Tips for hosting your family and friends on Christmas Day

Christmas is a wonderful (yet sometimes stressful) time of year – and even more so if you take on hosting duties.

In fact, a recent campaign by retailer Next found that in December 2018 alone, 110 people Googled the phrase “how to tell family you’re not hosting Christmas” – an increase of 100% from the year before!

Indeed, hosting brings with it all sorts of responsibilities – from cooking the turkey and trimmings to making an acceptable table display, there’s a lot to think about and do before the big day.

Nevertheless, Steph Baker of events company Eventa says that hosting an unforgettable family Christmas doesn’t need to be overly expensive or extravagant. “Christmas is all about spending time with your loved ones and enjoying a day that’s filled with delicious food and fun.”

To lighten your load and make your festive day as fun-filled possible, we’ve put together a few tips on making sure things run smoothly while hosting this year’s Christmas.

Tip 1: Plan, plan, plan

The key to a successful Christmas Day is planning. If you haven’t got a plan or checklist established, you could end up forgetting vital things.

We recommend making lists several weeks before Christmas, including things to do and things to buy. Lists like these will help you prioritise and establish when to tackle each task.  

It’s also a good idea to buy the beverages several weeks in advance (these won’t go off and can be stored in the garage if you haven’t got space in the fridge). Order the turkey as soon as you can and stock up on veg and trimmings a few days before the big day to ensure freshness.

When it comes to Christmas Day itself, figure out your itinerary – what goes in the oven at what time, what needs to be prepped first. There are plenty of online materials and printable checklists to help you structure your day. It’s a good idea to do the bulk of the prepping before your guests arrive (laying the table, dicing the carrots etc.) so you have time to mingle with them when they get there.

Tip 2: Stagger the arrival times

Christmas Day can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve invited heaps of family members and friends to spend it at yours.

To avoid an influx of people arriving all at once, stagger the arrival times to your advantage; ask some of your guests to arrive earlier than others. If they arrive little by little, you won’t feel so stressed out by the sudden flood of people entering your home.

Tip 3: Make sure you have more than you need

Christmas Day is a time to eat, drink and be merry – so running out of food or drink is certainly less than ideal!

When it comes to buying these, err on the side of caution and purchase more than you need. Not sure if three bottles of eggnog are enough? Go for four, just to be on the safe side.

Plus, anything left over can be eaten or drunk a day or two after, so there’s no need for anything to go to waste. You could also look into donating leftover food to a food bank or giving it to the homeless.

Tip 4: Decide when to open presents

Present etiquette can be hard to get right. Do you open in the morning or the afternoon? Pre-dinner or post-dinner? What if your guests have already opened theirs but you haven’t? It’s good to establish these things before the big day, especially if you’re expecting lots of children to attend. If some of them open presents after the meal but others already unwrapped their gifts before arriving, they might get upset or restless.

Making a point of discussing this with your guests beforehand is definitely advisable to ensure there’s no awkwardness or tiny tears on the day.

In a similar vein, to give the grown-ups a bit of alone time, invest in a table specifically for the kids (or simply an area of the main table, depending on how many people are attending).

Tip 5: Liven things up with music

Steph says, “Another idea for a memorable celebration is to create a Christmas party playlist; request that each member of the family chooses a few songs each and compile them all onto one playlist so that everyone’s happy!” Your guests will thank you for it – there’s nothing wrong with going to a household where the music playlist is out of your hands and not to your liking.

Tip 6: Accept help from others

There’s no reason why you should be lumbered with doing everything – even if you are the host. Steph agrees, “If you’re the host and find cooking the entire festive meal stressful, then why not allocate a starter, side or dessert option to each adult in the family? Not only will it ease the pressure of cooking on the host, but it’s a great way to get other members of the family involved in the Christmas lunch or dinner.”

In Emma Willis’ household, cooking the dinner is an “all hands on deck affair”: “Everybody kind of chips in to help out with the cooking, but it’s just traditional turkey roast.”

And when it comes to tidying up, it’s totally fine to accept help from your guests if they offer – even if it’s just something simple like clearing a few glasses.

We hope we’ve given you some tips for hosting a great Christmas Day with your friends and family! Want to have a giggle at more of Next’s campaign findings? Have a look at some of the nation’s funny Google searches here.

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