It’s an understatement to say that Christmas 2020 was a non-starter for most of us. On the bright side, last year’s failed festivities simply mean that this year will be spent making up for lost time.
The season will certainly have extra significance for my family as we’d just had a baby last Christmas and missed out on the excitement of introducing them to extended family and friends. This year, I’ll be pulling out all the stops.
I’m planning on being a bit Scandinavian about the whole thing this time around by celebrating on Christmas Eve and keeping the big day itself quite simple. My ethos in general is that entertaining should never be about being fussy. So, in the spirit of keeping things as stress-free as possible, I’ll prepare everything in advance, so that I can actually enjoy myself.
I plan to do some simple braised meats or seafood, along with several nice salads for Christmas Eve. Everything will be served at room temperature, meaning I can be ready and waiting when my guests arrive. I want to be sure that I can give everyone my undivided attention.
The food situation may be relaxed, but for the table decorations I plan to go to town, layering tablecloths in different textures, colours and fabrics. I’ll be looking to Heather Taylor Home for amazing modern ginghams, as well as Late Afternoon’s colourful pinstriped designs and naturally dyed linens from Ved Cooks, both of which I handpicked for my homeware site, Glassette.
The idea is to create a look that’s special, but also unique and personal. That’s also my aim for the Christmas crackers. It’s become a bit of a tradition for me to make my own. I buy a cheap cracker kit online and get the family to help put them together, before sneaking off to pop gifts inside. Forget keyrings and miniature nail clippers – these are real treats: think tiny bottles of artisan gin and mini versions of beauty products.
Another way to instantly boost the festive mood is by playing around with lighting. Gather lots of candles (Wax Atelier’s collection is a personal favourite) to create a lovely low-level glow, but nothing with too heavy a scent – avoid strong cinnamon or citrus notes. I prefer earthy frankincense-rich musks that make you think of a church altar.
Then it’s all about creating a feeling of abundance. I like to turn my whole house into a generous buffet for grazing loved ones. Everywhere you look there will be small bowls of candied peels, chestnuts, pistachios and sugared almonds.
Christmas calls for indulgence, after all!
Alcohol-wise, there’ll be bubbles in the fridge, but I’m also going to make new signature cocktails. I’m currently obsessed with researching bar menus from restaurants around the world and recreating them at home. My guests can expect to be sampling an alpine liqueur at some point – it’s used in one of my favourite bars, Estela in New York.
For many of us, this festive season comes at a time when we are only just getting back into the swing of hosting. But dusting off those social skills and blowing away the conversational cobwebs will be a real pleasure in itself. I can’t wait to turn up the Christmas playlist and watch everybody enjoying each other’s company again. It’s definitely about time!