Welcoming people into your home is one of the delights of Christmas – socialising, seeing those you care for, relaxing and being hospitable. But it comes at a price – preparing to entertain.
Christmas entertaining can mean a lot of cleaning up, buying food and supplies, cooking and planning. All of which can add up to a lot of stress for many people. Especially if you’re on a tight budget and trying to minimise expenses.
Here are a few tips to get your entertaining preparations under control this Christmas:
- delegate – most Australians are used to ‘bringing a plate’ so don’t be afraid of asking people to help with the food. Get someone else to bring the bonbons or ice, too.
- ignore ‘unseen’ parts of your home for December – don’t bother dusting, vacuuming or even tidying the study, en suite, garden shed, etc if no one will be going in those areas. Stick to public areas. And go for clean and presentable rather than perfect
- use short cuts in the kitchen. For example, buy packets of fruit mince pies or fruit cake and just ice them yourself, buy tartlet cases, prepared custard and fruit to make fruit tarts, use an electric mixer or blender instead of stirring or chopping by hand, and cook in advance and freeze food to reduce cooking on the day
- get the kids to make paper chains as a cheap decoration. Bonus – it helps keep them busy while you work, too
- flat red sheets make great tablecloths – easy to wash, can be reused as sheets and are big enough for large tables. They’re generally cheaper than tablecloths, too. You could decorate them with fabric pens and paints, or leave them plain so you can brighten them up in different ways for each event and following Christmases. Pretty runners, tinsel, Christmas balls, scattered popcorn, ivy and other greenery, glitter and paper chains are all ideas for adding interest to the table
- put some candles around the room and house – they give a lovely light in the evening. Plus they can smell beautiful. Candles are much quicker to set out than a lot of other decorating ideas yet look classy
- give yourself permission to relax and enjoy the events you host. Remember, people are there to see you and celebrate Christmas, being together and the end of another year so relax and be with them instead of running around aiming for an impossible target of perfection
- consider using plastic cutlery and plates so you can set them out in advance without interfering with your daily needs. Think about using some good plastic plates and cutlery such as from your picnic set. The bright colours will just add to the festive atmosphere and plastic takes away any risk of broken dishes hurting people. Yet it is cheaper and ‘greener’ than disposable plastic stuff.
- set yourself a schedule for cleaning so it doesn’t become so overwhelming. For example, sweep and mop on Monday, clean the bathroom on Tuesday and dust on Wednesday. On the actual day you then only need to do a quick once over for everything to be ready