December is my favourite time of year. For me it’s like the last kilometre in a marathon, you’ve put in all the hard work throughout the year and now it’s time to celebrate with everyone that’s come to cheer for you along the sidelines. The joy you feel when you can see the finish line is not unlike the joy of knowing work is over for the year, you’ve made it. Time to reflect on what you've achieved and be proud.
So just like my commitment to marathon training I take the celebrating in December very seriously. My methodology is to accept every invite that comes my way, have fun and not get injured. Now for some tips that will make your Christmas gathering one to remember.
Food, glorious food
Ho Ho Ho homemade shortbread is the perfect end to a catch up Christmas lunch with the girls. Who doesn't love homemade goodies at Christmas? My cookie provider of choice is Melanie Dorothy.
The key to food success is to have a bountiful, generous supply of a range of quality, festive and indulgent food on hand at all times. Preferably one bite canapés (no skewers thanks) brought to you by a combination of fun and accommodating wait staff with the option for easy access to a peking duck station, a taco stand and a never-ending gorgeous bowl, bigger than your head, full of gourmet chocolate truffles. The best parties realise the importance of finishing with something sweet. I certainly appreciate a mini strawberry lamington or 3 at the end of a night's imbibing.
For the sit down affair the banquet is a popular go to. For lovers of pork belly, the best in Melbourne can be found at Red Spice Road. This venue, along with Kamel, caters seamlessly for the vegan, vegetarian and allergy challenged amongst us. Just be sure to choose the later seating so you can luxuriate with your friends and not be ushered out when the next party arrives.
location, location, location
The second ingredient for a fabulous Christmas party is the venue. The winner of this category goes to Luna Park in Sydney. It is pretty hard to top a view of the sunsetting over Sydney Harbour while you limbo the night away with your colleagues. Other venues that are less physically blessed do well to provide a view over the Melbourne skyline and the caramel coloured Yarra. In lieu of a view the provision of an indoor/outdoor space with heaters, centrally located (read "not Docklands") tastefully decorated in a modern Christmas theme goes a long way to making for a good party.
Alcohol, aka social lubricant, is an absolutely necessary aspect of starting the Christmas party right. Ice cold drinks, preferably real champagne, presented to you on trays as soon as you walk in please. From then on the parties that get my vote are those who have their darling wait staff wander the floor constantly, purposefully refilling drinks and offering fresh ones at the appropriate time. Less popular is the ill advised queuing at the bar for a drink on the tab.
Apart from the ever reliable champagne, summer drinks such as mojitos - both passion fruit and Persian pomegranate, Aperol spritz, jugs of Pimms and white sangria help give your party that extra special kick. Espresso martinis on tap are a good idea too.
Nothing gets female party guests more excited than a gift bag, especially when that gift bag is filled with such delights as La Belle Miette macarons, T2 teas, Lindt balls and nail polish. The traditional gift of panettone is always a good idea and is the gift that keeps on giving. Door prizes are always popular especially when a Tiffany gift voucher is up for grabs. Corporates have moved away from Christmas cards and towards donations to charity instead. The best of these programs lets you vote for which charity you wanted the money to go to.
Whether you are into the Sound of Music with a side of yodelling, Christmas Carols beautifully sung acapella by the Melbourne Women's Choir or the super funny comedic stylings of Cal Wilson, there is no shortage of entertainment to choose from in December. Roving entertainers provide great opportunities for selfies and DJs are spinning at most events, albeit sometimes at volumes that cause some guests to ask them to "turn it down"!
So to make yourself a memorable Christmas party you need plenty of good food, one appropriate venue, cold and free flowing alcohol, quality gift bags, entertainment that sets the tone and keeps the party going, happy roving hosts and the final key ingredient is you. Treat each party invite as a gift, go along whole-heartedly, reminisce about the good times and celebrate crossing the finish line with your friends, family and colleagues on the dance floor, hoola hoop and all. Eat, drink and be merry.
Happy Holidays. xo
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If you are feeling a little under the weather from all of your celebrating you will find my Ultimate Hangover Guide a great help.