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Talk to Homebase about your Christmas hosting top tips and/or nightmares and you could win a £300 Homebase voucher NOW CLOSED

(285 Posts)
AngelieMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 04-Nov-15 15:15:59

As Christmas approaches and planning for Christmas events begins, Homebase is keen to hear about Mumsnetters' best and worst experiences of Christmas hosting - whether it's Christmas parties, having relatives to stay or even hosting the big day itself.

Homebase says: "Christmas is all about getting together with the most important people in our lives. It's a great feeling when loved ones come round to enjoy the fun and festivities- but it can be hard work sometimes too. Preparing food, getting your home looking fabulous, making sure everyone's having a good time ... the festive season comes with its own challenges and things don't always go to plan. We'd love to hear your stories of 'hosting heaven' and 'hosting hell'. Tell us about your Christmas disasters and triumphs, share your tips, fill us in on the fun times and let us know what you're planning this year."

Do you have any top tips to make Christmas hosting go as smoothly as possible? Maybe you create a time plan to make sure everything's done on schedule? Or have you had a nightmare that's put you off Christmas hosting for life?

Share your stories - good and bad - on this thread and we'll enter you into a prize draw where one MNer will win a Homebase voucher worth 300 pounds.

Thanks and good luck,

DownstairsMixUp Wed 04-Nov-15 17:19:59

I always buy presents from about June onwards and store them away, it makes christmas less stressful as the bulk is out the way! So good if you are on a budget to and I hate struggling round December and getting all up into the christmas rush.

With the food shop I like to buy non perishables week by week from about November, the odd bottle of fizz or chocolates and I store it in the cupboard, makes the big christmas shop a lot less painful!

Get the kids to bed early on November 30th and say the christmas elves/fairies/helpers are putting the decorations up! Then you can do it in peace with a glass of wine or two! grin

Wrapping day is christmas eve once the kids are in bed, some xmas treats, glass of wine and lay out the presents for the morning.

I plan to be done with christmas shopping always by december the 1st!

TheSpottedZebra Wed 04-Nov-15 17:28:13

My top tip is use outside space - even the boot of the car - to store and keep cool things like soft drinks, vegetables. This will free up fridge space for things that need more constant cool temps.

AGrinWithoutACat Wed 04-Nov-15 17:34:17

I'm an online shopper as it beats trying to shop with the kids and wrap and label as it's delivered - takes the stress out of wrapping for a large family all at once

Plan the menu and buy in advance, I clear freezer space for joints of meat and that way can stick up if there is an offer on

Decorating is a family event for the first weekend in December, DH gets everything down and then hides from the madness while the DCs and I decorate the tree/house

Pre DCs my tradition was to wait up till midnight on 30th Nov and put the tree up while drinking sparkling fizz and watching Christmas movies, now we have Christmas movies on every weekend during December

IAmAPaleontologist Wed 04-Nov-15 17:43:45

Everyone has a different foody speciality/tradition so get them to bring it. My dad provides the wine, MIL loves to bring pannetone, mum does a great chocolate log. It shares the load and means nobody is missing their usual Christmas favorite.

Gazelda Wed 04-Nov-15 18:02:42

My worst festive nightmare was as a 19yo newly-wed, Back in the 80s. I was hosting the parents and in-laws, and wanted to show them I was a fully grown adult and competent housewife.
I dressed in my finest shoulder pads and gave my tumbling perm a swish. Then set about cooking the dinner. But the Turkey was off! This was the days before Spar were willing to open on Christmas Day. We had to have tinned ham (posh in those days) with 'all the trimmings'.
I'm sure my DM and MIL were thinking "oh bless her" in the most patronising way possible. I simply cried and have been to my DSis's for Christmas lunch ever since.

FlopIsMyParentingGuru Wed 04-Nov-15 18:23:08

Wrap presents before guests arrive and always allow yourself more time to cook meals than you expect.
any spare time can be profitably spent on the consumption of alcohol
And remember it's not a performance

Now I just need to follow my own advice

CMOTDibbler Wed 04-Nov-15 18:39:36

Best christmas I've ever had, we had a friend staying with us. I had made this cake from a Prima recipe that started off with a lot of dried fruit, a pint of Southern Comfort, and instructions to soak the fruit in it for a month. All the booze went in the cake grin
We did chinese crispy duck pancakes for christmas lunch with loads of nibbles, did cake shots, and didn't open the front door for 3 days. It was massive fun.

A very different year, dh and I had booked christmas lunch at a very swish hotel, and invited (and paid for) MIL and FIL to come. FIL arrived with a cold. And proceeded to whinge and moan about it all day. He's a complete hypochondriac at the best of times and it was a complete dampener.

Thegentlemonkey Wed 04-Nov-15 19:16:51

My main tip is to keep slits of present ideas throughout the year, so you have plenty of options at Christmas - especially if you have lots of relatives who want to buy something off a list for the DCs rather than choose their own random inappropriate gifts.

In terms of hosting, other than Christmas Day I try to avoid cooking, & just stick to buffet style crackers, meats, cheese to ensure I don't spend the whole time in the kitchen.

Thegentlemonkey Wed 04-Nov-15 19:17:39

* lists obviously

EDisFunny Wed 04-Nov-15 19:38:58

My tip is don't forget it! I prefer planning a night out at a restaurant where someone else does the cooking and washing up! The restaurants are usually decorated nicely for Christmas and they're used to catering for loads of people. You can plan a secret Santa, bring party favours, & everyone can pay for themselves. Sorted!

