16 things to do during lockdown

Life is on hold, but you don’t have to be 

 

Stuck indoors and looking to relieve the lockdown boredom? If you’re struggling to find a series on Netflix you haven’t watched, it’s time to think outside the box. Staying in doesn’t have to be a waste of time – why not discover a new skill or hobby? Not only will lockdown fly by, but you’ll come out of it as a new and improved version of yourself – win, win! 

Train your pooch! 

Give your pup some love this lockdown by giving them some behaviour training. Whether it’s combatting aggressive behaviour or teaching them basic obedience commands, dog training can lead to your pup living a longer and happier life. If you’re not sure, hire an online dog trainer and learn the most effective tips and tricks.

Learn a new language

Being stuck indoors is the perfect opportunity to brush up on your language skills. Long gone are the days of dusty old language books – there are now endless ways to learn a language online. Whether it’s watching foreign language shows on Netflix (with subtitles, of course!) or listening to podcasts, language learning doesn’t have to be boring anymore. 

If you’re serious about improving your language skills, hiring an online tutor is a perfect way to add some structure to your learning. They’ll also hold you accountable on the days where vegging out on the sofa is much more tempting! 

Set goals

If you enjoy living life in the fast-lane, lockdown might feel like it’s been put on pause. But having the time to slow down and reflect can be really helpful when it comes to understanding where you are in life and where you want to be. 

Whether it’s working towards financial independence or trying to live a healthier lifestyle, setting goals and breaking them into small daily tasks will help you to feel focused and productive. If your goals seem unattainable or you don’t know where to begin, why not hire an online life coach? As long as you’ve got a strong internet connection you can have consultations via video call, or over the telephone. 

Try a healthy new diet

One of the upsides of lockdown is that you can spend more time in the kitchen, try out new recipes, and kick-start healthy eating habits. If you have difficult dietary requirements or need help controlling your calorie intake, start your journey the right way by getting a nutritionist or dietitian.

Balance the books 

Okay, so not very exciting – but hear us out! Lockdown is the perfect time to get on top of those boring financial tasks. If your business has been affected by Covid-19, it might be time to reassess your financial situation. If you need some help getting your affairs in order, an online financial advisor will be able to help you manage a number of tasks, including cash-flows and reassessing your budget. 

Get the boring stuff out of the way so you can free up time for what’s important when lockdown ends! 

Kick bad habits 

Did you know it takes 21 days to break a bad habit? Lockdown is an ideal time to say goodbye to bad habits and form some healthy ones! The first step is identifying what you want to change and what your triggers are. 

Once you’ve figured that out, there are lots of exercises to help you combat a bad habit. A tried and tested one is replacing a bad behaviour with a good one – if you find yourself regularly reaching for the cookie jar, why not replace it with some dried fruit? Alternatively, you could hire an online hypnotherapist to help you with the legwork. 

Learn to code 

Coding is an incredibly sought after skill in our digital world, so why not give yourself a head start and give it a go? There are tonnes of online coding courses out there, or if you’re looking for more personal support, you can find an online coding tutor. 

Learn a new instrument 

Ever committed to taking up piano or the guitar only to find that you simply don’t have the time to practice every day? With so much time on your hands, lockdown is the ideal opportunity to get your daily practice in. Struggling to find your inner Beethoven? Find an online music tutor. 

Revamp your living space 

If you’re sick and tired of being stuck at home, maybe all you need is to give it a new look! Interior designers are now providing their services online – designing a ‘virtual’ room and filling it with real-life items available to purchase – pretty cool right?

Learn to draw 

Okay, so you may not be the next Picasso, but drawing is a great way to pass the time, and has been proven to help with anxiety and stress. If you’re serious about improving your sketching skills, it’s worth hiring an online drawing tutor to help you hone your craft. 

Give your website a face lift 

If your business has had to come up with new ways to connect with customers remotely this year, then having a great website should be at the top of your priorities. Whether it’s improving user experience (UX) or refreshing your content, investing time into your website will help to attract and retain new customers. But it can be a tricky task – especially if you don’t know the basics of web design. Hire a web designer to ensure your website gets the high-quality finish it deserves. 

Get fit 

With an abundance of online fitness classes to choose from, there’s no reason you can’t get fit from the comfort of your own home! Grab some household objects as weights and get moving! Getting an online personal trainer is a great way to add structure to your workouts and help you to achieve your fitness goals. 

Get party planning! 

