What is your favourite thing about Christmas? Is it the Christmas pudding or the carols? Maybe you love having your whole family over for dinner?
So do I. But that always leads to nosy aunt Jane that wants to know if she is going to have another niece. Pamper granny Beth is also coming to give children candy just before dinner, because just one can’t spoil their appetite, right? Lets not forget all the other relatives that are going to scrutinize the table arrangement, the juiciness of the meat and how clean the house is. Yes, the holidays are a joy.
We all have our own tricks to jump through the loops, but here are my top nine ones that are sure to make you the star of the evening.
1. Christmas trees
This is a little something you can delegate to the children in the house. Give them cones, frosting, small candy and sprinkles. Voilà! For at least an hour there is quiet in the house. No one is worried that there is trouble in progress, somewhere in the house.
2. Strawberry Santa
You have to be extra careful with those ones. They tend to get snagged when you’re not looking. However they are really easy to make and gather a lot of compliments. All you need are some strawberries,whipped cream and chocolate chips.
First you need to clean your strawberries, then cut the tips. Hollow out the insides and fill them with the whipped cream. You should leave a bit to overflow and form the face. Put the strawberries’ tip back on, so it will look like a hat. Use the chocolate chips to make the eyes. You can put just a bit of the whipped cream over the hat to look like puffy ball.
3. Coconut Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate is one of those little things that make Christmas complete. At the end of the day it’s the little things that count, right? So here is what you are going to need:
- 8 cups of milk
- 6 ounces of dark chocolate
- 6 ounces of white chocolate
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
- Whipped cream
- Toasted coconut
This quantity will give you about 8 servings.
To prepare the hot chocolate you need to do the following:
Mix the milk with 3 ounces of dark and white chocolate in a big saucepan. You need to stir constantly at medium heat. Once the chocolate starts to melt you can add the rest of it, as well as the brown and granulated sugar. Keep stirring with a wire whisk, until the chocolate has melted completely.
Serve in cups and add the marshmallows. Heat the mix with blow torch, before adding the whipped cream and toasted coconut.
This is a delicious drink to have, but be careful. Blow torches should be kept away from inflammable objects, children and pets. You should always double check if it has been turned off correctly.
1. Pine cones
Pine cones are my favourite Christmas decoration. Why? Because they bring home the calm and freshness of the forest they grew in. Grab as many as you can, but before you start remember to put them in the oven for half an hour at 250F. Once they have been properly disinfected you can dip them in glittery paint and tie a bow at the top. The same effect can be achieved with glue and glitter. If you still have any cones left you can always complete the centrepiece with them.
2. Paper Plate Angels
This is a new favourite of mine. You can use it to decorate your plates and add the guest’s name. They are fast and easy to do. All you have to do is grab some paper plates, download this Angel template and print it out. Draw it over a plate and then cut it out. The last step is to fold the wings as shown on the picture below.
You can find a full guide on how to set a beautiful table here, but now it’s time for the final touch ups. To make your Christmas dinner complete you are going to need several things: a big white plate, several candles, Christmas candy and that’s it! Put the candles in the plate, pour the candy around them and you will have your centrepiece in no time. If you want to add a little extra something you can mix some of the cones we gathered earlier or a few fir twigs.
1. Glasses & Cutlery
When it comes to the dinner table you can’t neglect the glasses and cutlery. I recommend you to wash your fragile crystal by hand and not leave it to the mercy of the dishwasher. This way you will make them sparkly clean and win the admiration of your guests.
The dishwasher is suitable for all types of cutlery, even silver and stainless steel. Just not at the same time. Don’t put them together or your silverware will darken. Actually it would be best to take out the silver cutlery as soon as the cycle is done and dry them by hand.
2. Tree needles
Those of you who have bought a real Christmas tree this year have to look forward to the pleasure of cleaning the needles. It’s a multi step process that starts with a hard broom. Don’t use a soft one, because you will be sweeping and sweeping. I recommend you to use a rubber broom for best results. This way you can gather as many needles as possible and lower the risks of destroying your vacuum cleaner with sap. The next step is to vacuum everything you haven’t swept. It’s very possible that some needles will still remain. You can gather them with scotch tape twisted around your hand, with the sticky side down. This way you will easily clean the rest.
There is also a one step process I can recommend you. You can find the short cut on the right side of the page.
Stains are an entirely different world of issues. To know how to clean them first you have to know what type they are:
- protein stains (milk, egg, mud) – don’t make the mistake of cleaning those with warm water, that would only make them a permanent part of your carpet; use cold water and a detergent. Once the detergent has done its magic you can wash it off with warm water
- oil based (butter, make up, mayonnaise) – depending on how old the stain is you might need to treat it with a special detergent; if it’s fresh then all you need is warm water and soap
- tannin (tea, coffee, wine, beer) – you should avoid soap for those at all costs; instead use cold water and finish off with a detergent, dissolved in warm water
- dye (food colouring and cranberry) – dye stains can be treated the same way as the tannin ones
- oil and dye combination (lipstick and candle wax) – those are perhaps the trickiest stains to remove. You should start by removing the wax – leave it to harden and then scratch it off. You can melt the rest away. You can also use a solvent for this step. To remove the dye rinse it with cold water and wash off with a dissolved detergent.
Surviving the holidays is a challenge in itself, but it’s not impossible. All you need are a few tricks up your sleeve and you are ready to go.
Author: Anita Ford