How to host a mega* Macmillan Coffee Morning

*Mega, is that still a word? Things used to be mega, back when I wore patchwork denim. Now that particular fashion faux pas is enjoying a comeback, it feels totally appropriate to use naff 90s lingo, especially on the topic of coffee mornings.

The vintage emerald glass tea set that renewed my interest in coffee mornings

The vintage emerald glass tea set that renewed my interest in coffee mornings

Back in the 90s I wasn't into coffee mornings (I was a student. I wasn't into mornings full stop) and I've got to admit, I'm still not a huge fan.

For a start I hate coffee, which leaves me all left out in the cold when it comes to this whole coffee revolution thing. Tea doesn't taste the same in grande take out paper cups and I challenge you to drink a tall one. But while I'm never likely to say "let's go grab a coffee", it may surprise you to know I've done my fair share of coffee mornings.

Too many than I care to remember... apart from that one at play group where my hungry toddler, dressed as a superhero, karate kicked the vicar's shins because he took the last mini muffin. That one goes down in coffee morning history.

No, if I'm going to spare an hour of my life drinking luke warm beverages and sharing details about toilet training or how little Lucas did in his spelling test, I need good tea, great cake and ideally, a bit of house candy to keep me from making a run for the emergency exit.

All of these things will be present when I host my Macmillan Coffee Morning on 30th September when hopefully the focus will not be on coffee but on raising wads of cash for those amazing Macmillan nurses to continue doing the brilliant job they do. 

Here's how I will be overcoming my coffee morning phobias:

1) Make it look way better than it is

Sample invitation template from The Vintage Tea Party Book

Sample invitation template from The Vintage Tea Party Book

If sketching your own invitation is the most trouble you go to for the whole event, I guarantee it will be worth it. Paper invites, sent in the post are so much more difficult to refuse than a group text and always a treat to receive. 

I've got a lovely book called The Vintage Tea Party Book by Angel Adoree, who is like this goddess in a headscarf. In it you can copy some fabulous invitation templates. Then just screen shot your fancy artwork and print out some truly original invites that will amaze your recipients and guarantee a steady stream of acceptances. Since this is a fundraiser, we want lots of people to bring their purses so be sure to extend the invite to friends of friends won't you?

2) Drop the Pom Bomb.

Honeycomb pom pom garland

Honeycomb pom pom garland

Obviously I'm rolling out the pom poms - well honeycomb pompoms if you want to be precise. I mean, pom poms are what this fight against cancer needs, right? Get your ugly ass out of my party, Cancer. I got ALL the pretty paper decos and I'm not afraid to use them. 

Just as I was writing this those helpful folk at Decopompoms were good enough to email me details of their latest range which is as pink and as pretty and as cancer-kicking-mood-enhancing as trimming up can get. And look! you could go down the tassel route if that's a bit more you. Everyone likes a well placed tassel, don't they?

Tassel garland £7.70 www.decopompoms.com

Tassel garland £7.70 www.decopompoms.com

3) Let them eat cake (kinda)

Homemade almond and cacao energy balls

Homemade almond and cacao energy balls

An obvious one, right? It's a coffee morning, they're going to expect cake. But what I mean by this is let them actually EAT the cake, rather than let them play with it for half an hour, breaking it up into tiny pieces while all the time worrying how many crippling spin sessions it's going to take to counteract the calorie intake.

The way round this is to serve up a variety of yummy mummy cake - stuff that tastes ace but won't bust the zip on your All Saints skinnies. The new cake rules have been set by the likes of Fearne Cotton and Deliciously Ella. All their sweet treats hit the spot taste-wise and yet are made from 100% guilt-free gorgeousness. 

Here's a couple of the sweet treats I will be serving on the day. If your friends like baking why not ask them to have a go at one or two of the recipes too? If nothing else it will be a talking point that leads nicely onto discussing that fit gym instructor.

Classic Almond Cacao Energy Balls

Energy balls by Deliciously Ella. Recipe here: www.deliciouslyella.com

Energy balls by Deliciously Ella. Recipe here: www.deliciouslyella.com

Fearne Cotton's Mini Carrot, Spelt and Spice Scones

MAKES 8-10 MINI SCONES

220g white spelt flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting

2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp fine sea salt

200g carrots, coarsely grated

30g coconut oil, melted, plus extra to serve

2 tbsp honey or maple syrup

80g sultanas

1 egg, beaten, for brushing

almond butter (homemade from the book or shop-bought) and jam, to serve

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/ 350F/gas 4 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  • Place the flour, spices, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl and stir to combine.
  • Roughly chop the grated carrot to get rid of any long strands, then add it to the flour mixture together with the coconut oil, honey or maple syrup, and sultanas. Combine with a spoon, then use your hands to bring the mixture together to form a ball. It may seem a little dry at first, but keep on compressing the mixture with your hands and it will form a dough. Try to work quickly and not over-work the dough, as this will result in tough scones.
  • Lightly dust the work surface with flour and roll out the dough to a thickness of about 3cm. Use a 5cm clean-edged round cutter to cut 8-10 scones, dipping the cutter in flour as you go before cutting to prevent it sticking to the dough. Use up all the leftover scraps of dough, rolling it out again and punching out scones as before.
  • Place the scones on the lined baking tray and brush with a little beaten egg. Bake in the oven for 13-15 minutes, or until they have risen and are golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and serve warm, spread with your favourite jam, almond butter and some coconut oil. They will keep for up to 2 days in an airtight container – reheat before serving.

4) Turn the tables

Crosley portable turntable £79.99 www.amazon.co.uk

Crosley portable turntable £79.99 www.amazon.co.uk

I'm awful at background music. It's the bit I always forget to think about since I only really listen to Radio 1. My friend on the other hand aces at it. She's one of these who has a turntable in her kitchen and a stack of rare vintage vinyl. She does not listen to Radio 1 and therefore has a limited grasp of popular culture, but this does not appear to have prohibited her coolness. Instead she chucks on records by the likes of Bill Doggett (There's a name that you don't get much on X Factor) Ancient blues music that has you tapping your feet whilst you're slurping your vegan curry and, suddenly, this basic event of meal time turns into a totally un-basic social occasion.

My friend Rachel is therefore in charge of tunes and feet tapping for my Macmillan 'coffee' morning. OK Rach?

5) Swap 'til you drop

Clothes swapping is a great way to raise a bit of extra cash at your coffee morning. Basically everyone comes with a bag full of clothes they no longer want but are still in excellent condition. Hang everything up beautifully on an open clothes rail so that guests can browse and set aside a room for trying stuff on. Everyone donates a minimum of £5 and gets to swap their unwanted garments, bags, shoes etc for stuff they actually love. I'm inviting my most stylish acquaintances to my bash. Dear friends who I adore for their humour, intelligence and fly-ass vintage Chloe.

6) Live, Love, Laugh

I saved the most important one til last. If cancer had its way there would be no coffee mornings. Not even crap ones with custard creams. Cancer wants us all to have a shit time. Cancer wants to spoil the fun.

We can't let it.

Please have a Macmillan Coffee morning - a fancy one like mine aims to be, or just a simple one with your best squad and a tray full of Americanos to go. It doesn't really matter, does it? What matters is we laugh in the face of this horrible disease and help Macmillan nurses do their incredible job of helping families affected by cancer.

Get your free coffee morning pack with everything you need to make it mega (ok minus the pompoms) here: www.macmillan.org.uk

Have a good one, I would love to hear how it goes.

Claire x