Simplifying Christmas: Rethinking menus

I hope that my previous posts on rethinking gift giving and rethinking gathering have provided you with some useful ideas for simplifying and reducing the stress of Christmas this year. This week we are rethinking menus.

As a guest, who hasn’t felt seriously over-indulged during the holiday season? I for one love food and am prone to excessive consumption at this time of year (actually… other times as well!). As the host there is always the tendency to overcater. And we’ve all been to those lunches where the table is groaning under the weight of every variety of food imaginable. My preference is to prepare and serve just a handful of carefully selected items. After all there is a limit to how much people can fit onto their plate. 

Tip: Select your dishes and then adjust for guest numbers by doubling or tripling the quantity rather than the selection.
This will also minimise food waste. The amount of food thrown out is scandalous at the best of times, and even worse at Christmas.

Here are our staples for gatherings, at any time of the year not just for the holiday season:

Hors D’Oeuvres:IMG_0654IMG_0743

  1. A cheese platter
  2. A selection of dips such as curried egg dip, hummus, and dukkah


  1. A free-range ham. It costs more but is a more ethical choice, and it goes a long way.img_1725img_0497
  2. I absolutely love the Potato Terrine with Salmon recipe which I got from the Lifestyle Fifty blog. You can make 2 or 3 of them the day before if you are hosting a crowd.
  3. A salad featuring prawns – Prawn Mango and Avocado, or a Prawn Noodle Salad. Both of these recipes are from the Summer Table cookbook.
  4. Sweet Potato with Rice & Quinoa is a delicious salad which can be served warm or cold.
  5. A garden salad featuring lettuce, tomato, avocado, beans, capsicum, or whatever is in the garden.


  1. Fruit salad
  2. Pavlova – Miss Chardy’s is the best, and the story of my first attempt at a pav is here
  3. Some sweet treats if you wish, like Russian Caramels, Rum Balls, Rocky Road, Marshmallows, or White Christmas Crackles

Almost all of these dishes can be prepared at least the day before, and the oven doesn’t have to go on at all. This is still a lot of food, and noone will leave hungry!

I hope these ideas are helpful in planning menus that enable you to get organised ahead of time. This will reduce stress on the day of your gathering. And thinking about matching quantities to guest numbers will reduce food waste.

What’s on the menu at your place for your holiday season gatherings?


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  • Miss Chardy says:

    Yum, that potato terrine sounds good Jo and curried egg dip… genius and YUM!!

    • Jo says:

      You must put ‘get chickens’ on your goal list for 2017 Dani. I know you’ve been thinking about it for a while. You’ll therefore need to put ‘build chicken coop’ on Mr Chardy’s goal list! I’m sure he’ll love having an extra job to do….! xxx

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