Christmas Entertaining: How to Beat the Stress

Over the weekend, we held our annual Christmas drinks, with over 40 of our friends and family, and we had a ball. This year catering for all of these people was much, much easier than in years before, and I have to say that it is all due to my lovely PS and Z both pitching in.

One thing that I have learnt this year (after 15 years cooking, doesn’t take me long to work things out!!) is that by getting other people involved, you halve your workload, and stress! In previous years, I would have shouldered the burden of catering for everyone, and become some kind of cooking matyr, and would inevitably be so stressed out that I couldn’t really relax and socialise with everyone, which kind of defeats the purpose of having friends and family around.

This year PS said that he was going to help organise the food, and to his credit he did, and he did an amazing job (as did Z). The best part of it is that we all worked as a team and had a great time preparing all of the food for the party. By involving everyone and giving them little job to do, we were well prepared (and dare I say it, even relaxed) by the time everyone arrived on Sunday afternoon.

So, the key to holding stress free Christmas parties and drinks is to get everyone involved to give you a hand, so it becomes a group effort!

If you are interested, I have listed our simple, stress free Christmas party menu below (full of food that can be prepared well in advance and then simply reheated on the day). In addition to the below some friends brought a hot olive & tomato dish, a fruit platter and another dip, so get friends to bring along a plate if you don’t want to do it all yourself.

Stress Free Christmas Party Menu

  • Smoked Trout & Avocado Salad
    Double the recipe and serve on a big platter with small disposable noodle boxes & forks next to the platter so everyone can serve themselves. You can order disposable noodle boxes online from The Party People (delivery anywhere in Australia).
  • Homemade Mini Pizzas
    Double the dough recipe. Roll out the dough to 1/2 cm thick, then cut out small circles (approximately 2 inch diametre) using a biscuit cutter or glass. Re-roll the scraps until you have used all dough. Place the mini pizzas on baking trays lined with baking paper, then top with whatever toppings you like. We used tomato paste, red wine & fresh garlic for the pizza sauce, then topped with fresh basil, mozzarella, thin slices of fresh tomato and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Bake for 5-10 minutes in a hot oven (approximately 200ºC) until just cooked. Allow to cool then refrigerate (lasts 2-3 days) or freeze until needed, then reheat in a 180ºC oven for 5 minutes.
  • Marinated Chicken Pieces
    We used 4 single chicken breasts, chopped into bite sized pieces, then marinated in a mixture of 1/3 cup olive oil, 3 tbsp lemon juice, 3 cloves garlic and 3 tbsp honey overnight. Bake at 180ºC on a baking tray lined with baking paper for 5-10 minutes until just cooked (these can go in at the same time as the pizzas). Serve with toothpicks for everyone to spear.
  • Meatballs
    We made meatballs using 2kg pork mince, 2kg veal mince, 1 large bunch fresh parsley very finely chopped, 6 eggs, 6 cloves of garlic (pressed or finely chopped), 6 tbsp soy sauce, 6 tsp sesame oil and 2 large handfuls fresh breadcrumbs all mixed together thoroughly (use your hands as it is much easier). Roll into small balls, then refrigerate (lasts 2-3 days) or freeze until needed. When ready to serve, bake at 180ºC on a baking tray lined with baking paper for 10-15 minutes until brown and just cooked through (these can go in the same time as the pizzas and the chicken). Serve with toothpicks for everyone to spear alongside sweet chilli sauce for dipping.
  • Mini Christmas Cakes
    Using my grandmothers recipe, we made 24 mini Christmas cakes in standard sized muffin tins. Can be made the day before you need them and then stored in an airtight container.
  • Rum Balls
    Everyone loves rum balls, and as these can be frozen, you can make them a couple of weeks in advance.
  • Cheese Plate
    This is a very easy way to feed a quite a number of people, simply take your favourite hard and soft cheese (one of each) and serve on a cheese board with some grapes. Provide a basket of bread and crackers, along with some dips and carrot and celery sticks on a platter and you have instant party food.

There is a bit of preparation work involved in the above menu, however all of it can be done in advance, making it a bit easier for you and your family on the day.