National Vegetarian Week 2020


This year, National Vegetarian Week ran from 11th to 17th May 2020 and aimed to highlight to the public the benefits and pleasures of a meat-free diet and that vegetarian food can be vibrant and exciting to eat.

The challenge is endorsed by the National Vegetarian Society who say, “It’s an unusual time at the moment, but it’s also a chance to have a go at something new and enjoy cooking at home”. They offered a free ‘recipe card’ which had a new and easy vegetarian meal to try each day, supported by the likes of Stephen Fry, Chris Peckham, the Hairy Bikers, Joanna Lumley and Matt Pritchard.

Meals included a sweet potato burger with vegan cheese and smoky relish (curtesy of BOSH!), a pita ‘kebab’ with plant-based kebab ‘meat’ fried with vegetables and served with crème fraiche (courtesy of Oumph!) and a classic country pie with roast potatoes and gravy (courtesy of Linda McCartney).

Some of our Venues Team decided to take part in the vegetarian week challenge and try their hand at some meat-free cuisine.

Alex says “I really wanted to get involved with National Vegetarian Week as I have been making much more of a conscious effort to reduce the amount of meat in my diet for environmental reasons and this was a great way to do that. I spent lots of time looking at what recipes I could try and found some new favourites I will definitely be making over and over. I think if you spend the time to make veggie dishes exciting, they can be more delicious and more interesting than meat dishes! After doing this it has also shown me that I can definitely work more vegetarian meals into my diet and still be excited about them.”

Some of Alex’s dishes included falafel and tzatziki pittas and cauliflower curry.

So why is eating less meat important?

It’s no secret that the planet is heating up and so by replacing meat and protein with vegetarian alternatives (such as nuts, seeds, beans and lentils) we can reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.

More agricultural land is used to raise cattle than all other domesticated animals and crops combined. A vegetarian diet requires two-and-a-half times less the amount of land needed to grow food, compared to a meat-based diet. Livestock in the UK eat more than half of the 20million tonnes of cereal grown – that’s over 50% of wheat and 60% of barley.

A vegetarian diet also uses less water than that of a carnivorous diet. It takes far less water to produce plant protein than meat protein, for example, an 8oz chicken breast takes over 542 litres of water to produce. Enough to fill your bathtub 6.5 times!

Kat also took part in vegetarian week and says, “I decided to take on veggie week and convinced by two housemates to take part too, as we share all the cooking and food in the house at the moment.”

“I loved the challenge of making new recipes and changing my chicken curry to a halloumi curry. I love a Sunday roast and found a delicious vegetarian wellington recipe which I made on Sunday and served with some yummy green veggies and mini roast potatoes cubes. For breakfast we had smoothies or eggs on toast, and I have new-found love of veggie sausages! I actually prefer them now to meat sausages. I think they only thing I missed was some kind of substance at lunch such as tuna in my salad or chicken in my soups.”

“I rarely order a take-away that doesn’t have meat in it. Last week we actually supported two local places. ‘Tapping the Admiral’ in Kentish Town do a fantastic veggie or vegan pie with all the trimmings for £9. We also found our local ‘Mildred’s’ was offering a take-away too, so I had a delicious ‘Duck’ burger on Saturday night! I have really learnt that a take-away can offer just as good alternative to meat.”

“Moving forward I am going to stop just adding chicken to my dishes and think about other sources of protein etc. and I want to make an effort to cut down meat even more then I was. I am Looking forward to continuing my reduced meat diet.”

Kat’s housemate also commented on the challenge saying, “It was all good really…! Found out it was easier than expected to do veggie meals, I always thought it was more effort/you had to spend longer doing them, but you don’t! I missed fish though.”

Some of Kat’s dishes included a vegetable ‘leftover’ quiche, pie with mash and greens, and a wellington roast!

Victoria is has gone all the way when it comes to living a meat-free lifestyle and is now living life as a vegan. She shares some tips on how to introduce more plant-based foods into your diet!

“I have been vegan for a year and half now, and before that I was vegetarian for about six years, with the occasional fish dish (pescatarian) here and there. My personal reasons for choosing a plant-based diet was to help the environment and reduce my carbon footprint, and because I simply love animals too much to eat them or any of their bi-products. I think a lot of people struggle at the thought of suddenly becoming vegan or vegetarian, but it doesn’t need to be an instant ‘all or nothing’ approach. You can slowly start introducing things into your diet that replace animal products so it’s a gradual and enjoyable process. For example, try plant-based milk as a replacement for your coffee, porridge or cereal. ‘Oatly’ is my favourite as its very creamy and great in coffee, but soya is good in tea and almond is good for porridge. Play around with different milks and find which one(s) are your favourite.”

“There are also some great meat alternatives out there – ‘Quorn’ do plant-based mince and chicken pieces (not vegan but good for veggies!) which are so easy to cook as a replacement for making bolognaise, fajitas or pies! There are some great vegetarian sausages out there such as Linda McCartney and supermarkets are doing a great job of offering their own brand meat-alternatives. There’s also a fairly new substance called seitan which is made from wheat gluten. It mimics the texture and look of real meat so is a great alternative if you want to fool yourself into thinking you’re eating the real thing! I haven’t tried cooking with it yet but I will often order it when eating out. If you have a look in the meat-free section next time you’re at the supermarket I’m sure there will be something that grabs your attention, and that’s a great first step.”

“I also love lentils, chickpeas and beans as staples for making many dishes such as bolognaise, curries and stews.”

“Lastly, its important to remember that everyone is on their own journey when it comes to being pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian and if you are trying one of these, its ok to make mistakes. Every little helps, and any effort you make is a good effort.”

So why not make your next meal meat-free? Let us know how it goes and don’t forget to look out for these symbols:

veg symbols

Venues go Vegan


Veganism is proving extremely popular in today’s modern millennial world, with several people moving away from a meat and dairy-based diet to an entirely plant-based one.  On a daily basis, we are learning the importance of a vegan diet, recent studies show the health and environmental benefits of going plant-based. Meatless Mondays are now becoming a thing and with sustainability at the heart of everything we do, Vegan Month seemed an appropriate time for us all to change our lives and dabble in the plant-based world.

