Diwali has been special for me for as long as I can remember . More often than not childhood experiences play a great role in shaping what we love as an adult and Diwali was that one time in the year where festivities were truly in the air and we brought in the special day with a great deal of gusto and cheer. I would not be exaggerating if I said I looked forward to Diwali more than my birthday. I looked forward to the Diwali cleaning which started a month in advance and we were all assigned respective tasks for the month. I looked forward to the shopping leading up to the festivities- diyas, new clothes, sweets, Diwali lights and decorations. I looked forward to the sleepless anticipation on choti Diwali (a day before Diwali) when we would prep the diyas and wicks and clean the idols for the big day. I looked forward to waking up earlier than usual on the Diwali day and running straight to the balcony to breathe in the nippy autumn air before getting busy with helping my mum around in the kitchen and prepping the house for the evening and not to forget the sumptuous festive lunch which preceded. It used to be a truly memorable day and evening.
Like most Indian festivals, food used to be a big part of our celebrations. And I think one of the reasons I loved Diwali so much more than the rest of the festivals is because not only my mother whipped up some of my favourites but also because I was given some really important responsibilities during the process. For as long as I can remember I was delegated the task of preparing mithai & dried fruits and nuts dabbas (sweetmeat boxes) which would be brought with us as presents when we went around visiting friends and families and also as return presents for guests visiting our home. But the task which I prided myself in was assembling Chaat and Dahi Wadas (or Dahi Bhallas) for the guests. Mixing in sweet, sour and spicy ingredients to create this magical burst of flavours which would make people come back for seconds would make me feel very important and needless to say I would take my job very seriously. These two quintessential Indian street foods have been a part of each Diwali since.
Ever since we moved to Hong Kong and set up our own little home away from home, I have made an effort to do something special for Diwali. Each year food takes the centre stage obviously but this year I decided to go the extra mile with the decor too. And since I took all the effort, I thought why not share it with you all my lovely friends and help you plan your jig this festive season. Your one stop shop for all ideas and planning this festive season is here. So,in this post I share with you:
- Tips and tricks on creating your perfect Diwali decor
- Downloadable Planner for planning the perfect event
Let us start with the decor first. Below are a few things I kept in mind:
- Pick a theme- It could be around a specific colour or even others like Bollywood Retro, Famous Couples or Movies. I kept things simple and chose to do a colour theme- Magenta and Gold because if these colours don’t say Diwali, what does, right?
- Based on the venue and the number of guests, design a decor which adds to the theme and look of the party (in this case Diwali) but at the same time doesn’t come in the way of people having fun. My party was planned at home so space was a constraint but at the same time I didn’t want to compromise on the Diwali feels . Hence I moved around the existing furniture a bit and used the walls to add to the look
- I used DIY decor for the walls and vignettes that I created around the house
- Some tips while creating vignettes- Try and build it around a light source or if you are going to dim lights for the party then add some light source like candles , diyas, lamps or fairy lights to the vignette itself ; choose objects and colours that support the theme for your evening ; add different textures to the vignette; choose items of varying heights; display objects in odd numbers
- Use fresh flowers if possible . Nothing says festive more than fresh flowers. And try and keep them in sync with the theme. For example because magenta and gold were the theme colours, I chose magenta and yellow carnations, marigolds and some white and green to complement those
- Brassware goes really well any ethnic decor so I made it a point to include it in my decor as much as possible
- For large numbers of guests try and use disposable cutlery and crockery. This time we went the eco-friendly route and got plates made out of Areca leaves. They were great quality and sturdy
Planning the party:
- Budget -It helps to have an approximate budget in mind and then break it down to smaller subheads and allocate amounts to each. It is easy to get carried away and overspend while planning an event so going back to your original budget time and again makes sure you do not go overboard
- Food- It is great to serve home made meals to guests but you also want to keep it practical . So, a mix of homemade and takeaways or even a potluck is always a great idea. If you are going the homemade route try and think of the food items which aren’t easily available in the restaurants and try and create those at home. Your guests will love and enjoy them more. Finger food is great and because as a host you would be busy doing and taking care of a zillion other things, try and prepare items which your guests can help yourself to on your own.
- Plan what items you can make or prep for before the actual party day so you are not overwhelmed with a lot of heavy duty cooking on D day
- Chaats and make your own wraps work great. Even indo-chinese is always a hit!
- Games- Remember the idea is to have fun and it helps to have some games planned specially if its a mixed group
- Music- Goes without saying that music is an integral part of any celebration. Create your playlist in advance on any of your favourite music apps and get your guests grooving
- Delegate. I cannot stress this enough. Make your to-do list down to the tiniest details and delegate the ones which do not need your *absolute* involvement to family, friends and help
- Rest. I know it is easier said than done but grab some rest whenever possible, refuel and recharge as you are going to need a lot of it on the day of your party
- Enjoy! Remember Diwali comes once a year and it is okay if things do not go perfectly planned. Perfection isn’t important but having fun is!
Important links and contacts:
- For Crafts and DIY:
2. Your one stop shop for Diwali craft supplies, lights and gifts- Brighten ,28 Flower Market Road , Prince Edward, Hong Kong and Shop 5 on 81-95 Nam Cheong Street for ribbons, lace and trims. A great guide on shopping in Sham Shui Po : http://www.petitboutdechou.com/2016/05/sham-shui-po-ultimate-shopping-map-craft-lovers.html
3. Contact Divya Somgowda for biodegradable Areca leaves plates at (+852)69084948
4. Cleaning brassware : https://youtu.be/CSjSIPSGiPQ
5. Free Downloadable Party Planner template Party Planning for Festive Season