Beach Cottage Coastal Christmas ~ Easy Christmas Entertaining

Thu 8th, Dec, 2011

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G’day Beach Cottage chickens, I hope you are chirpy and full of the festive spirit?

I have had quite a few emails about Christmas entertaining and how to survive it!   As if I would know, I spend most of my time on the broomstick anyway ;-) Not really.

Well first of all, I, in the whole keeping it simple and keeping it real thing, don’t think there will be any big food spread posts from me, that might be a bit much for me right now and to be very honest, I am totally pretty much more interested in the party shoes for my trip to KL next week rather than what I am cooking, but I will try and get my crock pot salmon dip, layered salad and mulled wine recipe on here…because I love you and you seem to like me too.

…I love cooking Christmas dinner though and we always always have turkey, but I don’t get all stressy over it…really I think of it as just a glorified roast dinner, with a bigger, more unusual bird…and I certainly don’t go in for that cook it til it’s dry and horrible school of thought, getting up at the crack of dawn to put the turkey in the oven is not in my make-up…I just treat it as if it were a large chicken and change the times accordingly…with the turkey I just do roast potatoes, a tray of roasted veggies & aromatic gravy (just shove turkey, pots and veggies all in the oven at the same time, no brainer) and now we are in Australia we also have a salad too…mostly a layered salad that I make the day before and sits happily in the fridge until needed.



…plus there are a few simple things I do to keep things easy and enjoyable for me and not just in Christmas entertaining but when having anyone over for dinner.

For me, I like to foof around with main courses, as long as they are fairly easy but the other courses I like to make as least work as possible.

So what I do for easy entertaining to save me running around like a headless chicken getting stressed… firstly when someone asks what shall I bring?  I nearly always answer can you bring the dessert?  One main reason for this, I am not a dessert-maker or a baker, as you know, so this solves that problem in one fell swoop, also I often think people like to bring something other than just wine and I think when you are asked to bring a dessert along to something it can actually be quite enjoyable thinking about it and making it when that’s all you’ve got to worry about.

Failing that, I will nearly always buy or make some kind of tart especially if there is a budget (I do have a French Apple Tart recipe that is no-fail, using frozen pastry that even I can bake with my eyes almost shut)…you can buy some lovely patisseries, indeed those pastry chefs are qualified in the art…so why not utilize it?

Next up, you can’t go wrong with a cheese plate.


Now I have had a whole lot of cheese plates in my little life…including many in France, where cheese in nigh-on a national sport.

Here’s what I think…first of all you don’t need to go ultra fancy, if you are on a tight budget, one nice cheese, some crackers and an apple or pear  can go a very long way…I am so over food snobbery and cheese snobbery it’s untrue

…secondly I like to only do a couple of cheeses, there is something that is disagreeable to me when faced with a whole array of cheeses artfully placed on some swivelling cheeseboard…I would much rather two (possible three) well chosen and lovely cheeses.

Three I will always choose a goat’s cheese…mainly because goat’s cheese is nearly always nice and more, not many people buy goat’s cheese as part of their regular repertoire so it’s a bit more special but not ludicrously expensive and when people dip in they more often than not love it.


Since moving to Australia, we noticed a very funny and strange (to us) thing.  Now this may have nothing at all to do with Australia or Australians, and you may have experienced it before but we hadn’t….after a few lovely invitations for dinner we noticed that cheese comes out very often as a first course, a cheese plate as an appetiser.  Yes.

Now for me, in the old days, cheese always followed the main course, before dessert, so on arrival at someone’s house to be presented with a lovely quality cheese and a few crackers as a first course was pretty surprising.  Sorta weird but really really nice and very tasty.

And these days, I keep this trick up my sleeve quite a lot, it’s different on the palate if you are not used to it…but there is something to be said for it…and mainly that, if you are a cheese lover, like me, relishing that cheese before you are full up and have had two courses already is really very nice….plus sharing the cheese, in a relaxed and laid-back way is a very informal way to start the evening…all dipping in to the cheese plate in the middle and with a glass of bubbly too…

I always stick a chutney, relish or most likely a lump of Quince Paste on the side and depending on the mood, some fruit or cornichons…it’s no brainer entertaining….oh and I like plain old old-fashioned, give it to me water crackers, and I buy Carrs if they are on offer, being By Appointment to Her Majesty, no less, of course they are good…but really any plain cracker floats my cheese boat, I wouldn’t go near any of those fanchy schmancy ones that cost more than the cheese plate…duh.

So that’s my tip…farm it out (the dessert), throw in a few bought things, and buy nice cheese dressed up on a foofy plate…and spend your time on the main course and obviously dressing up the table…

OK, I am outta here…I would love to hear your entertaining tips for this time of year? Go out for dinner?  Oh yeah that’s one…  Or maybe I’ll just show you my new black ankle-strap-oh-my-God-I-Love-You PARTAY SHOES….. I think I love them more than my new boyfriend and Flicky Cloud’s.  Yep indeedy.

Flying through people (and not quite on the stick yet), flying through



beach decor


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22 Responses to “Beach Cottage Coastal Christmas ~ Easy Christmas Entertaining”

  1. Kimberly Buca says:

    Hey Sarah
    we always had a cheese and crackers plte set out at all our family holiday gatherings at great grammas or an aunts house i even do this now when i have people over we use different crackers and cheses on a pretty platter we also used to make the cheese balls with the nuts sprinkled on top sooo yummy!!!

