With Christmas falling during the long, hot Australian summer, it’s an ideal opportunity to eat, drink and be merry out of doors, but this doesn’t come without its hazards, with unpredictable weather near the top of the list. So, if you’re hosting Christmas lunch at your place, and planning to have it in your backyard or on your deck, here are our top tips for making the day run as smoothly as possible.
1. It’s all in the planning
While this may seem obvious, a lot of us think it’s so obvious we actually don’t do it. But a good plan is the key to any successful occasion, and particularly when it comes to Christmas Day. After all, the weeks leading up to Christmas are pretty hectic and can easily fill up with events that you weren’t expecting. For this reason, our number one tip is to write it all down on a calendar, starting with picking a day in the near future to clean up your outdoor space …
2. Tidy up your space
Given how busy December can be, putting aside a day early in the month to clean and tidy your outdoor space is a must. If you’re setting up the table and chairs in your back yard, now is the time to mow the lawn, prune any overgrown tress or vines and spruce up the garden beds. If you’re using your deck or patio, clear away any accumulated junk, such as garden tools or kids’ toys, and give it a good clean, getting rid of the cobwebs and dead leaves. Re-arrange the pot plants and give them a dose of fertiliser and mulch, so they’re looking their best by Christmas Day. And, once you’ve cleared your yard or deck, start thinking about what furniture you might need and where you’re going to put it.
3. Source extra furniture
If you’ve already got all the outdoor furniture you need, why not set it up now so you can start thinking about things like how you’re going to provide shade or what decorations you want to use. But, if you’re short on chairs or need to add another table to accommodate your guests, start organising to get your hands on them, whether this means borrowing from the neighbours or paying a visit to your local outdoor furniture shop. And always prioritise your guests’ comfort in your choice of chairs, so sitting through a long meal on a hot day doesn’t become a chore.
4. Organise your menu
Getting this crucial element organised ensures that the actual preparation and cooking of the meal is that much smoother on the day. Keep it simple and order things like meat and seafood well ahead of time, so you don’t get into a fight over the last ham in the supermarket fridge or miss out on the prawns at the market. If your guests are contributing to the meal, find out what they’re bringing and keep a list, to avoid ending up with too much of one thing and not enough of another. And, in the two weeks before Christmas, start ticking your ingredients off the shopping list, so you don’t have to deal with the inevitable last minute frenzy on Christmas Eve.
5. Have a contingency plan!
This is probably the most important part of your overall plan, as we all know that the weather can be wildly unpredictable along the east coast of Australia, and the forecast isn’t always 100% trustworthy. Let’s hope for one of those perfect days, not too warm and no rain, but you just never know. For this reason, you should always have a contingency plan, in case the day ends up with a wild wind or rain, or even a super-hot day where sitting outside is just plain impossible. Those who are planning on eating outside on the lawn might like to think about hiring or buying a marquee, as come rain or shine, this is an easy way of protecting your guests. If this isn’t an option, or you’re planning to eat on an uncovered deck, be prepared to move your meal inside, which means having a table set up with the basics so the transition isn’t too stressful.
Above all, stay as calm, cool & collected as you can, and have a great Christmas & New Year from all the staff at Best Doors.