As we inch towards the end of 2020, the festive season had beckoned as a ray of sunshine, after what has been a stormy year for most of us. Unfortunately, though, as a result of Sydney’s Northern Beaches COVID cluster, travel plans have been thrown into chaos for Australians and many of us aren’t quite sure how restrictions might change. Please visit your state’s health department website for up-to-date guidelines on any restrictions currently applying to you.
Getting into the Christmas spirit for a spot of festive cheer and overindulgence remains the perfect way to close off the year with a bit of normality, even if it has to be by Zoom. Our elves have pulled together seven tips to create the perfect Christmas celebration this year, minus the stress.
Start with Christmas styling
It’s time for that box stored in the basement to be dusted off ready for its annual rummage! Everyone has different tastes when it comes to Christmas décor, but don’t be afraid to change things up year on year. Use a selection of your existing decorations complimented with some new pieces, or go for a maximalist look and simply let loose every piece of your stored festive décor. Christmas really is the time you can get away with an over the top look! If you’ve got young children in the mix, making decorations together like these easy salt dough ornaments is a fun tradition to carry on for years to come.
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
An essential element to the Christmas vibe, a stunning tree can instantly turn your home into a festive wonderland. While there’s nothing quite like the smell of a real tree, artificial trees have come a long way and can suit all budgets. From the amazingly realistic pines available to purchase from Balsam Hill, or a trusty Target tree complete with lights – the benefits of a tree you can assemble year after year, minus the mess, makes instant Christmas cheer that little bit easier. If you’re still pining over that nostalgic scent, try a Christmas room spray or one of the many Christmas scented candles available.
Creating an inviting space where all your guests can comfortably gather sets the scene for a leisurely Christmas feast. Dressing the table with a centrepiece adds a sense of occasion and doesn’t need to be expensive. Bringing natural elements to the table like a sprig of eucalyptus accompanied with white candles, or small flower or herb filled vases adorned with tinsel can be all you need. Set this off with traditional Christmas colours and layer on the fun with plates, serve ware, serviettes, and glassware. Just maintain appropriate social distancing.
The festive feast
Christmas is traditionally a day of regret-free overindulgence and as a result, a day where over-catering is a must! Leftovers make the following days a breeze and excess grocery items can be donated to your local food shelter for that festive feel good factor. Start with an advance check for food allergies or dietary requirements and plan your menu from there. Whether you’re going full Martha Stewart and tackling a traditional menu or embracing the casual Aussie BBQ approach with a Curtis Stone twist, you’ll want a mix of items that can be prepared ahead of time, along with a smaller number of ‘on the day’ elements to help you keep your cool in the kitchen. Our personal Christmas favourite is to fire up the BBQ for a buffet selection of prawns, pork and lamb chops, accompanied by several seasonal salads, with fresh fruit and Christmas cake for dessert. Ask your guests to bring their favourite BBQ dish and completely relieve the hosting pressure. Just add refreshing drinks and your Christmas menu is sorted!
Let those herald angels sing! (or, perhaps not)
Aside from the occasional grinch, we all love Christmas tunes! Get them cranking from the moment you start decorating, right through to a playlist of favourites to accompany your festive feast. Just remember to take care with your local government’s COVID requirements, so you don’t exceed the limits in private residences – or get involved in any singing or dancing where it’s banned. If you need some inspo you can check out this playlist of 2020 Holiday favourites. When things get jolly as the day progresses, have some fun with Christmas karaoke and belt out some Bublé or Bing Crosby favourites.
Channel your inner Santa
Christmas is a magical time for little ones and it only takes a few small touches to keep the fantasy alive. Remember to set out stockings on the end of the bed or hanging on the mantelpiece and a plate of snacks, preferably milk and cookies – although your kids may be in the know and have other snacks in-mind for Santa and his hungry reindeers. Leave a handwritten note from Santa (just make sure to disguise your writing) and set a trail of ‘snow’ with footprints appearing to be all the way from the North Pole and you’ll have excitement levels at an all-time high!
Gifting and giving
Christmas gifting can be stressful, expensive, and confusing. Setting up some parameters for your festive celebrations will remove all this and make it an altogether more pleasant experience. Gone are the days of having to buy gifts for everyone, Secret Santa or Kris Kringle keep it fun and are easy to organise with online generators like this one. Choosing to donate to a charity rather than giving gifts is a fantastic way to give back at a time that is difficult for many families – particularly this year. Two organisations (of many) calling for support in the lead up to Christmas are the Salvation Army who have an annual Christmas Appeal and Variety who host an annual Kids Xmas Party.
Creating festive memories
Above all else, remember true hospitality is less about creating a Pinterest-worthy party and more about creating special memories and being with the ones we love. Remember some loved ones may be stuck overseas, so it is worth checking in with friends (or neighbours) to make sure they won’t be alone this Christmas. We’re more ready than ever to embrace the festive season, allowing us to be together and feel gratitude for our loved ones. From every corner of Australia, we wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the entire First National Real Estate team.