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Lifestyle

From snacks to sides: your stress-free Christmas entertaining guide

17th December, 2020
Image: Eatable

With Christmas just around the corner, our thoughts are quickly turning to the day itself and what we’ll be serving up to our nearest and dearest. While a feast is a delightful prospect, actually getting there is another story. For many of us, it can be a stressful experience trying to decide what to serve, with the daunting prospect of having to decide everything from nibblies to desserts and every morsel in between.

But as with most things, it always helps to have a little expertise on hand to help make it a little easier (and decidedly less scary). Which is where Liz Elton and Lisa Featherby, co-founders of food and entertaining site, Eatable come to the rescue. Both are alumni from Australia’s leading food, wine and travel bible, Gourmet Traveller (creative director and food director, respectively) so it’s no understatement to say they live and breathe all that goes into throwing a successful soiree.

Here, Liz and Lisa share their tips for everything from their go-to Christmas dessert to what drinks you need to have on hand and the must-haves on every table. (And stayed tuned later this week for their top tips on how to dress a festive table that will seriously impress.)

What are the must-haves for a successful Christmas spread?

Lisa: Condiments! We’ll be talking about the best condiments right up to the last minute on Eatable before Christmas. As long as you’ve ordered your protein—ham, turkey, seafood or whatever you’ve chosen, you can jazz it up with lots of side condiments for people to pick and choose their own adventure. 

Liz: I can’t go past a charcuterie platter. If lunch or dinner is delayed for whatever reason, it will tide everyone over until the main meal is ready. If everything else goes wrong, you can’t lose by keeping everyone’s glasses topped up with a chilled sparkling or Champagne.

What are some easy things people can do when it comes to the food/drinks that makes a big impact?

Lisa: I’d suggest investing in a big wine bucket that can hold a few bottles at a time, particularly bottles of Champagne. Have a tray of glasses to the side and let people help themselves. This makes drinks easy to pour, but also can become a bit of a feature in itself. A jug of iced water that has some fruit or mint leaves aded with a stack of water glasses to the side can also be a nice touch.

What are your favourite go-to dishes at Christmas?

Lisa: Trifle always features in some form for me, as I’m a big fan of summer fruit. Make a jelly, top with a flavoured cream or custard and lots of fruit. Buy a pannetore or pandoro and rip that into pieces into a bowl before scooping in the trifle. The yeasty flavour and spice of pannetore is one of my favourite Christmas flavours.

I love seafood, too. I’m usually keen to see some kind of seafood element over Christmas, and often served cured trout and oysters.

Classic roast pork and crackling is great and I love that with a light shaved fennel salad, or duck fat roasted potatoes if we want to be indulgent. 

What are your recommendations for great drinks to serve on Christmas Day?

Lisa: Bubbles are obviously key to get started, and Alexander Kirkwood, who is the head sommelier at Aria, has given Eatable his top picks for sparkling wines that he’s tasted this year.

I’d choose a brut (dry) style to start, or even a good pét-nat (short for pétillant naturel), as these can be quite interesting. Have a good mix of interesting and classic wines ready to go with the main feast, too. Make sure you know the wine weight so you can stagger them out correctly, starting with aromatic whites, then moving into a more textural white like a chardonnay or Chablis, and then if you choose to serve red, try chilling it first if it’s a hot day. 

With dessert, Moscato di Asti is always a winner – or you can come back to the sparkling, which is perfect with pavlova or trifle to finish – a demi-sec for a little more sweetness, or a saignée or rosé for something pretty. A new trend we’re seeing is low-alcohol wines, so if you want to include some of these, the alcohol volume doesn’t have to be high. 

Apart from that, there are a huge amount of great vermouths out there, so a Christmas Spritz could be a nice celebratory drink to start with – you can make these non-alcoholic, too – I love a classic Americano with Campari, Maidenii sweet vermouth and soda, but you could serve vermouth and soda and include some festive aromatics, like a fresh bay leaf or a slice of orange peel. Make sure you have plenty of ice, too, stock up well beforehand so you don’t run out halfway through the day.

Liz: My family doesn’t drink alcohol, so I always make a big jug of non-alcoholic punch. I add fresh wedges of stone-fruit such as peach and basil or mint to a fresh juice and soda water, mixed with a non-alcoholic spirit and lots of ice. Seedlip do some refreshing, non-alcoholic spirits that you can make great non-alcoholic cocktails with as well. I have just discovered NON – a gorgeous non-alcoholic drink that is perfect for summer and special occasions. P&V in [Sydney’s] Newtown have a great selection of non-alcoholic spirits and shrubs.

