Once upon a time, celebrating the festive season with your loved ones seemed easy: you either go to a nice restaurant or plan a feast at home. But, with the ongoing pandemic, suddenly, you’re not sure how to proceed.
Don’t panic. We asked three home-and-living brands their best tips on how to host an intimate (and COVID-safe) gathering!
How is hosting a festive gathering different this year?
Wonderland Botanicals (WB): With the cap of five visitors per household, festive gatherings will be a lot more intimate this year. Feasts are likely to be smaller in scale, although we believe that families will find their own way of celebrating without compromising on variety and cheer.
Eloise the Brand (E): We’re seeing more homeowners taking the reins and cooking for their own dinner parties rather than ordering takeout, especially after having had more time practising in the kitchen during the Circuit Breaker earlier in the year.
Sonos (S): Many will choose to host at home instead of at restaurants. Instead of communal-style meals, food will be served and plated individually instead. We expect many Zoom calls and parties too.
What are some of your best hosting tips?
1. Consider a holiday potluck or simply preorder food in advance
WB: If it’s your first time hosting a gathering, consider hosting a holiday potluck to watch your loved ones’ inner chefs emerge and share the dinner table’s limelight.
Alternatively, you can pre-order your food in advance from your favourite bakeries and restaurants. Remember to book early as they often face a surge of orders during the last two weeks before Christmas and might sell out.
But, try to reduce food wastage!
E: The worry is always that there won’t be enough food, which often leads to hosts over-preparing or ordering, resulting in food wastage. Planning the meal beforehand and portioning according to the number of guests attending is key. Leftovers may still be inevitable, but planning ahead makes it easier to distribute the remaining portions for your guests to take home with them.
2. Prepare light bites and drinks
E: We like to prepare a few glasses of champagne to entertain as our guests start to arrive. It’ll make for a warm, festive welcome before we move over to the dining room.
WB: You can also prepare light bites or finger food for guests who arrive early, or in anticipation for late-comers.
No Christmas is complete without cake! The log cake makes the quintessential Christmas celebratory cake, alongside the Traditional Fruitcake, while children-friendly cupcakes with a festive mix of sprinkles are sure to win the hearts of your little guests, no matter how picky.
3. Style and set up your dining table beforehand
E: It doesn’t hurt to slot in a little buffer time and start preparations early. We’d usually start by selecting our tableware pieces and matching them with our planned dishes beforehand, so plating is made easier and quicker when it’s time to serve.
If we’re cooking, we’d begin preparing our ingredients 3-4 hours ahead of time – depending on how elaborate the feast is. This allows us ample time to get everything ready and freshen up after all that hard work in the kitchen.
A little accessory we like to add is a shared printed menu listing the feast that awaits our guests, as an enticing teaser for what’s in store for the evening!
Styling Pro-Tips: Stacking and layering our selected elements always elevates our table styling. For the full shebang, we’d usually go with at least a 3-piece medley, consisting of a dinner plate, appetiser plate and bowl – stacked up in that order.
Having matching dinnerware definitely helps tie the whole look together too! If you're adventurous, try mixing and matching pieces of different designs – it will give your table styling a completely different look.
WB: We make it easy for our customers to host their festive gatherings. Our products are delivered to your doorstep pre-arranged; all you have to do is unwrap your arrangement and place it whenever you desire.
To create a tablescape with our Christmas Table Runner, unbox your fresh garland and plump up the foliage by loosening the leaves that may have been slightly compressed during delivery. Place the individual parts of the garland on your dining table and line it up to form a continuous runner.
After your festive party, the Table Runner can be repurposed as a garland that drapes over your piano, adorns your windows, or lines your staircase!
4. Amp up the festivities by adding decorative touches to your home
WB: Flowers can instantly transform the experience of a room without taking up much space. Beyond the classic Christmas tree, festive wreaths, vase arrangements and table runners will fill your party with the merry colours and the refreshing smell of Christmas.
Handmade with red ilex berries, fresh nobilis pine leaves and rustic pine cones, the Classic Berries Wreath is a yearly favourite that welcomes festive tradition and the good old-fashion Christmas spirit into the home.
5. Prepare a playlist in advance and set the mood with music
S: Music makes a whole lot of difference to the atmosphere. Play some uplifting, Christmassy music to get everyone into the yuletide mood!
If you’d prefer not to purchase songs, radio stations will likely be playing Christmas party songs non-stop during this time of year. But, if you want to avoid unwanted advertisements, you can also create custom playlists on streaming services (such as Spotify).
For speakers, the Sonos One is a good option. This small but powerful speaker comes with voice control built-in — perfect for those who are preparing meals in the kitchen while their hands are full (or greasy). You can also ask Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to play any song, set an alarm, or answer your questions.
Also, since we should avoid singing or shouting when possible, playing games or watching movies are a great way to spend the time. You can recreate a cinematic experience at home for your guests with the Sonos Beam, which delivers incredible and high definition sound for movies, TV shows and music.
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