Keep things simple and memorable this festive season.
1. COOK WHAT YOU KNOW
Never a new dish for the first time when a group of people are coming over! Rather, choose recipes you know and love – simple everyday food – such as paella, slow-roasted lamb or a knockout pie – made in larger quantities for everyone to share around the table.
2. COOK IN ADVANCE
Choose recipes that incorporate some elements that can be made ahead. Most salads and desserts can be assembled a few hours in advance, with final warm ingredients – such as prawns – added right at the end.
3. DON’T FORGET THE SNACKS
Whet their appetites with offerings such as spiced roasted nuts, assorted olives and crisp vegetables. Nibbles before the main event shouldn’t be too filling, but should take the edge off before everyone sits down to your feast.
4. PLAN YOUR SERVEWARE
Gather your utensils, platters, plates, glasses and table linen in advance to check that you have everything you need. Feel free to mix and match different textures – a combo of wooden boards, marble, ceramics and stoneware always looks great.
5. POSITION, POSITION POSITION
Position the serving table away from walls and other furniture so that guests can easily access it from all sides.
6. DRESS TO IMPRESS
Put dressings and condiments in jars and dishes so that guests can help themselves. Group them together on a tray or platter to prevent drips and splashes.
7. SET UP SEPARATE DRINKS AND DESSERT STATIONS.
This includes glasses, serving bowls and spoons, where everyone can serve themselves (less running between the kitchen and dining area for you). Start the party with a cocktail for everyone and make sure there’s a good bubbly and a versatile red and white wine for the meal.
And don’t forget lots of ice!
8. BUY DESSERT
If you’re time-pressed, take the easy route with a tried-and-tested dessert from your favourite neighbourhood supplier. A cheese platter featuring a Brie, a blue and an aged Gouda served with a dessert wine is also a great choice.
Try: sorbet citrus skins.