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THE HERALD FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 30 2016


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Planning a Christmas party PLANNING a Christmas party


can be a stressful time. However, with some straight-forward and original tips, planning the perfect Christmas party can be easy. From mouth-watering recipes to table decoration tips, and whether it’s an intimate dinner or large gathering, the following guide will have something for you.


TABLE DECORATIONS Food is often the centre of


attention, but it’s also important to consider the other components to creating a Christmas party atmosphere. Candles make a beautiful centrepiece and lots of them can create a soft, cosy atmosphere. Any table flowers should be kept simple and low, so as not to obstruct eye contact. Potted herbs can also be used as table decorations that can double as a gift for your guests on departure.


MULLED WINE A batch of Mulled Wine can fill


your home with wonderful smells before guests enter. Leaving your


saucepan of mulled wine on the stove for 30 minutes before you expect your guests to arrive leaves plenty of time to let the festive spices fill the home. Preparing small parcels of cinnamon, cloves and dried citrus fruits in muslin and placing them on radiators can also bring extra festive aromas into your home.


PLAN YOUR APPETISERS WITH CARE


Don’t give your guests too much


to eat ahead of your festive feasts! More than likely you’ll be serving more food than they would normally eat at the table and it’s good to have them sitting down feeling hungry. Try these to serve before a meal:


RECIPE: PARMESAN AND SAGE WAFERS


Finely grated Parmesan (start


with 200g, but grate more depending on how many you’d like to make) Chopped sage leaves –


approximately 10 for every 200g of cheese 1. Preheat the oven to 180C 2. Mix the parmesan and sage


Christmas pudding: Use vodka instead of brandy for an impressive flame... carefully!


leaves together


3. Line a baking tray with silicone paper or a silicone mat


4. Place one dessert spoon into a round pastry cutter on your tray


and pat down, so the cheese is spread evenly


5. Once you’ve got a full tray, place into the oven for 15 minutes. They should bubble and turn golden. When they have cooled, they turn crisp and can be easily removed. We place them in stacks on a plate for people to nibble on before dinner – they are light and a perfect accompaniment to a glass of fizz.


SPECIAL DIETS There are increasingly more


people with specific dietary requirements and it’s always good to have a couple of ideas up your sleeve in case a guest springs a last- minute request onto you. On Christmas Day, it’s likely


you’ll know everyone’s diets, but when entertaining others over the festive season, keep some good Parmesan, eggs, and mushrooms in the fridge to help you cater for everyone’s needs. It’s also a good idea to have an interesting non- alcoholic drink selection for drivers.


ASK YOUR GUESTS TO PASS SIDE DISHES AROUND


The communal aspect to serving


food from a platter encourages people to share and interact. Serve the protein on the plates and pop everything else into warmed bowls. It’s a lot less work in the kitchen and keeps the diners busy while the host is completing any finishing touches in the kitchen. Simple tableware also enhances the natural elegance of food itself. The food can be abundant and particularly in the home this is a demonstration of your generosity.


SERVE BRANDY WITH THE COFFEE Try using vodka on your


Christmas pudding this year - it will light much easier than brandy and give you a more impressive flame.


FINISH OFF WITH


CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES Make your own handmade


chocolate truffles to serve with coffee. They can be made in advance and popped in the freezer until you need them. Use a good chocolate (70% single origin) and add to warm cream; you can add flavour using your favourite tipple too. Once cooled, you can roll these by hand and then dust with cocoa and pop them into the freezer until 30 minutes before needed.


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