Preparing a top notch Christmas party can seem like a daunting task. From splashing your cash to battling through the supermarket crowds, not to mention getting the house ship shape for your discerning guests… oh, and those extra few kilos you’re sure to inherit. However, if you dream of epitomising the cool, calm and cost efficient host this silly season, Anthony Sullivan, Executive Chef at award-winning Sydney catering company Forte Catering & Events shares his top tips to put you on the right track.

1. Plan while you can

When it comes to hosting the perfect Christmas shindig, it’s essential to start planning your delectable menu now. Save time by securing the guest list and confirm dietary requirements upfront. Create a checklist and map out your deadlines with set completion times so there are no nasty last minute surprises!

2. Get a head start

Rather than whizzing around the kitchen like a headless turkey on the morning of your event, save your sanity by selecting dishes that can be prepared in advance. A few of Anthony’s favourites include ocean trout gravlax, which makes a delicious summer entrée and for dessert, a pannacotta or a trifle is a fantastic option that can be made the night before.

3. Stick with what’s in season

Good quality produce is key when whipping up tasty treats for your family and friends. And it costs less to buy what’s in season. Opting for ingredients that are in season will contribute to high quality dishes that will delight the pallet and your purse strings!

4. Make a move for the markets

To avoid the supermarket queues, why not take a trip to your local farmer’s markets? You’ll find an abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and flowers at bargain prices, and you won’t have to deal with long queues!

5. Deck the halls!

What better time to get festive with your decor than Christmas? Save yourself some cash and opt for inexpensive garnishes to dress up your platters. Anthony suggests tying fresh sprigs of rosemary and thyme to the handle of your chopping board to be used as a serving platter for bread rolls and butter.

6. Be kind to your waistline

Avoid the obligatory January detox by opting for low-fat alternatives where possible. Use condiments such as yoghurt honey dressing instead of sour cream or mayonnaise and steer clear of fatty desserts in favour of fresh fruit dishes using seasonal fruits and berries such as mangoes, cherries, nectarines and plums. Lightly caramelised mango pieces with strawberry and mint salad makes for a delicious dessert minus the guilt!

7. Go easy on the grog!

It may be the season to be jolly but research has shown that consuming alcohol can reduce your fat metabolism by up to 30%. For guests that want to steer clear of a boozy afternoon and the weight gain that goes with it, provide fresh fruit punch with mint and pineapple as a refreshing and healthy non-alcoholic alternative on a hot summer’s day.

8. Time is of the essence

Make the most of your precious pre-party time and complete as many tasks as possible during the days before your party. Setting the table the day before can save you much needed time and unnecessary stress.

9. Share the load

Keep stress to a minimum by taking on a few happy helpers to share your work load. Your family and friends will be so amazed by your new skills that they won’t mind rolling up their sleeves to create a delicious fruit punch or side salad while you whip up a top notch feast.

10. If you can’t stand the heat…

Bring in a Gold Licensed caterer! If you are entertaining a large group of friends or feeling stressed then maybe it’s time to bring in the professionals. Companies such as Forte Catering & Events are on hand to satisfy your needs, leaving you with nothing left to do but have a merry Christmas.

What are you planning for your Christmas party this year?