Last weekend it was Stuart’s birthday and, we decided, the perfect weekend to celebrate Christmas in July. We have lots of Northern Hemisphere friends who find it hard to get into the ‘Christmas mood’ when it is hot and sunny. So this is our way of celebrating in the cold (and any excuse for a party in our house!!).
We wanted the day to be about friends, food and fun; so we wanted it to be as stress free as possible. This involved a lot of preparation and a lot of simple decorating ideas.
A week before the party we decided to draw up a list of everything we needed. We asked everyone to bring something (either the cheese, starters, vegetarian option, dessert etc). This meant we only needed to provide the protein and root veg as well as one dessert.
We then worked out what could be prepped the day before. This was essential as I was working on the day and was going to be one of the last ‘guests’ to arrive!! So anything that wasn’t done had to be done by Stuart or by people once they arrived.
For decorations we went with a simple but lovely idea to put down plain brown paper and crayons then decorate the table cloth with questions and activities. We then raided my parents’ Christmas box and just made some bows for chairs, put some baubles in a bowl and bought some Christmas Crackers! Done.
The day went off without a hitch. We had been able to boil the veg and brown it the night before so it only needed a bit of cooking on the day. We had also prepped the dessert and got the utensils out as well as setting the table. The meat was all cooked on the day and everyone stepped up and brought amazing contributions to the meal!
On the day we had a Secret Santa where each person brought a present then got to choose one at random. This saved the hassle of having to draw names out of a hat and, again, minimised our stress. It was also a lot more fun as you can choose to either take a present from the pile or steal one! Look what I stole!
(you may have already noticed that the dress theme was ‘bad taste Christmas jumpers’ – mine was a cashmere and pearl number with sewn in shoulder pads from an op shop!)
In the end we had a lovely evening with close friends. It was the least stressful Christmas I’ve ever had. And we got to share a fantastic moment as it was our friend Maddi’s first ever Christmas!! Low-key was definitely the theme but it didn’t feel like that on the day as all our friends made a huge effort and our shortcuts didn’t show once we’d had a bottle of champagne!
Before I go I wanted to share with you the dessert we cooked. It’s stolen off my aunt and a real family favourite!!
This is a Bread and Butter pudding with a twist. We make it with Jewish sweet Challah and chocolate.
- One loaf of sweet Challah, cut coarsely
- One (or more!) block of chocolate- milk or 70% cocoa solids, according to preference
- Around one block/stick of butter
- 4 cups of milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 eggs
- cut up the Challah and place in a single layer in a baking tray. break the chocolate into small chunks and place throughout the bread.
- warm the milk and butter in a saucepan until the butter is melted, take off the heat. add the vanilla and sugar then, once it is cooled slightly, add the eggs and beat in. make sure the mixture isn’t too warm as it will cook the eggs.
- pour the milk mixture over the bread making sure it is all saturated. if you don’t have enough mix at this point I have been known to pour a bit of milk over the rest (it’s a bit of a cheat but I’m not a precise cook and it seems fine!)
- place in the oven at 160°C (or 150° fan forced) for about an hour. keep your eye on it, when the top is beautifully brown and crispy take it out and check the middle is hot. some people like to cover it with foil for the first 45-50 mins so it doesn’t over cook on top, but again, I’m not that precise (and I love the crispy bits!)