Don’t fall victim to the usual stressful moments of hosting Christmas Dinner. If its your first time welcoming guests around the table, take the time to prepare and consider our essential survival tips.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year so impress your family and friends with a lovely Christmas day topped off with an unforgettable dining experience.
Dress your table on Christmas Eve
Preparation is key to making the day run smoothly and anything unperishable that can be set up in advance will be helpful. Clear the table and like a blank canvas compose your masterpiece, styling the table with quality linens, Christmassy runners or if you have a beautifully grained wooded surface, show off the piece’s natural beauty by leaving it bare. Lay out the plates, polished cutlery, and gleaming glasses and then accentuate the essentials with a centrepiece or a number of candles dotted about the table.
This means less time fetching and carrying, and more time mingling with your guests.
Plan your dishes
Make time to lay out all intended dishes, cutlery, and glasses far in advance to the big day as this will give you a great visual on how they look together and on the table. It allows you to size up individual place settings ensuring there is enough space for each guest and for everything to fit on. But don’t stop there, be aware of the amount of food you’re making and the size of your turkey or roast with all the trimmings so you have the correct size cooking trays that fit in your oven and enough serving dishes.
You will have plenty of time then to run out and purchase that missing fork! Don’t forget additional items such as wine glasses, side plates, cheese knives, and a jug or two for water.
Invest in an extendable dining table
If you are running out of table space – phew, good thing you checked how things would fit on the table in advance – an extendable dining table is invaluable at big family events. No one wants to be bumped off onto the kiddies table so keep your family and friends together with ample space. If you are space conscious, when not entertaining, fold the table into a more compact size that’s ideal for intimate affairs.
Think of the extras
Save yourself time make-shifting and scraping together extra plates, cutlery, napkins, etc by taking into account potential breaking of dishes, spills or using more cutlery than you can wash up. Prepare by stocking up on a reasonable amount of spares.
Choose real tea lights
A warming, flickering flame epitomises a cosy night in locking out the cold, so to reflect this homely atmosphere and use real tea-lights as opposed to plastic, battery powered ones. They will give your evening a much more rustic and cosy ambience.
Simple individual candle holders offer a very classic, controlled look, yet structured, ornate holders that display several tea lights would make a spectacular centre piece. Alternatively, be bold with colourful or intriguingly shaped holders that project delightful shadows.
Consider setting place cards
Personalise each setting with a little place card assigning your guests seats and impress them with how creative you can make them! Your guests will feel appreciated and it gives your dinner an organised structure to avoid any wobbly moments. Astutely select the best seating options to keep any family conflict undisturbed to enjoy a fun and smooth sailing dinner – though we can’t promise the board game section of the evening will be disagreement-free!
Dress spare seating appealingly
Just as no one wants to be demoted to the coffee table or using their laps, make all your guests feel considered at the dining table by dressing up spare, uncomfortable chairs. Drape a throw over a dining chair to give it a warm feeling or soften a stiff wooden chair with a beautifully patterned, plush cushion avoiding any aches at the dinner table.
Why not similarly theme all the chairs in this manner to show a consistent attention to detail, perhaps using rich reds, golds and silver throughout your décor to pin down the Christmas feel.
Set a welcoming scene
Invite your guests into your home by creating a wonderful atmosphere. Consider seating and making it look comfortable and inviting as they will surely want to stay seated at the table for second helpings! Depending on the time you host your dinner, enhance a warm setting in the evening or cool setting during the day. Ambient background music can really set a scene. Save yourself time by compiling a playlist of songs and instrumentals that enhance the vibe you wish to create with your meal.
With our top tips for hosting your first Christmas dinner, you’ll be able to wow your guests with minimal stress.