Whether it’s a birthday, wedding, or anniversary, lockdown is a perfect time to start planning your next event. Yes, the world seems uncertain, but there’s no harm in giving yourself a headstart for when normality resumes. If you need a helping hand, why not hire an online event and party plannerFrom scoping out the best venue to finding decorations, it’s easy for them to tick off their to-do list from home. 

Update your CV 

Smash the job market as soon as you get out of lockdown by updating and refreshing your CV. Not sure how to make the most of your CV? Online CV writers are on hand to ensure your CV is perfected and polished – highlighting your best bits!

Write a novel (or a blog) 

There’s no better time than during lockdown to get those creative juices flowing. Pick up a piece of paper and a pen (or your laptop) and start working on that novel you’ve been meaning to write for the last five years. Or if you don’t fancy yourself as the next William Shakespeare just yet, maybe ease yourself in with a blog post. 500 words are very different from 500 pages, after all! If you need a polished blog for your business, you can find online blog writers to do the hard work for you. 

Try out yoga 

Lockdown is the ideal opportunity to find your inner zen. Whether you’re an experienced yoga-lover or a complete beginner, there will be something online for your age and capability. All it takes is a quick two minute Google search. Alternatively, you could hire an online yoga instructor – they’ll be able to ensure your form and techniques are spot on, saving you nasty injuries later down the line. 

 

 

 

 

 

Party season is nearly here! Plan an unforgettable Christmas do today with Bark

With Christmas party season nearly upon us, now is the time to start planning if you want to make sure your festive do is remembered for all the right reasons.

As with any big seasonal event, all the best local venues and entertainers usually get booked up well in advance – meaning it’s never too early to start getting into the festive spirit.

So dig out your ugliest sweater, put Cliff Does Christmas on the stereo and take a look at our guide to planning the ultimate Christmas party!

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Find a great venue

Unless you want to spend your night at home or crammed into the office break room, finding a great venue for your Christmas party should be right at the top of your party planning checklist.

Look for somewhere that’s easy to get to and, more importantly, easy to get home from at the end of the night. But remember, the best party venues will often get booked months in advance, so it’s important to start planning early.

Place a venue hire Bark now and we’ll begin searching for great local party venues on your behalf right away.

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Choose a theme

No party is complete without a great theme to tie everything together. This is your chance to get creative with your outfit, and your friends will revel in the opportunity to get all dressed up.

We recommend sending a simple poll around to gauge what sort of event everyone’s in the mood for. Include a fair spread of options, ranging from festive causal to black tie, or even fancy dress.

Then, when you’ve settled on something, place an event decoration Bark to find a great local pro to bring your theme to life.

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Make sure the food is top notch

Great food is a must at any party. Drinks will be flowing, and the last thing anyone wants is to be stumbling in the gutter at the end of the night.

Find out what your budget is, check whether anyone has any special eating requirements and look for a menu that has something for everyone.

Whether you’re planning a large sit down meal, or a simple party buffet – we’ll find a great local caterer to line your guest’s stomachs and keep them dancing all night long.

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Don’t forget the entertainment!

If you want to go the extra mile to give your guests a night to remember, there’s a huge range of entertainment options you can choose from.

Hiring a photo booth, booking a closeup magician, or even enlisting some event performers are all great ways to get everyone into the party spirit. But the most important ingredient at any Christmas party is music.

Lining up Christmas tunes on a Spotify playlist is all well and good, but you can’t beat hiring a professional DJs if you want to guarantee your guests will be dancing all night long.

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Capture the whole night on film

Last but not least, don’t forget to record the evidence! Or, better yet, hire a professional to do it for you.

This is a night your friends will be talking about for months to come, so it’s well worth having someone there to document everything and create a great photo album you can all flick through together in January.

Place your Bark now and we’ll do all the legwork to get you quotes from local event photographers fast and free.

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The Bark guide to planning a last minute party

Our very own Kai Feller turned another year older last weekend. So, of course, we decided to have a party!

Kai’s very much a “work hard, play hard” kind of guy, and we knew we’d have to pull out all the stops for his birthday – but with over 60,000 professionals at our fingertips, finding the right local pros to help us was easy.

In fact, we had such a great time we decided to put together this quick guide to throwing a last minute party for when you’re next organising an event for your friend, colleague or spouse.

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Kick the night off with luxury cocktails

Hiring a skilled bartender or mixologist is an easy way to get the conversation flowing freely at your party and keep your guests supplied with a range of delicious drinks all night long.

They’re the ultimate ice breaker. So whether you like a rich, smoky Old Fashioned, or prefer the zesty freshness of a mojito – place a bartending Bark today to find great cocktail waiters for your next party.