Make the most of Australia’s beautiful summer fruits when it comes to dessert
Image: Eatable
What are some great entrees/mains/desserts to serve that are easy but delicious?

Lisa: I just love a glazed ham. There’s nothing to it as the work has already been done for you—all you have to do is find the right glaze to finish it. I’m a big fan of pineapple, brown sugar, golden rum and spices. We love curing a side of trout as it’s very easy to do and can be prepped a few days in advance and served cold, which is great for a hot Christmas day. A simple sauce like a classic mignonette for a platter of oysters over lots of ice is so easy to do. And if you want something that requires no time at all, a store-bought pannetore or pandoro can be turned into a stunning dessert just by adding a dollop of ice cream and some peaches roasted with some brown sugar and red wine.

What are your suggestions for guests to snack on when they arrive?

Lisa: A bowl of spiced nuts is always nice. You can buy raw nuts and roast them with some spices and salt. I love to make a pate around Christmas, and this can be done a couple of days ahead and served straight from the terrine mould. Or for something quite easy, you can make a smoked trout pate—simply buy some smoked trout and flake it, then whip it up with some creme fraiche as a quick and easy dip served with crackers. 

Fashion, Shop

Fun looks for an extra stylish Christmas Day

6th December, 2019

If you’re the kind of person who likes getting all dressed up on Christmas Day then no doubt you’re on the hunt for a great outfit—that’s if you haven’t secured it already! There’s a lot to consider for a December 25 look: there’s the comfort factor, something that you wouldn’t mind being in the entire day if you’re juggling multiple events; something that will allow you to accomodate a copious amount of Christmas food and lastly something that’s a little bit summery and festive all at the same time.

A dress is easily one of the best things for the day as it’s super comfy plus it’s a no-brainer outfit—all you really have to think about is your shoes and accessories and you’re done. And what better time to update your look with standout pieces than Christmas Day? A beautiful pair of shoes or a knockout bag is the perfect thing to make your festive look just a little more festive and a whole lot more special.

Scroll down to shop your Christmas outfit. And if you’ve been really good you may just find something here under your tree

Fashion, Shop, What I Wore

How to find the ideal gift for the little ones in your life

5th December, 2019

One of the things I really enjoy about Christmas is shopping for Sophia and Grace. It’s always the highlight of Christmas to see them so excited and happy when they’re opening their presents and I think party of that joy is trying to track down just the right gifts for them. As any parent will know, kids interests’ and loves will change often, so it can make gift giving a little tricky as they could be into Barbies or The Wiggles one minute and not so much the next. So here are some of the strategies I often use to buy gifts for the girls, but also the other little people in my life.

Choose quality over quantity

It can be easy to just buy up a storm during Christmas time but I find that a few great presents that they really, really love is better than buying lots of little things they’re only so-so about. So when it comes to your present budget, I’m always of the frame of mind that you’re better off narrowing it down to their absolute wants, that way they get to appreciate what they’ve been given and really enjoy it.

Go for gifts that have longevity

Continuing on from the above, I think it’s good to opt for gifts that can grow with them. This is from a quality perspective in that it’s better to choose gifts that are designed to last as opposed to anything that might be flimsily made and might not last beyond that Christmas. And also gifts that are able to be used at any age. Think an art easel with paints that they can use over a few years or a collection of books that you can read together as they get older.

Give them an experience

Toys are great but one of the best gifts I think you can give to kids is an experience. It’s so much more memorable as they get to do something fun. Depending on what your kids are into, you could do something like a day at the zoo, tickets to a show or concert or promise them a day out doing their favourite things whether it’s going to the beach or an excursion to the movies (complete with yummy snacks!).

Photography by Sophia Athas, Hatrik

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Lifestyle

My Christmas entertaining tips

24th December, 2018

I try and make this time of year as stress free as possible so my summer entertaining usually involves a lot of BBQs, really easy salads, fresh fruit and cheese platters. I’d rather be spending time with my nearest and dearest than hanging out in the kitchen so as much as possible I do lots of my prep beforehand or just pick really simple things to make. Here’s what I do when it comes to managing festive gatherings….

