It’s almost time for the big day! While things may look a bit different this year, Christmas is still an occasion to go all out with your menu, table styling and cocktail skills. Whether you’re hosting for your household or a Christmas bubble, it’s the season to celebrate! We caught up with food photographer, stylist and content creator, Catherine Frawley to ask her to share her expert tips for curating the perfect festive menu, styling your table and hosting at Christmas.
What are your top tips for hosting over the Christmas season?
I’m very much about pleasing and surprising my guests / family, so I usually tailor the menu to include special things that a particular guest likes, plus we have some fussy eaters and a vegetarian so I need to take the time to make sure each palette is catered for – even if that means a lot more work for me in the kitchen! I also like to try something new each year even if it’s just a starter or side dish – just so it’s not the same thing each year. I try and get as much done before the big day so I’m not missing out on all the fun. Things like prepping the fruit salad, making the vegetarian wellington filling, having any veg peeled and ready to go. I’ve even made and frozen mince pies well ahead of the big day so all that making is spread out and I’m not trying to do it all on Christmas morning. Lastly I do ask for help or make it into a ‘fun time’ with the kids – making the desserts, setting the table or just getting others involved. I can’t do it all and enjoy the day.
What will be on your Christmas Day menu this year?
As this year is different and a smaller guest list we are forgoing chicken or duck this year (we don’t have turkey) so it will look something like this:
Gammon with a cherry sauce (which we can use for pulled pork tacos for Boxing Day, which is also my son’s birthday and his favourite dinner)
Lamb with rosemary
Homemade garlic bread,
Corn on the cobs,
Floury roast potatoes,
Honey roasted parsnips & carrots,
Pigs in blankets
A winter salad with homemade dressing
All the sauces, cranberry, mint, gravy and cherry sauce
Christmas Pudding with brandy butter
Apple pie and custard
Fruit salad and salted caramel cream
Do you have any favourite cocktails to make over the festive season?
I’ve tested a lot of Gin recipes this year for work so I think Gin will be on offer! Two of my current favourites are Cranberry & Gin Cocktails and Espresso Gin Martinis
What advice would you give for dressing a Christmas table to make it look that little bit more special?
I don’t think you have to spend a lot of money to make it look special, but I do like lovely glassware. I think using special glasses and seeing them on the table immediately signals that it is a special occasion. I’m planning a more foraged look this year for my table styling – pine tree branches along the table centre and log centre pieces for the hot dishes. I love ceramics, pinch pots and jugs so I’ll have all the condiments in pretty crockery. We are also going to make mini herb wreaths for the place settings with little homemade name tags. Any personal touches around the table make it look more special. And linen napkins to finish things off.
Do you have any special festive treats that you enjoy making for guests?
In the past I have made lots of edible gifts at Christmas. Homemade fudge was very popular, I love making biscotti and I always make the mince pies -my mum thinks they are the best!
Which three items would you add to your Christmas list from our Hosting gift edit?
There are so many lovely items on this list! But my top 3 are the beautiful recycled glass wine glasses, the Ferm Living black jug (perfect for decanting sauces or custard!) and the Pion porcelain shallow bowls.
Where to find Catherine:
Blog, Recipes & eCourses/Workshops: www.borrowed-light.com
Portfolio, photography work for restaurants, brands, magazines and books:www.catherinefrawley.co.uk
Weddings & Portraits: www.lilyandfrank.co.uk