We all agreed that we would just try it for one week only and it was up to the team to decide how many of their meals a day they would follow a vegan diet. As our resident ‘Green Guru’ Victoria is already vegan, she, of course, opted for a life of saving the planet. Alex and Hannah opted to make every meal vegan and Kat, Sasha and Nicola opted for vegan lunches.

We swapped eggs and bacon for baked beans and mushrooms, milky coffees for oat milk lattes and we all slashed our daily chocolate intake. As a venue that understands the importance of a plant-based diet, we were very lucky to have an array of options for lunches. We all enjoyed tarragon and mushroom sausage wellington, sweet potato shepherd’s pie, butternut squash soup and black bean quesadillas with vegan cheese. Vegan week proved a little more challenging for Alex and Hannah who were forced to get more creative with their meals at home to have a tasty dinner.

As a cheese and chocolate-loving team, we thought the challenge would be quite a shock to the system, but it was actually enjoyable for everyone. Kat said: “We are extremely lucky to work in a venue that creates tasty, innovative and delicious vegan food and this has definitely helped us enjoy and be inspired to start eating more vegan dishes.” Not only was there something delicious to choose from every day but we also got a chance to have food cooked for us by CH&Co’s very own vegan chef, who prepared us tofu and seaweed cake with roasted aubergine, tahini and rice noodles.

After a week of changing our diets, we felt we had done our bit to start helping the planet but was the tasty food enough to turn everyone completely plant-based…

We all agreed it enabled us to eat healthier and think more about what we are putting into our bodies. Sasha agreed that we all will do our bit for the environment and look at how many times we are eating meat and dairy, but we won’t be fully vegan anytime soon. Every small step to help the planet is a step in the right direction. Meatless Monday’s is next on the cards for the team but thankfully in the meantime, we have our Well-Grounded package, our resident vegan and a number of sustainable initiatives :)!

Turning a face-to-face event virtual


As we work on the venue side of the events industry, we’re most familiar with bringing our clients events to life, rather than our own.

Pre lockdown, our Venue Manager Kat was looking forward to delivering an external event as part of her Fast Forward 15 programme. Fast forward a few months (pardon the pun) and lockdown changed everything. Here Kat discusses the process of turning a face to face event into a virtual one.

“I was really lucky to get a place on the Fast Forward 15 programme with 14 other mentees in 2019/20. As part of this, we put on an event to give back. It’s an event with zero budget that aims to make money for a charity, whilst also generating funding towards keeping the Fast Forward 15 programme going, a great free opportunity for the events industry.

We were all set and excited to be hosting the event at Two Temple Place on the 30th April with catering secured, donations for drinks, and some fantastic AV from Sparq. Then COVID hit the UK.

Communication for me is key, if I’ve learnt anything already through this whole scenario, it is the importance of keeping in touch with my fellow mentees on zoom calls. We had about 2-3 weeks to decide if we either postponed until after October 2020, or turned it into a virtual event – something none of us had really done before.

I’ll be honest, my original thought was to move it to later in 2020. Gradually I saw the benefits of an online event – we would be able to get some vital funds to our charity – Girls Rock London, whilst also learning what it’s like for our clients to have the only option of events to be virtual.

Some of my wonderful mentees were furloughed from work so they could throw 110% of their energy into researching great online tech. With the help of our original AV supplier Sparq, they worked hard on a platform that would allow us to host as many people as possible.

My role in the event was charity liaison. Working with Girls Rock London, they shared some performances on the night so everyone could see where their money will go. We also have a great recording from Lips Choir which, trust me, is worth seeing. Turning this part virtual meant having pre-recorded sessions from the performers who were going to be at our actual event as well – something that I am sure is also completely new to them.

With the charity agreement, we moved forward with an online event. It’s really exciting to see how we can adapt from a face to face event into this virtual event – especially for a person who is so used to helping clients achieve their dream event in-person.

I have to say I was nervous about how it would all run on the night but with an amazing group of women, I was confident we’d pull off the first-ever virtual Fast Forward 15 fundraiser!

What I was looking forward to taking away from it is both raising money for charity, but also learning some new skills, which in turn I can hopefully use to help our clients make events more virtual in the future.

Apart from my advice on communication, if you are nervous to make your event virtual do speak to key suppliers out there and engage with others. Your event could really make a difference to others which I am hoping ours will as well.

You can come and see what the event looks like for just £5 – BUY TICKETS

World Environment Day 2020


It’s world environment day and it couldn’t have come at a better time…

The global pandemic has encouraged us all to reevaluate our lives and how our current ways of living are having an irreversible effect on the planet. This must be stopped.

The Earth is having a minute to breathe. Data from satellites shows that nitrogen dioxide air pollution levels have plummeted across Europe since the pandemic and levels of pollution have decreased by up to 50% in major cities. The air is clearing of pollution from fewer cars on the roads and planes in the sky, wildlife is returning to newly clear waters and forests and crude oil has gone into minus value as its just not needed anymore! We have even seen wild animals boldly strut into built up, urban areas where they never would have dared venture before.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not by any means under-emphasising the global tragedy that has been caused by the corona virus pandemic. However, in such dark and uncertain times it is important we are looking to the positives amongst the inescapable negatives and using these as tests to better ourselves and our futures.

The world is changing and we will all need to come to grips with a ‘new normal’ way of living our lives and hopefully, the undeniable changes we have seen in our planet in just a few short months from the absence of human activity will shine a brighter light on the importance of a greener way of living.

BMA House as a Sustainable Venue

At BMA House, we pride ourselves in putting sustainability at the heart of everything we do. We have won a number of awards in return for our efforts including a Gold award in Green Tourism in 2017, a ‘Greenest Venue’ award in 2018 and 2019, a ‘Most Sustainable Venue’ award in 2019, silver at the London Venue Awards 2019 for ‘Best CSR or Sustainability Initiative’, and ‘Best Conference Venue’ at the Hire Space Awards.

