How to be the Perfect Host this Christmas
Put simply: be prepared
Set the Table
Nobody cares if they see the table decorated before the big day – get it done in advance and tick it off the list. Don’t overcomplicate it either – pick a theme and stick to it. Baubles or pine cones in glass dishes make an effective centrepiece, and if you’re adding fresh greenery, you can still do everything else and then add this at the last minute.
Prep What You Can
Peeling, chopping, stuffing – all can (and should) be done in advance of the day. Get help with as much of this as you can. You may not want to delegate the all-important stuffing, but you don’t need to be an expert chef to peel a spud.
Make A Seating Plan
A seating plan, made by you, will save hassle and arguments (you can carefully separate siblings who will wind each other up – be they 13 or 35) and getting the kids to make the place cards is a good way to keep them busy as you’re getting things ready. It’ll also avoid the awkward hover people do when they’re not sure where to sit, and allow you to choose the prime seat with easiest access to the kitchen.
Create A Homely Feel
Light the fire, light a ton of candles, switch on your fairy lights – whatever you have to hand, just make sure you create an ambient feel with your lighting. Avoid the dreaded ‘big light’ at all costs. If you’re putting candles on the dining table, make sure they’re at a decent height – you don’t want people burning their jumpers as they reach for the cranberry sauce.
Make the Bar Self Service
Again, this is really about planning. Set up a corner with drinks, ice, glasses, garnishes etc, and tell people to help themselves. If you really feel it’s necessary, have something pre-mixed ready to hand out when people arrive – but after that, they’re on their own. If you can, try and create another drinks station near the dining table, where you really only need red, white and something fizzy, plus water and something fun for the kids.
Ask for Help
Whoever is coming for Christmas dinner is more than likely willing to help out – they’re just grateful they don’t have to host. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help: puddings, side dishes and canapés can all be delegated. And don’t be too picky – if someone offers to bring something specific, and it wasn’t already on your list, just say yes! Those who can’t cook can be in charge of the cheese board, or bringing the crackers (either edible or snapping).
Don’t Bother With a Homemade Pudding
Who even likes Christmas pudding? (Apart from, probably, your dad). Buy a good-quality, pre-made pudding which you can heat up on the day, and add some bought brandy cream for extra points. For everyone else, just make sure you’ve got plenty of fancy chocolates, Christmas cake and a stellar cheeseboard. Perfect pudding without the hassle.
Not sure what to get one of the party? Kill two birds with one stone and get them a silly party game. That way you can play it all afternoon and it’ll keep everyone entertained – even if they never look at it again.
Who cares if the turkey is a bit dry, or if granny gets squiffy and falls asleep after lunch? Next year it’ll be somebody else’s turn to host, and in the meantime, there’s always Prosecco. Cheers!