Staging a Christmas Party

A couple of months ago I found myself volunteering to host this year's Christmas party for the team at Massey University's School of English and Media Studies (Albany). Staging such an event at Jack's family's eccentric property, with its ancient unpruned fruit trees, rambling and potholed backyard (not to mention two freestanding buildings on either side of the garden), meant that I had to think creatively about the flow of people, providing adequate shade, and making the various "zones" of the site serve different purposes.

First up, I thought it was high-time to paint the shiny lemon coloured walls of the former surgery waiting room to create a more inviting entrance. A couple of coats of "Moscow Snow" later, and some flowers and festive trimmings, and it looked like this.

The stars, paper dove garland and small wreaths adorning the window are from Trade Aid. I removed the squabs from the bench seat and wallpapered it to create an L-shaped servery where people could help themselves to salads and ham and chicken. I decided to elevate the meats on Nood side tables, with the added security of putting the platters inside the mesh covered baskets to protect the meat from a certain greedy cat.

I used the cabinets on either side of the blue room of the surgery for sweets and cups and saucers in case anyone fancied making themselves a cuppa. The sweet treats included homemade Christmas Mince Pies using the glorious recipe from the Little and Friday cookbook.

Kim's fruit-mince recipe is a total winner, with chunks of dark chocolate that perfectly complement the brandy, grated apple and mixed fruit.

From the same book I also made cranberry and pistachio biscotti, and fig and white chocolate panforte, which is so dense and rich that I cut it into little squares. To top it off, I made a double batch of Rocky Road from What Sarah Bakes. Sarah claims that it is the "best ever" and the guests seemed to agree. It's the slight tartness of the dried cranberries that is the key I think, combined with the copious amounts of chocolate, biscuit chunks, macadamia nuts and marshmallows of course. Yum!
Seating and cushions in the garden
a view through the fig and plum trees to the gazebo
Barman Jack getting ready
Zero on the table where I set up the stereo
The old dinghy under the fig tree for kids to play in
Jack came up with the brilliant idea of setting up a display of his father's old books in the storeroom, thinking that our bookish colleagues might find something they wanted to take home.
It worked like a treat. Box loads of books made their way to new homes! Yay

Of course, it's always the way that when the actual event is finally underway Jack and I forget to take photos, so we just have a few from early on in the proceedings. I forgot to take shots of all the gorgeous food people brought along. It was a great feast.

Jo and David
Rand and Brian
Stuart and Catherine
Three of my toys found new homes with the lovely Harris family (Matt, Emma, Cohen and Pearl).

Time for a nice cuppa at the end of all that.


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