- Holidays and Celebrations
How to Celebrate the Magic of the Season with Limited Time and Create an Inexpensive Relaxed Christmas Party at Home
Christmas almost upon you?
Don't let panic set in. Christmas doesn't have to be arduous, expensive or time consuming even if time is running out.
At this time of year most people go through the weeks before Christmas in a bit of a haze..whether that's due to excess alcohol having celebratory drinks with friends, frantic gift buying, obligatory work parties with their often dreaded secret Santa presents or sometimes hectic deadlines forced and non forced upon us.
Thinking of the work involved organizing your own Christmas party /lunch/family get together adds more pressure and it can mean be anxious couple of days frantically running around in preparation with hardly a moment to relax.
But with a bit of planning, a few innovative ideas and few hours of detailed organization hard work a Christmas party at home can not only be an enjoyable and relaxing time but an experience worthy of making memories.
Gingerbread houses are a lot of fun to make
The Many Facets of Christmas
Who would you invite to your Christmas party
With Limited Time Careful Planning is Definitely the Key to Success.
Three Weekends Out -
Choose Your Theme..
Think..table settings, decorations, costumes..this is an important decision as all other factors fall in with your theme. For instance a traditional party would include decorations with red, green, gold, silver etc or if it's decided on a classic look, silver and white combine well. Raw and natural woods make a refreshing look. So too does a few willow or cherry blossom branches for a Christmas tree painted white. One Christmas we decided on an Hawaiin theme. The girls wore lays and bright colors and the boys wore floral Hawaiin print shirts. We ate fresh seafood and salad and fresh seasonal fruit and drank plenty of Pina Coladas. Whatever your theme now is the time to;
- Compile your Guest List and send off invitations so that your guests can mark it in their diary before they fill up the space. This can be done earlier but be aware that sometimes a reminder too early that Christmas is just around the corner can spin some folk out. However it's necessary to know how many you will be catering for before ordering supplies. A quick text or email invite has a faster response time and is less expensive than paper cards.
- Decide on where you will seat your guests. Depending on your climate you will need to decide if your party will be formal inside around the dining room table or outside in the garden, deck or patio. If outside in a colder climate outside heaters are a must have and now is the time to buy or borrow as many as possible. If inside fires are the order of the day make sure your wood pile is replenished. Alternately industrial size fans are a good choice for large groups in hotter climates as are air conditioners.
- Ordering your food and alcohol now saves on the expensive mark up the week before Christmas. You may not have exact numbers yet but for example ordering an extra size leg of ham or turkey is safest and can always be eaten over the festive season. Look for cheaper cuts of meat including rolled turkey breast or thigh, large pork knuckles or ham shoulders. They taste every bit as good and are cost effective. Buying alcohol by the carton easily saves dollars. And just in case some of your guests are raving alcoholics keep a guide of safe drinking rules in eyesight.
Two Weekends out -
Buy your decorations.
Take time to go to different retail stores to have a look around and try not to leave anything to get later as stocks run out quickly at this time. Include;
- place mats
- center piece for table
- paper plates, cups and cutlery to save on energy and time in the big clean up afterwards.The range on offer is extensive and come in varieties of colors to match your theme. Or sturdy white plates will match any classic theme. Try party supply outlets or cheaper dollar stores rather than buying from department stores to keep costs down.
- Simple brown paper and string can make attractive table name tags hung from the back of chairs and or used as a card on presents.
Clean Your House and Yards -
It's a good time now to give the house a facelift..a thorough clean through at this time will mean a quick clean just before the party. Make sure you have extra soap, body wash, shampoo etc for the bathroom and a set of new towels add to the freshness.
- skirting boards,
- outside paths,
- front and back doors,
- verandahs and decks
- lawns and gardens.
Recruit people. Hubby, brothers, uncles, kids or friends to help out. Or pay the neighbor's kids who need a few longed for dollars for the seasons pocket money spending. And remember that food is a great incentive to get people to work around the house, provide a quick tasty, easy to prepare lunch such as nacho's, hot dogs, or a take out barbeque chicken on fresh bread rolls when the work is done etc.
1 Weekend out -
Time to Bake -
A key to a relaxed and stress less event is simplicity. Delicious simple food served with love is so much more appreciated than technically complicated food requiring a stressed, anxious host.
This is the time to make;
- Christmas cakes and puddings
And again remember keep it simple and stick to recipes you know well or have tried several times.There is no disaster worse than trying your hand at something new, albeit fabulous and have it end in disaster, unless you are an extremely confident experienced cook.
Keep it simple
Gotta have Christmas cake
Food Doesn't Have to be Difficult to Prepare
Look for cheaper cuts of meat. Not only are they economical but are often so much tastier. Good restaurant can be seen using the whole animal on their menu these days. Use your imagination when planning your menu. Large Pork Knuckles cooked in beer or apple cider in a pan with vegetables is delicious as is turkey thigh roll instead of the expensive whole bird.
When Seafood is a must have on the menu. Seafood is often eaten at Christmas but can be seriously overpriced. Consider Mussels as a cheaper buy at the fish market or alternatively toss some King Prawns in a salad with fancy lettuce, sliced avocado and celery and dress it with a little whole egg mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar and a good olive oil. Seasoned with salt and pepper it makes one easy delicious salad.
Write A Menu Plan Out
Meats & Seafood
turkey breast or thigh rolls
muscles prawns fish parcels
Ice Cream Dessert
Bailey's Ice Cream Log
Whip two cups of cream till thick and add a quarter cup of sugar
Fold through two to four tablespoons of Bailey's Irish Creme
One cup of good quality dark chocolate chopped roughly
Half a cup of fresh or frozen raspberries chopped
Half a cup of chopped pecan or pistachio nuts
Combine and place in a large loaf tin lined with baking paper. Top with grated chocolate, nuts, fruit and cover with foil.
This can be made up to a week a head and kept frozen until needed
The Night Before Christmas
This is the time for last minute preparations;
Cooking the ham, turkey, pork etc now will allow more time on the day.
- Make sauces, dressings or custard
- Whip Cream
- Prepare fruits for desert, punch or cocktails
- Peel vegetables that need to be cooked, diced, chopped or grated
- Get in ice for cold drink, gas for Barbques, wood for fires
- Chop nuts
- Grate chocolate
- Experiment with cocktails to get right
- Wash and shred lettuce for salads
- Prepare other salad ingredients such as couscous, rice, qinoua etc
- Wash and chop herbs, mint, parsley, rocket etc
On the Day
- Re heat and carve meats
- cook vegetables
- Make gravy
- Prepare sea food
- Set table
- Make up punch
- Put drinks on ice
Rules for Safe Drinking While Enjoying the Season
1 Never drink if you are the appointed driver. It's a no brainer this one but always seems to need repeating
2 Know your limit - if you don't know how many drinks it takes to make you feel out of control, slur your words or behave like an idiot better to test that out in the privacy of your own home not at a party.
3 Eat food and drink water while you are consuming alcohol.
4 Only take a drink when you want one and drink it slowly to make it.
A Real Miracle
Any plan can work even for super busy people with limited time..to make people happy with food wine and a relaxed atmosphere is so worth the effort.
Cheers from my house to yours.