My Corona virus event blog April – June

1 April 2020 Sadly it’s all no joke. Interestingly no one considered creating any online April 1st jokes either. prints an article 3 days ago. horrifying but I can see it all happening. The moment the British high street dies etc.. Who knows but it is all sobering.

Sounds like China have been underreporting their figures. Like they need to add another 0 on. Yikes . A 13 yo dies of it. UK daily reported death rate is 2300. We start a weekly menu for home. You buy a lot of food when you are home for 3 meals a day. But that’s the only thing you buy. Literally THE only thing you spend money on. The super healthy eating has started. My dream.

Zoom is the latest thing. Houseparty falls before it really starts people sitting at home. Waiting for the next thing. We start a family one. Online quizzes suddenly go mental.

2 April 2020 Still trying to create a way to Diverse Jens’ company, with all the fridge vans, kitchens etc. They get in touch with Deliverloo. They bite their hand off for more range of take away food. Just more food. No one can eat out. It’s all take away. Jens proposes a lovely Indian menu for the rest of the team to discuss. Sadly it goes nowhere. Everyone is stuck in a weird hope that it will magically all come back. NOT EVENTS and our businesses. We’re a bit more realistic on how long this is going to last. If you have a food delivery service you are winning in these circumstances. But there’s interesting issues arising. Restaurant suppliers have food but don’t have the bottom of the chain customers to sell it too. I read an article on how things might not get back to normal for 10 years. It’s a shock but last year was a bumper year and yes to get to that level again maybe. So many new procedures are getting set in place. EVENTS are just not mentioned. September doesn’t seem likely for any sort of event now. So if we don’t get events in then. That means it is a tight window for the Autumn run so if that slides and we miss September & October. That’s probably the Christmas stint gone as well. So if we can go out again and have events in January will people do that just because they haven’t. Or will the quietness run until March. Yes that’s my prediction. One whole year of no events!!

We start videoing things we are cooking as an online demo for instagrammers. As there is no other event catering content. He accidentally fires the pepper mill across the room and his days as a TV chef seem thwarted on the day they started.

4 April We cycle to Streatham common to continue our Joe wicks exercise. We’ve hardly left the house. Staying in for 8 days at a time is starting to get it’s feet in. Police riot van drive around. If you are not exercising you get shimmied off. People are starting to be a bit divided on going out and flouting the rules.

6 April 2020 Weather is amazing. We make cocktails stay in obviously and generally having a nice time together.

7 April Another big thing. Hair clippers arrive. The lockdown cuts. Jens had left it a week too late for a cut so is already a week overgrown. They are getting expensive on Ebay and running out. There will be a national shortage. We discover though that, we can save £20 a month now on a haircut now we have clippers. Jens has a grade 5 and growing a beard as he is not in the kitchen. I like the look. We are also both loosing weight. Yoga is still happening every morning at 8am. I love getting up early with him. 28 Veg boxes come to our house. Meeting more people. Loving it. Takes your mind off work and real stuff.

8 April 2020 Jens & team bubble think up another initiative . They start meals for food banks. Finally they all agree on a plan for the kitchen to be used. 200 per day and people donate on a go fund me page. Huge stunning full moon. Weather is still amazing. I think there must be a link between the fact that there are no flights no cars no pollution and suddenly we have endless flawless blue skies.

9 April 2020 We do another clap for carers. Nights are getting lighter. WOW You notice so much more when all your senses are not assaulted. But when will this end. I’m starting to think September will even be quiet for events now.

10 April have a hilarious whatsapp call with 3 friends. The first call I can say was honestly like a real night out. Can things really continue like this though? I’m getting more agoraphobic. I only go out for a shop once every 8 days now. We cook Mackerel on the BBQ. Loving the little bubble we are in. News shows continued increase in Corona virus deaths every day. If my mom gets it my brother and I know she will not come out of it alive. Been drumming into my mom. She’s been too ill and she received one of 1.3 million letter from the government to shield from the world as she is high risk. It’s really tough that I can’t go to be with her. She is on her own and can’t even drive as she had the shoulder replacement in Feb (last blog post!)

