How to host a Christmas party 101

The mince pies are cooling, the roast is in the oven, the ham is sliced and the seafood entree is 'mis en place' to go on the BBQ. The guests are arriving in 40 minutes and... you've forgotten the mint sauce.

We've all been there: hosting. Friends and family are just minutes from our doorsteps and we suddenly realise we've forgotten something crucial. What do you do?

We want to help you prevent that little catastrophe, whether it's mint sauce for the roast lamb, toys for the baby or Champagne to suit your mother-in-law. Read on for our hosting Christmas checklist, designed to make sure the day feels merry and bright for your guests – and you.

Food

We couldn't possibly list every single item you may need from the supermarket, but providing there's nibbles to start, a substantial main, desserts and cheese, you can't go too wrong. Don't overlook the finer details, like if there are children around the table (hold the caviar?), or seasonal condiments. And if you're only going to bring those key condiments out once a year, assign different friends to the main players that only get a round in on Christmas lunch.

Hand-in-hand with your food shop should be a quick check of any food allergies. Is anyone gluten intolerant, vegan, vego, or just can't have onions? Suss this out before your big grocery shop and it might be a simple case of checking the back label of the gravy to find one everyone can enjoy. There will be plenty of vegetarian and vegan alternatives, which a brief search online should point you in the right direction to ensure everyone's covered. There's nothing worse than slicing up the fresh honey leg ham and pulling the roast lamb out of the oven to then realise half your attendees have given up eating meat.

Drinks

The fun part. Or is it? Surely you can grab some Champagne or sparkling wine, some red wine for later, get some beers for the guys, grab some gin for something different, plus tonic for mixing and limes for flavour, and Gary loves some whisky after dinner too, plus some port would be nice with the cheese, and - this has now become quite an exhaustive drinks menu!

If you don't have all the extras, you can ask your guests to bring a bottle each. They can pick exactly what will suit their tastes, you can tick something off your hosting list – a win-win.

Entertaining

Everyone's pretty stoked that it's Christmas, so getting friends or family together and enjoying themselves over a big meal is usually enough to keep people entertained.

It's always good to have something up your sleeve though, especially for little ones. It's not a bad idea to have a dedicated area for kids, such as toys and game options for younger children, a Christmas movie on standby ready to roll, or a quiet area for newborn babies. Older children may want to entertain themselves in the backyard with sports or other games. It's even worth reaching out to your friends who are bringing their children to also bring along their favourite game or a football/cricket bat/movie - saves you guessing!

With these bits of clever delegation and planning, hosting Christmas lunch might even start to feel like fun. Maybe you can volunteer for next year, too?