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The Big Lunch Agony Aunt

May 5, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

With almost a month to go until The Big Lunch 2016, some of you may be having a few last minute worries. So The Big Lunch Agony Aunt is here to put those doubts to rest and get you ready for a day of fun, food and community bonding!

Here are a few of the most common worriesfor every Big Luncher:

1. What if it rains?

We live in the UK, so there is a possibility that you may experience a bit of wet weather! But this doesn’t have to stop your Big Lunch going ahead. Make sure to have a wet weather plan a week in advance of your Big Lunch. Ask neighbours if they could host it in their lounge or kitchen, or what about a local community hall, church or local space? Be brave and ask around, you might even be able to borrow a marquee – that way you can still be outside!

2. What if the children aren’t entertained?

This can easily be resolved with a little imagination and forward planning. A few games and props can create hours of amusement, explore our games page for ideas. How about an old-fashioned egg and spoon race? Tug of war? Skipping? Or how about a coconut-shy? – using coconuts or other round vegetables, with hula-hoops or buckets for them to be thrown into.


3. Will there be enough food for everyone?

A few days before your Big Lunch, it is worth doing a little round up of what everyone will be bringing to the table. This doesn’t necessarily mean the exact dishes, but asking if neighbours are bringing sweet or savoury; this will help to see if you need more of one or the other. Similarly, asking all attendees to RSVP to your day is helpful as it will give you an idea of numbers and therefore make food planning a little easier. Not got a plan in place? Get all the even numbered houses to bring sweet and the odd to bring savoury – simple!


4. What’s everyone going to sit on?

At first, it is worth asking everyone who is attending if they have any chairs or benches that they could bring along. Make sure to ask for a reply, so you are able to tally up the numbers. If you are still in need, approach your local schools, community groups (like Scouts or Brownies) or religious centres to see if they have any you could loan for the day. You can also get creative – up turned buckets make nifty stools!

5. What if no one turns up?

Whatever size your Big Lunch is, it will still be a worthy event in your local community! Even if you meet just one new person, you will have achieved something by growing your neighbourly links.

6. How do I make my Big Lunch look like a street party?

A little bit of décor can turn any street into one that looks ready for a party! How about using recycled materials to make your own bunting? Or decorating an old bed sheet to use as a personalised table cloth? Get the kids to do chalk drawings along the pavement and pop a few flowers in some old jam jars. Easy to do, cheap and quick!

7. How do I make the most of the day?

The main aim of Big Lunch day is to enjoy yourself! Although you may worry about everyone else having a good time, it is key to relax a little and go with the flow! Things will fall into place and sometimes the most fun events are the ones that don’t run the smoothest!

Got any other worries our Agony Aunt can help with? Email us at

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How to, Ideas, Spreading the word

Throw a Big Lunch to Win a Visit from the Gruffalo!

May 3, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

The Big Lunch is offering the chance to win a visit from the Gruffalo at your Big Lunch!

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One lucky luncher will win a visit from the real Gruffalo at their Big Lunch. Your very special guest will also deliver a Gruffalo themed party pack to help make your Big Lunch day even more special! Four runner-up lunchers will also receive a Gruffalo party pack for their Big Lunch.

To enter, simply let us know you are taking part in The Big Lunch by registering your participation or requesting a free Big Lunch pack here and then send your confirmation email to with ‘Gruffalo competition’ in the subject line, along with a couple of lines about why the Gruffalo should visit you! Please include a contact telephone number in your email.

The deadline for entries is midnight on Sunday 29th May. The competition is only open to residents of England, Scotland and Wales.

Sign up now to make your Big Lunch one to remember!

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Please read the terms and conditions below.

Terms and Conditions:

