How to party like it's Freedom Day (your VIP guide)

How to party like it’s Freedom Day (your VIP guide): Cocktails from The Savoy, Canapes from the PM’s Cornish chef, Party ideas from the planner to the stars – PLUS! The new etiquette rules you need to know

  • England is set to return to normality after 16 months of lockdown restrictions
  • Retailers have reported an increase in the sales of champagne and make-up
  • Experts share their top tips for hosting the ultimate Freedom Day party

At long last, Freedom Day is here! It’s been a long and — for many of us, agonising — wait, with parties put on hold, weddings hanging in the balance and big indoor get-togethers delayed time and time again.

But now, after 16 months of changing restrictions, it’s time to celebrate the return of normality.

Today is the date etched in our diaries for the ending of lockdown measures in England (with the rest of Great Britain hopefully following soon). Postponed events such as landmark birthday parties, cancelled New Year’s Eve celebrations and even Christmas dos are being hastily reorganised with experts saying today marks the start of a joyful, jam-packed summer to remember.

Get ready for the return of buzzing dance floors, bustling bars, packed pubs and cheesy wedding DJs. And, if you’re hosting, you can finally invite those 30 guests indoors instead of confining them to the garden; something of a necessity in the unpredictable British weather.

Experts including a top mixologist and professional mingler share their tips for hosting the ultimate Freedom Day party

Retailers are preparing for the celebrations by ramping up stock of everything from party dresses and strappy heels to champagne flutes and cosmetics.

At M&S, sales of high-heeled summer sandals have soared by 75 per cent, while at John Lewis, demand for lipstick, mascara and eyeshadow is up by 75 per cent on last year’s figures.

At Ocado, champagne sales have risen 35 per cent, with sparkling wine alternatives up 104 per cent. Consumers are gearing up to put a year of pyjamas, dry shampoo and Zoom calls behind them, by splashing out on everything that’s required for that long-awaited return to public life.

While freedom is an exciting prospect for many, there will also be those who feel anxious and uncertain about the resumption of large-scale socialising.

What should we talk about at parties these days? Have food and drinks trends changed during the pandemic? And can any of us even remember how to dance?

So, with the help of experts — from a top mixologist to a professional mingler — here’s your guide to hosting (and indeed attending) the ultimate Freedom Day party…

Demand for lipstick, mascara and eyeshadow is up by 75 per cent on last year’s figures at John Lewis, ahead of Freedom Day in England 


By professional introducer Rachel Fay.

Etiquette rules have changed during the pandemic. If you’re hosting a party, make any rules you’ve decided to adhere to clear for the guests on the invitation: give an arrival time, dress code and, if you feel strongly about sticking to social distancing, say this from the outset.

It’s your job to make everyone feel comfortable and at ease. You might consider placing chairs or drinks tables well apart, so people spread out rather than cluster closely together.

If you’re a guest, be a good one. Arrive on time, be friendly, try not to monopolise people and — above all — don’t be a bore.

Professional introducer Rachel Fay, said etiquette rules have changed during the pandemic and hosts should make them clear to guests. Pictured: Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby

When it comes to greetings, take your cues from others. We might be free to shake hands and hug, but many people will probably prefer to keep their distance, especially from strangers.

My advice is to err on the side of caution. You should be able to tell — for example if they flinch or move away — what others are happy doing.

You could always pose the question: ‘Shall we shake hands?’ or ‘How shall we greet each other?’ That’s a useful conversation starter. I find elbow-bumping a bit crass, but it might be a good compromise.

And if you find yourself in a position where someone is standing too close or lunging in for a kiss, don’t be cowed by social pressure. Whereas before the pandemic it might have been considered rude to step back, it’s not any more — no one will take offence if you speak up.

Even when hugging friends, ask them first. Keep it short, don’t hug too many people and embrace them in a way where your head is over their shoulder, looking in the opposite direction.

As for conversation, the old rules say to avoid sex, politics and religion — but I don’t go in for that. Personally, I don’t want to talk about Covid: it’s the new Brexit in terms of polarising opinion — people can get heated and there are attitudes that range from very cautious to very flippant.

Rachel (pictured) recommends avoiding conversations about covid because people can get heated and there are attitudes that range from very cautious to very flippant

Safer topics include swapping tips on where to go, what to see and what to do as the country opens up again.

Fashion is another good topic: we’ve all been wearing baggy clothes and no make-up for a year, so dressing up for parties is a novelty. If you like something someone is wearing, a compliment is always a good start.

Try not to overload your diary with social events. Pace yourself — it’s a bit like the run-up to Christmas, you don’t want to exhaust yourself in the first week. Some people might be able to handle two parties a night; for others, two a month is quite enough.

Finally, don’t stay too long. Quit while you’re having a good time — you’ll want to remember it that way.


By Sarah Haywood, one of the world’s leading party planners.

