The Welcome Drink.
The moment that everyone arrives is always the most hectic time of the day. I imagine opening the door, to a neat house where no one is bellowing SERIOUSLY, WHERE ARE YOUR PANTS THIS TIME? Instead I would calmly offer my guests a selection of drinks and listen to their answers when I ask how they are. But I live in the real world (you do too right?) and there are children who need to pee and pets that choose fantastic times to escape and a sister in law who is asking to borrow a hair straightener. No to mention the AWOL hubby (where on earth do the men disappear to? I want in!). Despite anticipating the event for weeks in advance suddenly finding glasses and bottle openers is next to impossible and making room in the fridge requires the kind of Tetris skill levels I never quite mastered. The house feels like it’s about to explode and the door bell is the detonator and yet…
… there,nestled amongst the crazy chaos it appears: The simplified-pre-mixed- help-yourself-welcome-drink.
I choose one cocktail that I can make in bulk and put it in one of those glass drink dispensers (they cost like $10 at Kmart) and have it waiting on the kitchen counter with a bunch of glasses. Think Pims and lemonade, this cranberry-lime margarita, or Sangria. Any drink with fruit pieces, mint leaves, edible flowers or something else fancy-pants floating in it gives a pretty big wow factor with minimal fuss.
There is nothing wrong with expecting your guests to open the doors with their elbows. It’s Christmas so these people are family and dear friends, right? I let them do the catering. I start a group email early and let everyone nominate what they want to bring – first in best dressed. My hubby is one of six so we have it down to a fine art. Want to make that amazing trifle you discovered on Pinterest? Better bags dessert duties before someone else does. You snooze you loose – don’t hustle and you will be bringing a salad, my friend.
Obviously the host is going to need to contribute too. I learned the hard way that when it’s your house you should probably put your hand up for nibbles because hypothetically the person who is supposed to be bringing the chips and crackers could be an hour late and the early birds end up bringing a bunch of cheese and dips with nothing to freaking put them on. Hypothetically of course.
Presumably you have a Christmas tree? Presumably everyone is going to bring gifts? All wrapped in exuberantly patterned wrapping paper? So that’s a lot of Christmas bling already.
The house is going to be full of people and colour and kids running around. You don’t want to give anyone a seizure so choose a simple colour scheme for the table and avoid too many patterns. I’m going with kraft paper, gold and black this year (every year) and I’ll decorate with a few Christmas crackers, lots of colourful food and a candle or two. Simple, pretty, no stress.
If you do want to create a table centerpiece you don’t need to spend extra money, maybe ask Santa if the kids can have some woodland animal figurines and fake trees (the kind that they decorate model railways with) in their stockings and you can create a little Christmas scene with them.
Related content: How to make an edible fruit Christmas wreath
Entertaining the kids.
We always have about a million children at our Christmas bash (hubby is one of six, remember) and it can be a bit tricky. So before the hoards arrive I basically just sweep the kids’ room for anything that is going to cause dramas (special toys, crayons, breakables, etc.) and hide it behind a box of vegetables.
LEGO, beads and anything else tricky can also disappear for the day. I usually set up some sort of activity for the littlies like a doll’s house or train track and get the bigger ones drawing with chalk on the driveway. I’m not worried about the clean up, it’s all part of the game, but a bit of mayhem-minimisation will make the day so much more relaxing for the kids and adults too. Also, I like to clear a dance floor for when the sugar kicks in.
The lead up.
You guys know I’m the DIY lady, don’t you? I basically outsource nada. But I make an exception one time of the year: Christmas. If you’re hosting, consider getting a cleaner in for an hour or two before hand. There are lots of companies who will pair you with someone local for about $30 an hour. You really don’t want to be cleaning the bathroom while baking for your do! It’s so worth it. And, scientifically speaking, the likelihood of you maybe having painted nails or fabulous hair directly increases the more you outsource. True story.
Are you hosting this year? Excited? Terrified?
More tips to nail the festive hosting:
- Hassle-free holiday entertaining: step by step
- Emergency entertaining kit for the holiday pop-in
- Haylie Duff: My top 5 tips for stress-free entertaining