Make a guest list – and check it twice. That way you can plan your menu and seating strategy for maximum interaction. A good tip is to seat vegetarians and guests with similar dietary requirements together so you can still serve food on big share platters down the middle of the table.
Count your crockery, cutlery and glasses now so you don't get caught short. Ensure, too, that you have enough chairs and table space, but don’t worry about getting it perfect: mismatched chairs have a knockabout charm that suits the season. Need to bring in a trestle or outdoor table to cope with numbers? Then invest in a lovely tablecloth.
Declutter the kitchen. Clear out the fridge, freezer and pantry to make way for supplies and stock up on stackable storage containers for leftovers. Professional organiser Tanya Lea of Declutter Home suggests doing a pre-season cull of any out-of-date food, and grouping together similar items in large containers or on trays. “This makes for easy access and creates more shelf space,” she says.
Since you’re heading to the post office anyway, print address envelopes in duplicates – one set for Christmas cards, one for invitations and another for thank you notes. The time saved can then be used to craft fabric, foliage, buttons and pretty bits of paper into handmade cards.