Nectar gave me £120 of points (that’s 24,000 points) to throw my dream Christmas dinner party. It had to be fun, it had to luxurious and it had to be extravagant. Nailed it, nailed it, nailed it, if I do say so myself.
This is going to be a long post. We need to talk about how I planned my menu, how I put together the dinner table, how many times I shovelled buttercream into my mouth while crying stress tears.. just grab a mug of mulled wine and settle in..
I totally leaned on Pinterest to plan “the look” for this night. I gave the dinner party its very own Pinterest board, to keep track of recipes and to mood board stuff out a little, just utilising social media platforms like the savvy millennial I am. I started by cruising through place card ideas and cute tea light holder things, then dove deep into the rabbit hole of Christmas crafting, I was lost for quite some time.
In the end, I ignored almost all crafty aspects – bar drying out some oranges and sticking doilies to jam jars (tea light holdie thingies) – and just went to absolute town in the Sainsbury’s Christmas aisle.
I completely fell in love with the “JOY” sign, I thought the lightbulb studded letters were reminiscent of those classic dressing room mirrors, giving the end of the table a sprinkle of glamour. I took it in a slightly tackier direction with the giant glittery polar bear I placed next to it. I wanted a little bit of my family on this table, and I’m afraid we are not all glamour.
I went for teenie tiny classic crackers because 1) they’re way cheaper 2) they’re way prettier and 3) they were the gold-est. The Christmas pudding placecard holders weren’t the cheapest at £4, but I fell head over heels for them – aren’t they special?
The felt confetti brings all the elements of the table together pretty nicely I think, and makes it really feel like a party! The gold sequinned birds I clipped onto the edges of the fabric placemats were proper classy. Proper, proper classy.
Now for my menu. I agonised over planning the food, I wanted it to be completely perfect. I was going for posh, sophisticated and bloody delicious.
I started my search for inspiration by spying on the Christmas menus of the most expensive London hotels, and taking notes on the dishes and ingredients and themes that most appealed to me..
Many of the Christmas menus started with a glass of champagne. I totally wanted to bring the fizz to my table, but was I gonna fork out for champagne? No, not when there’s money to be spent on giant glittery polar bears, I absolutely was not.
Prosecco cocktails is how it’s done. A little cranberry juice, a little prosecco, and a few frozen cranberries to keep things chilled.
With cranberry juice costing about a quid, Prosecco on offer at Sainsbury’s for £6.75 and frozen cranberries being a few pence (for the amount I used) this was a brilliantly cheap way to start the evening with a pop.
Call me a total loser if you want, but I made special treats for Molly for this occasion so that she wasn’t left out of the party. I used this recipe and it was super easy! Flour, apple sauce, peanut butter, chicken stock. She wolfed a few down and then spent the evening doing her favourite thing (crying because nobody would let her eat all the cheese).
This was the starter, and my favourite course. Baked goats cheese (using this recipe with pecans in place of hazelnuts), shredded sprouts (I spent a million years chopping them) in a hot and sour dressing and some candied pecans.
Everybody absolutely loved this, I’m thinking about writing up the recipe and playing with it a little more, it’s certainly not the last time I cook this. The raw sprouts were amazing in contrast with the hot ooey gooey cheese and those sweet, crunchy pecans. Perfection.
The main course, sweet potato gnocchi with spinach, gorgonzola and a very cheesy sauce. I feel like sweet potato is festive, perhaps because of the colour.. and two different types of cheese on one plate totally says Christmas to me.
I’ll let you into a little secret: the gnocchi was not perfect. I put too much flour in, it was the first time I’d made it, and I didn’t 100% nail it. Everybody ate it though, and there were lots of “I am enjoying this food” noises, so I think I got away with it.
Time for crackers. Shit jokes read out, hats worn, everybody happy.
This dessert was, I think, the most difficult baking undertaking I’ve ever attempted. I’ve been tempted to have a crack at it ever since I saw the recipe posted by Bon Appetit, and I’m so glad I did because I learnt so much and it really does look impressive! (In my humble opinion..)
It doesn’t look quite like it does in the B.A. picture, but it took me 5 hours and a lot of effort, so I’m proud of it. Oh, I should also mention, it’s delicious.
The best bit of every meal ever. Cheese.
I made oatcakes using Rude Health’s sprouted porridge oats a couple of nights ago, and cut them out using “Ho Ho Ho” cookie cutters (Sainsbury’s, look in the baking aisle) and they looked so great on the table! I’m so pleased with them.
The cheese was cheap as chips and way better than I expected it to taste, it was £5 for all the cheese you see on that plate (Sainsbury’s cheese aisle, in a little cardboard box).
I ended the meal by giving my Nan & Grandad a small token of appreciation for letting me take over their kitchen for the day..
Overall, I think I met the brief of extravagant, but you tell me! Let me know in the comments what you think of my dinner party spread..
Nectar provided me with the budget for this dinner party.