Christmas // Hosting Christmas {With M&S}

December 11, 2017

It's Christmas! I look forward to this time of year so much for the real quality time spent with family, the food {!}, the days that blur into one and the magic that you can just *feel* with all the excitement around. I love hosting, and this year is the first year in our new house that we have a finished kitchen. This time last year the diggers were in ripping down the back of our house so this year feels like such a treat to be able to have everybody round. Every year, my Mum & I plan out our Christmas food practically before December has even begun, looking through all the food to order catalogues, and no word of a lie, we plan a morning of food shopping at M&S into our diaries for one of the last weeks before Christmas to stock up on all that we need. So when M&S asked me to share how I'd host Christmas, I jumped at the chance. After all, this is how I would actually host Christmas. And Saturday was the perfect opportunity for a practice run before the big day. We're spending the day itself at my parent's as always but have a couple of other big occasions at ours, as well as this weekend just gone with both of our parents over for the first of the turkey dinner's this season! I'd love to share some tips on how to make hosting stress-free;

Decorating the table is one of my favourite parts {probably because in the week we only ever eat on the sofa so it always feels like it makes such an occasion to decorate the table}. And Christmas is the time to go all out. You can prep this as far in advance as you like. I always like to know that it's done at least a few hours before all the cooking.

// Products used;

Table runner online here.

Christmas crackers online here {love their fun shape and they look so pretty on the table}

Drinks tray online here. {which also doubles up as a pretty ottoman tray after}

Coasters online here

Gold glittery candle online here

Champagne coupe glasses online here 

After dinner games online here

Candles online here, mix of sizes.

Gold mats online here

Tealight holder online here

Pretty decorated plate online here

Scalloped plate online here

Bowl online here

Fresh eucalyptus from a flower market, you can use any greenery you can get your hands on though.

This year I decided to go for green, white and gold. A classic combo that never dates, yet seems especially on trend this season. I like to invest in a few key pieces, like the table runner, good glasses, cutlery etc, that you can bring out year after year whilst updating other bits to keep it feeling fresh.

I started with the middle, putting this pretty gold beaded mat down the centre and then worked my way out from there. I used this tealight holder  in the centre of the mat and used extra eucalyptus underneath, not wanting to cover up too much of the pretty beading. 

Along the rest of the table, I splayed out eucalyptus stems for extra candles to sit in and cast a soft light down the whole table. 

At each place setting I used one of these gold mats which give a pretty background for plates, and mean that you don't need to worry about a tablecloth.

I layered up plates, for starters and mains, and topped with a sprig of eucalyptus. I didn't worry about place settings, I think it's nicer to keep things a bit less informal?

I don't think I'll ever want to buy regular shaped crackers again after using these crackers. They give the table a different dynamic to the standard crackers, I like that you don't have to just lay them across the plates. It's just a more fun idea and they look so pretty.

Lighting the candles transformed the table again. Can you ever have enough?

// What we ate;

Shellfish knickerbocker glories

This stuffed free-range turkey crown

This luxury vegetable selection {including cauli cheeeese}

The best turkey gravy

Cranberry & Bread Sauce set

Show-stopper yule log

Sparkly macarons

With the table all set, it was time to get started on the cooking! I pre-ordered everything with M&S Food to Order which made my life a million times easier. The turkey even had it's own roasting tray and was pre-herbed and buttered. I went for a turkey crown, there were 7 of us yet we had enough meat for at least ten {aka leftover sandwiches!}. This always takes the longest to cook so we worked backwards from when we wanted to eat, giving enough time for it to rest. I've never carved a bird before but this turkey even had carving instructions with it. 

My husband, who probably only cooks about 3 dinners year round, is always the one in charge of the Christmas cooking! He played a blinder but it helped that everything was pre-prepared. So pretty much all I had to do was decant the cranberry and bread sauce. Win win!

Christmas isn't the time for stressing about slaving over a stove for any longer than you have to, luckily this microwavable turkey gravy tastes better than anything we could ever make anyway. A little bit lazy but stress, and mess free. Whilst the bird was cooking, we also cooked all of the veg during this time to save on having to stand cooking once everyone had arrived. We then just left it warm in a side oven and it was perfect. I always try and prepare/cook as much as I can in advance.

We wanted a real feast, pretty much the law at Christmas, so ordered this luxury vegetable selection pack that had potatoes {including goose fat}, parsnips with honey, a carrot & swede crush and sprouts with bacon and chestnuts along with cauli cheese.

The sprouts were ready to microwave but we decided to roast ours in the oven seeing as we had the bird in there anyway, making them even more delicious. 

{p.s. a handy tip if you don't want loads of washing up, line your baking trays with foil}

If you write out your timings in advance, and what needs to go in when, you can't go wrong. 

With the food all in the oven and ready to be microwaved, we got drinks ready to serve and the music playing before everyone arrived. You can find this year's Spotify Playlist online here. 

Obsessed with this drinks tray and stackable coupes for making everything feel a lot more glam.

Our lovely Mumma's.

The guest of honour was the pup, who arrived in his new bow-tie! {we say that he's my Dad's favourite child}

We've hosted loads of BBQs this summer since the kitchen's been finished but this felt like it was our first proper winter evening. I really love this space for having everyone in one place whilst we cook.

The boy's.

My not so little brother!

For a starter, we served these fancy seafood knickerbocker glories, prawns layered up with lobster and prosecco mousse topped with lemon and dill. Along with some mini party bites, the lobster mac n' cheeses were insane.

And then the main feast was served! We decided to let everybody serve themselves from the kitchen rather than bringing everything to the table and have everyone reach over everybody else.

It keeps all the mess out the way too and everyone can have a bit, or a lot, of whatever they fancy.

It was the perfect start to the Christmas season. I always forget just how delicious a Christmas dinner is with all the sides like pigs in blankets, stuffing and red cabbage along with cranberry and bread sauce.

We pulled our crackers and then found some room for dessert.

My Mum & Dad.

Pudding was a show-stopper. Yule log is always my favourite but this was the yummiest, and most impressive version I've ever had. Flavoured with salted caramel and topped with sparkly truffles and shards of chocolate.

You could eat it as it is but I served ours with warm vanilla custard, so it went all melty.

The best in-laws.

After dinner we played these games, the best £5 we've spent in years! There was a mix of trivia, charades and a 'name 5' game. Mixed with some fizz we were all in fits of laughter. I had tears rolling down my face laughing at the acting of charades. Such good fun, it's what Christmas is all about.

And as if we needed to use Christmas as an excuse... then came out the Macarons {!}.

This lustred macaron set looked beautiful and sparkly in the candle light, a special little extra to finish on.

There was hardly any washing up to do afterwards, and a good time was had by all. The festive eating and drinking has well and truly begun! I can't wait to do it all again very soon.

Are you hosting this Christmas? Tis' the season!

R <3 xx

{I'm proud to say that this post is sponsored by M&S, a brand I've loved for years and years}

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