Herald Sun - Property

Surviving Christmas: a host’s guide

Save yourself some drama and enjoy the festive season by planning ahead, writes

- Cocorepubl­ic.com.au; kingliving.com.au; magimix.com.au; ozdesignfu­rniture.com.au; pillowtalk.com.au; kinsman.com.au Robyn Willis

WITH just days to go before Christmas, the pressure is on. For those hosting, the list of jobs can feel endless. So surviving, and even enjoying the big day requires some forward thinking. Design guru and King Living brand ambassador Neale Whitaker (pictured above) said the key to a smooth Christmas was “being organised”.

He noted he and his partner, David Novak-Piper, practised what he preached.

“We are very good at being organised well in advance,” Mr Whitaker said.

“Lists have been made two weeks ago and David knows exactly what to prepare on the day.

“David used to be a chef, so he takes it all in his stride because he is used to cooking for crowds.”

Being organised became especially important when the pair moved to acreage on the New South Wales south coast a few years ago and Christmas became much more of an event.

“We do take it more seriously than we used to because it’s more of an occasion for people to stay with us and it gives them an excuse to get out of the city,” Mr Whitaker said.

Their Christmas now involves hosting a series of events, including a get together with the locals prior to the big day, followed by accommodat­ing guests from the city for a few days.

This year, the pair has opted for ordering some food — such as a cooked ham, cheeses and wines — from local and city suppliers using online and instore services.

Special additions, such as David’s mother’s Christmas cake, can be made well in advance.

“When I first met David, his mum would always present us with a homemade Christmas cake and pudding,” Mr Whitaker said.

“As his mum, Ruth, has got on in years, she has stopped doing that. But earlier this year, David found the original recipes and he has followed them faithfully.”

Magimix presenter Vanessa Campbell similarly said the secret to success for a family lunch of 20 at her place was doing as much in advance as possible.

This included making salads and cutting fruit for the pavlova, for which she used the Magimix appliance rather than a knife for speed and reducing bruises on the leaves and vegetables.

Planning for the day should include teeing up some after-lunch games, like Aussie favourite backyard cricket or board games if the weather wasn’t so hot. Ms Campbell’s other big tip was delegation.

“We always hand out the jobs so you know who is bringing what on the day,” she said.

“Don’t put the pressure on yourself to do everything — everyone should be able to relax on Christmas Day.”

She also suggested keeping it simple with drinks by setting up a punch bowl for the kids and allowing the adults to serve themselves.

Christmas was also no time to skimp on quality, with hosts advised to break out the good china and silverware, and splash some cash on the best champagne you can buy.

“We always have two bottles of Veuve Clicquot,” Ms Campbell said. “Good champagne is a must.”

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