It’s here! The festive season has begun and, with it, the calendar of social engagements that have you humming carols with joy or gasping for breath. If you’re hosting this year, here are our top tips for making it stress-free – and memorable.

The look
Less is more. For an understated but spectacular welcome, place some potted rosemary at the front door and drape it in fairy lights. Continue the elegant theme inside with a minimalist palette of two or three tones. Team white or silver with bold accents of red, green, purple or gold for everything from decorations and centrepieces down to napery.

Table settings needn’t be over the top either. A cluster of candles, a bowl of baubles or a display of pine cones is all it takes – unless you’re going for an edible display (see below).

The menu
Forget the sit-down meal and extravagant hors d’oeuvres. This year’s all about quick-and-easy finger food – presented beautifully, of course. The consensus among the entertaining experts is that preparation is key – make as much as you can in the days prior so you can relax and enjoy your company on the day. And don’t be afraid to bulk it out with store-bought extras.

Keep drinks on ice to save valuable fridge space – and save you from having to constantly watch glasses. Make life even easier, and present it in an on-trend, serve-yourself bowl. Think watermelon-ginger-pineapple sangria or pineapple-mint punch.

Edible extras
Kill two birds with one stone and make your table setting an edible centrepiece. Style a Christmas tree from cucumber slices or cold cuts, and arrange your blini into a wreath. If kids are present, they’ll love a gingerbread house – loads of fun when the entire family pitches in, and always spectacular – even if a little messy.

PRODUCT IMAGES (top to bottom): Freedom, Pillow Talk, Freedom, Fantastic
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