We hosted Christmas dinner (and it wasn’t a disaster!)
We did it!! 🦃🎄😩💞 We successfully hosted Christmas dinner, and it was actually alright if I do say so myself! Earlier this year we gave our lounge a little makeover with comfy armchairs and a log burner. With this in mind, we invited the family over to celebrate the festive holiday in our newly decorated lounge.
Everybody coming over to our house comes with the responsibility of entertaining and cooking for the entire family but I saw this as an exciting challenge. Amazingly, my grandparents accepted the invitation to join my immediate family and fiancé for food, so the pressure was on to create a tasty 3-course lunch.
Everybody told me it would be really difficult to host Christmas dinner but I figured with a bit of preparation, it wouldn’t be too hard. Other than the last minute scramble to get everything from the hob to the dining table (which was made a little easier, thanks to my awesome fiancé), it was a breeze!
Here’s the low-down of our Christmas dinner, and how you can do it too if you decide to host Christmas next year.
Choosing a starter for 7 guests proved a little difficult. Seafood was too expensive (some places were charging £200 for a platter, ouch!), soup dishes didn’t seem creative enough, and I wanted to avoid meat since we have plenty of that for the main. After much deliberation, I settled on ahomemade cranberry and brie puff tart with pistachio and honey. The perfect festive sharing starter, easy to make and incredibly tasty – what’s not to love? 💜
Just preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C) mark 5. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
Unroll a 320 g sheet of ready rolled puff pastry on to the lined tray.
Use a knife to score a 1.5cm (⅔in) border around the edge of the pastry (do not cut all the way through). Brush border with some beaten egg before cooking in the oven for 15min.
Remove the tray from oven and, with the back of a spoon, gently press down the pastry inside the border.
In a small bowl, mix 175 g (6oz) of cranberry sauce with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar.
Spread this mix on pastry inside the border. Lay brie slices on top, spaced apart.
Scatter over thyme leaves and some freshly ground black pepper.
Cook tart for a further 10min in the oven or until brie is temptingly melted and pastry is golden.
Transfer to a board, scatter over pistachios and drizzle with some honey before serving warm.
Tip: We prepared and chilled the tart on Christmas Eve and cooked it on Christmas day to save some time.
If you’ve ever hosted Christmas, you’ll know there is so much to do (probably why my dad was happy to have a year off from making Christmas dinner!). I decided to get a little helping hand, from the lovely M&S! We ordered a British Oakham turkey with pork, chestnut, maple bacon & thyme stuffing, and it was the best decision I ever made. I couldn’t imagine doing Christmas any other way, after how easy ordering from M&S was.
It was so easy! As directed, we brushed a little oil over the bird and sprinkled salt and pepper over the bird. We also added some herbs and squeeze a little lemon over the top (thanks for the tip Mary Berry) before popping it into the oven. No mucking around with removing giblets and stuffing.
The turkey took 3 hours and 41 minutes to cook at 180°C and we left it to rest for an hour, which gave us plenty of time to prepare the rest of our sides and to warm the starter. We garnished our turkey with thyme, rosemary and basil before serving with M&S The Collection ‘Posh’ turkey gravy, which complimented the bird perfectly.
We also had a range of tasty goodies on the table such as parsnips and chantenay carrots with a honey, mustard and maple glaze, goose fat roast potatoes, creamy cauliflower cheese, four root seasoned vegetable mash, braised red cabbage with Jersey butter. Personally, my favourite side was outdoor-bred pigs in blankets, pork and chestnut stuffing wreath. I’m pretty sure that everybody’s Christmas favourites are pigs in blankets though.
Luckily my parents saved the day by bringing over Yorkshire puddings and Brussel sprouts because I accidentally forgot to order them. Well, I didn’t forget the horrible green fart-bombs but apparently, you have to have them at Christmas for some reason. I’m not entirely sure how I managed to forget the Yorkshire puddings though, my bad!
We washed it down with the Bees Knees sparkling 0% alcohol white wine, gifted from my Mother-in-Law, once we couldn’t eat any more turkey. We ended up stripping the bird a couple days later and we had 1-kilo of meat for leftovers, oops! At least nobody went hungry spending Christmas at ours… hahaha!
For dessert, we had 9 months matured luxury Christmas pudding but everybody was too full to even contemplate eating it. We also had mince pies with whipped or clotted cream but we’re still making our way through them. The boxes of chocolates on the coffee tables also took a bit of a beating during the festive period.
Don’t forget that people eat with their eyes. Food needs to look appealing, and it’s important not to miss the details when it comes to the presentation of your Christmas dinner. We usually only have a table big enough for four people in our dining area, so we stuck a garden table on the end. We covered both pieces of furniture with grey and white reindeer material, which only cost a few pounds from Tragos, and it made such a difference.
Knowing the table would be full of food, we didn’t opt for any table decorations, despite wanting to make use of our crystal decanters and candelabras! We did, however, lay out some party poppers and some silver and white reindeer crackers from Debenhams that matched the tablecloth.
Christmas was the perfect occasion to whip out our gorgeousViners 18/10 cutlery set from the Nala range (presented in gift box a classic black box with velvet). It made such a difference to the vibe of our lunch, handing out high-quality, heavy cutlery to our guests, rather than a mismatch of cheap knives and forks from the supermarket.
I fell in love with the Nala range when I saw the luxurious gold ombre effect blend from elegant matt handles out to a bright mirror polish. I’ve always been apprehensive about ordering gold cutlery in case they become worn over time, but the Vinersfinish is highly resistant to corrosion, rust and tarnishing with a 50-year guarantee.
You can get your mitts on the gorgeous Nala set for £140 RRP. Viners have generously offered me an exclusive code for my readers to receive 10% off the whole Viners website. Just create an account and put in SS10OFF at the checkout. The unique code can only be used one time and will be valid from 25.12 to 07.01
Author: Sam Charles
Meet Sam, the creator behind UK lifestyle blog, Strawberry Squeeze 🍓 Sam is a newlywed living in Cornwall studying her PgDip in Strategic Direction and Leadership with the Chartered Management Institute 🍕🐰 She's also the Founder + Director of multi-award-winning SEO & PPC agency, Float Digital ✨