Hosting Christmas day with an outdoor fireplace
Christmas in New Zealand is pretty awesome. When other countries are struggling with snow and freezing temperatures we're playing backyard cricket and grilling meat with a cold beer in hand. Just as our friends in the Northern Hemisphere are defrosting their fingers in front of the fire to restore some feeling we're getting the fireplace crackling to enjoy the balmy summer evening with friends.
As fun as Christmas can be, and the holiday seasons in general there are a few challenges that only present themselves at this special time. In this post we'll deliver a few helpful hints as to how we can minimise the pressure the holidays can bring.
If you're lucky enough to have a sprawling country mansion then this may not be a massive issue for you, but for most of us the sudden doubling, or tripling of bodies in a household can make you realise how small your living spaces suddenly are.
Creating social zones in your home during a gathering is a nifty way of increasing the useable space without your guests feeling like they're missing out. It's common for the kitchen to become the food station, with guests drifting in and out as their appetites demand but mimicking this is a tactic some nightclubs use to alleviate space pressures.
Throwing the TV in the living room on to a music channel can encourage those seeking a more lively atmosphere to gravitate there. Likewise throwing some bean bags on the deck, firing up the outdoor fireplace and putting a wireless speaker onto a more chilled soundtrack can encourage those looking to relax outside. This tactic can effectively double your useable entertaining space, without guests feeling like they're missing out.
Cooking at Christmas, or at any social gathering, can put a strain on your resources. When your oven, hobs and BBQ are all at full tilt to cater for dozens of hungry mouths it can often seem like you need a commercial kitchen just to keep up.
The Trendz outdoor fireplace range can be upgraded to include a stainless steel swinging cooking grill. Whether you're using it to prepare tasty appetisers or assist with the heavy lifting of the main meal you're bound to find a guest that will be happy to ensure the food is grilled to perfection.
Helpful hint - haloumi, capsicum and mushroom kebabs are a great open fire stomach filler and you can add some chicken to appease the carnivores. Because all have a very similar cooking point they require very little maintenance, perfect if you're entertaining at the same time.
After an energetic day of outdoor cricket, river swims and chasing the dog around it can be challenging to get the kids to unwind with all the excitement the holidays can bring. As the sun sets get the little ones into the pyjamas and have them roasting marshmallows over the open fire, not only does this set the tone for taking things down a notch but sitting by the fire has been scientifically proven to help you relax.
Not only does the primitive part of our brain associate fire with safety but the warmth helps lower blood pressure and watching the flames dance has a hypnotic effect on the mind.
Needless to say once the kids have gone to bed it becomes the parent's turn to settle before the crackling wood with a glass of beer or wine, a reward for a job well done.
Getting everyone around the fire can be a chance to catch up on the year's events. Valuable if you don't get to spend as much time with friends or family as you would like.