Sarah Haywood (pictured), who is one of the world’s leading party planners, said new owners of lockdown pups need to think about how they will keep the food safe from hounds

The greatest fictional party host was Gatsby. If he had gone through lockdown, we can be sure his freedom party would have been epic: glamorous, hedonistic, sumptuously decorated and great fun to attend. What better time than now to go similarly big and bold too? After all, it’s the roaring summer of 2021 and we’re free at last.

Great parties don’t just happen — they have to be planned. Where will the party be — inside, outside or a hybrid of both?

Don’t forget all those lockdown pups. New owners might presume four-legged guests will be welcomed. If not, make that clear on the invite. If they are, think about how you’ll keep the party food safe from the hounds.

Have you got space to store and chill the food and drink? Here’s a tip: a bathtub filled with ice makes a brilliant drinks chiller. And if guests will be helping out with the food, make sure there’s a firm plan for who’s bringing what to avoid duplications.

Covid-safe canapes could be served under small glass cloches or in individual canape spoons.

Instead of big bowls of salad, serve individual portions in glass tumblers; shot glasses, cocktail glasses and small bowls can be repurposed to hold portions of food so your guests won’t have any nagging concerns about who might have touched what.

Sarah said it’s best to serve individual portions in glass tumblers than to have big bowls of salad, so that guests won’t have nagging concerns about who might have touched what

Bento or individual picnic boxes for each of your guests would work well too.

A toast feels a must for this occasion. After all, there’s much to celebrate beyond the end of restrictions. Big birthdays and anniversaries that came and went; new babies you might only just be getting to meet; subdued weddings that can at last be rejoiced at; a chance to remember and celebrate the lives of loved ones who passed during lockdown.

With that in mind, a wishing tree would be a lovely touch too. You can provide simple tags with ribbons for guests to hang indoors or out with their hopes, wishes and thoughts for the future written on them. Afterwards, you can gather them up and pop them in a keepsake box . . . a poignant memento from your Freedom Day party.


By interior designer Alice Naylor-Leyland, CEO of tablescaping brand Mrs Alice.

Interior designer Alice Naylor-Leyland (pictured) recommends layers of colours and textures to make everything feel sumptuous and celebratory

Freedom Day is going to feel like one of the biggest celebrations we’ve ever had. How liberating to be able to socialise without having to work out how many people we’re allowed and how close to each other it’s OK to be. We should wow with our party tables in honour of that.

Layers of colours and textures will make everything feel sumptuous and celebratory. Bright, bold colours will reflect a sense of being set free.

It’s always good to start with a tablecloth because that’s the one item that makes the biggest bang. You can get beautiful tablecloths that are specially treated to make them water-resistant, so you can be relaxed about splodges and spills. I like to use a patterned one as a base, and then complimentary block colours for the napkins and crockery.

Next, load the table with lots of pretty napkins, stacks of bamboo plates and pots, and big colourful serving dishes and bowls.

Vases and glass jugs overflowing with flowers look gorgeous and give the table height. An interesting alternative to cut flowers is preserved boxwood topiary, which I’ve started using on my tables. Indoors or outside, they create a very verdant and fresh vibe and are becoming quite a thing.

Alice (pictured) recommends deciding in advance who’s sitting where, as otherwise people will play it safe

Big bowls of lemons look very cheery and speak to the Mediterranean summers we’re longing for. If people aren’t being seated at an outdoor table then a couple of parasols either side of it look good and will entice people to loiter and chat.

A sit-down meal needs a different approach. You want people to enjoy the experience of approaching the table, taking in how lovely it looks, all beautifully laid out, something we’ve been deprived of for so long. With that in mind, really make the effort to get it looking special: you want candles, bud vases with cut flowers dotted down the middle, your best crockery and glasses — hire some in if your budget allows.

Decide in advance who’s sitting where, otherwise people will play it safe. Having not socialised like this in what feels like forever, people might need nudging slightly out of their comfort zones.

Embroidering your guests’ initials onto the napkins turns them into really lovely place settings. They can also take them home at the end as a memento from what is sure to be a very special party.


By chef and restaurateur Emily Scott, who cooked at the G7 summit.

Chef and restaurateur Emily Scott (pictured) said your Freedom Day table should be a feast that reflects the best of British summertime 

What a wonderful time of year it is to find our freedom again: to eat, drink and be merry with the ones we love. High summer is when nature is at its most vibrant; when the seasonal food is colourful, delicious and at its best.

Cooking within the season brings ingredients in abundance: summer tomatoes, berries and high-note herbs such as basil, mint and tarragon. Peas, beans, courgettes and leaves get the green light and in late summer purple hues of aubergine and beetroot. Cornish cheeses, pink salmon, in-season white potatoes and perfectly ripe strawberries always entice your guests.

So let your Freedom Day table be a feast that reflects the best of British summertime.

For me, simplicity is always the best. Trestle tables with dishes that can be made ahead and are simple to prepare and eat will encourage a relaxed feel. After all, this party is about being together again at long last, and cooking for those you love is one of the most loving things we can do.

A whole cooked salmon with colourful summer salads. Summer berries and sweet meringues — all will look and taste amazing and are easy to eat as you catch up with your friends and family. My Goat’s Cheese and Caramelised Red Onion Tartlets (see recipe) can be made ahead of time and frozen.

