If it’s your turn to host the festive family gathering this year, there’s an awful lot to think about. If you’ve got friends or family staying with you, the actual Christmas dinner is only a small part of the whole thing. If you’re not used to feeding large quantities of people, you’ll be amazed at how much food you’ll get through, especially if the weather’s bad and everyone decides to stay indoors. To help you get through, we’ve put together the Fresh Design guide to getting ready for guests over Christmas.
As soon as possible
- Book an online supermarket shopping slot for a few days before Christmas. Have all the heavy and bulky items delivered, such as kitchen roll, bottled water and other soft drinks, wine, beer and tinned goods. It’s a good idea to invest in plenty of kitchen foil, clingfilm, freezer bags and bin liners at this point, so there’s no chance of them being forgotten later. You can add to the list as you think of things between now and then.
- Do a quick sweep of the house. Do you have enough beds/chairs/cups/plates for everyone? If not, decide what you need to do in the way of buying or borrowing air mattresses or folding chairs. You can quickly freshen up a spare room with a new duvet set, a couple of cushions and a bedside rug – add a jug of fresh flowers or seasonal holly leaves for the full ‘Homes and Gardens‘ effect. Adding a small bedside tray with bottled water, glasses, a magazine or two and a box of tissues is quick and inexpensive but makes a thoughtful gesture.
Over the next couple of weeks
- Plan all meals over the time that your guests will be with you. Don’t assume they won’t want to eat three big meals a day – it is Christmas, after all! Choose dishes that can be prepared in advance and frozen, such as lasagne, casseroles or shepherd’s pie, so that you don’t end up spending all your time in the kitchen. Do as much grocery shopping as you can in advance, and check if any of your guests have special diets or allergies.
- Plan your Christmas decorations. If you’re tight for space, you can create a festive look with the minimum of accessories. Try one of these sleek, contemporary Christmas trees, add fairy lights to windowsills and position candles by mirrors for maximum effect. Decide how you’re going to dress the dining table, and if necessary source accessories such as festive napkins, fresh holly sprigs and name cards.
- If you’re planning to ask guests to help with chores, draw up a rota so that everyone can see what they’re doing and when.
- Collect together a few films suitable for general viewing, and assemble some board games.
- Make a list of activities, such as nice places to walk if the weather’s fine. Find out what’s going to be open and when, so that you can make suggestions if people are bored.
A couple of days beforehand
- Buy in any last-minute groceries. Go through your cutlery and crockery and make sure you’ve got enough of everything.
- Write a meal plan for Christmas Day and make sure you know exactly how long everything needs to be cooked for, from the turkey and roasties, to the Christmas pudding.
- Clean and tidy spare rooms, make up beds. Make up any flower arrangements. If you’ve got more than one bathroom, clean one and arrange guest towels, and persuade your family to use the other!
Now sit back and relax for 24 hours – and remember, it’s a whole 12 months before you have to do it again!