It is the season of dinner parties and decadence. People everywhere are dusting off their good cutlery and crystal glasses, to celebrate the festive season in style.
Last year, a couple of friends and I started a Christmas tradition: our annual Christmas dinner party. Last year we embraced the Australian Christmas with a jungle safari themed party. This year, we opted for a more traditional Christmas dinner.
If you are hosting a last minute Christmas dinner or Christmas party and you need some recipe tips or decor inspiration, here I am, at your service. So let’s get to it.
Christmas Dinner Menu
The biggest part of the Christmas dinner is … the Christmas dinner. Every country and every household has its own traditions in terms of the Christmas menu. So here are some options that you could consider.
Classic Christmas Roast
This is one of the simplest Christmas dinners you could do and you have a few options. These are some of my favourites:
- Baked ham with a honey, dijon mustard and clove glaze. Tip: Roast your potatoes and vegetables in the same baking tray so that they too absorb the flavours of the glaze.
- Roast chicken. I typically go for no stuffing but will opt for a duck fat, salt and pepper glaze to make the skin extra crispy.
- Rosemary and garlic roast lamb is a more hearty, heavy option if you really want to get that cozy Christmas feel going.
- Turkey and duck with a cranberry sauce. This is also best roasted with a layer of duck fat over the skin, to maximise crunch and golden shine.
- Sausages. An easy option for a lot of people and a great one for a classic Australian Christmas with a selection of salads (don’t forget the potato salad!).
I can’t say I have ever been big on the seafood Christmas but many people are because it is light and refreshing on a hot Christmas day. I don’t really have much to say on this one but it’s an option, I suppose.
My dream Christmas meal. The mediterranean feast is a great departure from traditional Christmas meals because it is loaded with festive colours, exciting flavours and options for everyone. This is great if you want a grazing table style. You could stock your grazing table with:
- Flat breads
- Dips including beetroot, hummus and tzatziki (home made is always better)
- Meat balls
- Beef, Chicken or Lamb skewers
- Carrot sticks, sliced cucumber and olives
- Greek salad
For our Christmas dinner this year, we opted for a classic Christmas feast including roast chicken, baked ham, roast vegetables and a potato salad.
Make desserts that serve a large number of people, so you have less to do. Cakes and tarts are perfect for this. Some of my favourites include:
- Lemon Tart (feeds 12)
- Caramel Tart (feeds 12)
- Frozen cheesecakes (feeds 12)
- Baked cheesecakes (feeds 15)
- Chocolate or Strawberry Mousse
- Coconut Cream Pie
- Apple tea cake
- Chocolate mud cake
Fun hint: pour a tin of caramel into cream as you whip it. Caramel cream is a magical thing that very few people know about.
Pre-feast nibbles are some of my favourites but they are a killer. Make them taste too good and no one will have enough room for the main event. Here are some of my favourites:
- Cheese platter
- Simple baked goods including gingerbread men, shortbread, slices (lemon coconut is always a winner), brownies, blondies and biscuits
- Cake pops
- Fruit skewers
Warning: the cake pops and other baked goods are a hazard. Your guests will fill up on them. Limit the supply, for everyone’s sake. Also, make sure you have a good combination of sweet, sour and salty because too much of one will throw you right off.
Theme and Decor
My biggest tip here is that the theme must match the food. If you are going for the classic Christmas roast dinner, you need a warm and cozy theme to match. If you are going for a lighter dinner fit for the hot Australian Christmas, the cozy theme won’t work so well. Here are some theme and menu pairings that may work for you:
- Roast dinner – winter wonderland, ugly sweaters, masquerade ball, murder mystery, roaring 20s, noir, rustic
- Aussie Classics (sausages, seafood and potato salad) – tropical, safari, calipso, pool party, under the sea, southern charm, rustic
- Mediterranean Feast – Arabian Knights, Toga, Ancient Egypt/Greece/Rome, Flamenco, masquerade, gypsy
I’m getting pretty creative here but if you want a memorable Christmas party, some of these ideas may just be the key!
Since we chose a roast dinner menu, we decided on a rustic theme. We sat on pillows around a wooden palette table. We were surrounded by indoor plants, outdoor shrubbery and cozy mismatched furniture. It was all very cozy and comfy.
General tips for a great Christmas party
- Find your dream team: find someone who is good at decor, someone who is good with food and someone who is good at organising. If you all have something you are good at, your party will be great in every way! I’m usually a control freak and like to be in charge of every aspect of a party but since I found my own dream team, a lot of that pressure is reduced and the whole thing has become a lot more enjoyable.
- Spread responsibility: Get as many people to contribute food as you can. That way, you can feed more for less. We had our primary organisers on main meal and dessert and the guests brought the pre-dinner nibbles.
- Don’t forget the entertainment. Is it music? Is it board games? Is it a photo booth? Is it Secret Santa? Mingling and chatting is nice but having something that brings everyone together is always a highlight, especially if you want the party to span a few hours.
- Wait at least half an hour after serving the main, to serve dessert: Trust me, your guests will thank you for it. We waited for about an hour and everyone loved the dessert so much more once the food coma from the main meal had subsided.
- Don’t make people sit around a table and chat all night: Some people love it, some people don’t. But it’s not comfortable and it means you only mingle with the people immediately around you. Move everyone to a lounge room or more communal space to enable mingling and comfort. As someone who can’t stand sitting at tables, I can confirm: being made to sit at a table all night is the worst.
Hopefully something in this post has given you some inspiration for your last minute Christmas party! Make sure you subscribe to my mailing list to get a couple of my most favourite Christmas recipes. You will get a dessert and a main and just an extra note, both are gluten free!
~ Alice Maisie