19 December 2012

Eight Tips for Stress Free Festive Entertaining

On Monday night we hosted the husband's management team for a full xmas roast dinner. It was quite fun actually. Being overseas we haven't really had much of a chance to do the big festive celebrations at home and there's something quite lovely about dressing up the house and preparing all the tasty things. 

It was kind of a last minute decision to host the dinner. It meant a few late nights planning meals and counting cutlery; some frantic trips to the department store to buy dinner plates; and possibly, maybe using the stepsons as xmas cracker mules (you can not buy crackers in Korea for love nor money). But in the end it felt like a warm, enjoyable evening, and I'm pretty sure (I hope!) our guests left feeling that too. 

Based on my recent entertaining experience, here are some handy hints:

1. Do work with children and animals. In what could otherwise have been a slightly awkward, formal evening the stepsons and the dogs helped break the ice, relax the mood, and provided a nice focal point during those awkward silences. 

2. Give yourself time. I basically cleared the whole day. I went to the flower market and did the grocery shopping. The table was set by 2pm, the dinner prep done by 5pm, and a Campari spritz was in my hand by 6pm.  

3. Have a plan. I'm a list lover, and I know when something isn't written down I will fret over it, even when I don't really need to. So I printed up a time plan for the day (even covering when I'd feed the boys, and when we'd all have showers!). I found it very reassuring! 

4. Keep it simple. Cook what you know and focus your efforts on one or two courses. We did a roast beef with all the trimmings, which is a meal we've cooked a million times. We kept the other courses simple (antipasto to start, and cheese and then cake, chocolates and macarons for afters). 

5. If the guests find out that your dog loves Baileys, watch them very, very carefully. And maybe hide the Baileys.

6. If the guests click out of the selected iTunes playlist and find your full non-edited music collection, hold your head up high. Even when Fragma / Ke$sha / Chingy starts blaring out the speakers. (Oh so many guilty pleasures). 

7. A pre-dinner drink for the cook is fine and can ease the nerves a little. But pre-dinner drinks for the cook may spell trouble. 

8. When in doubt, throw in a poinsettia. 

Have you been entertaining this festive season? What are your tips for hosting a stress free holiday dinner?


  1. Great tips Emily! I certainly keep them in mind when I next host, though that might a little while away.

    I always have trouble stopping guests from feeding Ralphie tidbits. Our pooches are too cute!

    1. Yes, and ours are especially greedy / demanding too - hard to resist!

  2. So many lovely things to comment on, not really relevant to your hostess with the mostess tips, but I can't help myself. I love your CH ice bucket, little egg cup toothpick holders, those gorgeous white vases (are they new, old? details please), gosh, even that poinsettia looks fab in that beautiful room! (I normally don't like them, but you've changed my mind)
    I'm sure your guests had a great time.

    1. Awww thanks Kylie, glad you like it all! The white vases are all vintage, collected from Etsy and eBay over the years - mainly mid-century modern, mainly made in Germany! Except for the one that actually has flowers in it, that's from Finnish brand Iittala :)

  3. Best Christmas tips list I have ever read!!! Thank you for a great laugh. xx

  4. Awesome tips. Great photos and congrats on your successful party. We could never have such gathering at our house. The dogs wouldn't allow it. :)


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