As the nights get longer we’re in the run in to Christmas and the party season – but before that there are opportunities every evening of the week for great Big Nights In with friends and family. Which means great opportunities for sales of food and drink and other treats for sharing.

A key ingredient of a Big Night In is modern snacks that enable consumers to recreate the cinema experience at home, without having to move far from the sofa. Butterkist offer a range of new formats including the family sharing carton, and their new-look range has a strong connection to the cinema experience.

The key to a Big Night In display is to ensure the product mix caters to all tastes, including sweet and savoury. If they want both in one pack, Tangerine Confectionery’s newly re-launched Butterkist popcorn offers a brand new product, Sweet & Salted, with individual pieces tasting of sweet and salt.

For larger-scale celebrations, October and November contain Diwali, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night, each one a great occasion for a party. This year Diwali Day falls on Tuesday 13 November, and Halloween and Guy Fawkes’ Night are on the same dates as every year, 31 October (Wednesday this time) and 5 November (Monday.) Catch our feature in this issue on Bonfire Night and Halloween.

Last year’s Royal Wedding long weekend was a bonanza for Home Entertaining and Big Nights In, but it was just the start. 2012 has been a whopper of a year with the Diamond Jubilee, the UEFA European 2012 football championship and the London Olympics and Paralympics keeping the nation and their friends and family on the edge of their sofas.

Last year four fifths of consumers told Mintel that they ‘would probably’ watch some of the events at home with their immediate family, while over a third would buy drinks and snacks for entertaining at home during these events. The BBC had hoped that the Olympics would do for digital in 2012 what the Coronation did for TV in 1953. As it turned out, the BBC had a record Olympic TV reach, with 52m UK viewers, the largest TV audience for a major event for at least 10 years.

And the party isn’t over yet: we’ve plenty of sporting events and other excuses for Big Nights In in the months to come. The lesson is for manufacturers, brands and retailers alike to tap into consumers’ sense of enthusiasm for such big events by offering convenience and simplicity, taking the hassle out of entertaining, especially given that two fifths of consumers find entertaining at home stressful.

The Grocery Trader

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