We work really hard as an events venue and as a wider organisation to keep up our fantastic ‘green’ credentials and do more than our bit for the planet. For example, we have drastically reduced our delegate carbon footprint by 69% over the past 4 years. We have also achieved a zero-landfill status and in January alone we recycled 46,760kg of waste and saved 140 trees.

Our venue and events are plastic-free and we offer a full plant based menu and delegate package too. You’ll also find around the venue upgraded PIR and LED based lighting, digital way-finding signage to reduce the need for paper signs, SMART Kapp white boards which transfers content to delegates’ phones, recycled paper for your flip charts, sustainable and locally sourced food ingredients and plentiful recycling units in all meeting rooms and corridors.

How can you be more sustainable in your venue, business, or everyday life?

There are a whole host of ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and the environmental impact you’re having at work and in your personal life.

A good place to start is to look at the UN’s ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs). These aim to provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and in the future. The SDGs cover topics including health and wellbeing, water, energy, education, consumption and production, and ecosystems.

So how do these translate to your life and working environments?

Well, pretty much everything you do has some kind of impact on the environment, so take a minute to think about your everyday life and consider;

  • What kind of food do I eat?
  • How much water and energy to I use daily?
  • What kind of clothes to wear and how often to I buy them?
  • How much waste do I throw away?
  • How much waste do I recycle?
  • Do I reuse what I can?
  • How do I travel from A to B?

Then start to think where you could make changes (big and small) to these areas to lower their impact on the environment.

In the workplace – some ideas to help you get started

Start by nominating a Sustainability Champion – this could be you, or someone else who has a keen interest in improving practices and can take an active role in leading operations. For example, at the BMA, each team has a Sustainability Champion who represents them in meetings and relays important information back to the team, encouraging them to work towards best practices.

Ensure you have adequate recycling and waste facilities that are labelled clearly and placed as frequently and conveniently as possible. This will help to make it as easy as possible for people to correctly dispose of their paper, plastics, glass, cans, food waste and general waste to optimise recycling opportunities.

Room temperature is never something that people will agree on, however the recommended room temperature for reducing environmental impact is 19 degrees Celsius. Aim to have your rooms set to 19 degrees as standard – at BMA House, we have an internally controlled temperature system so have ensured all rooms are kept at this temperature where possible and staff / guests are encouraged to wear extra layers of clothing or open a window before using the air conditioning or the heating.

Think about the lighting and water used in the building and if unnecessary usage can be reduced. At BMA, we have had water reducing flushes installed on our toilets and PIR lighting installed (passive infrared sensors). This means that lights go off when there’s no activity in the room so they’re not left on for prolonged periods of time. If you have light switches, consider putting signs on the wall to encourage staff to turn lights off when leaving the room or when the room is bright enough already from natural daylight.

Do you have a café or a shop onsite for staff and guests? If so, are you making a conscious effort to reduce plastic use and disposable waste? Consider switching your offerings to glass bottles instead of plastics and biodegradable take away containers. Better still, encourage customers to avoid these things altogether. For example, at BMA House, we have introduced a charge for take-away disposables, swapped all plastic for glass and introduced a reward scheme for bringing your own reusable containers and coffee cups.

Lastly, educate your colleagues and guests in any way you. The more people know about these things, the more they will be able to play their part in the positive change.

In your personal life – some easy tips to help you reduce your carbon footprint

Some of the easiest things you can do on a daily basis is to make sure you always carry with you the essential sustainability starter pack – a reusable water bottle, a reusable coffee cup, and a reusable bag. These will instantly give you a kick start into reducing waste and plastic which we all know is creating irreversible damage to the land, sea and wildlife. 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally every year. Half of that plastic is used for disposable items that will only be used once then thrown away. As a result, eight million tons of discarded plastic ends up in our oceans every single year.

Consider swapping cosmetic disposables for reusables too. There are some fantastic reusable face wipes and cotton pads out there, along with shampoo, conditioner and soap bars which will all help you reduce your disposable plastic use and waste. Products in glass, metal or cardboard containers are better for the environment as they are more easily recycled. Look also to purchase from companies who are doing their bit for the planet as well, for example, Fairtrade, cruelty free, using natural and vegan ingredients, and working to use recycled and recyclable materials in their packaging.

Think about reducing the amount of meat you consume – studies have shown that vegetarian and vegan diets are better for the planet and good for your health too. It doesn’t have to be a big dramatic change, even small changes you make to your daily life can make a huge difference – for example swapping dairy for plant-based milk or opting for chicken instead of more carbon-producing meats such as beef and pork. Producing beef uses 20 times the land and emits 20 times the emissions as growing beans per gram of protein and requires 10 times more resources than producing chicken. Additionally, check for palm oil in the food you are consuming – the production of palm oil is having a devastating effect on rain forests and the wildlife that lives within them. If it doesn’t say ‘sustainably sourced’ palm oil, avoid it!

How do you travel? Means of travel that do not use fossil fuels, such as walking or cycling are the best for the environment as they produce no carbon emissions whatsoever. This is followed by public transport such as buses and trains which can carry a large number of passengers at once reducing each individual’s carbon usage. If you need to travel by car, can you share lifts with someone else to save multiple cars being used on the road at once? Additionally, if you can holiday in your own country instead of travelling abroad by aeroplane, this will help reduce your carbon footprint too. Travelling by train emits 0.046kg CO2/km per person compared to 0.266kg CO2/km per person.

Lastly, reuse what you can and upcycle where possible. For example, the clothes you wear and buy. Fashion production takes up 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions and 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year with fashion waste contributing to the plastic polluting our seas as well! So next time you want a wardrobe refresh, think about buying second hand, donating or selling your unwanted clothes, or turning that old baggy dress into a cute new two-piece.

Sustainability isn’t just a word anymore, it’s a way of life. The planet is asking for our help and we can’t ignore it any longer.

Today is World Environment Day – why not make today the first day of your new, sustainable life?

