Christmas is the one time of the year when party hosts stress over everything from appetisers to seating plans. You are not Jamie Oliver. Or Nigella. Or Neven Maguire. And no one expects you to be. They want to enjoy the dinner they didn’t need to cook and have a relaxed host dishing it up.
If it’s your turn to host Christmas this year, don’t panic, we’ve compiled our top tips to help you be the most perfect and relaxed host.
Invest In A Decent Electric Carving Knife
If you want to serve a warm bird, a decent electric carving knife is your best friend.
Even if you don’t use it again during the year, it will be your superhero on the big day.
Give Your Bird A Rest
Once your turkey is golden, leave it to rest for about an hour under foil to keep the heat and moisture in.
This will enhance the flavour and give you nice, even slices when you it’s carving time.
Have Vegan/Vegetarian Options
These days you need to make sure you’ve thoroughly investigated your dinner guests’ dietary restrictions. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself battling against invitees who will refuse a spoonful of stuffing because there’s gluten or won’t even have a couple of spuds because you roasted them in goose fat.
Do your homework and save yourself the meltdown in the kitchen.
Serve Hot Gravy
The most important part. Don’t serve the gravy until everyone is seated with forks at the ready and have a couple of jugs filled so everyone can access it easily.
Make Sure You Have Nice Non-Alcoholic Drinks
It’s a guarantee that there’ll be a couple of designated drivers at the dinner table.
Make sure you have a selection of non-alcoholic drinks for them to sip while they tuck into their turkey with all the trimmings. If you’re thinking of serving a festive cocktail this year, have a non-alcoholic mix too.
Call In Crowd Control
As soon as guests come in the door, they head straight to the (already boiling hot) kitchen to ‘help’ with the dinner preparations. If this is going to stress you out while you’re trying to squeeze another tray of roasties into your limited oven space, you’re going to need to have a ‘front of house’.
Appoint someone to entertain the guests (and most importantly, get them their first glass of wine) before they arrive so you’ve got a full head of hair by the time dinner is ready to serve.
Limit Your Conversations
As host, it is your duty to engage with all your guests. If you’ve a guestlist of twenty people, you don’t have the time to chat to your best pal (who you see every week) for forty minutes.
Stick to two-minute conversations and focus on introducing everyone else to each other.
Have A Seating Plan
At the dinner table, you want to have conversations flowing, jokes being cracked, and crackers being pulled. You do not want a group in the corner plotting their escape and avoiding all human interaction by burying their faces in their phones.
A structured seating plan is key for a successful dinner table.
Share The Leftovers
Taking a tip directly from the Americans’ dining book, have a bunch of plastic containers ready to fill with the ingredients for the ultimate day-after-Christmas sandwich.
You can be as stingy or as generous as you like but make sure no guest leaves without a couple of slices of meat and a few spuds.