Forget presents. If the silly season is synonymous with one thing, it’s food. Whether your holiday helpings consist of traditional roasts with all the trimmings (hello, crispy, duck fat potatoes), fresh seafood or platters spilling with antipasto and cold cuts, there is one thing every festive table has in common: food, glorious food. Instead of a production line of dishes arranged along the bench, why not try upping the festive wow factor by creating a gourmet grazing table loaded with all your favourite holiday dishes. Not only will it make the food the shining centrepiece of the day, it also makes it easier for guests to get their festive feast on. To help whet your merry appetite, we caught up with former MasterChef contestant Sarah Todd to find out her favourite festive entertaining tips, as well as how to create a mouth-watering, gourmet grazing table.

SARAH’S TOP TIPS FOR FESTIVE ENTERTAINING


Choose a theme

Having a defined colour scheme not only adds a polished look; it also makes it simple to make all the styling decisions. Choose a scheme that you love, be it classic gold and red, silver and pastel blue or a more on trend finish of rose gold, coppers and rose pink.

MORE: FESTIVE STYLING IDEAS FOR EVERY HOME


Utilise function in small spaces

Create a buffet on your kitchen bench or dining table, or use a side station as a dessert buffet to maximise space.



Play with heights

Add interest by elevating your dishes to various heights. This makes the display more visually impressive and dynamic, and allows each dish to shine.

MORE: SCANDI NAPKINS FOR YOUR FESTIVE TABLE SETTING


Think ahead

Get as much ready on Christmas Eve as possible so that on Christmas Day you're set up and ready to go. Get all your linens, crockery and glassware out and set aside ready for the buffet.
 


Mise en place

Do as much of the cooking as possible the day before so that you have time to focus on styling and finishing touches on the day.



Add festive greenery

Get party guests into the holiday spirit with a decked-out table setting. Choose a floral arrangement and vase, keeping the colour scheme in mind, and make them the centrepiece of your grazing table to give a grand vibe, or lay a trail of garlands and fronds along the buffet for something a little more simple and elegant. Pine cones and branches evoke a natural vibe that feels effortlessly beautiful.



Branch out

Colour coordinate dishes and get creative with seafood and platters. Don’t feel like you have to stick to the traditional sliced ham and roast turkey. Make a charcuterie table and add opulence with canapes, salads, skewered meats and cheese platters.
 


Bring in some global flavours

Instead of a standard roast or sausages on the barbecue, make a big, delicious paella. As well as being perfect for feeding big groups of people, it’s easy to make and tastes incredible.


Set the buffet

Replenish the dessert buffet as the day progresses so it looks fresh throughout the day. For impact, ensure there is a sense of abundance, such as a doughnut tower, vases filled with macarons or glasses portioned with mousse.
 


Create ambience

Position your grazing table or dessert buffet somewhere central so guests can pick throughout the day. If you want to really set the tone for the day, get them into the festive spirit by playing the Mariah Carey Christmas Album on repeat, or having classic Christmas films playing with no sound on the television.

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