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Make sure the food is out of this world

Whether you want simple finger food for your guests to munch on between drinks, or a hearty buffet to line their stomachs – great food is an essential ingredient at any party.

In the end, we decided to ask our favourite personal chef to provide the canapés, and drafted in an outside catering company to cook up a succulent hog roast for later on.

With thousands of registered catering professionals, sorting the perfect food for your party is easy with Bark. Place a request today to get quotes from local caterers fast and free.

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‘Wow’ your guests with a close-up magician

We found award-winning sleight of hand artist Adam Keisner by placing a last minute magicians Bark, and were blown away by his supernatural powers.

Inviting a close-up magician to surprise your guests might not be the first thing you think of when planning a party, but it should be! We were guessing how he did it long after he’d gone home for the night.

From illusionists, to escape artists, street magicians and more – place a magicians Bark today to find master magicians in your area.

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Now you’re ready for karaoke!

Once the party’s in full swing, it’s time for the main event – and since it was Kai’s birthday, we thought we’d try something a little different.

We found Marvel Booths by placing a karaoke hire Bark, and they delivered a karaoke machine packed with hits right to our front door.

Before long the whole party was belting out the likes of Bohemian Rhapsody and Living On A Prayer at the top of their lungs, making it far and away the best buy of the evening.

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Finally, get someone else to do the cleaning

Waking up the morning after a big party, the last thing you want is to spend ages cleaning up beer bottles and scrubbing carpet stains. But, luckily, with Bark you do have to.

Place a house cleaning Bark today to find a local cleaner to handle your post-party tidy up. Then, while they’re taking out the trash and doing the dishes, you can start planning your next big night out!

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Ask the Expert: How to plan the perfect party

Throwing the perfect party is no piece of cake. Pull it off and your friends will be singing your praises for months after the event. But with so many things to consider, it can be tough to know where to begin.

To help you get started, we spoke with Dez Events founder, Deborah Granville. After more than 15 years in corporate and charity events, Deborah literally wrote the book on party planning – so it’s safe to say she knows a thing or two about throwing a great party to really “wow” your guests.

So what do you need to consider when planning your party? Well, according to Deborah, you should start by asking yourself three crucial questions – why, when and where?

“Are you having this party because you feel you should?” she says. “Or do you really want to have it because you want your friends and family around you, and you want to do things that make you and your guests happy?”

Deborah Granville planning one of her legendary parties
Deborah Granville planning one of her legendary parties

She adds: “If you know why you are having it and what you want to achieve, all the planning will flow naturally.”

It’s also important to consider if your party will clash with any other events. As Deborah says, you don’t really want to be competing with the Champion’s League final, or the season finale of Game of Thrones.

Finally, you need to make sure your venue is suitable for all your guests – so think about where it is, how people will get to it, and whether it needs disabled access or parking.

Deborah says: “There are so many amazing venues in the UK, from fancy ballrooms to under-the-arches plain spaces, so whatever your taste and budget, you’ll be able to find something to suit.”

“Just remember that an empty, ‘dry hire’ space won’t necessarily be cheaper, as it may not have the on-site facilities you need,” she adds. “And don’t forget to haggle!”

Time to get the party started

Once you’ve got your venue, you’re ready to sort out the entertainment. If you want your guests to come away having had a fabulous time it’s best to focus on what they’ll enjoy, as well as what you want.

“If some of your guests don’t know each other, help them to mingle by providing some entertainment,” Deborah suggests. “A magician, a balloon artist, or contortionist – something they can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at together.”

Simple ideas like these should break the ice and help your guests start to relax. Then, once everyone’s loosened up a little, it’s time to really get the party started.

“A live band interspersed with a DJ is always a winning combo,” says Deborah. “But always make sure you prep them with the songs you want and, sometimes more importantly, those you don’t. (Birdy Song, anyone?)

“Music is so important, because it has the power to relax as well as to energise, so having a good DJ – or even your own playlist – can make or break a party.”

And if you really want to impress…

Setting a theme can be a great way to ensure your party stands out from the many others your guests will be invited to this year and, done well, it can add a real touch of class to your event.

“Some people love themes, as once they’ve picked one, everything else falls into place,” explains Deborah. “Others don’t really know what theme, if any, they want, but as they start to think about the things they want at the party, a theme evolves.

“Here are two to get you started: A Hollywood glam theme, with soft feathers, floral detailing and pewter candelabras, where guests go to town on their outfits. Or, for something a little more pared down, a festival theme, with trestle tables and benches, wooden signs and flowers in mason jars – and ask guests to wear their wellies!”

