Easy Christmas Entertaining at Home
This is a sponsored post for Freedom. Please see full disclosure at bottom of post.
Ready or not, Christmas is upon us! I’m sure I’m not the only one trembling ever so slightly as we find ourselves on the eve of December, staring down a month packed with family, friends, parties, presents, decorating, finishing up work, school holidays… and food.
So when Freedom launched their shiny new Christmas collection for 2014, I was inspired to give our outdoor deck a makeover for the festive season. Up until now, we had a rather clunky picnic table that was really too big for the space. Guests had to duck and weave to find their place, and there was a fair bit of whacking-of-heads on overhead beams. So we moved the table to the back yard, and brought in Freedom’s Genoa lounge set. Add a few plants and decorations and I think – finally – we just might be ready to have people around.
So come inside, and have a look at what I’ve done with the place…
You might remember my vintage sideboard from the dining room makeover? Here, I’ve used it as a cool spot indoors to set up a little drinks station, complete with a water dispenser. This is an incredibly handy addition and is perfect for Australian summer entertaining, as it means guests can help themselves – and you can stop running to the tap to top-up jugs every few minutes. It looks rather impressive filled with a bunch of lemons, limes and mint.
I also added a touch of Christmas to an otherwise empty corner with Freedom’s very pretty light-up tree, and an assortment of their beautiful glass baubles. Have you seen the full collection of Christmas decorations? I think you’ll really like it.
I can’t begin to tell you how much we love having a lounge and coffee table on the deck, instead of an enormous outdoor table. By simply swapping a too-big table for a more relaxed lounge setting, we’ve created a space that’s not only more attractive, but it’s also incredibly user-friendly.
We can now kick back with friends over a few platters of food and drinks, instead of a complicated formal-style dinner, and we can always add occasional chairs for when extra guests pop in.
Freedom has gone for Christmas gold this year, which is one of this season’s biggest decorating themes. So it was only natural that I would jump on the trend bandwagon for Christmas entertaining.
I actually don’t have a lot of gold in my kitchen cupboards, and I was quite amazed to see how good it looks, especially when mixed with natural timbers and white. You can see that I didn’t hold back on the gold confetti, either.
When it comes to food and entertaining for Christmas, I’ve found through harsh experience that keeping it simple is really the only way to go. It’s just too darn hot in Australia to be fiddling with hot canapes and complicated recipes.
So I like to take short-cuts and “cheat’s” methods when it comes to entertaining, which, in other words, is the incredibly easy art of making shop-bought food look sensational.
OK, so there was a tiny bit of preparation for the goat’s cheese balls. But not much! All you do is roll a bunch of little balls from a packet of soft goat’s cheese, and then roll the balls in chopped pistachios. Arrange some fresh baby spinach leaves on a platter – I love Freedom’s new rustic serving board – and pop a pistachio-encrusted ball on each leaf. You could also try rolling the balls in chopped chives for a different flavour. Easy, right?
Ye-olde chip-n-dip is a solid stand-by for easy entertaining, but it looks extra-special (in a homemade kinda way) when you pop a scoop of each dip in a little bowl on Freedom’s new collection of Entertain timber platters.
And making shop-bought mince pies look more homemade and less ‘supermarket’ is also easy: remove from plastic packaging; warm on tray in oven; pile on stylish white marble platter; and dust generously with icing sugar. Perfect! I added a touch of green and gold with air plants and some wire gem decorations from my own collection.
I also created an eye-catching centrepiece with an assortment of paper decorations and glittering gold baubles from my own stash of Christmas decorations. If you don’t have exposed beams, you could hang a bunch of paper decorations from a branch.
I love serving a few different options for dessert, and a cold trifle or layered pudding is perfect for lazy Australian summer entertaining. These individual mini puddings are a variation on my raspberry cream macaroon dessert, which is also ridiculously easy to make. Just layer a bunch of ingredients such as crushed coconut macaroons (or meringue) with raspberries, pomegranate seeds, and freshly whipped cream in each glass. Dust with icing sugar and serve on Freedom’s genius new Entertain tasting paddle. Instantly, this simple summer dessert makes for delicious (eye) candy.
I also like the idea of using the tasting paddles for various drinks tastings, which can be adapted to whatever tipple takes your fancy. If you want to get your hipster on, how about a craft beer or cider tasting? Or if kale is more your style, you could present a tasting of various ‘green’ drink recipes. Could be fun!
And nope, I didn’t make the pudding. But doesn’t it come up a treat and look extra decadent when it’s served on Freedom’s Celebrate gold plates? Layering plates and bowls is actually a good stylist’s trick to pull out when you’re entertaining. Just use an assortment of co-ordinated bowls and plates in different shapes and sizes, and layer no more than three levels on top of each other. It makes a statement and adds depth and interest to any table setting. Or it can make an ordinary shop-bought pudding look very special indeed.
Tell me: how are you getting ready for Christmas this year? Do you have any easy entertaining tips or tricks that you’d like to share?