How to add value to your event


We all love a bargain! And why not? Any opportunity to be able to save those precious pounds for ourselves or our organisations can go a long way. In the spirit of ‘bargain hunting’, I wanted to share some tips that’ll gives anyone planning an event a few ways to keep costs down (and their own moods high!).

Choosing a package per person over room hire and catering separately

For any event planner, this can be very much a “catch 22” situation where you have a set budget, but you want to get the most value possible. It’s understandable, who wants to buy a pair of shoes from a shop if you can get them for less online?

Choosing a package can make a real difference in cost because you’re paying per person which will include everything you may need. If you decide to go for a room hire cost, this is then followed by costs for tea, coffee, water, lunch, cakes, AV, etc. and it really starts to add up and can become confusing.

I’ve worked at several London events venues and the day delegate package is meant to offer value for money.

For example, our hot fork buffet day delegate package includes a hydration station and juice which is already saving you at least £5 per head.

Slide 12 - Hydration Station

Check what AV is included with your event planner

It sounds so simple but it’s worth asking the question. “You don’t ask, you don’t get!” as they say. All venues are different in how or why they charge for certain aspects of AV.

For some venues, it might just be the standard projector and screen included, which might be all you need. Other venues, where AV is more prominent or venues which have larger capacities that require more extensive AV, you will more than likely get more included (subject to ownership by the venue).

This very much relates to the point above, as this might all be included in your package cost. If so, this is fantastic and doesn’t cause more confusion with lots of additional costs.

At BMA House, we try to include as much AV as possible with room hire or a package per person cost, and we reflect this in the hire cost of the space and this, in turn, makes a planner’s experience much easier.

Our largest space, the Great Hall, has extensive AV included in the hire or per person cost. That gets you lighting, sound, the main screen and projector, microphones, comfort monitors as well as a dedicated technician. All costs are covered and you can feel safe in the team’s knowledgeable hands!

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Can additional spaces be included at a reduced cost?

At BMA House, we offer a second room at a discount as we understand the need for a separate space to give your delegates space and time to break from the main event.

When choosing a package, many venues will try and include this in the per person price, making it great value for money and again, helps keep costings simple and everything clear for both parties.

London Event Venue - BMA House - Cabaret - Worcester (9)

Charity discounts

If you are a registered charity, some events venues (but surprisingly not all) will be able to offer a reduction on costs. Do ask your event planner about this as they will be able to advise you on any discount applied to the hire, catering or package cost.

At BMA House, we offer £5 per person off the package cost or 15% off the venue hire cost per room. As a not-for-profit organisation ourselves we know how important these savings can be!

Working with your event planner and being open and honest. What is your budget? Can your event planner tailor a package to suit your needs?

Our events planners work at BMA House because they’re passionate about the events industry and want to create the best event possible for our clients.

With this in mind, we do believe being open and honest from both sides helps to build a rapport and a good working relationship so we can best meet your expectations.

We ask our clients their budget so we can either advise the most suitable option, or we will happily try to tailor a package to meet your budget and make it work for you.

PRE LOCKDOWN PICTURE

Are your dates flexible?

If you have flexibility with your date, please do let your planner know as some dates are probably less in-demand than others.

These can often be Mondays or Fridays or in quieter months, so if you can be flexible with your event date then it’s likely the rates can be flexible, and you can get better value for your money!

HeadBox Business Summer Party - 056 - AS

Top tips for planning Christmas parties in 2020


Well, what a year this is turning out to be!

As we begin May, we thought we would be looking ahead to a fantastic summer, parties in the Courtyard throughout June and July, and lots of outdoor drinks receptions and BBQs.

In reality, I am sat at home writing this from my bedroom, desperate to return to my normal life; my daily commute, my early start, and battling the horde of people outside Euston.  Who would have ever thought we would be thinking ahead to Christmas already with summer sunshine only just in our sights?

With things so uncertain, now is the time to look ahead and to focus on the future. We are optimistic in terms of focusing on the latter part of the year and are flexible and happy to hold your dates for longer. Looking ahead to Christmas, staff will want a reason to let go, enjoy themselves and say goodbye to a challenging year at the Christmas party.

Of course, we know that there may be social distancing restrictions in place, and we have fully reviewed our capacities to reflect this. We hope to see things slowly return to normal and with lots of availability and time to research, now is the perfect time to book and plan your Christmas party to give your staff something to look forward to.

Alongside the launch of our ‘Party in a pear tree’ Christmas packages we have put together some top tips for planning a Christmas party in 2020.

Christmas package

Venue

It can seem overwhelming looking for the right venue, especially when typing ‘Christmas Party Venue London’ into Google and coming back with thousands of results.

Have a think about what type of night you want to offer your guests, are you looking to put on a rave in a modern funky warehouse setting, or do you want to thank your guests with an elegant evening in a stunning listed building?

At BMA House we have several different rooms, each with a different feel so get in touch with one of our Planners who can match our spaces to your requirements and numbers.

Budget

Whilst we don’t like to start by talking about the nitty-gritty straight away, it is always good to have a budget in mind from the offset of when you start planning your Christmas party. That way, you know exactly what you have to spend on each component.

Your budget needs to cover several different elements of the evening, so splashing out on that giant light-up Santa straight away might not leave you with much else to spend.

If you haven’t got an endless budget but want to thank your staff, different venues offer different packages that can ensure you have an unforgettable evening.

Let your venue know how much you are willing to spend (we won’t use this against you or increase our rates) it is just helpful for us to be able to put together an offering within your budget.

Catering

Now you have chosen the perfect venue to host your Christma party and you know what you have to spend, the next most important choice to make is the catering.

Let’s face it, when anyone attends any form of party, they remember the food, drink, and entertainment. If you can take away just one tip from today it is not to scrimp on your food.

At BMA House, as the headquarters of the British Medical Association, we specify that all events that order alcohol have food on offer as well. Believe me, your guests will thank you for it the next day!

Whether you’re offering a bowl food or canape reception or a seated dinner, try to select options that would appeal to the majority of guests.

