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How To Host A World Cup Party, Whether You're Watching The Football Or Not

I don't know if you've heard but it's coming home. The football, that is. England have survived the initial stages of the World Cup to make it into the quarter finals, and I don't know about you, but it seems that everyone is far more invested in it that we anticipated.

Even the most indifferent of fair-weather fans have been converted and we are once again united in this strange bi-weekly euphoria of watching our men's team score a few goals in Russia. If that's not reason to celebrate, then I'm not sure what else is (in football land).

There are a few of us outliers, however, who still really aren't bothered by those 90 minutes of galavanting up and down a pitch. Some of us don't want to be taught the offside rule and are quite happy living outside of the football bubble.

This is a problem. The chances are that, while they might not be as emotionally invested in the tournament as those people on Facebook wearing little more than a make-shift England flag togas (this is indeed A Thing), you will have some friends who are infinitely up for a bit of a party, regardless of an occasion. How do you cater to both camps, you ask? Well, it'd be ridiculous to host a get together on a Saturday - the optimum day for hosting and yes, when the England match is on - and pretending it had nothing to do with that huge international football tournament the world has been watching. Here's our guide to putting a shindig for the World Cup, without making it entirely about the World Cup.

The Theme

You'd think the theme would speak for itself, but it's at this initial hurdle that things get more complicated than they need to be. There's no need to propose a strenuous dress code (though if you've managed to get your hands on one of these designer football shirts, now would be the time to flaunt it), smart casual will suffice. The trick here is to allow the fact that the World Cup is on to be the unifying component of your party, without the gimmicks that wouldn't go a mis at a 5-year-old's football-themed birthday.

Forget sport-specific decorations that you'll have little reason to use in the long-term and opt for your failsafe classics that make the house feel a little bit special. If you insist on injecting some patriotism into your decor, you know which colors to chose. White is an easy one to reflect in the lighting (you shan't need too much but be sure to have enough lamps, fairylights and candles to avoid the overhead light later in the evening) and tableware (we'll spend more time here shortly), and throw a gradient of red tones in with any flowers you dot around the house.

The Space

Here's where you need to be smart. The dream scenario would be to set up the TV ready for kick off in your subtly decorated living room - low lights, quite music until match time and enough space cleared for a few extra chairs to avoid too many people standing and getting in each other's way. Next you need to orchestrate a middle ground. This will ideally be a kitchen or dining room that connects the screening room to a garden or outdoor space where the football-free fun will be had.

In your middle mingle zone, the lights can be a little higher than the screening room of course, and you can really go to town with the decoration around the buffet table (no successful faux-World Cup party ever happened with a sit down dinner) and drinks station.

Treat outside as a main attraction rather than overspill. The two key things are seating (so that people know they're welcome to stay in the garden) and music (it won't drown out the cheers from inside, but it'll give purpose to the outside). If you're feeling really ambitious you could always opt for a barbecue - the smell grilled food is enough to drag the most committed of England fans outside, if only for half time.

The Food

If you'd rather eschew the BBQ, the name of the game is preparation. Just because we're going for a relaxed, 'everybody's welcome to the football/not-football party' doesn't mean the food needs to be compromised or boring for that matter. You could hone in on the England theme and prepare miniatures of home grown favorites - M&S do some cute mini pies and there's a place for cocktail sausages at grown up parties too.

Be tactical and ensure there are a few bowls of crisps, nuts, olives and breadsticks in each of your key areas as there will be a lot of intermittent snacking between goals, half time and dramatic penalty shoot outs. At your beautifully dressed buffet table stick to food that doesn't have to be hot to be eaten - some pre-cooked chicken thighs, potato and pasta salads and perhaps a roast salmon. That way when you put the food out while your guests are just settling into the match (or the sunshine outside) food is ready to be picked at at any point after. Plates can be swapped for fruit, cheeses and a lovely big cake later on.

The Drinks

Three words: beer, wine, gin. There's no need to stray beyond the holy trinity on this occasion, unless you fancy whipping up a fun World Cup themed(ish) punch or cocktail to greet people with as they arrive. If you're opting for the latter, make up a big batch of a summery gin-based cocktail and pour out a few glasses to have ready as people arrive. Store the rest in a couple of jugs so you're ready should they prove more popular than the wine and beer option.

Be sure not to overthink the wine or beer, though. Deep down you know that everyone is fairly happy with anything, especially when it's provided for free. The best of guests will bring a bottle anyway, so just make sure you have a couple of bottles of white and prosecco per person, pop a crate or two of inoffensive beer in the fridge (something like Peroni will do) and decant into an ice bucket just before your first guest arrives and let the rest take care of itself. The important thing is to make sure there is a fairly obvious drinks table that you check on every now and again with a bottle bin tacktfully placed near by. Trust that your thirsty friends will take care of the rest.

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