This week I popped my 2017 mince pie cherry.
To be honest, this is pretty late in the year for me to be starting on the festive themed snacks. Come to think of it, I’ve not even had a glass of mulled wine yet. Honestly, what’s the matter with me? The more I hear people complaining about Christmas songs playing in shops the more I want to crack out Slade and whip up an eggnog, so you’d think I’d be onto chocolate yule logs at least by now.
You can probably imagine then that my arm didn’t take a great deal of twisting when Iceland asked if I fancied hosting an elegant Christmas party to showcase their luxury foods range. Plus, having been up to London to for a preview of Iceland’s Christmas food earlier in the year, (in a heatwave), I already knew how tasty their luxury range is.
Festive no brainer really.
It got me thinking though about what makes a good Christmas party – how do you put on an impressive party over the festive season? What’s the secret?
I’m slightly strange in that although I love GOING to parties, now I’m at the age where I own decent carpets/am pretty lazy, I’m not massively keen on HOSTING parties. Ditto Christmas – I’ll happily turn up anywhere with a sack of pressies and a bottle of Harveys Bristol Cream, but please don’t make me baste anything. (Thinking about it, perhaps that’s not so strange really.)
Christmas parties then. Here’s what I think you need:
Oh look! The Christmas wreath has ACCIDENTALLY fallen out of the cupboard and hung itself on the front door, even though it’s only November. What a shame!
One of my favourite things about my new house is that it has a fire place in the living room. It’s not for the open fire – I’ve had to stick a cushion up the chimney as an anti-cat climbing measure – it’s so that I have a mantelpiece to decorate at Christmas with festive twigs and snow globes and what not.
If you’re hosting a Christmas party this year and want to impress your guests then you MUST have good decorations.
Christmas party food
Let’s cut to the chase here.
When you’re on your way to a party, what’s really on your mind? Is it who you’re going to see or whether you’ll be able to stand in your heels all night? No. I can tell you what it is – FOOD.
What snacks will there be? Will there be a buffet? Where you right to only eat your son’s leftover fish fingers for your dinner or will you regret it when it turns out there are only Twiglets?
Food is KEY to impressing your guests at a Christmas party, or at any event come to that. I’ve organised a fair few conferences and business events in my time and the thing that gets more feedback than anything else is always food – not enough pastries at break time, sausage rolls ran out too quickly at lunch – it’s all about the snackage situation.
This is why you need to get yourself to Iceland for the Iceland luxury food and platters. Now before you start, I KNOW that Iceland might not be your normal first choice for luxury food, but you have to trust me on this one okay? I used to feel the same, but I hope I’ve banged on enough about Iceland recently for you to have cottoned on to the fact that I’m a convert.
Just go to Iceland, get the Luxury Sushi Platter, and thank me later.
In fact, if you aren’t convinced by the sushi then you must be dead inside. Bring it to my house and I’ll give you your money back and eat it myself.
All 34 pieces.
I’ve had more than my fair share of sushi, from conveyor belt chains to meal deal boxes right through to once when I paid over £250 for a meal for two in a London sushi restaurant. (It was good, but jeez, no one needs to spend that much on one meal.)
Iceland’s sushi is DA BOMB, as I’m sure all the cool kids say. Stick it in the freezer ready for the festive season, pop it out to defrost a few hours before your party, and I promise your guests will be impressed. It tastes fresh and succulent and delicious, to the point where I made involuntarily noises as I ate it.
‘Ommm, ommygord, sooogud.’
You know the sort.
My other favourites from the savoury end of the Iceland luxury food range are the luxury coconut leaf prawn parcels and the chicken nachos.
Or, why not continue the fishy theme with an Iceland luxury smoked salmon snowflake terrine? (They come in a pack of six, arranged in a very pretty snowflake shape, although I wanted to put mine on this gorgeous green plate, hence the lack of snowflakiness.)
My favourite on the dessert front has to be the luxury Sicilian lemon tartlets.
When Belle was little and I was maternity leave, (i.e. I had to somehow make a walk into town last an entire day), we used to go on Thursdays to the farmers’ market. There was a farmer there who sold jams and chutneys, as well as a home made lemon curd. His lemon curd was just about the best thing I had ever tasted.
Every week he would humour us while we ate his lemon curd off tiny wooden sticks, pretending like it was the first time we’d come across it and we were just testing. (‘Oh! Lemon curd! Well yes, let’s give it a try shall we?) Occasionally, when I was feeling particularly flush/depressed, I would actually buy a jar, and eat it at home with a spoon.
Iceland’s Sicilian lemon tartlets ARE THIS LEMON CURD, but it a beautifully buttery pastry case. When I bit into one I was back there at the market, wooden stick in hand, only without the sense of crippling tedium at the thought of daily life.
In fact, Iceland’s luxury Sicilian lemon tartlets are better than Waitrose for quality and taste.* So there.
Christmas party drinks
Again, this is KEY.
The clever bit here is getting the balance between providing enough so that guests don’t feel hard done by, but not spending a million, squillion pounds. I’d like to make a retro suggestion and plug the snowball. There are recipes that use cognac, but you can make a decent snowball with just one part advocaat (yum) to two parts lemonade (cheap) and a splash of lime juice.
I served mine in the fancy gold and copper martini glasses I bought and then forgot about when I was overtired a couple of weeks ago, (that’s another story), and garnished them with a lime twist because I am super fancy. Also martini glasses hold less than tumblers so you’ll make supplies last longer.
(Lime twists are actually really easy to make – cut a slice of lime, and then cut nearly all the way across the diameter, leaving one side intact. Cut out the flesh so you’re just left with a strip of rind, and then curl it into shape. It stays! Like magic!)
Christmas party guests
This bit is really up to you.
It might be that you need 100 friends at least to feel like you’re throwing a decent bash, or perhaps you prefer a more intimate gathering of your nearest and dearest. Or it could just be that you get all of your cats in the same room, give your snow globe a shake, mix yourself a snowball, and eat 34 pieces of sushi.
Post in association with Iceland. All opinions my own.
*Blind taste test of 50 people conducted by Cambridge Market Research Ltd on 29.06.17, 27.07.17 and 28.07.2017, in three different geographical locations, Iceland Two Sicilian Lemon Tartlets, £2.00, (£1.54 per 100g) and Waitrose Frozen 2 crisp & zesty Tartes au Citron, £2.99 (£2.30 per 100g).