Your Christmas Hosting 101

 

Does gearing up for the gang to descend have you feeling more ‘meltdown’ than ‘merry’? Repeat after us: this doesn’t have to be the nightmare before Christmas. If the thought of guests - and all the rest - finds your festive spirit lacking, our guide to all the bits to remember for the big day and beyond will see you through any seasonal jitters.

 

Shop Christmas

 

Weekly planner with Ferrero Rocher

 


THE PLANNING


If you’re not braving the supermarket this year, know that delivery slots get snapped up faster than you can say ‘turkey substitution’. Book yourself in early to secure your shopping list and timeslot of choice.


There’s nothing like a dining chairs to take the shine off any big gathering. Count those chairs carefully – you can always borrow or even hire a few extras – and add colourful cushions and throws to dining chairs to repurpose for post-lunch lounging.


If you can, wrap your gifts before Christmas Eve, which is ideally reserved for any Christmas cooking prep you can do the night before (with a bit of Mariah in the background). A mid-week mulled wine, Christmas film and gift wrapping session is an occasion in itself.


Consider your Christmas cooking schedule. Phrases like ‘Gantt chart’ might bring the uninitiated out in a cold sweat but are actually a seriously smart way to track your timings, working backwards from when you want to serve. The beauty of a Christmas dinner is its consistent components, so keep your chart saved and print it off each year.


Top up on tupperware for all those leftovers, whether you’ll be fitting them into the freezer or sending home with your guests as (compulsory) goodie bags – and attempt to make a turkey-sized space in the fridge.

 

Christmas tree and decorations in living room

 


THE DECORATION


There’s no denying the Christmas tree is the focal point of the festivities. If you’re space-challenged or don’t want to invest, try hanging decorations from holly, eucalyptus or blue spruce – florists will have branches by the bucketload.


Select a wreath to suit your scheme – options packed with pinecones and red berries might be the traditional choice, but fabric flowers, mistletoe or even pom poms make a quirky alternative. Forget the fiddly DIY variety – you can always jazz it up with some extra fresh foliage or baubles.


Switch off the main in fairy lights which create a soft, inviting glow and provide plenty of ways to get creative. Try arranging in jars, hanging with cards or dangling along the mantelpiece - then leave them up ‘till New Year’s.


Home fragrance is the ultimate mood-setting shortcut, and warming notes like cinnamon, clove, fir and ginger are sure to stir up a little festive magic. The most beautiful candles are decorations in themselves, but diffusers and room sprays make a practical alternative. Bonus points for any authentic scents, like mulled wine gently simmering on the stove.


Faux fur accents will help transform any space into a Scandi-style winter wonderland. A throw doubles as cosy companion for those dead days between Christmas and New Year, slung on the sofa or folded at the end of the bed.

 

Barware and glassware on tray

 


THE PARTY


Consider your entrance. A wreath at the door and fairy lights lining the hallway create a warm and inviting welcome. If you’re going all out, light up the front garden to show guests the way.


Whether you’re dishing out the drinks yourself or getting guests to BYOB, it’s worth brushing up on the associated maths - a bottle of champagne or prosecco fills 6 flutes, and there’s just over 17 shots in a 750ml bottle of spirits. Be warned - there’s no party mood killer quite like the drinks running dry.


With that in mind, glassware should be at the top of your checklist when you’re party prepping. Wine glasses are often the first to go, so make sure to stock up. A home bar with rows of sparkling glasses lined up provides a great focal point and enables guests to help themselves, freeing up your time for all-important mingling.


Cocktails and canapés are a winning combination for a swankier soirée (smoked salmon blinis pair wonderfully with champagne) but cocktail sausages and mini mince pies are equally crowd-pleasing. Posh up simple party food with lovely serving stands, plates and platters.


Balloons in white, silver or gold, or bowls of baubles and other festive decorations interspersed with your barware will add a sense of occasion and set the scene for a night of celebration.

 

White and green Christmas table settings

 


THE BIG DAY


Save yourself the Christmas-morning stress and set the table on Christmas Eve – even better if any creative members of your gang want to get involved. Bar badly-behaved pets, it should be just as you left it come the morning.


A crisp white tablecloth is timeless and saves making another investment for everyday use. As a neutral base, it works just as well for glamorous gold and silver as it does a simple Scandi scheme – perfect for the indecisive. A metallic tablecloth or runner is the high-impact alternative.


Consider your centrepiece. Garlands of festive foliage running down the centre of the table or baubles piled in bowls are deceptively easy ways to transform a table from every day to all-out celebration.


Layered plates are a quick way to luxe up the table. A decorative charger plate, dinner plate and side plate finished with a napkin and sprig of foliage is the failsafe recipe – just add hand-written name tags.


Crackers are practically compulsory, as is wearing the paper hat for the rest of the day once you’ve pulled them. They’re usually set at the top of each table setting or placed on the top plate or napkin.

Finishing touches like candlesticks will add some height and drama to the table, so stock up on dinner candles and turn the overhead lights down low. Coloured candles make for a quirky alternative.

 

Christmas breakfast in bed

 


THE SLEEPOVER


It’s hard to see beyond the big day, but the ‘morning after’ brunch is a bit of a Boxing Day institution. The good news is that there’ll be plenty of leftovers (and everyone will be stuffed anyway) – try big batches of pancakes with leftover bacon and bowls of berries for guests to help themselves to.


Extra bed linen and duvets deserve to be top of the guestroom checklist. We’re big fans of going all-white for year-round appeal and easy mixing and matching – Christmas Day evening is for slumping in front of the TV with a glass of port, not for digging out matching duvet sets.


Towels are easily overlooked, but come a close second. A large and small option stacked at the end of a bed is a hotel-worthy finishing touch - and sure to be appreciated come the morning shower rush.


The little things are often the most thoughtful. Home fragrance helps transform a bedroom into a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the festive activities, while a cafetière with coffee and tea bags means they won’t need to ask for that much-needed morning brew.


The truly dedicated host – and we salute you – might try a night in the guest room. Whether it’s a stack of help-yourself throws for the draft you didn’t know you had or an eye mask to combat that 8am sunrise, it’s the failsafe way to nail your guests’ needs.