CopperPan Wed 04-Nov-15 19:41:53

I'm another one who buys presents all year around although I don't wrap them until closer to Christmas Day. I keep track of what I've bought using a notebook phone app, for both presents and food. I start buying food around October for the longer life stuff, as it means I can just add an extra bit to a weekly shop and it's not one big Christmas shop to carry home.

wannabestressfree Wed 04-Nov-15 19:55:08

Another all year saver and present buyer here. I have 20 individual stockings to do, presents under the tree, father Christmas gifts and tree presents (teatime) and I love it smile it requires military precision and a hefty new notebook but I manage. I also work in a sympathetic school so can have deliveries made there so I am not extracting things from my hedges (cheers yodel)
I put up decorations in the first weekend of December and every year it gets bigger. We watch lots of Christmas films and get nibbles in ......
Every year is different though and we make the best of it.... One year my recently deceased Nan had a massive heart attack as I carved the turkey! This year it will just be me, my Partner and my son.... We just roll with it smile

BrandNewAndImproved Wed 04-Nov-15 20:03:58

Well always make sure you have electric on the metre especially when it's really cold and the corner shops that open Christmas day with the paypoint machines have working paypoint machines.

Don't let a toddler escape unnoticed into the toilet to block the toilet when your in the middle of serving up Christmas dinner.

Alcohol helps. You will need that bucksfizz as soon as you open your eyes.

Don't laugh, it sounds old fashioned but if your cooking for lots of people get a hit trolley. You will be able to carve the turkey and keep it hot while using your oven for the potatoes and roasted veg.

BrandNewAndImproved Wed 04-Nov-15 20:04:26

Hot not hit**

Theimpossiblegirl Wed 04-Nov-15 20:42:01

I love hosting. I prep all veg beforehand, only serve a cold starter and ask guests to bring cheese or deserts. I cook the ham Christmas Eve so only really have to cook the turkey, potatoes, veg and trimmings while I drink wine.

coffeeisnectar Wed 04-Nov-15 20:46:24

Last year I had a friend, who was in a refuge, and her four kids come to us. There were three adults and six children in a tiny two bed cottage. It was awful, no room, kids squabbling, moans about the food and people sleeping all over the place.

However she wouldn't have had her older two at Xmas if we hadn't offered so don't regret it but I don't think I could do it again. I barely saw my own kids all day as there was so much to do.

purplepandas Wed 04-Nov-15 21:54:50

Keep it simple. Complicated plans and meals have not worked so well in this house. I don't go all out with fancy wrapping and meals but this helps to alleviate the stress. A spreadsheet for presents as I forget who I have bought for and what I have bought. Maybe I am a Christmas killjoy.

Cocacolaandchocolate Wed 04-Nov-15 22:00:40

I buy from September. Keep note on a notebook on my phone.

I wrap 2 weeks before Christmas.

I also make homemade gifts too.
My mum does our Christmas day lunch. Mother in law on Christmas eve!! That's certainly a winner for us!

FeelingSmurfy Wed 04-Nov-15 23:00:45

Just think of Christmas dinner as a normal roast with a few extra bits, everyone talks it up in to this huge complicated meal and gets stressed over it but it really is just a roasty with a few extras

ishouldcocoa Thu 05-Nov-15 04:57:04

I try and get all my extra cooking done in November. Mince pies, bread sauce... Even gravy. I also plan to have written and be ready to send all my Christmas cards.

On the day itself, the rest of the family bring a contribution to lunch. The list consists of : crackers, prepared veg, canapés, an alternative pudding (to Christmas pudding).

In January, when I'm putting stuff away, I often jot down a note in my diary for December that year, as to where I've hidden extra decorations.

I recently read here on MN that you should plan to have everything ready the day before Christmas Eve. Then you get to enjoy the day and not run around like a headless chicken. I plan to give it a go this year!!

CheeseEMouse Thu 05-Nov-15 13:43:59

I think to try and relax about it - it's supposed to be fun after all. Last year I did all veg prep on Christmas eve so I wasn't peeling carrots or parboiling potatoes and could spend more time playing with my daughter. Things I would do differently would be to wrap presents earlier as that was surprisingly time consuming. We are also planning more this year so that there is no attempt to try and go shopping to find presents.

Goodbetterbest Thu 05-Nov-15 13:54:04

Buy presents through the year.
Keep on buying presents.
Forget where you've put the presents. (it doesn't matter because luckily you have kept on buying more and more presents).


GoboTheGoat Thu 05-Nov-15 15:09:30

I love hosting parties, but have never been brave enough to try hosting Christmas. I think I am getting more brave though, so may attempt it soon.

My tips for hosting is to do as much in advance as possible, because your guests want to see you, not have you in the kitchen the whole time. And don't put pressure on yourself to have everything perfect. Choose a simple menu that doesn't require lots of faff.

And most importantly, get tipsy on wine and make someone else do the clearing away. grin wine

HeadDreamer Thu 05-Nov-15 16:09:09

I have a small family so Christmas is an easy time for me. They are also very easy going and don't mind things are perfect. Last year, I just had a baby and we didn't even have our tree up! We did put up some fairy lights.

I love baking mince pies and christmas morning muffins. But no one will mind if I just buy them from the shops or actually even not have them. Christmas lunch is never turkey as DH hates them. We just have whatever we fancy eating and usually it means a curry. Because curry and winter weather just go so well together.

So my only mantra is get the presents for the children ready early. I have a pintrest board shared with DH, with ideas on presents. We add to it through out the year. Then we just order online.

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