Entertaining Extraordinaire Jessica Nguyen Shares Her Tips For Hosting Christmas

Jessica Nguyen on hosting Christmas

When you think of an Australian creator known for home entertaining, there’s a good chance Jessica Nguyen comes to mind. She has over 101k followers on Instagram, where she regularly shares the food she makes and tablescapes she lays out for her events.

She says one of her favourite types of entertainment is Christmas hosting. Since being in her new home, she’s hosted it twice for her family and held several ‘friends-mas’ and ‘gals-mas’ parties, too.

“Christmas or whatever holiday you’re celebrating this month is so special because while it’s so fun to get into the decorations, food and presents, it’s really about coming together with family and friends, taking a moment to be with each other and celebrate any old or new traditions you celebrate,” she says.

The other perk of hosting? You’ll get first dibs on all the leftovers, which Nguyen says she enjoys during the period between Christmas Day and New Year’s.

Ahead, Nguyen shares some tips for hosting Christmas. From deciding if you are, in fact, able to host, not being afraid to ask for help, to picking your décor based on your theme, this is all the advice Nguyen’s accumulated from over a decade of entertaining experience.

Be Okay With Hosting

Hosting is tiresome, and not everyone likes or wants to host Christmas — and that’s okay, says Nguyen. If that’s not your vibe, you might want to offer to help or pitch in for whoever is hosting instead.

“In our family, hosting on Christmas Day is something we rotate each year, and since I did it last year and just had a baby, I’m absolutely not doing it this year, which I’m very thankful for,” she says.

Set Up a Tree

Nguyen says no Christmas event is complete without a tree — or at least fairy lights. This year, she says she went with an artificial tree from Balsam Hill. “I wanted a tree that was easy to assemble and as life-like as possible,” she says.

“I went with the Monterey Pine Tree as it’s the closest looking one to the real trees you get in Australia, and I opted for one with lights. The lights come already strung around the branches, and there’s also a remote control so you can change the colour and dim the lights from wherever you are in the room.”

Add Christmas-y Décor to Your Home

It’s not just about the tree, says Nguyen. She advises you to decorate other areas in your home, like your entryways, hallways or fireplaces, which she usually does using wreaths and garlands.

“I’ve got a light-up wreath in my hallway and a garland on my fireplace,” she says.

Choose a Colour Scheme For the Table

For the table, Nguyen says to pick a Christmas colour scheme you want to go with and then carry that through all the elements of the table for the most impact.

“For example, I love red for Christmas, so this becomes the base of my tablescape, but I also weaved in some pink too as I love red and pink together as it’s an unlikely, but still festive colour scheme,” she says.

While Nguyen recommends you go all out on the Christmas table in terms of decorating, she says it still needs to be functional. Last year, she decorated her table with baubles and decorations hung above the table on a wisteria branch.

“It added so much interest without actually being on the table and taking up space,” she says. “Especially at Christmas, where the food is plentiful, the table space really should be for all the food and drink, so don’t overcrowd it with florals or too many things.”

She set her napkins and Christmas crackers, which had her guest names on them to double as place settings, onto the plates. She also had a separate table close by for chilled drinks so as to create as much space as possible on the table.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

If you have decided you have the capacity and interest in hosting Christmas, Nguyen says to make sure you lean on guests to help with certain aspects of it, so it doesn’t all just fall on you. You might want to outsource certain dishes or drinks to guests – get them to bring an appetiser, ask them to bring a dessert or have them bring a spirit or even just ice.

“Even someone like me who loves hosting — and is the closest thing to a pro at doing it if it was a competitive sport — still employs strategies to make sure I don’t get overwhelmed especially at Christmas,” she says.

Don’t Overwhelm Yourself

When it comes to hosting, be sure not to bite off more than you can chew, says Nguyen. Food-wise that means don’t be overambitious with your menu, and ideally stick to dishes and recipes you’ve made before and know you can nail or low-involved ones.

“When I plan a menu, I generally only challenge myself with one new or difficult dish that I haven’t done before,” she says. “For the rest of the menu, I fall back on recipes I’ve made multiple times that I know work or rely on easy recipes I can whip up with my eyes closed.”

For instance, she says, you might want to order fresh seafood from your local fishmonger, so all you need to do is arrange it on the day and prepare some sauces.

Prepare Everything You Can in Advance

Whatever you can prepare in advance, do so, says Nguyen. Elements of the table and décor can be done over the days leading up to the event. For the food, Nguyen says you might want to purposefully pick recipes you can ideally prep most of its components a day or so in advance so that on the day, you simply need to throw it together.

“I always set my Christmas table the day before, so it’s one less thing I have to think about come Christmas Day,” Nguyen says.

“I even plan and set down all the serving platters for each dish onto the table to make sure everything fits and is accounted for. There is so much happening on Christmas Day, so I like to get as much done as possible before so I can actually soak up and enjoy the day.”

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