This Christmas, here’s how to look like you totally have your sh*t together.
(even when you probably don’t)
If you are a new Mum (or Dad) you are no doubt drunk on love for your newborn and also unbelievably sleep deprived. And in your state of delirium, you may have offered to host lunch at your place for baby’s first Christmas. Oops!
It’s a lovely idea, but cooking for an audience can be daunting, whether it’s for a supportive bunch of friends, kindly thicket of family, or, as this mum imagines restaurant life, a tableful of critics who all remarkably resemble the villain in Ratatouille. The stakes are even higher over Christmas – a holiday that’s all about three things: food, love and gratitude. Which means you have to give your guests food they actually like.
On top of it all, there’s the persistent dream of the “Perfect Hostess,” the one who glides from kitchen to table and back again in pearls and silk slippers to refill champagne flutes on the perfectly decorated table top, instead of lurching into the kitchen in Nikes in search of what exactly is burning at that particular moment and tripping on a toy that’s been left on the kitchen floor.
Christmas is the holiday where you just want everything to go right—but you also want to look great doing it. That’s the thing about successful dinner parties: You can’t want it too much, but you can’t tend to it too little. And unless you’re some sort of entertaining savant, it’s not something you can do perfectly once a year without any kind of research, practice, or at least a few Jamie Olivier episodes in preparation.
Cooking, hostessing, entertaining—it’s a lifestyle. It takes a balanced and steady hand to advise you how to sail through. In which case, let me move myself out of the way and let a woman who makes it all look achievable take over and give you a few calming words of advice on managing a crowd, letting yourself off the hook, and how to look stylish both in the kitchen and at the head of the table.
Alexis Teasdale, Managing Editor, Cosmo Bride and Owner of The Festive Co
From her editorial work through to having serious side hustle at The Festive Co, Alexis Teasdale loves adding a little sparkle wherever she goes and her energy is invigorating. When she isn’t editing and writing for one of the country’s top magazines, her own business sees her styling events that celebrate some of life’s great moments – from baby showers, 1st birthday parties to hen’s days…. She nails the whole “hostess with the mostest” thing.
Oh yeah and in her spare time she is also mum to 2 gorgeous boys.
Your everyday style in a few words…
A mix of crazy colour, little black dresses and lots of shirts I can throw over jeans.
And how does that translate to Christmas Day?
I’m one of those people that dress ‘festive’, I can’t help it! So its something red or green or white or gold. I know, I know! This year I found the cutest red and white striped tee with a frill on the sleeves from Seed that might get a run!
You have 15 minutes until your guests arrive: What do you do?
Always make sure drinks are chilled, nibbles are ready and music is on. Everything else you can sort out while guests arrive!
What’s on your playlist?
Oh man, I love Christmas Carols! I always have a mix of classics and covers of carols by artists in the last few years.
What are you decorating the table with?
Each year is different! One year I used epic pine branches from my parents garden and laid them down the middle with golden pine cones that we sprayed in the garage the night before. Another year I did a ‘runner’ of Christmas themed candles (they were in the shape of trees and Santa and puddings) and I had them all lit for lunch. This year I’ll be interstate so I might pack something fun for name placements or a fun play on the napkin! I’m a bit obsessed with clear baubles with names on them and confetti inside. Lincraft have a great selection of clear baubles this year! Sometimes the coolest tables are super simple with just one little decoration that adds some pep.
For day, something refreshing and zesty – cranberry juice always seems festive. For night it’s got to be delicious and desserty like egg nog with Baileys. Is that a thing? I hope so!
It’s not ‘Christmassy’ but my favourite Greek Cypriot dish is pastitio. It’s kind of like Greek lasagna and it’s always at my big family gatherings and at Christmas lunch. Check out George Columbaris’s recipe (here), it’s the closest I’ve found to the one my fam makes.
Any other general tips for looking like you’ve got it all together on one of the most daunting days of the year?
PREPARATION!! For the love of Santa, do all the prep you can the day before or even the day before that, because when you have kids, Christmas Eve is already flat out. Have the table set with table cloths, plates, cutlery and everything you can put out that little kids won’t break. Even if it means popping a bed sheet over the whole thing to little hands don’t mess it up. Table setting is surprisingly time consuming so having that done will really help.
Make sure all your platters, utensils and kitchenware is out and ready on Christmas morning. Try and cook anything you can the day before – or even better – outsource!! Get Aunty Betty to bring the cheese plate and Uncle Greg to bring the ice. Hosting Christmas isn’t about being Superwoman, it’s about celebrating the love of your family and friends. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and it will all come together!
p.s. Please note the great kid friendly Christmas Tree decoration idea using pom pom garlands. PLUS check out the custom neon sign of her last name above the mantle! Girl got it going on!
Yes the homemade Pavlova is great, but it rarely looks the same as what Donna Hay says it will and sadly we can’t all be like Alexis.
So what are the options if you want to head out of the house and eat elsewhere on Christmas Day?
Gorgeous luxury hotels always have amazing lunch menus planned for their out of town guests, as do some restaurants around Sydney. So why not get dressed up, head out & about and leave the washing up to someone else?
These are a few of our favourite venues for Christmas Lunch in Sydney.
This luxe CBD hotel’s Ballroom, will transform into a winter wonderland with some help from Disney’s Frozen. There will be special appearances from the film’s favourite characters, plus a traditional Christmas feast with all the trimmings, a magical Frozen-themed kids dessert buffet, a visit from Santa and a special Frozen sing alongs.
$199 per adult
$129 per child (aged 12-17 years)
$99 per child (aged 5-11 years)
Children aged 0-4 years are free
Sydney’s Park Hyatt is famous for its harbour views and exceptional service. The hotel is offering Christmas Day lunches and dinners in the dining room (four-courses with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Champagne for $310; or with matching wines for $375) as well as at the Guest House with a large family-style share table four-course lunch with beverage package for $310. Santa will also be making an appearance with gifts for the kids.
The Watson’s Bay Hotel always offers an extravagant lunch feast on Christmas Day. Start with a seafood platter, followed by crisp barramundi with Sicilian olives, confit fennel and heirloom tomato. Whiskey and maple glazed ham with pineapple chilli salsa and marinated split Yamba prawns with spicy nduja gremolata are next in line. Along with the feast you’ll also enjoy a four hour drinks package.
The Potts Point, Alexandria, Crows Nest and Walsh Bay Fratelli Fresh venues are all open for Christmas lunch on the 25th, and they’re offering a very affordable $70 set menu that begins with shared antipasti, then your choice of roast lamb or a pasta main, followed by Italian pannettone for dessert.