If you do go with a festival theme, Deborah says an ice cream tricycle is a wonderful way to serve a delicious dessert and is a visual treat which helps to create that vintage atmosphere.

Or, if you’re looking for something a little classier, try letting your guests customize their Champagne cocktails with fruit purees, lavender sprigs, citrus twists and flavoured ice cubes they can spoon into their glasses.

Of course, if you really want your party to stand out from the crowd…

Why not ask our pros to help?

While planning your own event can be a lot of fun, it takes time and organisation to pull all elements of a successful party together. That’s why, for larger events, many people prefer to draft in a professional – and that’s where Bark comes in.

Whatever event planning services you need – from DJs, to marquee hire and more – we can help. Simply click the link below to place your Bark today, and we’ll find you local party planners ready to help throw the party of your dreams.

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Hosting For The Masses: Ten Street Foods to Wow Your Guests

Summer barbecues may seem like a distant memory already, but as the colder months approach, there are still plenty of opportunities to celebrate and host coming up in the calendar. So, why not really go all out to impress your guests with your culinary prowess?

At Bark.com, we’ve seen requests for all manner of catering rise as hosts look to spice up their socials with dishes from around the world, so if you’re looking for a little inspiration, why not try one of our top ten street food picks to get the party started.

  1.  DIY tacos and burritos: A simple Mexican staple, but easy to personalise, lay out the wraps and taco shells, and provide bowls of chilli con carne, rice, cheese, salsa, guacamole and an array of vegetables. People can pick and choose as they like.Street Food Trends 2015
  2. Bubble Tea: Becoming ever more common in the UK, this beverage first found popularity in the streets of Taiwan. Traditionally a cold milk tea mixed with tapioca balls, there are now a variety of flavours to choose from – milk or juice based – and fruit jellies or popping balls that can be included for a refreshing non-alcoholic alternative drink.

    Street Food Trends 2015
    Popping onto the UK scene
  3. Poutine: Straight over the Atlantic from Canada, Poutine seems like the perfect complement to a boozy evening. Chips, gravy and cheese…what more could your guests want?
    Poutine: Summer food trends 2015
  4. Bunny Chow: This South African delicacy really gives you options. Hollow out some bread and fill it with a curry of your choice. This fun dish is great for soaking up alcohol, but maybe keep the napkins at the ready.

    Street Food trends 2015
    Dig deep for Bunny Chow
  5. Arepa: Heading to South America, this slightly thicker flatbread dish is popular in Colombia and Venezuela and it is usually filled with a combination cheese, egg and avocado.Street Food Trends 2015
  6. Jerk Chicken: Something a bit more familiar here, but a well-loved dish-if you can handle the spice! You could serve this with rice, or make it more of a casual party food by skewering it with peppers and pineapple.

    Street Food Trends 2015
    It pays to be a jerk
  7.  Currywurst: This idea of curried sausage may seem odd to some, but citizens of Germany swear by it. The sausage is steamed and then fried, sliced and served with a spiced tomato sauce. Leave in a bowl or serve with chips – whatever suits your guests.

    Street Food UK trends 2015
    The ultimate German street food
  8. Ceviche: This Peruvian speciality may not be ideal for all but the blend of raw fish marinated in citrus juices and seasoned with onions and chillies can be served with a variety of side dishes such as sweet potato, avocado and corn. It’s certainly among the lighter options! What’s more, go the extra mile and wow your guests by gaining a firm grasp of the local dialect.

    Street Food Trends 2015
    Image courtesy of The Pescertarian and The Pig
  9. Burek:  Go to a street stall in Bosnia and you’ll be greeted by many different types of pastry goods. The main flaky favourite is made with ground beef but there are alternatives filled with egg and cheese or potato and onion. If these don’t suit you, why not explore with your own flavour combinations?

    Ten street food trends UK
    Burek: Perfectly Flaky
  10. Banh Mi: All over Vietnam, you’ll see stalls serving baguettes, covered in mayonnaise and pâté, filled with pork or meatballs and garnished with cucumber, carrots, coriander and chillies. They’re a firm, if slightly messy, favourite among tourists, but perhaps worth cutting into smaller bite sized pieces for an easy to handle snack.
Street Foods UK Trends 2015
Banh Mi: A tourist favourite

People will always remember the food from parties so if you can pull some of these off then it will help to make yours one to remember for a long time! Or have the dishes but save yourself the trouble and find a caterer or even a professional chef to do the hard work for you – we won’t tell if you don’t!

For more Bark.com tips and insights, why not check out our other blogs?