How To Host A Great Christmas For a Large Group

Last year Mark and I offered to host Christmas Day at our house for the family. We don’t like to leave anybody out, so by the time we had invited both sets of parents, all of our siblings, their partners and children, plus my Grandma and Auntie, there were 26 people on the guest list. (Yes you read that right – 26!) I had never hosted Christmas for a large group before and to say I was little worried about it would be an understatement!

I realised early in December that I was going to have to be organised. Not only did we have a large number of guests, we also had multi-generations, with ages ranging from 11 months – 89 years. It was really important to me that everybody felt at home and had a good time. So I started planning the day to make sure I didn’t forget anything or anyone.

The biggest hurdle we faced was how to seat everybody. Funnily enough we don’t have a dining table big enough for 26! In the end we borrowed long trestle tables, and enough chairs, from a local sports club that didn’t need them over the Christmas break.

Christmas Dinner was my next worry. Would we have enough food for everybody, and how was I going to time everything? I shouldn’t have worried. It all went really smoothly and there was plenty to go round. Plus I didn’t overcook the turkeys (something I had been secretly stressing about!)

The whole day was brilliant. We laughed, ate, drank, played games and of course opened a ton of presents. Hosting a large group for Christmas is great fun and I want to share some tips with you so that hopefully you can have a great Christmas too.

 

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Tips For Hosting A Large Group At Christmas

Be Prepared

My biggest piece of advice is for you to get as many things done before Christmas Day as you can. Before we went to bed on Christmas Eve we made sure we had done as much preparation as possible.

This included:

  • Setting the table
  • Preparing all of the vegetables
  • Putting the wine into the fridge to chill
  • Blowing up airbeds for guests staying the following night
  • Giving the house a quick spruce round with the duster and vacuum
  • Putting recycling sacks out ready for all of the wrapping paper

 

Saucepans on a hob with various vegetables

 

Give People Tasks

As much as you will want to do it all yourself, you can’t. Focus on the one thing you know that you can do really well and ask others to help with the rest. We gave some of our guests tasks for the day (with their permission of course) such as:

  • One person was in charge of pouring the welcome drinks
  • Another sorted the music (Christmas songs!)
  • Somebody took photos
  • The older kids were asked to watch the little ones
  • Two people brought the games that we would play in the evening

 

Mark and I concentrated on the cooking, keeping everyone’s drinks topped up throughout the day and dealing with anything else that arose.

 



It’s All In The Timing

We asked our guests to arrive at 1pm, with starters to be served at 1.30pm.

A few days before Christmas I sat down and worked out how long the turkeys would take to cook (we had two as there were so many of us). Once I knew what time they would be cooked, I worked back to work out the timings for all the other parts of the meal and what time the ovens should be switched on. (I must point out that I have the major advantage of having four ovens, so I had some breathing space in my timings).

I was fairly sure that dinner would take about an hour to an hour and a half to serve and eat. Which meant that I would need to start preparing tea at about 6pm. This would give us plenty of time for present opening and for the kids to play with their new toys.

The timings worked really well. By the time our guests started to arrive the starters were almost ready and the main course wasn’t far behind. The day flowed well and nothing felt rushed.

 

 

Add Some Personal Touches

I wanted to add some personal touches to the day, but having such a large group at Christmas I wasn’t sure how to do it. In the end I glittered the stems of wine glasses for each of the girls and added a little jar of prosecco bubbles. For all the men I made little sleighs out of chocolate bars and candy canes. Lastly, I gave each of the little kids a stocking filled with things to keep them entertained while we ate.

If you want to add some personal touches these would be my top tips:

  • Start early – the earlier in the month the better
  • Don’t be too ambitious
  • Keep it as low cost as you can

 

Long dinner table set for Christmas for a large group, with red placemats and crackers.

 

Ask For Help

This is my biggest tip of all. Don’t kill yourself trying to do everything!! Just like above where we gave people tasks, we also asked for help with the day.

We knew that we couldn’t do it all, nor could we afford to provide everything so we asked for some help.

On Christmas Eve we had a kitchen full of family, all helping to prep the veggies for Christmas Dinner. The kids put the Christmas songs on, we opened a bottle of wine and peeled and chopped as if our lives depended on it!

We also asked our guests to bring a bottle of wine/some beers. Although we were happy to provide all of the food, we knew that hosting Christmas for a large group would be expensive and that we couldn’t afford to buy all the drink too. Everybody was happy to do this and they were so generous.

Do Not Get Into Debt!!!! If you are hosting Christmas for a large group but you’re worried about the costs involved then speak up and tell your guests. Nobody will think badly of you and nobody will want you to get into debt. If you can’t afford everything then ask people to contribute. You could ask people to bring items for either the main Christmas Dinner or the buffet tea. I promise you that your guests will not mind helping you out.

 

A Few Other Tips

  • Have somewhere quiet for older generations to sit if they are finding the noise levels too much
  • Make a bedroom available for young children to be able to nap
  • Film the day if you can – we put a GoPro up in the corner of the room and videoed Christmas Dinner. It was fun to watch back as we missed so much while we were cooking
  • If you need to make beds up for guests, do it first thing in the morning so you don’t have to do it when you’re exhausted
  • Stand back and watch for a few minutes. I stopped several times during the day and just ‘people watched’ and it made me so happy to see everyone having fun

 

One Final Thought

Don’t try to be perfect. There is no such thing and you will never achieve it.

I hope you have a great time hosting Christmas for a large group!

 

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