11 April & 12 April Quiz nights both nights. They are fun kind of but getting a bit fatigued from them now.

16 April mom is really stressed anxious. Not sure she will pull through this with either mental health issues or such high bloody pressure (200) a stroke. She’s repeating herself, bursting into tears and generally all over the place. 

17 April Moms birthday . I suggested to the family we try and have a socially distance birthday meal but all buying the same meal. Another idea Jens was working on for their company moving forward. (Never got off the ground either sadly.) So we cycled to cook and picked up the same meal as I got delivered to mom in Devon. That worked. And my brother in Brussels also locked down cooked the same for himself . Then had a WhatsApp birthday quiz that I hosted. She was still stressed and not really coping at all with this. We have been discussing the fact we may loose her to this.. Not necessarily the illness by the effects it has on people.  What are those figures like! We don’t know. Will we ever know that.

18 April 

 Cycled to Clapham to buy paint for the front door. Got it home and it’s too bubblegum pink. Queuing out the door and one in one out. Such weird times. Everyone is doing home improvements.

19 April 

Discovered putting paint on eBay is amazing it goes in no time . Put yesterday’s new paint on and it’s sold in record time . Put some more on and some more on and made £80 tester pots the lot!! With the like of Homebase’s and hardware shops not open people are desperate to do some easy DIY home improvements. Amazing. Cleared out the cupboard.

22 April Events aren’t coming back I start an online course in REFLEXOLOGY a new beginning for me. Who knows where this will take me.

Thursday 30 April Loving the reflexology. No more TV. Social media break and get stuck in. Amazing double rainbow almost a triple about 3 hours before the NHS clap . The brightest I’ve ever seen and could see all of it. My photo made it on the school newsletter same night! 

Saturday 2 May Cycled to some friends. Sat in their garden but felt naughty. 

Sunday 3 May Hannah’s quiz . A good one but they are defo drying up now.

Wednesday 7 May amazing moon. The sky is really amazing.  People were saying at the beginning how much less polluted everything feels but I haven’t gotten it until now. Noticed the trees in front of our house flowering for the first time. (In 4 years!) they look incredible. How can we capture some of this and take it forward into a new world. 

Thursday 7 May Jens went to work for his third week in the kitchen getting food bank meals prepared. I had a good day learning. Received a round robin about lockdown easing restrictions. Lots of dates time frames . Turns out it was for Ireland. Annoying as it felt like something to work towards. Events seems like a thing of the past.

Friday 8 May Friday bank holiday as if the days couldn’t get any more confusing. Red arrows flew over London could tell it was current as the streets looked empty and they can socially distance. Put the TV on for the 11am silence. Decided that TV is a bg negative and not been putting it on for weeks. Straight after the silence they start talking on the news about the virus. Felt a bit crass like we have become so self obsessed that we can’t even let the war hero’s have their day without turning it back to our day. Quiz with Jens school friends. Latest we’ve stayed up in 6 weeks 10:30! Also finally painted the front door . Been waiting for farrow and ball to send paint for about 3 weeks. 

Saturday 9 May Went for a bike ride to Wimbledon . Bumped into a chef friend. Cycled up a steep hill and had a really weird reaction. Real respiratory problems a little while after couldn’t catch my breath. Coughing and choking. Embarrassed to cough and typically at that point there were people around. Both discussed after could it be I’m asymptomatic but it only showed it’s head in that strenuous situation. Eventually got back on the bike after an orange to coat the lungs and a bottle of water and a couple were sat in their car waiting for me, to check I was ok! People are being nice. Must have thought I had corona. VERY strange reaction. It is a bit of a mystery that but I will never find out. Probably just unfit.

Sunday 10 May Discussing what could potentially happen next  year with working from home and how that could pan out. If offices do start to now make people work from home to save huge rent especially now they have poured money into this – investing in peoples home equipment. Does this mean out of city commuters are never going to be coming back into the city but instead going out in their home towns for their socialising, shopping and just about everything. Places like Kent and satellite towns will become the place they go out. There seems to be a huge shift happening from the virus, a big shift in every way. Everything is becoming small communities like the old days. Everyone talks about their industry as the forgotten industry. But what about EVENTS & HOSPITALITY. Ours really is.  

