Ready, Set, Relax! – How to Be Prepared for Guests This Christmas

Christmas can so easily go from a season of relaxation with your family to a crazy conundrum of surprise guests, infinite shopping trips and endless hours of small talk. And although having our loved ones visit and bring their holiday joy into our homes can be wonderful, it can also be chaotic.

Grace Stevens – cookbook author and captivating confectionery creative – swears by a few low-mess, no-hassle Christmas commandments to make sure your celebrations stay cool, calm and composed.

Here is how, in Grace’s style, you can embrace the gift of family and friends this Christmas and avoid being confined to the kitchen.

Pick Desserts That Need to Set:

Desserts are the crowning glory of a Christmas table, so before you slave over that souffle, take a moment to consider the myriad of wonderful confectioneries that get better with a little time. Delicate Pavlova’s benefit from drying out overnight and can be adorned with fresh fruit for a showstopping summer dessert. The anxiety of the Pannacotta potentially not setting can be reduced by leaving them overnight in the fridge. Homemade ice-creams offer delicious flavours, a touch of luxury and can be kept for weeks in the freezer. All these magnificent options are better made ahead of time, leaving you with the energy to focus on family, fun, and the rest of your feast.

Preparation is Key:

The smell of freshly baked bread is magnificent, especially over the holidays and fresh pull-apart bread rolls are the perfect party appetiser or side dish. The dough can easily be made ahead of time and left to improve the first time in the fridge. In fact, some master bakers swear that it improves the hydration of your dough. About two hours before you want to bake your rolls, take the dough out of the fridge, and allow an hour for it to get to room temperature. One last shape and you can sit your dough aside to prove for 45mins. Then pop it in the oven just before your guests arrive.

Keep it simple:

Simple and straightforward is often where the most scrumptious recipes come from. Personally, Grace is a big believer in sharing the joy, and the workload, during the festive season. She asks each family member what is essential for them to have an awesome Christmas and how they could help make it a reality. An ingenious way to make sure everyone is involved, entertained and satisfied without overloading yourself.

Personalise your table:

Asking what your family want for Christmas often leads to surprisingly simple answers and by taking each family member’s idea and working it into your meal plan, you can avoid the anxiety of not knowing if they will appreciate your culinary Christmas gift. Getting them involved in the decorating process with tree ornaments, gingerbread houses and homemade décor all help incorporate your family’s personality into the Christmas table setting.

Make New Traditions:

The formal traditional Christmas meal, whilst somewhat sacred, can drive you to insanity with its endless complication, only for you to find out your family doesn’t like turkey or Christmas pudding anyway. Don’t be scared to switch them for more modern, time-effective, and cost-effective alternatives. If no one insists on giant gingerbread houses, then leave them out this year, and go with something that works for your family.

It’s not how much money you spend, or how much time you spend slaving in the kitchen that makes Christmas special. It is special because it allows us to take time to feast. Feast on the love between family and friends, feast on the free time we have to relax and of course, to feast on the fabulous festive food. And after a year of separation and stress, we couldn’t be more grateful that it is here.

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