time

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?

Christmas spirit of giving

I’m not talking about commercialism and gift giving, but the true spirit of giving at Christmas time. I don’t do enough of it myself, and I’m not sure just thinking about it counts for much, but I think Christmas giving is important.

What giving do you do at Christmas time? Do you see it as a burden in a busy time or something that is just worthwhile and a priority?

Here’s some of the things I’ve thought of – can you add to the list?

  • time for poor – serving Xmas lunch at a homeless shelter or helping hand out goods at a charity centre
  • invite lonely people to join a Xmas celebration with you
  • give to charity instead of giving token or joke gifts – a group I was in did this one year as we choose gifts for children and gave the bundle to a charity
  • give charity gifts
  • send cards to those not expecting it – maybe that shop assistant who smiled at you during your toddler’s tantrum, the nosy neighbour or a volunteer in your community (one you don’t deal with yourself)
  • smile and be nice to people in Xmas crowds – not always easy but give it a go!

Do they know it’s Christmas time?

Happy birthday to the song “Do they know it’s Christmas time?”!

It was 25 years ago that a group of musicians, led by Bob Geldof & Midge Ure, got together as Band Aid and sang this song to raise money for people in famine affected Ethiopia.

Unfortunately, there are still many starving people around the world and not everyone enjoys Christmas as we do in Australia (and there are those in Australia struggling, too). But we can choose to let songs like this remind us of the giving spirit of Christmas and do what we can to help others.

Share your Christmas story
Instagram