  1. Promotion is open to residents in England, Scotland and Wales only.
  2. Closing date for entries is midnight on Sunday 29th of May.
  3. No charge is made to enter this competition and no purchase is required.
  4. One entry per household.
  5. Employees of the Eden Project and Magic Light Pictures, their immediate families, associated companies, distributors, third parties or anyone professionally connected with the promotion are excluded from participation.
  6. The main prize will be a visit from the Gruffalo at your Big Lunch event and a Gruffalo party pack for your event. Four runners up will receive a Gruffalo party pack each for their Big Lunch event.
  7. The prize is as stated and there is no cash or other alternative available. Prize is not transferable. Prizes will be dispatched within 10 days of announcing winner.
  8. Entrants must be holding a Big Lunch event in their community between June 11th-12th to enter.
  9. The Gruffalo visit prize must happen between 11th– 12th of June.
  10. Entries must include a responsible adults name and contact details to arrange the visit.
  11. The winner of the Gruffalo visit must be able to provide a person to wear the Gruffalo costume. By entering, entrants agree that in the event of winning, this person will abide by the costume character guidelines which will be sent to them and are available upon request from the Promoter.
  12. Winners will be contacted by telephone by Monday 30th May and will only be announced if they can confirm by Tuesday 31st May that they can claim the prize within the time frame above.
  13. The Promoter will use the entrant’s personal information in order to administer and run this competition. The Promoter may provide the personal information of the entrant to third parties in connection with these uses.
  14. No bulk, third party or organised group entries will be accepted. All entries must be made directly by the person entering the promotion. Entries made indirectly or via the use of automated devices or processes are not allowed and all such entries will be disqualified.
  15. Entries not complying with these terms and conditions or which provide insufficient information on the online entry form will not be accepted by the Promoter.
  16. By entering, entrants agree that in the event of winning, they agree to take part in reasonable publicity as determined by the promoter for no further consideration.
  17. By entering all participants will be deemed to have accepted and be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
  18. The Promoter reserves the right to hold, void, cancel, suspend or amend the competition or terms and conditions where it becomes necessary to do so.
  19. The Promoter accepts no responsibility for entries that are not received for any reason.
  20. The Promoter’s decision on any aspect of the competition is final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into.
  21. The Promoter is the Eden Project.

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The Big Lunch’s Classic Victoria Sandwich

May 3, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

We thought we’d share a Big Lunch classic with you all – the mighty Victoria Sandwich! Perfect for Big Lunch day, and in fact all other days, this super simple recipe comes to you from our lovely Lindsey, The Big Lunch Programme Manager.



  • 4 free-range eggs (plus one extra for luck! )
  • 225g/8oz caster sugar
  • 225g/8oz self-raising flour
  • 2 generous teaspoons of baking powder
  • 225g/8oz soft butter, plus a little extra to grease the tins
  • Icing sugar to dust the top
  • Good quality jam – strawberry or raspberry are our picks!
  • 150-200ml double cream, whipped



Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line two 20cm/8in cake tins.

Add the eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder and butter into a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Use an electric mixer or, if you’re feeling strong, a wooden spoon!

Divide the mix between the two tins. Make sure to lick the spoon.

Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25 minutes and try not to open the door while they are cooking. After 20 minutes check them through the door. When the cake’s are done they should be springy to the touch and golden brown in colour.

When they are done, let them cool in their tins for a few minutes. Then run a knife around the inside of the tin and carefully turn the cakes out onto a wire cooling rack. Let them cool completely before you assemble your cake.

Then simply spread your jam across one of the cakes, followed by a good smearing of whipped cream and pop the second cake on top! Sprinkle with icing sugar and a few fresh strawberries if you fancy, and then dig in!

A wonderful Big Lunch recipe that’s sure to bring all of your neighbours out of their houses and on the hunt for cake!

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Community, Events, How to, Ideas, Planning, Recipes, Sharing, Top tips

Publicising your Big Lunch

May 3, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

As we get closer to The Big Lunch, you might be wondering how you can get local media to cover your event and share your community’s story? It’s definitely worth letting a few journalists know about your event, especially if you’re going to be raising money for charity or if you’d like more people to attend.

To help you, The Big Lunch PR team has put together a 2016 Media Toolkit, including a draft press release which you can personalise to help spread the word about your Big Lunch. Here are a few pointers to help you get started!

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Think local:

Decide who is going to look after PR activity for your Big Lunch and think about why local people would be interested in your event: do you have an interesting story to tell about your street or community? Are you fundraising for charity? Is your event themed?

Print, web, broadcast:

You may have already thought about your local paper, but what about blogs, radio and TV? Why not try to tell your Big Lunch story in a phone-in to your local radio station?

The power of email:

Journalists are busy bees, so look for the ‘contact us’ section on websites and send across your press release to the news desk email address. Copy and paste it into your email rather than adding it as an attachment to save them time.

Social media:

Facebook and Twitter are great ways to promote your event and you can also post about it on your local media’s social media channels. Make sure to include #thebiglunch in your messages so we can see what you’re up to!

A picture is worth a thousand words:

Take photos and videos on Big Lunch day and send them to your local media on the same day along with your press release – some outlets might have a ‘send us your photos’ form on their website. If you have held a Big Lunch before, include some photos in your initial emails to journalists to grab their attention.

