The shortest day with the least sunlight generally occurs around June 22 in Australia, right in the middle of our winter when most of us are looking for excuses to stay indoors. Here are our tips for a perfectly-themed, cosy home gathering.
Warm them up
It might not be snowing, but if your guests are arriving any time after 4pm in winter – it’s cold outside! Warm them up with a hot drink upon arrival; mulled wine goes down a treat (you can make this yourself with red wine, spices and honey), or try a spiced hot lemon drink. These look impressive and are easy to create; simply bring a litre of hot water to the boil in a large saucepan with spices like cardamom pods, a cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise and a whole, squeezed lemon. Stir through plenty of honey and serve in glass or crystal.
Soup for everyone
Most people love a good bowl of soup, which is great news because they’re simple to make, cheap, and can feed a mass! Spiced pumpkin soup is generally a favourite and you can literally make it in a blender. Combine roasted pumpkin pieces with stock, spices, garlic, onion and water, blend, then stir in cream to taste. Looking to impress while still keeping things simple? An Italian minestrone will hit the right note with bacon, carrots, celery, potato, garlic, stock and tinned tomatoes. Add perfectly-al dente pasta shells, fresh herbs and serve with crusty bread.
Did someone say board games? From hipsters to families, board games are experiencing a resurgence in popularity, and with new games being created all the time, you can skip past the likes of Monopoly and Snakes and Ladders and try your hand at new favourites Ticket to Ride, Game of Thrones, and Scythe. Power up Spotify, add a few wines and beers for additional hilarity.
Stews, curries, roasts and casseroles all work well here. You’ll need staples such as rice or pasta and stock, and a main meat for the carnivores of the group. Try a fish stew, which, apart from the seafood, features many ingredients you’ll likely find in your pantry (onion, garlic, tomatoes, red wine, spices), or bring out that slow cooker for a hearty beef stew to impress.
Time to celebrate – after the winter solstice, it’s longer days and a downhill run towards summer. To save on time, and give you the chance to enjoy your guests, opt for a frozen dessert such as chocolate pudding or apple tart hot from the oven, with tea, coffee or hot chocolate.