So you’re ready to go. You know what you want your function to look like, and you know how many guests are attending. Now it’s time to think about setting up the event.
Let’s start by getting the room ready:
Do you have enough furniture/seating to accommodate everyone? Work out how many tables and chairs you need. Do you need to make room for high chairs (or wheel chairs). Consider how you are going to set up the room. This can be a bit of a problem if you are expected to entertain 10 people in a one bed room apartment with a square table and 4 chairs. It can be done though. Most people have lounge and coffee table, and/or an outdoor setting and can improvise quite effectively. If things look totally hopeless, then push the table against a wall and use it as a serving area, remove all the furniture you can from the lounge, spread out picnic blankets, through down a few pillows and have an indoor picnic. (Older relatives may need a chair though). And if you do have multiple tables and mismatched chairs, then make the most of it. There is something rather charming about resourcing the Christmas furniture from a variety of sources. If you are super resourceful and feel the need, you can make chair covers so that they all match.
If you are lucky enough to have a couple of dinner services, or if you are even luckier in that you can buy new ones for special events, then now is a great opportunity to do so (actually the mid-year and post-Christmas sales are better times to go shopping for these items, but with the current economic down turn you are bound to get a bargain). Place like Ikea, Kmart, Target, BigW (et al) sell cheap and cheerful sets. If this is out of your league don’t overlook your local op shop. You are unlikely to find whole sets, but you can get a great mix of items.
Glasses are another item I never seem to have enough of. I haven’t had a complete set of wine glasses for years now (I do have a complete set of champagne flutes, champagne glasses, spirit glasses and liquor glasses). I figure that unless you have time and money to buy more make do with what you have.
If you are short on wine glasses, you can get bog standard catering style ones from your local supermarket or department store at a reasonable price. My local supermarket does packs of 4 for $5. They are not beautiful or delicate pieces of art – but they will all match and they hold wine. You can always tie bows around the stems if you want to tart them up a bit.
Cutlery is an item to watch and you don’t want to be left short. It is an item which is easily lost (I suspect that there is a space in house with odd socks, teaspoons and alike which I will uncover one day) If you have a dishwasher you can wash some items between courses, but you need to be on the ball to ensure that you remember to attend to this.
At Christmas I use every piece of my cutlery. I have a large formal set, and pieces from two every day sets (note that they are no longer full sets), so I have full sets of cutlery for 16 (include spoon spoons, bread knives, entrée forks and cake forks) and I have some spares just in case.
Do you have what you need to prepare your Christmas feast?
I personally have an abundance of cookware and serving dishes, but generally, at Christmas I cook and prepare as much as I can the day before so that I am not mucking about in the kitchen all day.
Having said that, I always buy alfoil roasting pans/baking trays for roasts, BBQs and alike. I don’t particularly fancy spending my holiday cleaning up a roasting dish after glazing a ham or preparing gravy for poultry. I even use smaller roasting dishes for vegetables. You can even serve the food in them if you don’t have serving dishes. It is worth the money.
My number one rule when decorating a dining room table for Christmas lunch (or any event really) is to make sure that the decorations are not so high as to obstruct guests’ views of one another, or impede conversation.
The second rule is to ensure that the decorative features don’t take up too much valuable real estate. Food first I say.
Decorative items to consider (go as simple or ornate as you fancy):
- Table centres
- Flowers or plants
- Christmas tree (for the dinning area)
- Crockery theme
- Bon Bons (as in Christmas crackers and not the sweets)
- Lolly bags/gift boxes
- Table cloths
- Table runners