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I don't know about you, but when it comes to Christmas I like to have everything organised as early as possible. As well as the day itself, what I love most about Christmas is that you are surrounded by some of the best people in your life, which always makes it such a special occasion. With the big day only two months away, I've already started thinking about my menu, table decorations, serve-ware and drinks trolley. Here are a few easy ideas for the ultimate Christmas menu…

For me, food should be quick, easy and look great. The last thing I want, especially on Christmas day, is to be stuck in the kitchen behind the stove. A few rules I stick to which means I can also host, and more importantly drink with my guests are: keep it simple, keep it fool proof and keep it seasonal.


Christmas lends itself perfectly to sharing dishes; it’s all about getting people round the table and there's nothing more inviting than a delicious, seasonal sharing salad. I’ll stick to classic ingredients and give them a twist; this year I’ll be making a warm brussel sprout salad with cranberries, alongside a roasted squash, cabbage and bacon dish and to complete the trio - a beetroot and goat’s curd salad.

Canapés are a great way to get creative in the kitchen – served alongside a chilled glass of fizz and your party is on to a winner. A trusty go-to I find myself making time and time again is a classic smoked mackerel pate, it’s so simple but crazily moreish. Pile it high on mini-toasts and serve on a gorgeous platter with lemon wedges for extra zing. Delicious! Another of my favourites is honey’d goats cheese – it’s such a winner. Mix with a dash of honey and double cream with crumbled goats’ cheese (blitz if easier) and serve with toasted hazelnuts on a crisp-bread.

I don’t think you can ever go wrong with a traditional cheeseboard. Fill it with a good slab of mature cheddar, a gooey brie, a strong blue stilton and finish it off with a hard goats cheese - make sure you’re stocked with a variety of crackers or a fruit / nut bread, such as walnut sourdough.

No Christmas is complete without a good stiff drink and there are some deliciously festive cocktails you can serve your guests – why not try something a little different with my spiced eggnog recipe?

Spiced Cardamom Eggnog

Ingredients
700ml whole milk
200ml double cream
2 cinnamon sticks
5 cardamom pods
1 vanilla bean pod, split and seeds removed
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
6 organic eggs, yolks and whites separated
150g cup golden sugar
100ml Dark Bourbon

Garnish 
Nothing beats a combo of pistachio, hazelnut and almonds - all you need is a handful topped off with a dusting of ground cinnamon.

Method
1. In a saucepan bring the milk, cream, vanilla, nutmeg and cardamom to the boil over a medium heat.
2. Once boiling take off the heat.
3. Whisk the eggs and sugar until thick.
4. Gently pour in the milk and whisk until combined.
5. Add in the bourbon; this will keep in the fridge for 3 days.
6. Before serving, beat the egg whites in a bowl until soft peaks form.
7. Gently fold into the eggnog mixture.
8. Garnish and serve in some beautiful glasses

- Written by Founder of Social Pantry, Alex Head

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