Stock the fridge

As I said I am a very casual entertainer so I always make sure to have the fridge stocked up with fresh ingredients. I always do a big online shop to get my supplies in order. I usually go on the Harris Farm website and order all my fruit and veg, cheeses and everything I need before the weekend so it’s always on hand in case I unexpectedly have people pop in. I think great produce is always key so you can make really simple, easy things that will still be a hit with guests.

Prep platters

I’m all about a great platter as I think it’s a great shortcut when you’re busy or low on time. Whether it’s pastries or fruit platters in the morning or it’s prosciutto and cheeses or ham for lunch they’re great for being able to lay on a spread quickly.

Whenever I have people over I always have a selection of cheeses, various types of dips and crackers ready to go as I like to make sure people are fed as soon as they walk through the door. And you never know when people are just going to pop in. We live close to the beach so we get lots of people dropping by all the time and platters are something you can put together really quickly if you have everything in the fridge (this is why the first step is so important!).

Take advantage of Christmas hampers

One of my little tricks is to use the contents of Christmas hampers whenever I’m entertaining. They’re stocked with such a variety of different condiments or nibblies that it’s great for putting together an interesting platter of goodies that are just slightly more special in nature.

Have drinks on hand

As it’s so hot I like having drinks that are really refreshing. I’ll stock up on bottles of champagne, beer for the boys or have the ingredients for a quick cocktail or mocktail ready to go such as peach juice in case I want to make a peach bellini. Aperol spritzes and mojitos are also a favourite during summer as they’re so refreshing. I always make sure to have some sparkling water in the fridge to serve to guests. I think overall the most crucial thing to remember is to keep everything as simple as possible so you can get onto more important things, and that’s spending time with friends and family.

What are some of your favourite Christmas entertaining tips?

Fashion, Lifestyle, Shop

What to get the kids in your life this Christmas

14th December, 2018

Shopping for kids can be both stressful and fun—on one hand there’s no shortage of adorable things to buy, on the other their interests can be so short-lived that it can be daunting to choose a gift that will engage them longer than it takes to rip the wrapping off. I’ve been on the hunt for gifts to give my girls and nieces and nephew along with friends’ kids so I’ve scoured high and low for just the right thing to bring a smile to a little one’s face.

Tutu du Monde Twelfth night tutu dress

I’m a huge fan of Tutu du Monde for Sophia and Grace and can attest to how gorgeous their pieces are. And what will bring a smile to a little girl’s face more than a gorgeous little tutu of their very own?

Stella McCartney Kids polka dot skirt

For a special occasion, I can’t go past this adorable little skirt.

Hucklebones London trapeze dress

A splash of colour for the little girl who loves all things bold and bright.

Dolce & Gabbana Kids geranium printed hoodie

It’s a splurge item but it’s hard to resist things in mini-size…

Little Marc Jacobs logo t-shirt dress

A casual number for any little girl on the go.

Burberry Kids trench dress

For those times when you want something classic and timeless, this dress would be perfect for an important event.

Baby Gap reversible print hoodie sweater

Anything that serves a dual purpose gets my vote.

Speedo Kids Marvel Spiderman shorts

For the superhero obsessed, these shorts are ideal for wearing throughout summer.

Le Toy Van Budkin Triple Pirate Set

A cute collection of stuffed toys that aren’t run-of-the-mill.

Bonikka Priscy doll

If my girls are anything to go by you can’t really go wrong with a doll, especially one as cute as this.

Learn with Ruby Red Shoes Counting Book

I’m all for giving books at Christmas and also love to receive them. This one is great for any child who’s just learning to master counting.

Our Generation Adelita doll

The little accessories that come with this doll will mean hours of entertainment.

Orchard Game Pop to the Shops

A great little game that helps kids learn about money.

Burberry Kids short sleeve cotton shirt

Have fun dressing up any little boy in your life with this cute shirt.

Micro Scooter mini micro deluxe

Earn some brownie points this Christmas with this compact scooter.

Trunki Flora Fairy ride on suitcase

Heading on a trip? This suitcase is great for travelling and getting kids from A to B in an airport terminal.

Giraffes Can’t Dance book

David Jones have partnered with the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation and made available a series of kids books that you can buy and donate to kids in refugee, indigenous and marginalised communities. Buy one on behalf of your child and remind them of the true meaning of Christmas.

Corolle Mon Bèbè Classique  doll

A classic doll with hair that can be styled for kids who love a little game of hairdresser.

Billabong Kids Sundays Lo Tide boardshorts

A quintessential summer staple with a great print.

