How to host Christmas lunch the South African way

The festive season is upon us and if you're determined to host Christmas lunch the South African way, you'll need to be prepared accordingly. Here are some tips to help you:

If movies are anything to go by, Christmas usually goes something like this: children hop out of bed to open the gifts waiting for them under the Christmas tree.

This followed by a bit of fun in the snow before everyone gathers around the table for Christmas lunch.

The centrepiece is usually stuffed turkey with roasted root vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy as the side.

But that’s just a template for an American Christmas lunch. Things are a bit different in South Africa. For one thing, the weather’s a lot warmer, so no one expects any snow or rain. And you’re more likely to have something like ice cream cake than a piping hot steamed pudding.

If you’re determined to host Christmas lunch the South African way, you’ll need to be prepared accordingly. Here’s how to do that:

Make Sure There’s a Braai Stand

Braaing is a national pastime in South Africa. Every celebration warrants a braai, and Christmas is no different.

Instead of spending hours trying to cook a turkey to perfection, stock up on wood or coal, matches, briquettes and the best meat cuts to braai. For the tastiest fare, marinate your meat overnight.

Take it Outdoors

There’s a reason Christmas lunch is enjoyed indoors by people who live north of the equator: the weather. No one would dream of hosting an outdoor lunch in sub-zero temperatures with snow up to their ankles.

Fortunately for South Africans, the sun comes out in all its glory at the end of the year. So it only makes sense to host your lunch outdoors. Just make sure there are enough garden umbrellas to provide shade for everyone when the temperature peaks after midday.

Keep it Cool

Garden umbrellas aren’t the only way to keep cool. Make sure your fridge and cooler box are packed with ice-cold refreshments. You could also turn down the temperature by serving the right dessert. Ice cream cake, semifreddo and sorbet are just a few of the options at your disposal. Besides cooling your guests down a bit, these desserts will offer a welcome break from the trifle and malva pudding they’re used to having on Christmas.

Get Your Guests Involved

If you’ve ever been to a braai, you know that it’s a team effort, and Christmas should be no different. One or two friends could keep an eye on the braai grill while the other guests help prepare the side dishes.

Alternatively, you could host a ‘bring and braai’, which means all you have to provide is the fire and let everyone else bring their own meat to grill.

Clear the Fridge

 All that food you cook isn’t going to be eaten on Christmas. You’ll probably have enough leftovers to last you for days, so make sure there’s enough space in your fridge to keep everything. And if you’re not a fan of keeping leftovers, share a plate or two with your neighbours.

There’s no reason for you not to have the perfect South African Christmas lunch. A bit of preparation and a lot of food is all you really need to make Christmas a day to remember

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