Four Decembers ago we had just (I mean literally weeks before) moved into a new house and we thought it would be a great idea to host people over the festive break. Within three weeks we had fitted a whole new kitchen, decorated most of the rooms and got our house ready to host Christmas for the very first time!
It was (inevitably) a few very stressful weeks of preparing, tidying, dusting and clearing but somehow, by some Christmas miracle, we survived. For three days we fed and watered 11 adults without any arguments or accidents. It was no walk in the park but the year after we did it again and without all of the other challenges of getting the house ready it was actually really fun.
So here are my top 13 tips to hosting Christmas and keeping sane!
- Drink coffee and wine – I was very partial to starting the day with a coffee and finishing the day with a glass of red. It really helped to keep all of the potential stresses or worries of hosting at bay. Perhaps not a great tip on a long term basis but definitely worked for me!
- Have loads of toilet paper to hand… no-one needs to run out on Christmas day and it is amazing how quickly you go through it with lots of people in the house.
- Sort some Christmas games out. Whether it is Charades, Trivial pursuit, Monopoly or Catan – have some at the ready. It helps to keep people entertained, reduces any potentials strains of having lots of family cooped up all day and is a fun way to pass a few hours.
- Go for a walk at some point during the festive period. Fresh air, a bit of exercise and a change of scenery is sometimes just what you need during Christmas.
- Part bake rolls – it is very tempting to start planning big evening meals as well as the Christmas lunch and boxing day grazing (my favourite) but you are likely to have a huge amount of off cuts, cheese and vegetables. Throwing a few part bakes in the oven can just help to fill up hungry guests quickly.
- Share the load. If there are a few of you write a list of all of the jobs and things to buy and try and share it out. Everyone will love being involved and it really helps to lighten the load.
- Spreadsheets and lists. In life you really can never have too many of either of these but Christmas is really the time for these organisational tools to shine. I had a spreadsheet with the following: food shopping (with notes of who was bringing which item), meals, Christmas day lunch timings, and sleeping arrangements.
- Avoid watching lots of rubbish TV and agree on a nice Christmas film to watch as well as a couple of other shows that the whole family will enjoy. How often do you get time to just sit and watch something on TV? Make sure it isn’t wasted and you end up watching Emmerdale re-runs. Thinking about what you are going to watch beforehand also avoids any bickering over the remote control.
- Start new traditions. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without lovely family traditions. So find a new one and make it your own.
- If you are limited with oven space think about what you can cook on the hob or in the microwave. I steamed my peas in the microwave and did glazed carrots on the hob.
- Limit washing up by using some disposable trays for the roast potatoes and turkey. Every little thing to lighten the load when you are hosting helps.
- Decorate the house with lots of fresh eucalyptus to help the house smelling fresh even with all of those bodies around. For other Christmas decoration tips see my post here.
- Start the day with a good breakfast. I always like to start the day with a good filling brekkie but during the festive period time it seems particularly important as you are often eating lunch much later in the day and it avoids any hanger. I often rotate the following type of breakfasts: American pancakes with plenty of berries, scrambled egg and avocado on toast, croissants, and cereals.