18 May our local pub the Wheatsheaf turns into an old fashioned grocery store. We really are going back in time. We also start a grocery store from our front window. Again reverting back to times of old. And where the name corner shop came about apparently people turning their front windows into the convenience store. We make sausage rolls & brownies and sell cheese & restaurant quality deli produce from Jens suppliers from our window. We have a queue. It’s hilarious. And I get to do some food stying. Haha it’s very low rent.

19 May It happens, mom ends up in hospital. We had to call her an ambulance from miles away as she stops answering the phone after continually being sick. The last place she should be. And that’s what the first ambulance crew said and why they left her at home ( to get worse) for another 24 hours.. A blocked bowel that needed a MAJOR operation. Things get really tough. She says in for a whole month it’s a terrifying time…

Contemporary Canapé trays

Looking for stylish canape trays?

Why is it so hard to find stylish canapé trays. I know it is because I have the same problem.  I’ve been looking for canapé trays for various clients and my previous employers for over a decade. This is why I started designing my own.

Where it started for me.

Working for Alison Price caterers I was able to jump straight in and start designing what really worked. As a Chef before event designer this helps get what people really want without knowing it themselves. These were some of my most successful first designs in around 2006


perspex canape traycanape tray

canape tray


What came next

I set up on my own and carried on what I did in my last job – Event design & canapé tray design. A blend that still worked. These were a few sale items from my last website.

canape trayscanape trays






 canape trays

canape tray








canape trays

canape tray








The modular tray below is one tray with multi uses. By having template you can remove to allow for different pots on top.

canape tray Canape trays Canape tray Canape trays



The below were one of my favourite designs for large events. A hidden drawer or two which allows movement to the other side of the room revealing more canapés to hungry guests.

Canape tray Canape tray

Bespoke designs

Clients are always looking for something else though. Like the trays based on St Paul’s window below or something to hold mini pint glasses.

Canape trays







Then comes branding. This can be done by cutting out the acrylic so you can see through or having vinyl printed on.


canape tray
Canape trays


canape tray






Canape trays

What next

What came next was hiring out some of my top designs. Found here. This helps makes the products more affordable and rather than a design going to the back of a store cupboard, hiring it means you can try something different next time, keeping clients & guests interested & keeping waste down.


The next stage

As you can see my go to medium for making canapé trays is acrylic as that’s what I started out using. One of my fabricators do build pieces from other materials like wood, metal & Corian however they are more expensive than acrylic and that unfortunately is expensive enough.  However my next line needs to be made from sustainable products right!?!?


Watch this space…



How do we create environmentally better events

We need to work out how we create less environmentally damaging events.

What have we done?

Unless you have been in space for the whole of 2018 it will have become horribly clear what we have actually done to our planet. We didn’t realise we were doing everything so wrong. Plastic is lighter than glass meaning transportation is cheaper & easier. So instead of being that return and reuse society we once were, we’ve became a throw away nation ..ok world! We didn’t realise that every single piece of plastic ever made is still on the planet.

The understanding

This year has been the one of stark realisation for me & most. For some time we have seen images of  the floating plastic island that’s 3 times the size of France. But now every social media is showing the next stage. These bottles, cups, fishing line and so on become brittle and break down, being ingested by fish, sea birds and wildlife, potentially killing them and I’m sure it won’t be long (maybe it’s happened already) before a shard of plastic is sticking out of our fish dinner.

The biggest culprits

We need to all take blame and do our bit. There are some industries that are worse than others for waste & I’m ashamed to say the events world is a big bad culprit. We can’t hide any more. We have to do something.

I have worked  in and seen many of London’s catering warehouses and I can see many ways to reduce waste in general (I absolutely hate all waste from food to plastic and everything in between and that goes for leaving offices full of computers on over night. It’s still a resource that we are wasting!).