If you want to keep things Covid-safe, then individual puddings like Eton mess or the strawberry jellies (see recipe) are ideal.

Emily said it was an honour to be asked to cook for the world’s leaders at the G7 summit in Cornwall last month

I was honoured to be asked to cook for the world’s leaders at the G7 summit in Cornwall last month and I applied the same ‘keep it simple’ approach: turbot roasted on the bone with Cornish potatoes and an English strawberry pavlova for pudding. I was delighted to meet them all.

I thought I was dreaming as Joe Biden congratulated me on a wonderful meal. Macron, Merkel, and our own Prime Minister had only good things to say too. It was the highlight of my career and I am so proud and happy.

I wish you great joy for your Freedom Day party and remember to treasure the moments.

Emily Scott Food, Watergate Bay, Cornwall (


By Enzo Sigaut, bar manager at The Savoy Hotel in London.

Enzo Sigaut (pictured) who is bar manager at The Savoy Hotel in London, recommends celebrating Freedom Day with champagne 

For a celebration like this it has to be champagne — so start with a French 75 cocktail.

All you need is 30ml gin, 15ml lemon juice and 7.5ml sugar syrup, topped up with champagne and garnished with a maraschino cherry. To make the sugar syrup boil 400ml water with 200g sugar in a saucepan until it dissolves, and then add whatever flavour you want: mint, fruit or spices. Strain and leave to cool — it’ll keep in a sealed container for several weeks.

Another option is Pursuit Of Perfection, a bestseller in the Savoy’s Beaufort Bar. It’s made from homemade rosebud cordial, peach liqueur and champagne.

If you’re the hostess, my advice is don’t stint on quality when it comes to soft drinks, spirits, beer and wine and keep them well-chilled until the moment you serve them: this accentuates the flavours.

One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed in people’s drinking habits is the appetite for alcohol-free drinks. A good non-alcoholic cocktail is: 30ml non-alcoholic spirit (such as Seedlip, which is a gin replacement), a dash of elderflower cordial and equal amounts of apple and pineapple juice, muddled with raspberries.

The Savoy has long been a place of luxury and joy. It’s wonderful to watch it now come alive again.


By Boris’s g7 chef — Emily Scott

Goat’s cheese and caramelised red onion tartlets

Goat’s cheese and caramelised red onion tartlets (pictured) 

I love these moreish, sweet tartlets. The onions need time to naturally sweeten and soften. It really is worth making your own shortcrust pastry. It can be made ahead and freezes well. Store-bought is fine though, so don’t worry if you don’t have enough time.

Makes 24

  • 250g (9 oz) ready-made shortcrust pastry
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soft light-brown sugar
  • 125g (4 oz) Vulscombe goat’s cheese, cut into 24 small pieces
  • Cornish sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°c (180°c fan/400°f/Gas 6).

Roll the pastry out to 2.5 mm (1/8 in) thick. Use a 5 cm (2 in) pastry cutter to cut 24 circles from it. Place the circles onto a baking sheet and prick all over with a fork.

Bake in the oven for 10–12 minutes, or until cooked through and golden-brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a low heat, add the onions and gently fry for 15 minutes. Never rush an onion. Increase the heat, add the garlic and thyme and cook for a further five minutes.

Add the vinegar and brown sugar and cook, stirring well, until the onions have caramelised. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To assemble the tartlets, spoon some of the red onion mixture onto each pastry circle and top with a piece of cheese.

Summer fruit jelly with strawberries and vanilla ice cream

Summer fruit jelly with strawberries and vanilla ice cream (pictured) 

Jelly always brings a smile to my face. A childhood favourite, this strawberry, raspberry and orange jelly is wonderful. Lovely, light and palate cleansing, it’s the perfect summer pudding.

Serves 8

  • 300g (2 oz/3 cups) fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 125g (4 oz/1 cup) fresh raspberries
  • 60g caster (superfine) sugar
  • 150ml (5 fl oz/scant ²/³ cup) water
  • 300ml (10 fl oz/1¼ cups) orange juice
  • 4 1/2 sheets of gelatine

To serve

  • 150g (5 oz/1½ cups) fresh strawberries, halved
  • A few sprigs of mint
  • Vanilla ice cream

Place the strawberries and raspberries in a pan with the sugar, water and orange juice. Bring to the boil without stirring, then remove from the heat. Place the gelatine in a bowl, cover with cold water and soak for five minutes.

Once softened, drain and squeeze out excess water from the gelatine. Place the gelatine back in the bowl and add a little of the warm fruit juices, stirring gently until the gelatine is completely dissolved. Pour into the fruit pan through a fine sieve and stir gently.

Spoon the fruits into French bistro glasses and pour over the orange liquid from the fruit pan. Stir once more, then transfer to the refrigerator to set.

When set, decorate with halved strawberries and sprigs of mint.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Recipes from Sea And Shore by Emily Scott (Hardie Grant, £26)  

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