Don’t forget to let us know about your Big Lunch too by emailing

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Community, How to, Planning, Sharing, Spreading the word, Top tips

Power to Change Enjoy a Big Lunch

April 29, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

Last weekend a team from Power to Change descended upon the Eden Project for our April Big Lunch Extras community camp. Mark from Power to Change shares their experience of the camp and explains how their £10m Community Business Fund can make a difference in your community:

“We were asked to run a series of sessions on community business at Big Lunch Extras’ April community camp, where over 60 community leading lights were invited to the Eden Project to start a journey to make their neighbourhoods even more extraordinary. On our train down to St Austell, the carriage was buzzing with stories of community transformation. Over the next two days we got to know them and their stories better.

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By the time it came for us to present on the Sunday, whilst it was clear that the participants were aware of the transformational power of community, not everyone had realised the potential of community business, nor of its necessity in the current climate. Community businesses arise to meet the needs of their neighbourhoods. We heard a lot over the weekend about the corrosive effects of social isolation, not just in rural locations but also in the midst of the city. During the workshops we were running one-on-one incubator sessions using a Community Business Model Canvas developed by our partners in Plymouth, Real Ideas Organisation; neglected assets were being identified as ready to unlock and ideas were turning into nascent business plans, with some not far from being application ready for our £10m Community Business Fund that has just opened.

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The team at The Big Lunch were all natural born storytellers to a man and woman, animated animators, unwaveringly enthusiastic about communities and their potential for good. And then there was the Eden Project itself. A hole in the ground that became a show-case for the living plant world, a major visitor attraction, music venue and even ice-skating rink, all via a sketch drawn up on the back of a napkin just 20 years ago. It was both inspiring and unnerving to look up from a workshop to see participants zoom overhead in the superman pose on the zipwire strung from one side of Eden to the other.

But most of all, we went away on a high from the camp participants themselves. Inspired by what they had started in the places they live, they had tackled things they had never even considered possible before. As one of them said to us “I don’t even know where my comfort zone is any more”.  And if their response to our ambitions at Power to Change is anything to go by, there will be dozens more community businesses coming to life up and down the land as a result of this intense, informative and action-packed weekend.”

If Mark’s story has inspired you to take action and find out more about the Community Business Fund, head over to Power to Change’s website. And if you would like to take part in a Big Lunch Extras camp, make sure to keep an eye on our website!

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Big Lunch Extras, Charity, Community, England, Events, How to, Ideas, News, Spreading the word, Stories, The Big Lottery Fund

A Trip to the Farm with The Big Lunch

April 26, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

New Big Lunch team member Tracey tells us the story of one of the inspirational people she is working with, Fran. 

Our lovely new team

Some of our lovely new team!

Recently The Big Lunch team all met at the Eden Project for a few days of getting to know each other, and not long after that our new Programme Delivery Manager Tracey was on her travels to meet some of the amazing people who are working to make their communities better across the UK.

“I travelled to Llanidloes to visit Fran Brockley on her wonderful, magical farm. Fran attended our Big Lunch Extras camp last year and over a mug of tea, told me about her plans for her farm.


Tracey and Fran

Fran’s organic farm is set in an isolated area of Wales, surrounded by other farmland. She offers accommodation and training to young people through Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF) and when we arrived her kitchen was jam packed with eager people, eating, chatting and sharing their plans for the day.

Fran is developing two exciting new projects at her farm. She’s in the process of setting up a prehistoric farm site, looking at the point that humans began farming. The site will grow organically with new buildings and facilities being created by the people that visit, living and farming as they would have done in prehistoric times.

The second project is to develop a Wales wide walk that links up various interesting sites like Fran’s across the country. She has been building up knowledge and contacts over recent months and hopes that one of her WWOOF visitors may stay on as an intern and help build up the idea.

Fran had initial ideas for these projects before attending the Big Lunch Extras camp at Eden, but said the experience gave her the energy and boost which enabled her to turn the ideas into real possibilities. On returning from Eden she immediately sought out a mentor who has helped her gain business skills, set up an internship scheme and get the wheels moving on her ideas.”

If Fran’s story has inspired you to take action, check out Big Lunch Extras and take the first steps to making your community extraordinary.

You can follow Tracey on Twitter @TraceyJRobbins

Case Study, Community, Spreading the word, Stories, Wales, Wales Case Study

Are you celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday?

April 21, 2016
Author: Jocelyn Murdoch

Today we are wishing a very Happy Birthday to Her Majesty The Queen!

