Well so far Christmas dinner involves hosting between nine and sixteen guests. I’m currently feeling quite blasé about the whole thing given I’m not actually cooking and my niece announced on Sunday that she would like to be in charge of the bar (serving that is, not drinking). I’m sure in a few weeks I’ll be feeling drastically different. With that in mind we’ve joined forces with the super stylish Sundari from The Wedding Stylist to share our top tips for hosting a Christmas crowd. The beautiful dreamy images have been captured by Dominique Bader and if this doesn’t get you in the festive spirit then I don’t know what will.
- If you favour online food shopping then book your delivery time as soon as you can. Grabbling for a parking space in Sainsbury’s is no fun and neither is missing your slot.
- Before your order arrives have a good clear-out of the fridge. You need a spot for your prosecco not that half finished jar of chutney.
- Remember how many you’re catering for and beg, steal or borrow enough crockery, towels and bedding for all your guests.
- Probably the most obvious tip for hosting us to make a list of what you need to do and when it needs doing by. Becky works backwards… what time are we eating… what needs to come out last (gravy, obvs) and then get some list action going.
- Planning a new dish? Why not treat the family this weekend and give it a try ahead of Christmas so you’ve not it nailed for the big day.
- Unless you’re Nigella it’s probably best to decide on a couple of things you want to be your pièce de résistance and keep other bits simple. Lolly always buys posh pre-made canapés to set the mood and stave off hungry tummies leaving more time to focus on the other food.
- To save on soaking and washing up, Charlotte and Lorna are big fans of disposable foil trays for their birds.
- Get the veg prepped. Probably an obvious one but no one wants to be peeling spuds and sprouts on Christmas morning. Do them the night before and leave them in pans of water on the hob ready to go, alternatively Fern cooks her veg till it’s nearly ready and then blanches in ice cold water. They can then be warmed up with a bit of butter in the microwave or on the hob just before you eat.
- Alternatively I’ve been known to cook ahead and stock up the ice box with a load of freezer friendly side dishes weeks ahead ready for heating through on the big day.
- If you are having lots of people joining you for lunch consider getting someone else to cook the turkey (obviously if they don’t have a long journey). Lottie’s Mum cooks the turkey at hers and then brings it over wrapped in tin foil and towels. It can happily rest for a few hours and frees up valuable oven space for the pigs in blankets.
- Wash up as you go… or have a designated washer upper-er.
- Festive tunes in the kitchen for motivation are a MUST. Mariah is your friend on Christmas day.
- Make sure you have enough seats for post Christmas lounging. If not pile cushions and throws on the floor for people to relax on.
- Get together a bit of a post Christmas dinner survival kit with board games, a giant box of chocolates and a bottle of something strong. This helps keep everyone occupied and avoids them all heading in to the kitchen in search of turkey sandwiches.
- When you want to put together a quick dinner party styling for winter time, foliage is your friend. Things like ivy or branches you can forage from your own garden or local forest are great options. Make sure you don’t steal from someones home if you don’t know them!! OR pop to a flower shop and pick up a few stems of something branch like to lay along the table. There’ll be a lot of twig like options right now. Try and stay away from anything glittery!
- Declutter. The key to a table lay is it being functional and intentional in it’s beauty. The table is set for people to sit at, drink, eat and chat at. You don’t want too many fussy items that can be knocked over or detract from the function of the dinner party. Simple is always best.
- Add candle light! With our shorter days you’ll most likely be dining in the darker hours. You can buy beautiful frosted pillar candles to add texture and beautiful lighting to your table. The candles sit beautifully in-between branches laid through the centre, they also take a while to burn so you won’t need to worry about them running out if dinner goes on for a bit longer as well as you can use them over and over again!
- A fabric runner adds movement and softness to a table design. It also gives context to the design of the centre of the table. Even if you want to have a table cloth, consider a simple piece of fabric to bring attention to the centre.
- Your normal crockery will be perfect, don’t worry about fancy plates. Consider laying your larger plates down to act as a charger for the rest of your meals.
- Simple neutral flowers in old incense bottles are great for adding a little floral touch, around winter time there won’t be an abundance of locally grown florals, but you’ll be able to pick up a few beauties
- Ultimately enjoy it. You will definitely forget something but it doesn’t matter. Every year there’s some form of minor disaster but it’s these moments you’ll be remembering for years to come.
Tablescaping Tips From Sundari
What are your tips for hosting an easy, breezy Christmas day? How many are you having round to yours this year and any memorable kitchen moments you’d like to share?