Planning a Christmas Celebration
Planning a Christmas Celebration
Your Christmas get-together will be rewarding if it is equally enjoyable for both you and your guests. We at Superb Cuisines will help you achieve that goal, here is a step-by-step guide to holiday entertaining to keep you organized and having fun from start to finish
Choosing a Style
Determine the overall style of your gathering. This involves deciding on weather you envision a casual or formal affair, the timing of the party, the menu and how it will be served.
Begin by deciding who will be on the guest list. Once you know how many people you are inviting, you can fix the time of the event and decide weather you want a cozy or a free-flowing ambience. These choices will help you settle on the style of serving and a color palette that will create the desired mood. Also consider the weather. In a warm climate, you might want to serve Christmas drinks on the deck, followed by a buffet inside. In a cold climate, you may opt for cocktails near the fireplace and a formal supper in the dining room. In every case, you will want to fill the house with seasonal decorations such candles, ornaments, and fragrant greenery.
Casual entertaining is about being comfortable and relaxed while enjoying the food, typically served on a buffet or family style at the table. It’s an ideal setting when children are included because they have freedom to come and go, while adults can enjoy themselves at a more leisurely pace. For even greater flexibility, you can set up a separate seating area for the children, outfitting it with whimsical decorations and clever gifts. For a touch of elegant informality, serve passed appetizers and drinks before you sit down at the table.
Formal entertaining often signifies a memorable event and is particularly well suited for holiday dinners. A formal table is generally refined and elegant, with the menu served in several courses that are usually plated. Fine linens and a beautiful china dress the table, which also tends to include a carefully arranged seasonal centerpiece. A seating plan is usually used. Remember, though, formality does not mean stiffness, and elegance does not mean stuffiness. Even the most formal setting should be comfortable and welcoming for your guests.
Planning a Christmas Menu
Part of the fun and success of Christmas entertaining is the food. We at Superb Cuisines can help you careful pulling together ideas about the kind meal and dining experience you want your guests to have with the space, time and budget you have available. The type of party you are hosting sets the tone of the food. And although holidays often call for traditional recipes, there are lots of ways to infuse new ideas.
Be realist. For starters, consider the size of your guest list- Christmas celebration often include extended family and out-of-town visitors –and how much time and space you have. These three factors will guide your menu planning and style of service for the celebration.
Decide on a theme. Christmas is rich in food traditions from many cultures, giving you a wealth of choices. You might focus on your own regional or ancestral heritage or on that of a special guest or of a country that interest you, , or you can celebrate with a mix of traditions.
Christmas is an ideal time to serve a festive beverage, such as a citrus cocktail or hot mulled wine, with the appetizers, followed by wine with the meal. Include a few festives nonalcoholic offerings, such as sparkling cider or a cranberry spritzer. When calculating wine, plan for one bottle for every two or three drinkers.
With your guest list set and your menu chosen, you can now pick a service style to match. No matter which one you choose , welcome your guests with drinks and appetizers to launch the celebration.
Buffet service works well for large or small gathering and is ideal for more casual events.
Family-style service is ideal for less formal Christmas meals and smaller groups
Plated-Style Service, in which the food is individually plated and served at the table to the guests, is formal and stylish. It’s a good option for intimate Christmas dinners and works well when the menu features several courses. Water and wine can be placed on the table.
Cocktail parties are a fun way to welcome a large group into your home and can be particularly festive during the holidays. They traditionally start in the early evening and last a few hours. The food is generally passed on trays, with bowls of nuts, olives, or others snacks set on a coffee table or on a small tables around the room for easy access. For a particularly large party, you might want to set up s drink station with a server to make cocktails and keep beverages flowing smoothly.
Even with a tended drink station, consider setting aside a different area where guests can serve themselves wine, beer, and sparkling water.
Setting the Holiday Scene
The mood of the party and the expectations of the guests are set by subtle but important elements like seating arrangements, lighting, decorations, and other special touches.
Seating. Christmas celebrations are usually a time when people who don’t have the opportunity to see one another often are able to get together. In order to encourage conversation, arrange intimate seating areas where guests can sit and chat, either before dinner or during a cocktail party. If you are making a seating plan, position your more gregarious guests next to those who are quieter to balance the conversation, and outfit each place setting with a place card. If any guests have special needs, make sure you have planned sufficiently in advance how to accommodate them gracefully.
Lighting. Use floor lamps, table lamps, and mass groupings of candles to create soft flattering pools of light. Dim or turn off overhead lights. For nighttime celebrations a strand of small Christmas lights strung along a banister or the edge of a fireplace mantel creates a holiday sparkle and adds to the festive spirit. When setting the table with candles, use tall tapers, votives or shorter pillars, or a mixture.
Centerpieces. The Christmas centerpiece is an opportunity to show off the season’s regalia, from holiday ornaments and colorful fruits to boughs of greenery and pin cones.
It can be as simple as a white platter laden with holiday greens and berries, with silver ornaments and tiny gold-paper-wrapped gifts tucked in among the greens, or a red-berry wreath set on a platter with the center filled with Ivory candles of different sizes. A centerpiece can also incorporate meaningful items, such as native plants, Christmas heirlooms, or family memorabilia. In every case, make sure your centerpiece is low enough and positioned so guests can see over it with ease.
Special Touches. Christmas celebrations offer the perfect opportunity to add extra flourishes. The can be small decorative details, such as a miniature bouquet of holiday greens and berries tied to the back of each chair, or a take-home seasonal offering, such as a bottle of wine or a tin cookies. When children are presented, consider putting a small gift at each place setting or making a special holiday beverage-perhaps cranberry juice mixed with sparkling water-just for them.
Wine and Holiday Entertaining
Matching a single wine with the multitude of flavors that make up a holiday feast can be challenging. A good solutions is to offer both a white and a red, so guests can enjoy either or both.
When pairing wine with a holiday cheese selection, aim for three or four varieties of cheese, such as a fresh goat’s milk cheese, a blue cheese, a Brie, and a aged sheep’s milk cheese. These flavors will marry nicely with Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Ideally, each place setting includes a different glass for each wine you will be serving. A tulip-shaped red-wine glass are most versatile. If limited to a single type of glass, a large white-wine glass is the most versatile choice. Stemless wineglasses add a festive touch. For sparkling wines, use tall flutes, which enhance effervescence. Once guests are seated, fill glasses one-third full. Serve sparkling wines well chilled as an aperitif, with the first course, or throughout the meal. Chill whites and serve reds and dessert wines at cool room temperature.
A Holiday to Remember
Paying special attention to details like colorful decorations, lighting, and small gifts for guests to take home will send your friends and family out the door brimming with happy Christmas memories, while choosing the menu and the service style in advance and with care will help to ensure your meal perfectly suits the occasion. Such planning is the key to success.