It is hard when looking through delicious menus to not just opt for your favourite dish but to think about what others might enjoy. Try to have a mix of fish, meat, and vegetarian options and think about those dietaries that will come up.

Here at BMA House, we have several plant-based, wellbeing, and gluten-free dishes that are delicious and take the hassle out of catering for a mass of requirements.

Our dinner party package this year comes with a dessert station as standard. This is a great way to get guests up from their tables and interacting with other colleagues over a truly creative and delicious masterpiece.

It is also important to think about what drinks you want to offer. Do you want an interactive gin bar with herbal infusions and free-flowing bubbles, or do you want to offer guests good old beer, wine, and soft drinks throughout the evening?

Again, it can be hard to not think about your own taste buds when selecting your wines, you might love a full-bodied Malbec from Bordeaux but will all your guests?

Most venues will allow you to have a menu tasting for a small charge or for free, dependant on your pre-booked package.

This is a great time to sample the menu and the wines, don’t forget to ask for tips from the catering team and event planners on pairing this all together!

Entertainment

As I mentioned earlier the sign of a great party is when people remember great catering and even better entertainment.

If your budget allows for it, having entertainment at your party can really bring that extra layer of fun.

There is a number of really great suppliers out there. When it comes to planning your Christmas party, ask your venue for some advice on this, they will be sure to put you in touch with some great contacts.

A lot of people tend to think that entertainment at Christmas is all about the music, whilst a good DJ or jazz trio can really add to the atmosphere, there are also plenty of other options too. Magicians, caricaturists, giant games, and photo booths are a great way for your guests to get involved and have fun.

If you haven’t got the money to be spending on lots of extras, then a good old Spotify playlist with some crowd-pleasing favourites definitely works as well.

Theming

Christmas is the perfect time of year for us all to enjoy a little bit of magic and fantasy.

If your thinking of theming your Christmas party, then definitely get in touch with a supplier or production company that focuses on theming.

They can transform any space with the click of their fingers. Keeping it simple works just as well and a lot of the time, venues will theme for you as part of their packages.

This year BMA House will be combining our passion for sustainability and our ‘Party in a pear tree’ package to help decorate and theme the venue for you to enjoy.

There we are, the top tips for planning a Christmas party in 2o2o.

If you want to host your party at BMA House, then our party packages start from £85+vat for a standing reception and £105+vat for a seated dinner. We know that things might seem uncertain right now and you might not want to book anything in but do give us a call.  We are happy to talk through all things COVID19 and hold some dates until we have a little more certainty. Here’s to a very Merry Christmas!

Why choose BMA House?


BMA House is a Grade II Listed building in the heart of London. Just a short walk away from Euston and Kings Cross station, it boasts 22 event spaces in addition to two outdoor spaces. With rooms ranging in capacity from 9 in boardroom style, to 200 for dinner and to up to 294 theatre style, BMA is sure to be able to host your next exciting event in one of our versatile rooms.

London Event Venue - BMA House - Dinner - Prince's Room (6)

Sustainability

We are of one of five venues in London to have been awarded a GOLD accreditation with Green Tourism for our leading environmental ethos and excellent practices throughout the organisation. We continue to find new initiatives in collaboration with our CSHG (Corporate and Sustainability Health Group) which involves staff members across the organisation who are ‘Eco-Warrior’ enthusiasts, including one of our own team members who is a ‘Green Ambassador’ for the venue.

We have moved to compostable cups and takeaway containers but introduced a 20p charge for disposables to help discourage the use of these as well as encouraging a ‘bring your own’ reward scheme. Plastic water bottles have been replaced by glass bottles and resealable aluminium cans, made from 68% total recycled content.

Additionally, we’ve partnered with River Partnership to identify and promote a ‘Clean Air Walking Route’ from Kings Cross providing delegates with a less polluted journey to BMA House, taking guests off busy Euston Road onto backstreets where air pollution is 57% lower.

Ourselves and the catering team have been working with an expert nutritionist to create wellbeing menus from responsibly sourced food. We’re focused on ensuring our ingredients come from local and responsible sources wherever possible. Delegates are encouraged to eat foods which sustain energy levels and promote healthy eating. Having introduced our new plant-based Well-Grounded Package, we are really trying to promote the benefits of plant-based eating on individual performance and the positive impact on the environment! If you would like to find out more about what initiatives we have in place at our London events venue, you can head over to our sustainability page or get in touch with the team – there’s plenty more to tell!

Disposible coffee cups

Team

There are 10 of us that make up the venue team at BMA House.

  • Kat, our Venue Manager, oversees the whole venue and team.
  • Mike is the Venue Sales Manager and looks after the sales and events planners, Rebecca who is our Venue Marketing Manager looks after all things social and tradeshows
  • Sasha and Hannah are our Senior Sales and Events Planners. They focus on retaining repeat business and getting in new clients from tradeshows, as well as planning events.
  • Victoria, Nicola, and Alex are our Venue Sales and Events Planners who take new enquires, plan and run their events.
  • Ellie is our Venue Administrator and looks after all of our internal staff members and their bookings.
  • Kate has recently joined our team who is our Venue Co-ordinator assisting with admin in the team and working alongside our Senior planners with proactive sales.

We are a bubbly and considerate team who are here to help where possible. We pride ourselves on being able to offer the best service from the initial enquiry all the way through to the event day and are on hand to answer any questions you may have. We work closely with all our other service teams at BMA House (reception, AV, porters, security, and hospitality) to ensure your event runs smoothly.

PRE LOCKDOWN PICTURE

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Packages

BMA House offers lots of different event packages suitable for all kinds of occasions. This includes the classic day delegate rate (DDR) and room hire + catering options. We have expanded menu choices from sandwiches and hot fork buffets to wellbeing and plant-based packages as well as fantastic Summer Party Packages and festive Christmas Party Packages. They have been carefully tailored to help your conferences and parties reach their full potential.

Our buffet packages allow you to choose your own menus choices with vegetarian and plant-based dishes to gluten or dairy-free. Our chefs create delicious, bespoke menus that support specific dietary requirements and lifestyle choices.

