosecco before it was over to Lidl for some budget but again award-winning ( think Decanter magazine not Tom and Jerry!) alcoholic refreshment. I’m a wine snob of sorts. I know good wine and prefer to drink it – it tastes better so it’s a no-brainier. That said, buying wine can be a daunting and expensive prospect so my advice is read the reviews. Keep and cut out the ones for the cheap but drinkable. You will often end up with a £5/6 bottle tasting better than the £12 one that you bought purely on liking the label.


Here are my picks:
Cimarosa Chilean Pedro Jimenez £3.99 – awarded Bronze at the Decanter World Wine Awards; Silver at the International Wine and Spirits Competition; Highly Commended at the Quality Drink Awards; Bronze at the International Wine Challenge.

Cimarosa Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon £3.99 – awarded Gold at the Decanter World Wine Awards; Bronze at the International Wine and Spirits Competition; Commended at the International Wine Challenge.

Comte de Brismand Brut champagne £12.99 – awarded Gold at the Berliner Wine Trophy; Commended at the International Wine Challenge; Silver at the International Wine and Spirits Competition; Commended at the Decanter World Wine Awards.

Allini Asti Spumanti £5.09 – awarded Silver at the International Wine Challenge; Bronze at the Decanter World Wine Awards; Silver Best in Class at the International Wine and Spirits Competition. Easy!

Lastly, no birthday would be complete without a birthday cake and again I’ve gone our looking for that something with a little extra special element. It’s called a  Birthday Qake! Yep, a Qake. Not forgetting my need to turn this around in a few days, the Qake can be ordered just the day before (testimony to its freshness – although keeps out if the fridge perfectly as I’ve just polished off the last scrumptious piece of the half vanilla, half chocolate sponge that has been sitting on the kitchen worktop for over a week!) . I wanted a photo cake. They are my new favorite thing. When you have a little one in the family what better can there be than one of 10,000 photos – yes, that’s right, we have at least 10,000 – not developed if course but digital images. So sorry to deprive you of the real cake but for anonymous purposes….!

Cakes Next Day Logo Prpl-Hi

So, in my search for something special I found Cakes Next Day. A family business with a heart-warming story behind them and a joy to deal with. Nikki, the daughter of the family was so helpful and friendly, took my order for the photo cake and suggested this brand new concept that they have just started offering. A QR code (just like a bar code) made of icing is built into the cake. All I needed to do was record a video on my smartphone and send it with some photos. On his birthday, my husband just needed to have a QR code reader app on his phone to scan the bar code. Take a look here  at the talking singing cake! If you want something that truly makes a impact then here it is!


That’s it folks. An AMAZING, birthday BBQ in three easy steps, arranged 3 days before with almost NO effort. Minimal fuss, great value and high-end food and drink all around. You really can do luxury on a budget  and in a rush!