Will you be celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday at your Big Lunch? Here are nine ideas to mark the occasion:


  1. Bake a birthday cake – Create a show-stopping centrepiece at your Big Lunch with a beautiful birthday cake. Take a look at this idea from The Patron’s Lunch for inspiration! Or how about using 90 sweets as decorations?
  2. Have an honorary queen for the day – Your queen could be the person with the closest birthday or decided through a local competition. Don’t forget to include a Prince Philip too! Your royal couple could sit at the head of the table and make a special arrival with musical fanfare, or even a chauffeur.
  3. Test your royal knowledge with a pop quiz – Can you score ninety points in a royal quiz? Alternatively your test could have questions based around each decade of the Queen’s reign.
  4. Make your own crown – Get crafty with card, paint and stickers to make your own crown. Check out our simple guide here!
  5. Share your royal memories – Does anyone on your street have a special memory of meeting the Royal Family? Get all the generations together and share your favourite memories from the Queen’s 63 year reign.
  6. Theme your tables or snacks around the palaces – Decorate your tables or bring food themed around each royal residence – afternoon tea at Kensington Palace, shortbread and haggis for Balmoral, and garden party finger food for Buckingham Palace.
  7. Fundraise – Make like the Queen and celebrate the work of charities by fundraising at your Big Lunch. Getting people together is the ideal opportunity to raise awareness and money for local causes.
  8. Get all dressed up – What better excuse than a birthday to don your hats, tie your ties and wear your favourite party clothes?
  9. Sing the national anthem – God save the Queen!


If you’ll be celebrating, let us know what you’ve got planned in the comments below!

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Making Big Things Happen in Hevingham!

April 19, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

A seasoned Big Lunch organiser and Big Lunch Extras participant, Anthea Coldham has made an extraordinary impact on the rural village of Hevingham, Norfolk, which she calls home.

Anthea attended a Big Lunch Extras camp five years ago, which she described as “such an eye opener”. The camp, she said, gave her the confidence to push for improvements in her community, and since then she hasn’t stopped!


The lovely Anthea!

Not only does Anthea plan a Big Lunch every year with the help of a committee, but she has also organised countless other community initiatives that have made a real difference to the lives of those around her.

Passionate about caring for the elderly in her community, many members of Hevingham’s Big Lunch organising committee are involved in the village older people’s club and ensure that the elderly are involved throughout the process and on Big Lunch day. This is something Anthea feels passionate about as the elderly are “an age group that can be left behind.” This concern has seen Anthea set up a meals-on-wheels service, something she gained the confidence to do through her Big Lunch experiences.

Meals in the community centre

Meals in the community centre

Anthea is also a member of the Hevingivers – a charitable group that have achieved some amazing results in a short space of time. They set up the village choir, hosted two musical festivals, and together over two years have raised £10,000, which they have just donated to the cancer ward of the local hospital. With the help of the Parish Council, they have also recently installed two defibrillators into old red phone boxes in the village and recently received a grant of £25,000 to develop a walk way from the village to the community centre so that more people can easily access it. The village school children have been involved in Grow Wild seed planting drive, and Anthea pushed for support from the Parish council to help them build raised gardens and allotments which are still in use today.


Members of the Hevingivers

She says that all of the activity in her village has been a progression from her time at Big Lunch Extras and that the benefits have really shown in her community, “we’ve learnt an awful lot and appreciate what The Big Lunch has done”. Anthea herself is trying to take a step backwards from all of the planning by passing on her knowledge, but admits she is the ‘Q+A’ person of the village who either knows the answer or someone who will know! As a result of participating in The Big Lunch and Big Lunch Extras has Anthea has also learnt more about how to use the internet and computer programmes that can help her to do her community work – in fact as we hung up the phone she was just off to update her meals-on-wheels rota on her computer!

We can’t wait to hear about what Anthea will get up to next and hope that her story can inspire others to kick-start some change in their community!

Big Lunch Extras is a programme to help individuals across the UK create positive change within their communities. If you’d like to get involved head to

The Big Lunch will be held on Sunday 12 of June – order your pack here!

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Big Lunch Extras, Case Study, Charity, Community, England, England Case Study, Events, News, Spreading the word, Stories

Lunch with the Gruffalo: Competition Winners

April 18, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

blog image gruffalo at an scoil droichead

Exciting news! The winners of the Gruffalo compeition in Northern Ireland are:

  • Central Primary School, Carrickfergus
  • RapidNI, who are hosting four Big Lunches this summer. They brought the Gruffalo to Park Mother and Toddlers, Park community play group and the local primary school.
  • Creggan Country Park Derry
  • InchView Hazelbank residents, Derry
  • Colin Glen Gruffalo trail Belfast
  • Rathlin Island Residents
  • Waterfoot Residents Association
  • Kells and Connor Primary, Ballymena
  • Cookstown Integrated Primary, Co. Tyrone
  • Millisle Primary, Co. Down
  • Moira 2nd Brownies

The competition was very popular and we would like to thank you all very much for your entries. Don’t worry if you missed out this time – the Gruffalo would like to let you know that he will be at the Belfast Spring Fair this weekend, 23rd-24th of April, between 1:30 – 5:30 pm for anyone who would like to meet him!