Our summer packages follow the trends including live Chef interaction, and the option to have our ‘Summer Sizzler’ or upgrade to ‘Summer in the Street’, with plenty of ways to personalise your party with recommended add-ons.

This Christmas, we have ‘a Party in a Pear Tree’ package for standing receptions or seated dinners with all you need for the perfect party, and a chance for you to add your own ‘WOW’ factors with our festive upgrade suggestions.

So no matter what kind of event you are hosting, or what it is you are looking for from your event, we will have something to suit you!

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week 2020


Rebecca’s survival guide to working from home with children during lockdown

To set the scene I have twins, a boy and a girl who’ve recently turned 3 years old. They don’t yet go to nursery or school, so are fairly used to homelife. Seven weeks ago, I was told to ‘work from home for the foreseeable future’. My husband was then struck down with the Coronavirus mid-March, so you could say my perfect working routine, was turned upside down!

My already overactive mind went from, ‘how am I going to cope?’, fighting tiredness each day, craving my old and familiar routine to return, to now living in what I’d say is a calm and enjoyable home environment. Here’s how I have adapted my working days and managed to turn the scary lockdown situation that many parents face into one that works for me:

Dress for the occasion

After being abruptly woken up early to “Mummy, I need a wee!”, one of the first decisions of my day is deciding whether I put on my work outfit, or my mummy outfit, as technically I’ll be doing both. But what I don’t do is to stay in my pyjamas and work, that’s a big no no! Firstly, I’ll be a laughingstock appearing in my many Zoom meetings, and secondly, getting myself suitably dressed helps me feel like I’m going to work, although my pink slippers will remain on my feet and well hidden!

Routine

Establishing a routine will not only help you, but it’ll also help your children settle into this new way of living. Being a parent means lie-ins are a thing of the past, however this isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you can get yourself an early night (anyone who knows me knows I cannot function past 9pm!). Being an event organiser means planning comes naturally to me, so I find the second I wake my mind is in gear planning out the day, which usually works around what our ever-changeable British weather is doing! Which leads nicely onto my next point…

Twins

Get creative

Before you begin work set out 3 or 4 activities that kids can happily do on their own. Don’t expect these activities to last all morning, just 10-20 mins but do this before you begin work so you’re interrupted less. If this can be in a separate room, or garden, you’ll reap the benefits of better concentration.

Most young ones won’t understand why they’re being kept indoors all day, not seeing family or friends, so make it easier on them by encouraging their creative side and make a rainbow poster for your window in support of our wonderful NHS and key workers. This should keep them occupied while you tackle a couple of emails!

NHS

Step outside

Children need exercise, daily. If you’re fortunate enough to have a garden, make an obstacle course, we’ve turned ours into a mini playground, or go out to a secluded spot for our one-hour allowed exercise time. Try to do this before you start work when it’s quieter so there’s less chance of meeting others, you’ll also feel in a better frame of mind to begin work.

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Have lots of snacks ready

For you and the children. I’ve lost count of the number of times my twins demand food throughout the day; this morning my son wanted lunch at 10:30am! I’ve been using up our Easter Egg stock, think we’ll be okay for a few more weeks!

easter eggs

Involve them in your Zoom chats

We’re all in the same boat, and whether we chose to sink or swim pretty much everyone who has children, or looks after little ones will know they don’t sit still for more than two minutes, so let them see your colleagues, who knows what the future holds for them, they could be the next legend in the events world, so start them young.

Have a regular working space

If you don’t have a dedicated office, don’t be tempted to follow the children around the house by moving from the sofa one day, to the dining room table the next (or bathroom if you choose!). Sticking to the same spot means you’re showing your children where mummy’s working spot is.

Don’t stress about the mess!

Yesterday I walked into the living room, every toy box was turned upside down, books flung on the floor, sofa cushions piled up to build a tower, and two children excitedly running around naked! I, somehow managed to keep my calm, took a deep breath, and went and boiled the kettle!

Wellbeing

Take some deep breaths to focus on the moment. I find doing some yoga each day really helps to focus my mind and bring me into the present day; my mind is constantly thinking of what I need to do next, or how I shouldn’t have done or said something in the past. Yoga is also a great exercise to do with children, or pets! They can do as little, or as much as they wish. Pick a few poses, like downward dog, call them what you like…and breathe.

andys girls - yoga pic

Enjoy some quality family time

One of the best bits for me having this time out of the office has been to spend some quality time with my family. Life as a parent can be tough at times, but it’s also very rewarding, so I regularly remind myself to think how lucky I am to be with my family and not stuck on some hot, overcrowded, delayed train!

Stay at home, stay safe, protect our invaluable NHS and save lives.

Beccas family home

BMA House, London

Ways to have a more sustainable wedding – Vick’s Top Tips


It’s 2020. Global warming and the climate crisis are definitely at the forefront of most of our minds and there is one question we are asking ourselves – how can I reduce my carbon footprint?

There are many easy things to be done in day to day life such as carrying a reusable coffee cup and water bottle around with you, reducing the amount of plastic you use, recycling, etc. But how can everyday efforts like these translate to your wedding?

Many couples are now choosing to have a more sustainable wedding and you don’t have to be an eco-warrior to do so!

Before we start, I would just like to say that, as there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ wedding, there’s also no such thing as a perfectly sustainable wedding. The prospect of planning an ‘eco-wedding’ might seem daunting but the very fact you are reading this means you are interested in how, and that is a great first step!

There are some very easy choices you can make when it comes to planning your wedding that will help lower the environmental impact of your big day, whilst keeping it as you always dreamed it would be.

Here are my top tips for sustainable weddings:

Before the big day

Choose a sustainable venue

Many venues are making an effort to be more sustainable now and by choosing a ‘green’ venue as a first step, you can lower the environmental impact of your wedding day without having to actually do anything yourselves!

If a venue is truly sustainable, they should be advertising it proudly, so it shouldn’t be hard for you to spot one! Some things to look out for are accreditations and awards.