  2. That craft paper is inspired!

  3. Mimi says:

    Loved reading your Easy Christmas. I rember when I lived in England for a short time, we had hubbies family over for dinner and I did the cheese platter on arrival. Months later they told me how funny it was to eat cheese before dinner. When you think about it, it is kinda weird. Enjoy KL. Mimi xx

  4. Leah says:

    We always start off entertaining with a cheese platter. It just wouldn’t be the same without it. I have always thought it funny that people have the cheese platter after dinner. Anyway, looking forward to seeing those party shoes!! Leahx

  5. Deanne says:

    We often do a cheese platter as a before, but I have also been known to serve one instead of dessert particularly with some nice fruit and a few petit fours or when I have an afternoon tea- particularly when accompanied by one of those party plan type things, with a plate of fancy choccie bikkies – it makes it very easy entertaining with no cooking involved.

    Just wondering are those things you called cornichons are they gerkins or something else entirely?

  6. love your brown craft paper & happy to see you’re a blue cheese gal!

    Melissa x

  7. Heather says:

    Love this idea!! I will be sure to use for New Year’s Eve! Easy Clean Up!!

  8. Amanda says:

    Sarah, have a look at the current Donna Hay magazine – there are some fabulous Christmas recipes in there with a few twists. I only picked it up yesterday and I need to have a better read and consider my own options

    Also for a few years we did the USA Southern Deep Fried Turkey – sounds fatty, but we measure the oil level before we start cooking and there is always more fat and oil leftover than what we started with. Can’t stuff it so we inject marinade under the skin and it is flash fried, so it cooks very quickly and is ssssooooooo juicy and moist. Cottonseed oil is best but was hard to find in Australia and it’s expensive to buy oil in bulk (used to cost MORE than the turkey)…. but, thankfully CostCo have opened and it is in bulk and cheap (relatively speaking but not as cheap as the USA)…

    In fact thinking about it, I might do it this year – it is perfect for Australian Christmas as it’s done outside so the house stays cooler by not having the oven on all day!

    • sarah says:

      hmmm thanks Amanda I like the sound of that…and I MUST get to Costco

      I should definitely buy the Donna Hay mag this year! xo

  9. Sandi Parker says:

    I would like to join the Saturday club, thank you!

  10. Kate says:

    Love reading your site everyday, its just so pretty and white :)

  11. Eileen @ CBH says:

    Yum, now I am really thinking about Christmas dinner. Snack on wine and crackers and different cheeses, and some tangerine slices. I
    always cook a nice big turkey and a ham for Christmas dinner. I never stress about cooking it just sometimes about food shopping for it. I HATE food shopping. My kids like a bunch of different vegetable casseroles so it’s a lot of different dishes but they are all really very simple to make. the creamed cauliflower is the easiest and the best.
    Have a happy Holiday! I really want to see those shoes. I love shoes. It’s one of my downfalls. :)

  12. michele in texas says:

    Wow – I’ll never look at the cheese tray quite the same again! Who knew…from small-town backwards Texas, we always just threw cheese on a tray with saltines, sardines, and Nemecek Czech sausages! Even though my ancestors came from Isle of Wight, knowledge of Quince paste didn’t pass down the genetic bloodline….? I’ll google it. OH….I’m becoming so refined and worldly following your blogs Sarah! :D

  13. Kat says:

    Mm, love the look of that cheese plate.
    Style and simplicity yet again Miss Sarah. Something you do so so well.b :)
    Love blue cheese and I must investigate the quince paste further. I have only tried it once, but forget to buy it myself.

  14. Alice says:

    Woohooo Christmas hosting is over for me for the year! I like buying the turkey drumsticks (1 whole turkey would last us over a week so it would be a waste) . I cut gashes to the bone and rub them with paprika and lots of garlic salt and olive oil all over. Then bake/steam in the oven for about an hour. Then squirt lemon/lime as soon as out of the oven let is sit for 5 minutes then tuck in with a side of baked potato wedges and a yummy garden salad…. That is how I cook my turkey any time of the year… Sarah I will be taking your panotone (? I know I haven’t spelled it right) creation to my hubbys boss christmas lunch… Thank you once again…Enjoy KL I have only ever heard good things baout the place :). Partayyyyyy!!!!Woo hoooo….

    • sarah says:

      Hi Alice…good luck with the Panettone, I hope they like it!!! errrm don’t think they could not like it…just be careful transporting it x

  15. HRH Sarah says:

    Loving that “cheese plate”! Where I’m from, cheese and crackers are a must for greeting guests. As are olives and pickles of some sort (preferably home-made okra pickles, but not always available). Thanks for keeping it real with stress reducing posts- I love all the eye candy this time of year, but it sure can cause an inferiority complex ;)
    Your home looks so comfy and inviting even when dressing up for the holidays. And the reminder that yes, there will be soccer cleats and children lolling in your serene white spaces, is refreshing too.

  16. Cheese platters are always our appetizers before a big get together here in VA ( USA.) Pickles and olives are also added. Lovin’ the paper Sarah you never cease to amaze me. You give me so… many fresh ideas. Thanks! Can’t wait to see your party shoes!

  17. Shelby says:

    Everyone loves what you guys are up too. This sort of clever work and coverage! Keep up the terrific works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my own blogroll.

  18. Jane says:

    Let’s see those party shoes already! BTW, I made your layered salad tonight. Very good. I think I’ll make it again tomorrow for Christmas dinner at my in-laws. (sorry, too lazy to go to that post to comment) Love your style, I’m going back & forth & all around.