The Big Lunch is now less than eight weeks away and we can’t wait to hear all about your Big Lunch day and see your fab photos! There’s still plenty of time to get involved so order your Big Lunch pack here!

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Community, Competitions, Events, News, Northern Ireland, Spreading the word

Countdown to The Big Lunch!

April 18, 2016
Author: Elyse Clarke

This Sunday marked eight weeks to go until Big Lunch day 2016! We are getting very excited at Big Lunch HQ and thought we would put together a handy how-to guide for the next eight weeks that will help us to make The Big Lunch 2016 the best yet!

01/06/2014 Pics (C) Huw John, Cardiff. Tel: 07860 256991. MANDATORY BYLINE - HUW JOHN The Big Lunch, Beda Road, Canton From: 3 Towy Road, Llanishen, Cardiff CF14 0NS

Week 8: Venue

You can hold a Big Lunch anywhere: a park, your street, the village hall – even your back garden!  Councils can be lenient with road closure applications but some can require a lot of notice, so if you want to hold a Big Lunch street party and have yet to apply get your skates on and contact them as soon as you can! For all venues make sure you get the relevant permission and remember that you are responsible for whatever happens there on Big Lunch day.

Make sure to check out the Department for Communities and Local Government’s latest advice on holding street parties, including some handy myth busters!

Week 7: Invite your neighbours

People are the most important part of a Big Lunch, so head out armed with your pack invitations and start knocking on doors! We know it can be daunting, especially if you don’t know your neighbours at all, but we hear so many stories of people who were so grateful that one of their neighbours had taken the plunge! Perhaps others want to get involved too and you could form an organising committee? Don’t forget you can also use tools like Facebook and Twitter to invite people, and try to get RSVPs to keep track of numbers.

Week 6: Theme

The next step is thinking about what kind of day you want to have! Are you going to have a themed event or any enterainment? Think about what resources you already have in your community that you could draw on. Maybe a DJ who lives down the road who could sort out music for the day, or a neighbour who has a face painting kit? Perhaps a local community group would like to perform or offer their services at your Big Lunch?  Our communities are goldmines of talent and resources so why not make the most of it?

Week 5: Weather planning

Now you know how many people are attending and what kind of event you are holding, it’s a good time to have a think about the inevitably unpredictable UK weather and put some contingency plans in place! We’ve had a few rainy Big Lunch days but this doesn’t mean you have to stop the fun! Armed with wellies and rain macs, a Big Lunch in the park can be great fun! Have a look here for some wet weather Big Lunch ideas. The same goes for hot weather – remind everyone to bring suncream and make sure to have plenty of water and shade available if you will be outside.

Week 4: Decorations

Decorations don’t have to be fancy or costly, half the fun is in the making! Bunting, tablecloths and paper chains can all be made at home and are a great way to get children together and involved in The Big Lunch. If you have children why not ask a teacher if they could make some decorations in art class? Don’t be afraid to ask people to bring tables and chairs – everyone has some old garden furniture that could use a little love! Now’s also a good time to gather any materials you might need for any activities you’ve got planned!

Week 3: Food

It’s time to make your Big Lunch delicious! We’ve done studies that show how important eating together is, so now it’s time to put this into action. Keep cost and waste down by asking everyone to bring a dish to share. One Big Luncher told us that on her street the odd numbers bring sweet dishes and the even numbers bring savoury – easy peasy! Make sure that everyone’s preparing their food hygienically and that any food containing allergens is properly labelled. Check out some tasty recipes here.

Week 2: Final checks

The penultimate week! Pop up some extra posters around your neighbourhood to remind people that The Big Lunch is next weekend. We have some editable downloadable resources that will help you out! And don’t forget to check the weather forecast for Big Lunch day. If rain is on the horizon get your brollies ready, and if the day promises sunshine grab your suncream and smile at our luck!

Big Lunch Week!

By now you should be well and truly rearing to go so sit back, relax and feel the community spirit! Take plenty of photos, eat plenty of food and share stories with the people around you – the perfect Big Lunch day!


There’s still plenty of time to get involved with The Big Lunch – order your free Big Lunch pack here!

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