For example, BMA House have a GOLD Green Tourism Award, and have won ‘Greenest Venue’ two years in a row, ‘Most Sustainable Venue’ and Silver for ‘Best CSER or Sustainability Initiative’.

These kinds of awards are extremely competitive in the sustainable venue world and take a lot of evidence to be submitted before even being considered so to win one is a huge achievement.

We are very proud to have won these awards and we ensure we have them displayed on our website, on our social media, on our listings on wedding sites and in our email signatures so everyone knows we are a sustainable London venue!

So, when looking for your venue, keep an eye out for these kinds of awards and accreditations and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Good ones to check are:

  • How do they dispose of their food waste?
  • Are their ingredients locally sourced?
  • What’s their plastic and recycling policy?

Grill your potential venues and make sure they are actually doing things to help the planet!

BMA House, London

Keep it local

It’s no secret that travelling by car or by plane is a huge contributor to carbon emissions as well as our individual carbon footprints. By keeping things local for your wedding you can help to lower the impact on the environment.

For example, think about the location of your wedding and where you or the majority of your guests might be based to reduce travel.

Destination weddings are on the rise and whilst these are often overseas, this just means they take place a long way from where you and your guests live, resulting in excess travel.

If your guests are widespread, is there somewhere central you could choose that has easy access for everyone via train or public transport? Can you encourage your guests to carpool? You can set up an email list with guests who would be willing to share accommodation or offer out-of-towners a place to stay.

A little bit of thought can go a long way and help to reduce unnecessary fuel being burned.

Additionally, consider locality and seasonality when it comes to your suppliers.

Are they based locally meaning they don’t have to travel far to get to your venue? Do they source their produce locally e.g. meat, vegetables, flowers that are UK based (or better, grown in the area!) and not sent from overseas?

Choose seasonally, for example, certain flowers, fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients naturally grow at certain times of the year so choosing live produce which is in season at the time of your wedding can help lower that carbon footprint further.

Just ask your suppliers what your seasonal options are and they will help you put together something spectacular.

Charlotte & Chirs

Choose natural or e-invitations

You will need to send out ‘save the dates’ and invitations for your wedding so consider how you want to do this.

The most sustainable option is to do this electronically. A save the date can simply be an email, however, there are some websites/apps which can be used to make these look pretty such as Mailchimp. This is simply an informative email so it requires no interaction from your guests!

When it comes to your invitations, you could send these as emails to asking for a reply RSVP, however, there are some fantastic websites out there that can make this an enjoyable experience for your guests as well as keeping everything in one place for you.

For example, withjoy.com sends interactive invitation emails to your guests and can help you organise your guest list, save the dates, invitations and RSVPs, gift registry, and information about your day including location, local hotels, transport links, pictures of the bridal party and more.

This reduces the paper used for the print and also the emissions caused by postal vehicles delivering them all to your guests. If you wanted to print a few invitations to keep, send to close family and friends, or to grandparents who don’t necessarily use email, then consider printing on recycled and sustainable paper.

If you were really set on doing traditional printed invitations, how about printing them on seed paper?

This should be made from natural and recycled products, it’s biodegradable and you can choose the seeds included and guests can plant this to grow some flowers which are good for our insects, instead of throwing them in the bin!

Make what you can and consider second-hand

Why not physically get involved with the aesthetic of your wedding?

There are lots of things you can make yourselves instead or purchasing them from a company which can;
– Look cute
– Mean you can save some money
– Add your personal touch
– Means you can know exactly where these things have come from and know their impact on the environment

For example, you could make your own signage with a wooden pallet and some paint, or your own table plan with photographs of your guests, and save the glass bottles of your favourite drink to put flowers in!

Pinterest is a great website to use for DIY ideas! If you aren’t particularly creative yourself, enlist the help of your bridal party, family, and friends. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Do you have any friends or family who have been recently married, or will be married around the same time as you? Consider sharing things where possible so you don’t have to buy and waste items unnecessarily, for example, fairy lights, name place/table number holders, and signage!

Additionally, consider second hand or hiring suits/bridesmaid’s dresses! As lovely as your wedding party will look, it’s unlikely they’ll have many more (if any) uses for the specific bridesmaid dress, suit, or waistcoat you have asked them to wear on your wedding day.

Fashion production takes up 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions and 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year with fashion waste contributing to the plastic polluting our seas. By choosing more ways to keep your wedding sustainable, you could lower yours and your bridal party’s carbon footprint a great deal.

On the day itself

Choose an eco-friendly caterer

Whether the venue is providing the catering for your wedding or you have hired an external caterer, you will be able to find a company that has a sustainable ethos, for example local, organic, Fairtrade, and ethically-produced ingredients.

Research has shown that eating a plant-based diet can considerably help reduce your carbon footprint so why not do this for your wedding day?

There are so many vegan and vegetarian options available now that are delicious and many meat substitutes, that many meat lovers find hard to differentiate from the real thing!

BMA house, as a sustainable venue in London, offer lots of vegetarian and vegan options within our standard menu and we also have a completely plant-based menu with some really exciting offerings. So, although your wedding menu may be less traditional, by going vegan or vegetarian it might be a nice surprise for your guests, giving them something to talk about.

If you are dead set on having meaty offerings, why not do a 50% vegetarian menu and try and opt for chicken or salmon. Studies have shown that these have a smaller impact on the environment compared to heavier CO2-producing meats such as beef and lamb.

Additionally, sourcing alcohol from local wineries, distilleries, or breweries as well as keeping your alcohol British, is another great way to keep your carbon footprint down.

dinner - Turkish style aubergine, buckwheat tabbouleh, cumin carrots, red pepper purée & coconut tzatziki (Vegan) (9)

Sustainable wedding favours

Wedding favours are sweet little additions many couples like to include at each place setting to say a small ‘thank you’ to guests for celebrating with them.

Sometimes, these can be a bit gimmicky and end up in landfill which is a waste financially as well as having a negative impact on the environment.

