In her final column, Jenna Elsby goes out with a bang hosting a festive drinks party
It goes without saying that Christmas is all about joy, celebration and warmth. However, it’s such a ridiculously busy time of year that it can so easily become overwhelming and stressful.
If you’re having people over for a festive get together, I truly hope you manage to let go of the stress and remember the sentiment of the season. People don’t care if everything isn’t “perfect”, it’s about getting together and the experience should be joyful, otherwise what’s the point?
When I’m entertaining, my first priority is to create an informal atmosphere of comfort and calm, so even if everything isn’t ready by the time guests arrive, who cares? Get them to help – as long as the drinks are poured and the music is on, no one minds a jot.
When it comes to Christmas, there are classic colours and flavours that people come to love and expect – so instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, I embrace the season and all the clichés that go with it, because if you can’t dial up the “cheese-factor” at Christmas, when can you? This particular festive party concept is wonderfully simple; you can do most of the prep beforehand and most importantly, it’s delicious. So give it a go and enjoy your Christmas hosting, I dare you.
The styling here centres around nostalgia and whimsy, with an adult take on a childhood Christmas. It’s all a bit twee and kitsch with the use of ever-familiar seasonal icons – reindeers, candy canes, fir trees etc. but by exercising a bit of restraint you can make this look far more chic then tacky. This setting won’t fail to put a smile on your guests’ faces as it’s familiar and comforting rather than fussy and overly formal. A rich palette of berry reds, burnished gold, dark wood, soft white and forest greens provide the quintessential backdrop to any Christmas table. Complement the rich colours with sumptuous textures, like faux fur, wood, foliage, velvet, cut glass, anything with depth and body. I like to layer up all of these elements on the dining table or main focal point of the party and add the food elements as and when they are ready so people can graze over the course of the evening.
Because we’ve taken it quite far in the twee stakes as far as styling is concerned, I would go for more sophisticated when it comes to music. This will immediately elevate the tone of the whole occasion rather than turning the evening into a sort of Christmas parody. Think soulful, jazzstyle Christmas classics or even acoustic covers at the beginning of the evening that lead up to the more upbeat top-tappers.
Despite what people might think or fear, I believe hosting friends at Christmas is the least stressful time to entertain. People are in great spirits, you don’t have to be too inventive as there is a tried and tested formula that people love and your guests will be so grateful that you have taken on the challenge and they can “have an evening off” that you will be inundated with Santas’s little helpers over the course of the evening…even if they are slightly merry on festive fizz.