7 quick fixes

  1. Make or buy rigid boxes for trays & glass wear. Send it to the event like this. It actually makes breaking down at the end of the night quicker. Even better if these boxes have a photo attached of what should be inside. Makes stocktaking easier & most efficient.
  2. For unusual shaped fragile items with no box, protect all sides with cardboard. Kitchens and offices receive goods every day in cardboard boxes. It’s a free resource and it will reduce on what we have to pack down into our wheelie bins. Double win.
  3. If we have to use glitter (and this has been my biggest faux pas), then we need to use something that is either biodegradable/edible or use an adhesive that holds all the glitter in place on the item so no bits end up in our river & streams and finally into the sea.
  4. Stop cling-filming glass. It invariably ends up on site smashed within the cling film… It does not protect it… It IS single use plastic.. Keep the cardboard box it was bought in and label it clearly. Send it on the event like that. If it needs a dust wipe it over when you use it.
  5. Absolutely no plastic straws. These should be well gone already. There are paper, bamboo & metal alternatives. No question.
  6.  Say no to the guests wanting their mini dessert in a dispo plastic bowl from Plastico with a mini plastic spoon (sorry plastico we know you are trying make to changes too.)* There are now so many beautiful reusable small bowls and cutlery around this should no longer be an option.
  7. Don’t buy bubble wrap. It’s that simple cardboard & newspaper should and will replace it if it is not there to use carelessly.

I say quick fixes because we have so far to go. However imagine if we ALL start with this.

I don’t believe replacing items with corn starch is the answer either. Imagine how much land we will have to start destroying to produce enough corn to make the starch. Sadly we have to change our throw away nature and simply wash and reuse. See how much better it looks.

Sustainable events

2019 is going to see changes in what we serve and we are going to go back to nature a bit more with design & materials.


*I watched a short film by Plastico who have suggested they will start collecting glasses up from festivals and events and re using them. Ok but they may have forgotten about the range of other events that we put on every day of the week.

Hiring Canapé trays V buying canapé trays

 Hiring canape trays

We are seeing a shift from purchasing to hiring canapé trays with our event industry clients. Everyone wants the new latest thing and to stand out & be different so it’s hire all the way now!


Benefits of hiring for the client are

-Exciting & interesting pieces that move with the times.

-No need to find storage space for the stock.

-No need to invest in stock that will go become yesterdays news.



"Perspex buffet risers for hire" pink cake pop tray Bowl food tray hire "Clear canapé box"



Where it began

I started out designing pieces for sale. However in an ever changing world when everyone is trying to keep up with the times & keep inovating. Clients are no longer investing in these very expensive trays.

Hiring canape trays Hiring canape trays Hiring canape trays Hiring canape trays





And I have had to keep up and adapt to what people want. So much so that I have removed sales from the website altogether, which leaves me time to concentrate my time elsewhere.

Who hires

So along came hiring. Caterers, hotels, restaurants, members clubs & wedding planners are coming to Tina Nisson Design looking for trays, often for large creative events & they charge the hire fees straight onto their client. It’s a winning formula all round. Our part of the bargain – making it as user friendly for clients to have what they need as easily as possible.

I read an article in the ES Magazine and a wise person said ‘The assets people care about have shifted — we’re renting far more and experiences matter more than ownership. It’s the same with the events industry.

See for yourself

Head to the hire page and take a look.  at the range. It’s not only acrylic trays now either, with an increasing stock from wedding & event design. There’s lots of unusual items that add something special to events.


Large bottle for hire "Rose Gold storm lantern" Glitter Champagne bottles









If there is something that you would love to hire on a regular basis get in touch & I will consider designing something new for hire.





Tropical plants

Top choices

We can’t get enough of rich green foliage & tropical plants here at Tina Nisson design HQ this season. Current faves are strong structural tropical house plants like bird of Paradise, Elephants ear and everyones favourite from the 70’s the good old cheese plant which has made a huge come back in the last couple of years. Have a look at one of my food stations designed around the Cheese plant or using it’s proper name – Monstera.

Tropical Plants

"tropical plants"

Bird of paradise plant

This is our pleasing view every day!! A white bird of paradise. Although I don’t want it to flower incase it ruins that perfect leaf shape. Is that a little bit weird? I thought so.

