Mulling spices fill the air, candles flicker, and carols play - the embers of Christmas begin to glow once again. Work forgotten for a week or two, it's a time to reconnect and replenish. Hosting a drinks party or get together at Christmas can be a real chance to get creative. Here are a few tips to help you dazzle your guests with your festive spread this year:
The dark triumphs throughout December. We feast on comforting stews and soups and light lanterns to ward off the long darkness. Landscapes are dull and awash with greys, with the last leaves hanging on to the end of branches. Colour is a welcome sight in the depths of winter; holly berries, cranberries, rosehips, hawthorn and crab apples all jewel the hedgerow with a flash of colour, reminding us that brighter days are soon on their way.
You can use these colourful foods from nature to brighten up your table, whilst reflecting the season outside the steamed-up window. Sprinkle your spread with berries and fruits for the warmth, contrast and splash of festive reds.
You can also use copper-wired fairy lights or candles to add sparkles throughout your display, just be sure they are safe and not likely to catch fire.
Just like the leaves on the ground, a good spread requires many layers. It's effective to put big, bulky and heavy items like our Mature Cheddar Truckle at the back and at the centre. This acts as the peak and draws the attention first, before trickling down into smaller, daintier items at the sides and front. You can use boards, stands and props to give things more height, or you can add bottles, carafes or candlesticks for that extra tall layer.
If displaying your spread in the centre of a room, a circular table with the tallest part in the middle will look like a piece of art. Imagine a tower in the centre, and everything else should gradually fall lower as you reach the edges of the table.
Contrast the soft and smooth edges of the cheese with the dry contours of fir cones or spiky holly. Round objects like fruits, berries and grapes add another dimension to the spread. Shiny chestnuts, glossy chutneys and drizzling honeycomb bejewel the spread against the dry nuts, sourdough and wooden boards. It's these subtle differences in texture which make a feast so intricate and eye-catching.
Aesthetics aside, your guests will need something to eat their cheese with. Crackers, toasts and breads work as a great base for your friends to pile up their creation high with elements from your feast. Base, check. Cheese, check. Next must be some sort of topping. Chutneys, marmalades, jams, pickles and jellies are all delicious juicy extras to atop a cheese cracker. They bring a sharp, sweet or satisfying acidity to the palette and can also add a dash of colour too.
Much like our tree at Christmas, bringing the outdoors inside to feature on your festive feast is a nod to the season. Evergreen conifers fill the air with the scent of the forest, provoking festive memories for many. Tie your walking boots on and head outside with some scissors, foraging for pretty items that the winter has brought us.
Good luck building your festive feast this year, and we hope your guests enjoy all your hard work!