Are we there yet? Options for a good old family shindig

Enough already with the tightened belts – they're so last decade. The year 2010 equals fun and games (if my inbox is anything to go by) and what better way to celebrate than with a huge family party?

Some of you have been saving up to shell out for a good old shindig, including Sylvia Burke, from Shropshire, who has emailed asking for suggestions for "somewhere amazing" to take her entire family to celebrate her 70th birthday next spring. With an impressively long guest list, it sounds like a tall order – so the only way to do it is to get someone else to organise it.

And I know just the people for that. The super-friendly team at Love and Lord (020-7183 9944;, which has exclusive rights to some beautiful properties in Italy and France, can be relied on to co-ordinate top-notch celebrations of any description. All venues are hand-picked with one main criterion: they have to be seriously gorgeous.

For a large-scale and child-friendly party, managing director James Lord says you'd be hard pushed to beat the sumptuous estate belonging to Salvatore Ferragamo, Il Borro, which can be booked out for up to 300 guests.

Bambinos will love the space and facilities, including the private equestrian centre, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a football pitch, tennis courts, and archery facilities. You can even take the kids on a hot air balloon ride.

And for the adults, when they're not feasting and partying in style, there's some serious tasting to be done in the winery, as well as a choice of rather special spa treatments to try. Accommodation ranges from opulent villas to ancient village abodes and starts at £100 per night per person. Love and Lord charges a separate party fee that includes entertainment, food and drink, decoration, and all trouble shooting. You just tell them your requirements and turn up.

If you're loving the idea of hiring your own family estate, you can also try the west coast of Ireland. The glorious Ballinacurra House (00 353 21 4779040;, in Kinsale, is a splendid venue for a family knees-up. Set in 40 acres of woodlands and lawns, this 18th-century mansion can sleep up to 50, with facilities including croquet, kayaking and cookery classes. Room rates start at around €150 (£136) per person, and the staff here are dab hands at the art of party planning.

Adults and kids alike can blast the weekend away with a huge choice of bands, magicians, kids' entertainers, treasure hunts, and much more besides. Not a bad way to start the next decade.