Christmas time in Africa is a different ball game to up North where it will probably snow. It’s hot out here and drinking hot chocolate with those mini marshmallows in front of the fire, although super Christmassy are not an African Christmas reality I’m afraid (my Australian Compadres will know) it’s hot out here! As a kid, my Christmas memories are of hot lazy summer days, swimming all day long… Christmas lunch was usually a festive spread of cold cuts of gammon and turkey, smoked fish and salads, stodgy unloved Christmas pudding followed by more swimming then perhaps some Quality Streets followed by more swimming. (My nickname isn’t Fish for nothing)!
Now that I am cooking a few of my own festive feasts in my own kitchen, I face a bit of a conundrum – I love a traditional Christmas fare with all the trimmings. That real cozy roasted atmosphere with chestnuts and pigs in blankets….the smell of mulled wine wafting around. Cooking all that in an oven for hours when it’s an oven outside is tough and no one really likes a sweaty hostess let alone trying to eat hot roast potatoes and gravy when you’re melting! So I have decided on a compromise cause I am diplomatic….and I’m the one cooking….so, I will do the mighty turkey bird and a gammon but this year I’m pairing it with some fresh sides. Lovely crisp salad leaves dotted with cranberries and walnuts, minty pea salad and herby new potatoes that don’t need to be eaten hot out the oven. The pigs in blankets can stay…always!
So without further adieu, grab a glass of bubbles and enjoy our festive celebration in the Midlands, hopefully some inspiration in time for Christmas day on Thursday…
A beautiful wreath made by a friend from old books. Stockings hanging on either side (you’re never too old)!
Bought these star lights from Mr Price Home a couple years ago. They are so simple yet effective.
Christmas with Boney M playing as guests arrived…
We decorated the table with large sprigs of holly we found outside. I wanted to keep it simple and natural. Any greenery from the garden is lovely or dried twigs decorated with little birds or snowflakes. Pine cones are also great if you can get your hands on them. We wrapped the cutlery with the napkins, added a name tag and a fresh sprig of rosemary…
I always think it’s a good idea to have a drinks station for guests. Load with plenty of ice, glasses, bottle openers, a few bottles of wine or signature cocktail for the event, then everybody can find what they need and help themselves if you’re not on hand to get refills.
We also managed to turn the holly berries into chocolate balls this year!
What would a Christmas feast be without crackers with dodge jokes and a plastic ring : )
If you have people coming for a lunch, take some time to sit down and do a bit of planning. Start with a guest list (don’t forget to send them the invite) then figure out a menu. I always check out a couple recipes before hand. If you are going to cook something like turkey or gammon and haven’t cooked either before, you really don’t wanna wing it! I had 15 people for lunch so delegated snacks and dessert to guests which was a great help. Once you have an idea of what food you’re going to serve write down any other things or extras you may need like glasses, crackers, ice buckets ect. I needed to hire a few extra plates and glasses which wasn’t expensive at all. Then figure out what can get done before hand, don’t leave everything to that morning, you will lose your mind! I also asked some guests to help me with tables and chairs so everyone could have a seat ; ) My dear friend Kirsty offered to help me with the event which was an absolute blessing and turned out to be lots of fun. (I knew she meant business when she turned up on the day with her own apron : ))