Christmas entertaining tips

Entertaining people 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.

Entertaining can mean a lot of cleaning up, buying food and supplies, cooking and planning which can add up to a lot of stress for many people. Especially if you’re on a tight budget and try to minimise expenses.

Here are a few tips to get your entertaining preparations under control this Christmas:

  1. delegate – most Australians are used to ‘bringing a plate’ so don’t be afraid of asking people to help with the food
  2. ignore ‘unseen’ parts of your home for December – don’t bother dusting, vacuuming or even tidying the study, ensuite, 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
  3. 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
  4. get the kids to make paper chains as a cheap decoration that helps keep them busy while you work, too
  5. 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 tableRed and white setting for a Christmas table
  6. put some candles around the room and house – they give a lovely light in the evening and can smell beautiful at any time. Candles are much quicker to set out than  a lot of other decorating ideas yet look classy
  7. give yourself permission to relax and enjoy the events you host – 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
  8. consider using plastic cutlery and plates so you can set them out in advance without interfering with your daily needs. Before you worry about the low quality plastics or the financial and environmental cost of disposables, 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
  9. set yourself a schedule for cleaning so it doesn’t become so overwhelming. For example, sweep and mop the floors 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 everything to be ready
What other time and cost saving tips can you add?

13 Responses to Christmas entertaining tips

  • Anna T says:

    Even though it’s polite for everyone to pitch in and clean up after a Christmas party, it does help a lot if the location for the party gets rotated out every year because that way the responsibility of actually having the party doesn’t fall on the shoulders of the same person each year.

    My family does this. There are about five of us, and each year a different person hosts the annual family Christmas gathering.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      It does make a big difference, doesn’t it? We used to rotate but my in laws find it too hard now ( my father in law is unwell) so we’ve hosted it a couple of years in a row now.

      Even if people help clean up, there is still a lot to do as the hosts – tidying, moving furniture around then putting everything away and dealing with the rubbish all take time and effort.

  • pocs says:

     First let me start by saying how much I love this blog!  Everyday I find something new, a idea , a possible tradition or something that makes me smile, so Thank you!  

    Now, entertaining next to crafting my favorite part of the holiday. We only have a few things at our home, our Soup Bowl Party, Cookie Baking ( yes we make this a party also) and Christmas Eve and Day. Christmas Eve is what we call finger food night buffet style at our house, it’s usually just family and a few close friends so we keep it informal.

    The trick is to plan, plan, plan. Maybe touched with a bit OCD, I like all my ducks in a row. Before the night I do as much ahead as I can. My daughters come over the night before and we do all the prep. Last one there is in charge of clean up. This ensures they all show up (wink, wink).

    Have your plates, trays and serving dishes stacked in order of need. Any serving utensils can be there also. Put a cooler on the back porch freeze water in balloons, toss in the cooler to keep drinks cold throughout the night.. Serve  dips and spreads in bread bowls, bell peppers or tomatoes for easy clean up.

    Simple planning and a few tips, you’ll be able to enjoy the night with guests.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      SO glad you are enjoying it, pocs 🙂

      Love those tips – especially the tip for making sure you get help and avoid stressing yourself.

      Putting dips in bread or vegetables is awesome – less cleaning up and possibly a tasy treat for Boxing Day (preflavoured bread!)

      Frozen balloons is a fun way to cool things (and cooling drinks is probably a bigger deal for us when it gets hot!) and the kids could have fun helping me do that. We’ve just bought a bag or two of ice in the past – we use the laundry trough to hold the drinks and the wahsing machine (suitably dressed up!) becomes the table for glasses.

  • pocs says:

    Another tip for helping clean up. Whoever empties the plate, tray or bowl washes and puts it away. Yes you might use a little more water, but it’s a big time saver at the end of the night.

  • pocs says:

    A beautifully set table with holiday cheer screams entertaining. To get things ready for the big meal and save a little time. Wash and iron all your table linens, napkins and cloth table decor a few weeks before. Store in a plastic bag with a few dryer sheets to keep them fresh smelling. When your ready to set the table, it will be a breeze.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      Nice tip – doing as much as possible in advance makes for a nicer day.

      The last few years we’ve ‘made’ a table for Christmas lunch by putting wood over smaller tables and stands. When I put out the table cloth (usually 2 or 3 days early) I can iron any creases quickly in situ – saves getting out the ironing board and avoids making more creases during ironing (with such big tablecloths this is easy to do!)

  • ChristiQ says:

    These are really good tips for any family dinner or gathering. The best tip is spreading things out over a few days. Anything you can do before the day of the dinner, the better. I usually bake cookies, cakes, and other desserts a couple of days before.

    I never would have thought of frozen balloons for cooling drinks! That is such a neat and easy-to-do idea! Thanks for the ideas!

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  • Deena says:

    More info like this will be great, hope I can stop by again as I’m sure I’ll use it as Christmas gets closer.

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