 

 

 

 

Lifestyle, Shop

How to be a great gift giver

11th December, 2018

This time of year can be quite challenging in that coming up with present ideas for friends and family all at the same time can be quite an arduous task. Thinking of the ideal gift for one person is tough let alone a lengthy list of loved ones. We all want to select a present that the recipient will actually really love and enjoy but it will involve being a little strategic. So how can you become great at choosing gifts for others? Here are some tips to remember.

Don’t shop at the last minute

Tempting as it may be to leave everything to Christmas Eve it’s probably not going to result in finding great presents for everyone. It could also end up quite an expensive retail excursion as you start to panic that time is running out and just end up buying whatever gift you think will do. The best thing to do is start as early as you can.

Consider what they buy for themselves

What someone chooses to spend their own money on is a great indication of what they’re into and thus a great insight into what kind of gift they’d appreciate. Pay attention to the things they’re passionate about and that should point you in the right direction.

Check out their social media channels

Generally people post on their social channels the things that they’re into so it’s often a great clue provider for the ideal gift. Whether they’re constantly posting about books they’ve read, or pictures of dishes they’ve cooked or restaurants they’ve eaten at, what people reveal about themselves online is often a good insight into the things they love.

Ask around

Usually people will reveal to those closet to them what they’ve been wanting or needing so if you can, hit that inner circle up for some clues. A quick enquiry will often yield plenty of ideas and will avoid you doubling up on something they’ve already got.

Gift an experience

Often experiences are a lovely choice for a Christmas gift. Think of what the person likes doing in their spare time and try and gift them an experience that ties into it. If for example your bestie’s been going through a crazy home renovation, consider giving them a massage to ease stress. If your dad loves to cook, why not give him a voucher to a cooking class of a type of cuisine he really likes.

Pay attention

Take a moment to really think about the person you’re buying a gift for. Do they always chat about their fave bands? Have they spoken about how much they’d really like to learn to garden? These are little clues that can often provide great insight into what will make for the perfect gift for them.

 

Fashion

What to wear on Christmas Day—using what’s already in your wardrobe

21st December, 2017

What are you wearing on Christmas Day? Whether it’s a family BBQ or a formal sit down lunch if you’ve yet to sort out your outfit and are quickly running out of time then you’re in luck because your ensemble could be sitting in your wardrobe right now. That’s right, with some new outfit inspiration, key pieces in your closet can be reworked and turned into a fresh new look. And the best bit is it doesn’t cost a cent.

Inspiration: A midi or maxi dress + sneakers

This is an easy place to start. If you’ve got a favourite dress in your cupboard that’s feeling a bit tired simply change up the footwear. A pair of sneakers is an easy go-to and looks instantly on trend without much effort at all.

Inspiration: Layering neutrals + a pop of colour

I’m betting you have a handful of neutral pieces in your wardrobe so why not bring them back to life again by opting for a tonal colour palette. Working your outfit within the same colour family results in a chic, considered look and the addition of a bright statement shoe instantly adds an element of interest.

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Inspiration: A singlet + pants

If you have a trusty white singlet and a pair of dressy pants you have this look sorted. You could also swap the pants for a pair of shorts or culottes and it works equally as well. Add a pair of sandals or heels and you’re set.

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Inspiration: A slip dress + scarf

Given how huge slip dresses have been of late I’m sure there’s a lot of you who may have one sitting in your cupboard right now. The key to refreshing it is in the accessories you pair with it. A scarf tied around your hair is very of the moment and looks bang on trend.

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Inspiration: Basic tee + wrap skirt + slides

A trusty white tee is a given in most wardrobes so why not pair it with a dressy skirt for a high-low mix that looks instantly stylish. A wrap skirt is a current trend that looks fresh for summer and a pair of slides makes for instant cool.

Inspiration: Striped shirt + denim

A striped shirt paired with a denim skirt is the ideal ensemble for a family lunch that may end up turning into an evening event. You could also opt for jeans if a skirt isn’t your thing.

