It’s not often mentioned but it is remarkable how similar Easter is to Christmas. The pressure on the host is equal to the pressure of Christmas day; feeding 20 people with different food intolerances and likes and dislikes, providing the perfect egg, making your dining room look like something from Ideal Home. Here at Pf Magazine, we have the definitive guide to making it look like you’ve got this licked.
Put something pretty in the middle of the table, it should ideally be Easter themed but do try to steer clear of sacrificial effigies, it puts people off their roast. We suggest some pretty flowers from your garden or a toy bunny holding a carrot. Don’t use table runners as you will have to wash and iron them, seriously, who has time?
Make sure everything matches. If you don’t have enough matching plates go and buy more. If Denby has stopped making the ones you already have, throw them all away and buy a whole new set. Everybody knows a 16-piece set of crockery isn’t enough, they should be banned and replaced with only 144-piece sets to make those 2 meals a year easier.
Cater for everybody. There will be a newly vegetarian cousin, there will be at least 2 coeliacs, and probably 1 person who is experimenting with a macrobiotic diet. Not to mention your elderly Uncle who won’t eat anything ‘new-fangled’. This will mean at least 4 different types of gravy; gluten-free but meat-based, gluten-free vegetarian, normal meat based and normal vegetarian. Don’t try and cheat and just make the gluten-free vegetarian gravy for everyone, they’ll know and complain about it for the next year, or at least until Christmas.
Get a tree. This is a relatively new Easter thing but it shows you are making more effort than everyone else. You just need some twigs, lights, a lot of felt because Easter just isn’t tinselly yet, some bunnies and some lambs. Hang the bunnies and lambs on the twigs, adorn with felt garlands that sit stiffly as if they’re mocking your attempt at gaiety and bung the lights on. If you’re really crafty you could pick some more flowers from your garden and dangle them on the tree, but only do this at the last minute as you don’t want dead flowers ruining the look. Hey presto, a beautiful centrepiece for your home.
Buy everybody an age-appropriate egg. I won’t mention any names but I’ve heard of a 5-year-old being given a Lindt ball egg, this is just wasteful and pointless. As a rough guide you should buy an egg the size of the recipient’s fist and on no account should you ever buy one of the big 3 chocolate bar eggs (Mars, Snickers, Twix) because it’s just disappointing. Also, don’t forget to buy yourself an egg because none of your inconsiderate guests will bring you one, assuming you’re too old or well-heeled to gorge on sub-par chocolate.
Get your seating plan right. There’s no point having all the talkers at one end. Grandparents should always be seated with the youngest children as they both communicate in utterly befuddling ways to any normal human being, but somehow manage to understand each other. Anyone who is hard of hearing needs to be put as close to the speaker as possible, preferably playing appropriate classical music, so nobody has to talk to them. Those with disgusting eating habits should all be put together so that those who suffer from Misophonia (one who cannot abide the sound of chewing, whistling and high-pitched noises) don’t murder anyone during dessert.
Lastly, you have to spend an utter fortune on food. You must cook for at least eight hours and you must present the food like Jamie Oliver would, somewhere between rustic and ridiculous, the more absurd your serving dishes the better. If you have an old ukulele hanging around it’s ideal for serving crudité and dips, an upturned policeman’s helmet from the dressing-up box is perfect for roast potatoes and all 4 gravies should be served in different watering cans. If you do have Misophonia sufferers at your table it’s imperative to give them a roof tile to eat from instead of a plate, even if you have bought all new matching Denby ones.
Of course, the most important thing is the people you are with at this time of year, so do be careful who you invite, and remember it’s all just a bit of fun!
Shona Moss for Pf Magazine