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How to keep your calm, yet cook up a storm and charm all your guests this holiday season

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

How to keep your calm, yet cook up a storm and charm all your guests this holiday season

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Entertaining is big on everyone’s agenda this month. Frazzled nerves are a given, but a bit of planning can help ease the pressure, says TV presenter and chef Angela May.

To foodies and gourmands, Angela would be a familiar face. She is one of the chef-presenters of television series Planet Food, through whose eyes they have been vicariously enjoying cuisine from many parts of the world. When she is not busy hosting food programmes and working with prestigious chef championship Bocuse d’Or, Angela is planning for the next new surprise on the menu for her own restaurant Ange Cafe (part of the DHM restaurant group). So she understands the stress of catering to a captive (read: Party-ready) audience. Here are her golden rules for hassle-free parties.


Confirm guest list. Check. Send invitations. Check. Now the main part: Food. Remember: The key to a great party is first and foremost a relaxed host. So plan the menu wisely with an equal balance of dishes that can be made ahead of time; cooked in a jiffy; and are easy to assemble on party day. Having dishes that can be made ahead of time is key, Angela insists. “This way, they can sit at room temperature before the party and you have more time to spend with your guests instead of in the kitchen.”


Prioritise based on items that need marinating, freezing or thawing, and chilling. When it comes to wine, think more is more – the general rule is three bottles to every four guests. And chill them to the right temperature before guests arrive, says Angela. She also suggests tagging the bottles your guests bring – write their name and the occasion they brought it over for, so if it gets unopened that night, you can remember to open it together with them the next time.

ONE DAY BEFORE: Take stock

Prep, cook, freeze, even start decorating. Think aroma candles, to set the tone of warmth as people walk through the door, says Angela. Also, take your party outfit for a test run to “make sure you’re 100 per cent comfortable in it”.

D DAY: Set the stage

There’s sure to be a flurry of activity, but amidst the excitement, remember your flowers – and always buy fresh flowers. Angela says to also keep some extra vases handy in case guests bring flowers, so you are not scrambling around at the last minute.


Why not take some load off this Christmas and cater in? With Deliciae Gourmet Catering, you can ground all your cuisine choices to one spot – from classic French cuisine to gourmet Italian, Spanish tapas and modern health-friendly – and even sink your teeth into some traditional fare as well. They are all housed in Glasshouse by DHM (#01- 40/#02-02/03, Robinsons The Heeren – Orchard), so you can hop over after your next facial appointment in town and place your order.

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Spiced Apple Cider & Cranberry Eclairs / Holiday Mint Chocolate Eclairs, $6, from Ange Cafe.

Mint Chocolate Profiteroles with Peppermint Kisses, $15, from L’Entrecôte.

Winter Wonderland Gingerbread Cake with cream cheese frosting (pictured above), $14 (slice); $128 (whole cake), from &Made.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Spice churros, $12, from Sabio.

Visit; promotional prices on till December 30, 2018.