For weddings

They all look Uh-Mazing when added to crisp white for a wedding like here.

Tropical wedding


I’ve personally never been a huge fan of an abundance of flowers. I’m a bit more of a minimalist. So for me strong rich leaves are a super slick winner for me.

Foliage accessories

It also wouldn’t be complete without hand written calligraphy place settings. You can also add leaves for place settings.

gold wedding calligraphy leaves

Just look how the elephants ear leaves in the centre of the table in the mood board below is such a strong & powerful look. Then how the table centres in the one next to it creates a more gentle calm look.



Really who needs flowers. Go bold & don’t use any flowers for real wow factor.

Take a look at our Pinterest page aptly names foliage for your on trend wedding or event inspo for this summer.





Event design trends 2018

The great thing about event design is being able to keep bang up to date with fashion trends because most of our event furniture is hired in & thanks to some amazing hire companies we can change our style at every whim. Interior design is a bit slower to move on to the next best thing purely because not many of us have the disposable income to throw out last years millennial pink sofa in favour of this years gold velvet 70’s one.


So let’s start from the top. Pantone choose a colour of the year & a few back up colours based on various factors (apparently) and then we have a colour. This year if you haven’t by a slim chance heard, it’s Pantone 18-3838 Ultra Violet. I’m personally pleased it has a small part to do with Prince & as well as it’s mystical & spiritual properties.  I’m assuming it also goes hand in hand with a bit of a growing interest in Agate & other crystals. My family are hoping they also chose it because my nan, ‘Violet’ reached the ‘ultra’ ripe old age of 103 in November before she went to sleep forever a couple of week later. All very poignant for us. Yay to the Ultra Violet..


Pantone trends 2018

Experiential & immersive events aren’t news but add in augmented reality, artificial intelligence & this mystical Pantone colour of the year to the fantasy mix & we have one hell of a talked about party. You also won’t be able to avoid Iridescent colours either. From cocktail shakers to cutlery for your table. These can nestle in nicely with a soft dreamy tablescape or transform themselves & step up to work with quite a strong colour palette.


One of the colour palettes I’m excited about is camel, rust, tobacco & mustard. Tone on tone colours. Outsized glass pieces in amber hues look ravishing bathed in soft golden event lighting, Think 70’s with a bucket load of glamour.

Colour 2018 moodboard

I don’t think we’ve seen the end of the gorgeous rich peacock blue & teal, again particularly in velvet. These colours look fabulous on events & as always a total winner with gold accents. Check out my A/W 2017 forecast last year for  Toast life .  the online directory for the events world.


Naturally gold & brass are still the metallics of choice although rose gold & copper are finally bowing out. Still total respect for them though.  One thing events can’t be without is  dark wood furniture with brass or gold legs. This will add to an overall powerful look, be it a corporate event or an intimate dinner party.

All we need now is to persuade our hire companies to buy these in for us…

Gold & walnut table









Sophisticated Halloween events

Sophisticated Halloween events

Look at these little beauties.. Totally perfect for your sophisticated halloween events.


Halloween trays


Add a few autumnal leaves and you have a bowl food tray that will glide through this season until the dreaded Christmas season! After some research we found these sophisticated trays at Notre Monde

Halloween doesn’t have to be black and orange!

…And we don’t all have to be able to carve a face in a pumpkin. I’ve gone a different route this year.

Black skull pumpkin

Top tips for a sophisticated halloween event

Here’s 3 of my top style tips :

1) Matt black is an all time winner

2) Gold adds sophistication

3) Using just two colours keeps it slick

Add your ghoulish desserts on to one of these burnt dressers and you are literally laughing (in a witches cackle)

Halloween dessert bar

We have dressers to hire that can be adapted & painted to suit the perfect halloween party.

Jones hire stock this athena range, which is couldn’t be more suited for Halloween. But I did say sophisticated so you may want to loose Dracula’s teeth. Although we can have a little fun sometimes and I’m certainly not averse to that…

halloween dinner party

Food Styling credit  : Maggie Ruggiero & Prop Styling credit : Elizabeth MacLennan. Image saved from  Food Network .