What are you planning to wear on Christmas Day?
Fashion

Christmas gift guide for the fashionista in your life

11th December, 2017

Whether it’s your mum, sister or best friend if you have a fashionista in your life, Christmas shopping can either be a) be all kinds of fun because you can also stumble upon some goodies for your wish list or b) is a gruelling expedition trawling online and bricks and mortar stores alike for days on end trying to find the right thing. If it’s the latter, this year I’m making shopping just that little bit easier. I’ve rounded up my top gift picks that will put a smile on any fashion-obsessed loved one’s face. So if you’re looking to win major brownie points and spoil someone rotten or just want a budget-conscious gift that’s still guaranteed to impress these gift ideas will certainly get the ball rolling…

Saint Laurent Jerry bow-tie sunglasses

Black sunglasses are a classic addition to any woman’s wardrobe however the geometric style frames on this pair make it a knockout accessory.

Aquazzura Forever Marilyn pumps

Who wouldn’t want to find a beautiful pair of shoes under the tree? These are classic with a hint of playfulness with the tassel embellishment and cut-out detail.

Balenciaga bug silver tone ring

You can never go wrong with a piece of jewellery. This is for the fashionista who loves her accessories to be a talking point.

Studio.W marbled candle

The marble trend shows no signs of waning and this will add a luxe touch to any home.

Gucci new ace leather trainers

Gucci anything is a surefire way to guaranteed gift giving success, most especially a pair of trainers that are versatile and ultra chic.

Katerina Makriyianni earrings

Let me say it once again: you can never go wrong with jewellery. The vibrant stones in these earrings make them the ideal head-turning addition to any outfit.

Chloé Nile small leather shoulder bag

This on-trend style is an ultra stylish shoulder bag that’s the perfect finishing touch to any ensemble.

Aquazzura powder puff pom pom slides

With its adorable pom pom feature, this is the ideal shoe for the woman in your life who loves to have fun with what she wears.

Gucci leather wallet

A great wallet is always a welcome addition to any fashion lover’s wardrobe. Loving the floral detail on this style.

Vix bikini top + briefs

A black bikini is a beach staple and with its gold detail, this set by Vix will add a touch of glam to any trip to the seaside.

Ancient Greek slides

Slides are without a doubt one of the shoes to have this summer. Ancient Greek sandals are not only comfortable and well made, this particular shade will go with virtually any outfit.

Jo Malone London body crème collection

Cute packaging and gorgeous scents make this body crème collection a Christmas crowd pleaser.

Fashion, Shop

13 outfits to get you through party season

15th December, 2016

Are your days becoming a blur of parties and endless social gatherings? The festive season is one of my favourite times of year but I know it can also be a tricky time as far as outfits go. So many occasions, so little time to shop! I shared my top tips for party dressing last week to help make things a little easier and now I’ve hand picked some of my favourite party dresses to help making shopping that much easier. Have fun!

Lifestyle, Shop

Christmas decorating with Etsy

13th December, 2016

One of my favourite parts about Christmas is decorating and now having both Sophia and Grace, it’s nice to be able to make our home as festive as possible for them. At the same time I also like decorations to complement the interior of our home and this is where Etsy has come in handy. For anyone who has ever lost a few hours trawling all the beautiful crafts and homewares on the site you’ll know that it’s the perfect spot to find just the right decorations to suit any taste or budget. I’ve stocked up on a few things so I’m now all set to add some festive touches to our home and here are some of the top tips I’ve picked up along the way…

You don’t have to stick to Christmas colours

Red and green are synonymous with Christmas but they’re not exactly hues that will work with every home colour scheme. I am all about neutral tones and I’ve found that Etsy have some great Christmas decors in that colour palette that will look ideal with the rest of my house. Don’t be afraid to step away from the traditional Christmas hues for something a bit different.

Find things that you can use all year

If you use a white table cloth or decorations in gold such as gilded cutlery for your Christmas table it can be reused throughout the year so it’s not just limited to a single season. However adding elements such as kraft paper Christmas crackers will ensure you maintain the festive vibe.

Add personal touches

I love anything that’s personalised so am planning to extend it to my Christmas decorations. For example personalised name cards are a great addition to a festive table and is something that guests can take home as a souvenir. A Christmas plate with your kids’ names or glassware are also a nice way to add a personalised festive touch. Christmas gift stickers with your name are also a great for turning ordinary wrapping into something a bit more special. Also make sure to think outside the box when it comes to decorations – I found the personalised tags below in the Etsy wedding section!

You don’t have to go big to make an impact

I live in an apartment so I don’t want massive decorations that I have to store for the rest of the year. I like small things that still give the Christmas effect and give a visual impact without taking up too much room. This is where cute Christmas tree ornaments or a rustic wreath or garland can work around the home. The difficult part is just deciding which ones to buy!