Why not choose something sustainable for your guests like insect-attracting seeds (save the bees!), plants or mini trees, handmade soap or small bottles of alcohol, jam or honey from a local supplier, or a reusable coffee cup (Huski Home and rCUP are my favourites)?

The ideas are endless but when choosing favours think about the environmental impact they could have during production and if they are disposed of, and avoid plastic and other man-made materials where possible. Natural is always best!!

Or, give back – an alternative to wedding favours is to donate the money you would have spent on these to a charity of your choice or if you are feeling really generous, ask guests to make a charitable donation instead of buying you a wedding gift.

Biodegradable confetti

Confetti throwing is a lovely tradition and makes for some excellent photographs. However, many of the traditional confetti packs you can purchase are made of plastic or an unsustainable man-made material.

Make sure you check out what your confetti is made from before purchasing and check it’s natural and can biodegrade. Dried flower petals are a good option and they’re super pretty too!

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After your wedding

Ethical honeymooning

For many, the honeymoon is a chance for a once in a lifetime adventure, so I am by no means suggesting you go to a campsite walking distance from your home! However, there are ways you can reduce the impact your honeymoon has on the planet, and research is key.

Look into locations before you settle on a destination to ensure the negative impact you have when traveling there is minimal.

Consider using a travel agent who specialises in responsible holidays, and support locally-owned hotels, shops, and attractions when you get there.

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Most importantly, remember to ENJOY your wedding day and the planning process. It should be a fun and enjoyable thing for you to do and if you’re having fun, your guests will be too!

https://www.businessinsider.com/fast-fashion-environmental-impact-pollution-emissions-waste-water-2019-10?r=US&IR=T

https://www.ecoandbeyond.co/articles/most-environmentally-friendly-meat/

‘Top Tips Tuesday’ – Selecting your Event Suppliers


In these strange and uncertain times where we have excess time and too much headspace, we can really focus on those things that often take a backseat when we are too busy.

One majorly important part of events; including conferences, private parties, bar mitzvahs, and weddings, are suppliers. Often, we don’t really take the time to think about how to create events with a difference, so, let’s use this extra time we have, to think about future events, and how you can make your event memorable.

Choosing suppliers can take a lot of time, it takes a lot of research, depending on the type of event you are planning.

A wedding or private party will generally have more suppliers than a conference, but not always. The most important suppliers for a conference are catering and production.

Caterers

If your venue has its own caterer like we do here at BMA House, it is one less job not having to select suppliers, but still, make sure you do your research.

Check out their website and Instagram, look at any reviews they might have, look over sample menus and think about what your guests would want and what fits with your brand message.

It is often found that the element of a conference people will find the most impactful is the food and drink! Your guests want to feel looked after, they are having to be engaged all day, so a caffeine break and a tasty lunch are majorly important.

Slide 4 - Wellbeing lunch

Production and AV

Production and AV suppliers are almost equally as important as food and drink. They’re vital for conveying your content for the day in the most effective and impactful way.

Whether it is a small screen for a meeting of six or a 5-metre interactive, LED wall for a 300 person conference, or even a vibrating dance floor with surround-sound speakers at a bar mitzvah (yes this exists), the AV you choose and the quality of your supplier can make or break your event.

Again, many venues will often already have an AV supplier or some in-house equipment.

Do of course ask your venue about what they have built-in and if there is anything else they can provide you with. Then consider what else you might need and indeed whether the equipment they have works for you.

If not, look into an external supplier who can provide what you need, most venues won’t mind you bringing your own production, just make sure to keep your venue and production team on the same page!

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Furniture & Decor

Moving away from the necessities of an event, the finer details are often what will make your event stand out. Furniture choice isn’t just important in your home but also for your event.

Some venues will have their own furniture, generally conference chairs and tables. If you have that little bit extra budget to spend then consider upgrading your furniture.

For a conference, make sure you have the comfiest chairs you can get, after all, your guests are sitting on them all day so comfort is key. However, consider also how you want the spaces to look.

Think about your brand message; create a colour palette that is bold and memorable. Consider also the style of your venue, make sure your furniture fits with it, for example, in a warehouse-style venue you might want to look at industrial style furniture using materials like re-purposed scaffolding.

London Event Venue - BMA House - Dinner - Snow Room (4)

Tying into décor, there are of course other things you will want to consider, such as flowers.

Now if you are planning a conference, this is something that will likely get set aside, however for a private dinner, a wedding or even a corporate Christmas party, flowers can liven up any venue.

Like with furniture, create a colour palette that is either in line with your brand for a corporate event, or in line with your personal style for a private event or wedding.

One important thing that often gets forgotten, like food, flowers are seasonal, so make sure to check in with your florist as they will be able to advise you on what flowers you can use at what time of year.

Advice from your suppliers is invaluable, so do get their opinion as they are the experts!

Charlotte & Chirs

Entertainment

The last thing I want to cover, but by no means least, is entertainment in all its shapes and forms.

Entertainment can tie into all different forms of events in different ways and is super important in making an impression on your guests, and of course, keeping them happy and having fun!

The perfect entertainment for a conference is a team-building activity.

Not only are you getting your guests networking, but it is giving them something fun to participate in away from your main presentations.

If you are planning a summer or Christmas party, you may want to consider a few different options, such as; music, magicians, games or even performance acts. Performance acts are a great way of creating a spectacle for your guests, and with these, you really can let your imagination run wild.

Entertainment suppliers will generally have a large roster of acts with their own pre-organised routines. Don’t be afraid to ask for something more bespoke.

Tell them what you are looking for and what you want to create and let them help you bring your vision into existence. After all, they will want your event to be successful and the most memorable it can be, just as you do.

HeadBox Business Summer Party - 065 - AS

Like with anything, that little bit of extra time and effort spent researching suppliers and talking to them, can make all the difference.

A big tip to help save you some time is to ask your venue for their preferred suppliers’ list. Most venues will have a great list of suppliers they have worked with before and can provide you with a great experience, so make sure to look into this, particularly if you have less time to spend researching.