Check out some more fab images from some creative people all saved to my Halloween Pinterest page.

Top picks added to my moodboard.

Black Halloween moodpboard

Copper feel


We just love things that shine and currently we are loving gold, rose gold and copper. It’s just so pleasing. I created this moodboard last March in the hope that someone would give me free rein for some fun with all things shiny.

copper and rose gold

Hurrah.. They did… I got to work on a Steampunk-esque copper meat-molecular-carvery food station !!! Well I didn’t have anything to do with the meat myself but instead off I went sourcing pieces of shiny copper from DIY shops. It’s now grown from 6 foot station to an 18 foot one and add new bits as I go.


Copper food station

Copper food station

Here’s some of my best buys…

Copper Tray 

Copper tray

Wire vase


Tom Dixon copper lamp. Well what do you expect. It just has to be in there!!


Terrarium Don’t even get me started on my love for these.Copper Terrarium


And for my next project …


Food station commotion

Everyone is all over the food station at the moment. It gives theatre to an event. And thanks to Heston (no surname required ) all guests and clients are looking for theatre with every mouthful and they are quick to move on to the next thing . They are even bored of dry ice God damn it. I do wonder where it will all end up. My husband is  a chef -a bloody good one at that- and he’s paring his components right back so maybe we are actually going full circle.

All the intricate flowers placed on the plate with with long tweezers with millimetre precision are being stripped right back. Just look at Vijante my favourite restaurant oh no it closed down. Hmmm . Look at how many new restaurants popped up in the last couple of years up with only one or two things on the menu (even bigger stateside)  like Burger & Lobster, Ooze (risotto only) Bubbledogs, Meatballs. etc. Not to mention the upmarket burger explosion. Simple is back ..for a while anyway.

But for us the event caterers we have to give choice – and that we do. Food from every nation. I’ve had to research diets and religions. Like the Jains diet. I’d never heard of it until I started working in event catering. So yes everyone is quite used to Canapes with their champagne now. Or, if the guests are special enough – a sit down dinner. But now it’s the rise of the FOOD STATION & BOWL FOOD event. This is where it would appear I come in. Event managers call me in when their client says “we’d like interaction” “a food station”  “mini bowls” so their guests can talk to each other while slurping over a delicious noodle dish from an authentic 8oz chinese pail. Or tempura veg served in cones made from Chinese newspaper that I’ve run to China town to pick up 50 copies of.   Don’t get me wrong it’s not a new concept I’ve been designing food stations for 8 years plus but it’s really ramped up in the last year or two!

So my job is a bit more like set design in this respect.  You need to create a mini China on a 6 foot trestle table or India, Italy, Mexico or a picnic or seaside scene. I discuss with the Event managers, get the brief work with the Chefs on what food they will be serving and start sourcing and researching. Here’s a few from the last twelve months :

Tiffany theme food station
Tiffany theme breakfast buffet

English summer picnic theme
English summer picnic at The Granary building Central Saint Martins University of Arts

Seaside theme food station
Seaside theme foodstation


Indian theme food station
Indian Theme food station at the Natural History Museum


Chinese food station
Chinese food station


Sweetie food station
Sweetie bar

Italian theme food station
Italian Deli food theme.


Usherette tray fabrication – from concept through to event

So this is the story of a set of Usherette trays from the design to production.

Macaroon trays

Ohlala-macarons contacted us looking for a unique way to serve their macarons (French style macaroons) . The team gave us some requirements like holes for syringes and shallow trays for fresh fruit . They also requested scalloped trays to protect the shells and we suggested business card slots and hidden compartments underneath for extra shells – to avoid trips back to the kitchen for re stocking.

We then had a CAD drawing made up – or seven !!!

usherette tray

Once it looked perfect on paper we begged for a barbie size one to take to the client. This is 1/3 scale model, complete with strap holes. Too cute!

bespoke usherette tray model

Signed off, fabricated…AND now they are going out on events complete with the poodle branding.

Meredith bespoke

Macaroon trays

Usherette trays are a growing trend and oh la la have got in there early with their fab idea !