How to host a Eurovision house party

Julia Zemiro in Copenhagen to cover Eurovision.
Julia Zemiro in Copenhagen to cover Eurovision. 

Ukrainian giants, guitar-shredding monsters, babushkas baking pies on stage - what's not to love about Eurovision?

It can be hard being so far from the action at this time of year for Antipodean lovers of kitsch stage directions, pyrotechnics and, ahem, interesting costumes, which is why the Eurovision house party can help lessen the tyranny of distance.

The giddily camp annual extravaganza is an annual highlight in my house, and I have unashamedly dressed as a gypsy, raided the Ikea food hall and made European flags in my quest to convert sceptical friends to the contest's quirky charms.

Thinking of hosting your own Eurotrash-tastic party during the finals, which begin on SBS on Friday and reach their apotheosis on Sunday? We spoke to Eurovision insiders and fellow tragics for some tips on food, drink and drinking games.

For Julia Zemiro, now in the Danish capital Copenhagen to host her sixth annual tackfest, Eurovision is a chance to try something new. ''If you don't like pickled herring, too bad.'' Zemiro thinks it's best to stick with one cuisine as a theme. ''You could do one where you go, 'Where would we like to go next year?' Italy would be amazing, because we all love Italian food.''

But this year, Zemiro is looking forward to the Danish speciality smorrebrod - open ryebread sandwiches with various toppings. ''You have to have them with beer and a little shot of schnapps on the side.''

Danish-born chef Bente Grysbaek, of Melbourne's Restaurant Dansk, suggests serving a spread of smorrebrod. ''They're very decorative and they look beautiful. You have some warm and some cold, so it's something you can have on the table throughout the evening.''

One traditional topping, karrysild, features pickled herring, curried salad and marbled eggs, but others could include gravlax with sweet mustard sauce and shaved fennel, rare roast beef with fried onion rings, or baked beetroot with waldorf salad.


Danes are also keen on hotdogs made with pork sausages - pork products are one of Denmark's biggest exports - served with an array of condiments, including tomato sauce, mustard, raw onion, pickled cucumber, fried shallots or onion rings and remoulade, a tartare sauce-like condiment combining mayonnaise and vegetables pickled with mustard seeds and turmeric.

For dessert, Grysbaek suggests a selection of Danish pastries, wienerbrod, with fillings such as custard, raspberry, or apple and cinnamon.

Another party approach is to embrace an Australian tradition by asking guests to bring a plate for a pan-European party.

Growing up in Dublin, Colin Fassnidge, of Sydney's Four in Hand, remembers a sense of Irish pride during Ireland's winning run in the '80s. Fassnidge would recreate the Eurovision party food of his childhood. ''I'd do prawn cocktail [and] cheese on a toothpick. I'd go really naff.'' For an Irish-inspired canape, he suggests slices of corned beef and pickles on cheese crackers.


● Set up your food on a table away from the television so guests can come and go as they please. Reserve an area for drinking games.

● Create your own drinking game. Write a list of 10 things to watch out for. Suggestions: contestants wearing white, a boring ballad, pyrotechnics, falsetto, metallic costumes, wind machines, rotating platforms, a disco ball, a wink to the camera. Try to get sloshed before the first song has been judged, or simply have a drink for Zemiro and her co-host, Sam Pang - the stadium commentary box is officially and inexplicably a dry zone.

● Organise a sweep or bet on the outcome. It makes the tedious vote-counting section much more exciting if you're cheering on a country.

● Award prizes for guests' costumes.

● Spoiler alert: SBS broadcasts the event on delay, so if you want the outcome to remain a secret, you will need to avoid social media and news broadcasts for 24 hours leading up to Sunday's final.