I love gathering friends and family to talk and laugh over delicious food and drinks.
When it's a get-together to mark a celebration such as Christmas or someone's birthday I try to add some personal touches to make the day even more memorable for my guests.
I like to set the scene by presenting guests with proper invitations, menus and place cards – it really marks out the occasion as a special one. If you loved the Long Lunch menu in my new summer annual A Free Range Life: Celebrate Summer! and would like to host your own just click on the images below to download invitations, menus and name cards to print out at home. You'll also find the shopping list for this menu here.
I'll also often make some homemade decorations to give my table setting a personal touch. For the long lunch in my new annual we made Christmas crackers and some fun painted cutlery – if you want to try making your own too see the instructions below.
How to make Christmas crackers
The great thing about these is you can customise the patterns and colours to suit your theme, plus pick special treats for the inside depending on your occasion.
- Thick coloured paper
- Paint to decorate
- Cracker snaps
- Toilet roll tubes
- Tiny toys, sweets, prizes, your own silly jokes, phrases, confetti
1. Cut paper into pieces the same length as the cracker snap and wide enough to wrap around the toilet roll tubes a couple of times – A4 size is about right.
2. Paint and decorate sheets of paper to match your colour scheme – have fun with it! Set aside to dry.
3. Place a cracker snap inside a toilet roll tube and fasten it with dab of glue. Glue the toilet roll tube to the centre of one long edge of the unpainted side of the paper.
4. Roll the paper around the toilet roll, keeping it tight and securing it with another dab of glue.
5. Twist one end of the paper and tie a piece of ribbon around the twist to secure, then fill the toilet roll with your little gifts and treats.
6. Repeat the twist and ribbon tie on other end.
7. Add any final decorative touches then enjoy with friends and family around the table!
How to make painted cutlery
This is a fun way to jazz up some cheap cutlery from your favourite op shop – the more mismatched the better! Just keep in mind that if you put these in the dishwasher or wash them vigorously the paint may start to chip off.
- Mismatched cutlery
- Painter's tape
- Enamel spray – check that it is suitable for metals (you could also use enamel in a tin)
- Newsprint or paper
1. Thoroughly clean and dry your cutlery.
2. Cover the top end of the cutlery with painter's tape, leaving generous amounts of the handle uncovered. The parts you leave uncovered will be the parts that are painted.
3. Set the cutlery out on a large sheet of newsprint or paper and gently spray one handle at a time.
This is easiest if you pick it up in your hand and turn.
4. Leave to dry. You could use a rack or stand them up in any way that allows air to flow around the cutlery – we stuck ours into the garden!
5. Once fully dry, check to see there are no gaps and spray another coat if the paint looks too thin. Unwrap the painter's tape and enjoy your cool new cutlery!