Tips for an outdoor Christmas – South African style

It’s that time of the year again, so it might be a good idea to start planning for Christmas. South Africans like to celebrate Christmas with our (very extended) families. If you are hosting a Christmas lunch or dinner, it’s a great idea to have it in your garden. You’ll have more space for everyone to enjoy themselves and it will leave your home tidier.

We have put together some tips to help you plan an unforgettably festive outdoor Christmas with a South African twist.

Firstly, make sure your garden is tidy and well prepared. This will be the backdrop to your event, so you’ll need to make sure that it is weed free, mow your lawn short and trim the edges. If you need to get some colour, seedlings are a fantastic way to create a colourful backdrop. Decorate your garden with some festive baubles, and if your Christmas festivities are in the evening, add some fairy lights to bring a magical feel to your garden.

Shade is very important. In our very hot climate your guests are soon going to look like a couple of lobsters if you do not provide a shady place for them to enjoy their Christmas meal. If you have a couple of large trees, it will be the perfect place to set your table. Just keep in mind the movement of the sun so that you can plan your shading properly. Otherwise you can set up a gazebo or two. No need for side walls, it usually just traps the heat.

Weather you have one large table or a few smaller tables, make sure that you set them beautifully. Fabulous Christmas table settings are absolutely essential to creating the right atmosphere. Christmas is such a special time, and sometimes the only time during the year that you can spend with the entire family. This is the time that memories are made of. Make sure it reflects the occasion. If you have a lot of kids in the family is a great idea to set a separate table for them. They usually love the idea of having their own table, and it gives the adults a chance to chat and relax.

Plan a separate bar area. It makes it easier if you have a designated area where everyone can fill up on drinks. It also saves you having to keep going around to fill glasses. Keep plenty of large ice buckets on hand to keep drinks cool. It is also a great idea to keep an ice bucket on each table with a bottle (or two) of wine, a bottle of fruit juice and a bottle of cooldrink.

Set up a buffet table on a covered patio or indoors. That way everyone can help themselves, and enjoy seconds (and thirds). It will also give you an opportunity to sit down and enjoy the day. What you serve is usually down to personal preference and family traditions, but if you would like a hot meal, a few bay marines are an easy way to keep food hot.

Get your playlist ready. You’ll have to plan for about four to five hours of music, and it does not have to be Christmas carols all the way. The best setup is four or more speakers, spread out, set at a lower volume. That way you don’t need to crank up the volume and deafen the person sitting closest to the speaker.

Entertain the kids. You can buy a few inexpensive disposable cameras and let the kids be the photographers. Or bring out the sparklers. It’s a fun way to keep them entertained until it’s time to open the gifts.