Christmas home entertaining, with guest blogger Bianca Hall

Our guest blogger Bianca Hall, creator of leading lifestyle blog French for Pineapple, shares her top tips with leading interiors PR agency Homestyle PR for giving your guests a visit to remember during the Christmas season…

Guest blogger Bianca Hall's guide to Christmas entertaining: cocktails and favourite tapered candles

I love entertaining at home. And I love entertaining at home even more during the festive season!

Christmas is a great time to see friends you fail to see when the daily grind is in full swing, but when you do get together, you always start where you left off. These are the real friends that you’ll have forever!

Whether it’s a small or large gathering, my entertaining must-haves remain pretty much the same but always involve drinks and treats with a twist and special touches to create the most welcoming atmosphere possible…

Membrillo (quince) paste, bell jar with copper lights and eucalyptus, and the Sonos One

Cocktails, cheese and music

How about an exciting cocktail to greet your guests? I’m yet to decide on this year’s recipe, but I do like the idea of a Christmas Sour. Think Gin, orange and lemon juice, a dash of Christmas cordial (flavoured with nutmeg and cinnamon), and an egg white, shaken with ice ‘til frothy, and strained into a champagne saucer like my favourites from LSA. Saucers are so much more glam than flutes, albeit much more prone to spillages. Top with a few drops of Angostura Bitters. Oh, and I guess I just made up my own Christmas cocktail!

A cheese board with a great selection of cheeses, crackers, Membrillo (quince) paste, grapes and juicy Queen green olives. Best served on a beautiful wooden board like these from my local cook shop Prep, or a marble one like this one from John Lewis.

Music. So some great wireless speakers are a must. I like the idea of the Sonos One, or the impressive R4 Ruark integrated music system. And remember to make your Christmas playlist in advance.

Copper fairy lights and tapered candles

Twinkle and scent

Fairy lights – the more the merrier! I really don’t think you can overdo it at Christmas. Battery powered copper wire ones are fantastic for popping under a cloche, into a bowl or a jar, in and around plants, around the bannister, and in the table nestled into the centrepiece if you’re sitting down to eat. As I said, you can never have too many, and they really do add so much to the atmosphere with their warm glow. I just ordered a selection of indoor and outdoor battery powered lights from lights4fun, as I intend to add some to the kitchen window box and trees too.

I’m extra careful with having candles around the house, but battery powered tea lights are fantastic for adding atmosphere as they flicker like the real thing. They’re brilliant because you can dot them up stairs, and leave several in tea-light holders throughout the house, giving guests a welcome glow, without having to worry about fire hazards. I get them from the local pound shop.

Of course a scented candle (or three), is a given too, but make sure it’s only in the room you’re in, and in a safe spot away from the kids. I’m a bit obsessed with tapered candles for the dinner table too. These from Ester and Erik come in the prettiest selection of colours. For scented candles my favourites are from Diptyque, specifically Baies . And I’m keen to try a Bella Freud one this year if you’re listening Santa!

Pink proteas and Christmas decorating with eucalyptus

Green and pleasant

Fresh greenery and flowers are a must, and you can’t beat over the top giant bunches of eucalyptus and lilies. Or my all time favourites, Pink Proteas. A trip to the flower market the Sunday before Christmas has become a tradition of mine, and you get so much more bang for your buck!

For the table itself, crumpled linen tablecloth and napkins make it special yet casual, and a mix and match selection of crockery and glassware does the same.

But the most important thing is to enjoy the company, and use the Christmas downtime to recharge and reinvigorate for an exciting new year ahead…

Happy Christmas!