Thursday, December 19, 2013

How to plan a Christmas dinner party

It’s that time of year when you go into planning overdrive. What with presents, decorations and meals to prepare for the big day, Christmas can feel overwhelming to even the most experienced of homemakers. If you have family or friends coming for Christmas dinner, this only adds to the pressure. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can avoid the stresses that usually come with festive meal-planning and remain a calm, collected and cool hostess! Here’s how:

First things first, declutter. Remove all unnecessary items and furniture from your living or dining area, leaving only a large table in the centre. Make sure you source extra chairs from friends and neighbours before the event. Around the room, add traditional touches like paper lanterns, poinsettia plants and sprigs of holly.

Board games are a Christmas staple, so make sure you have included one in your kids stockings this year, or buy one ready for the day! But you don’t always need pre-prepared entertainment ideas: Christmas is a time for gathering with loved ones you don’t get to spend time with for most of the year, so have your older relatives tell stories or reminisce about Christmases past. This is your perfect opportunity to forget the distractions of modern life and enjoy each other’s company.

You may want to stick to a traditional theme in terms of what meats and sides to serve, but your menu should also reflect you. Choose your favourite dishes, and don’t be afraid to add your own unique twist. So if you’re more of a minted lamb fan, don’t feel you’re required to stick with turkey. And while sage and onion stuffing is always a classic, you could go for sausage and cranberry instead. If you have more of a seafood pallet, seared tuna steaks or monkfish can work well as a flavorsome alternative. Always check for food allergies a couple of weeks ahead, as well as vegetarian or vegan preferences. Dessert-wise, it’s best to go for something you can prepare the day before and if you’re making a traditional plum pudding, allow for soaking ingredients and a long cooking time.
Treat yourself to Christmas dinner out
If the stresses and strains of party-planning just don’t feel worth it this year, you could always arrange a family treat and go for a Christmas dinner out. Dine in a local restaurant (preferably within walking distance so everyone can enjoy the wine!), book into a hotel in New York for the weekend or sail around the Caribbean on a cruise ship with your party hat on this year! Of course, if your budget doesn’t allow for a festive break, you could always devise a menu for the Thomson Cruise Kitchen competition and give yourself the chance to win a cruise as a late Christmas present. And if you’re lucky, the next dinner party you attend might be rustled up by a top chef, on board a stunning ocean liner…

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