Hosting for the holidays is not for the faint of heart, it requires the coolest of demeanours and the smartest of machinations to get it right. One left foot and it all comes tumbling down. So here are some guidelines to save your sanity:
CROCKERY | Set the table one week before; get your china in order and get out the good stuff. We have lived through a pandemic so stop saving anything for a good day. Every day is a good day mate. Which also means you should replace any chipped or broken things; chipped crockery hold in cold and lead to cold sores… or so I have been told in any case replace what needs to be and get cracking.
THE GUEST LIST | Be ruthless with your guest-list; no aggy people. Again we have survived the pandemic we need only good vibes around us so anyone you know has a prickly demeanour is not welcome here. Gather the people who have brought the sun into your life in the dark days we have lived through, they may be friends you’ve known a life time to friends you met in the queue the other day. Invite people who inspire the best in you, who want the best for you. And check in on your introverted friends, we love a good dinner party.
DESSERT | As you know this is my favourite food group so pick your greatest hits and have at it. Dessert should be the crowd pleaser and never boring, even at its most simple a dessert should literally always be the cherry on top of a good night. Bake your desserts the evening before if you do not fancy waking up at the crack of dawn or very early the morning of. Baking is the most precise of all cooking ventures and if you mess it up, there’s just no going back. If you are stuck for ideas; nothing, absolutely nothing can beat a good brownie with gelato and this you can stick in the office as you serve the first course. For heaven’s sake Keep It Simple.
SEASONING | Season your chicken two days before; I am a fan of seasoned food and so should you. Let it marinate in flavours and bring the tastebuds to life; find a trusted recipe and season your birds accordingly.
BE PREPARED | I was a brownie then a guide and we live by that creed so always, always be prepared. If this is your first time, buy two of everything, if you can afford it. Also search for some durable paper plates; yes I hate washing up too and I am the maniac who buys plates that are not dishwasher safe… don’t ask me why… I guess I am just a maniac.
THE MENU | Stick with your greatest hits; do not try to be Gordon Ramsay on your first go round; tried and tested greatest hits. If you must throw in something new, give it a good trial run and at best ONE dish and an element of surprise. I am a fan of menu cards, personalised and what not; handwritten? Even better, its the little details. Inside of your place setting cards write questions that guests can answer to get the conversation flowing and help draw the introverts out.
THE MOOD | Candles. Diffusers. Flowers. Lighting. Good music; ask guests for their favourite song and mash up a play list for the night so everyone is taken care of. Be ready at least 45 minutes before your guests arrive, that means make time for a nap after you’ve worked so hard, you should have set the table by now so you will not run around like a headless chicken dealing with last minute details. Which includes painting your nails.
IT’S YOUR PARTY | More important, do not forget to enjoy yourself; that means starting out early, give yourself a head start, get your drinks and menu in order, pick your outfit ahead of time and when in doubt, order in. It’s your party after all.