Merry Christmas (in July!)
Isn’t Christmas magical? Cosying up next to the fire with a mug of mulled wine and freshly baked shortbread biscuits while snow gently falls outside… Of course, Christmas in Australia is quite a different story. The soaring summer temperatures make this rosy picture enough to make you break into a sweat – literally! But why should we miss out on the fun of a ‘traditional’ Chrissy? With the cooler months upon us, now is the perfect time to don that reindeer jumper your aunt from England sent you and throw a Christmas in July party.
The great thing about Christmas in July is that you can make it what you like. Free from the family obligations of the December celebration, it’s a much more relaxed, anything-goes affair with the opportunity to start your own traditions. hardtofind. site editor Alison celebrates Christmas in July with a huge pot-luck dinner with 30 of her nearest and dearest, whereas creative director Natasha prefers a more intimate affair with just a few friends and presents for the kids.
Whichever way you decide to go, here are some of our tips on how to throw a great Christmas in July celebration:
- Give the Christmas decorations a second outing! If you don’t have a tree, hanging ornaments from a few dried branches can make a lovely table centrepiece.
- Christmas warehouses are a great source of discount crackers, but if you don’t have any in your area, make your own and fill them with small gifts such as stationery items.
- Can’t be bothered pulling out all the fairy lights and baubles? Try a wall decal to add a festive touch. Best of all, they’re reusable, so you can take them down after dinner, ready to use again in December.
Gifts and garb
- Kris Kringle has a lovely informality about it that perfectly suits the Christmas in July spirit.
- Or instead of presents, exchange cards with friends – the cheekier the better!
- Rug up! Embrace the cold and wear your favourite scarf, gloves, beanie or jumper – it’s a special occasion after all.
- In this weather, is there any better place to be than the kitchen? Indulge in duck fat potatoes, glazed ham and a roast with all the trimmings.
- Get into the ‘spirit’ with some eggnog and mulled wine. Well, it is Christmas!
- Don’t forget a sweet finish. Lyndey Milan shares this easy recipe for brown sugar shortbread stars which are perfect with a cup of hot cocoa (they make a great gift, too!).
Brown sugar shortbread stars
Preparation 20 mins (plus 1hr chilling time). Cooking 10 mins
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 1⁄4 cup (60g) firmly packed brown sugar
- 1∕3 cup (75g) caster sugar
- 1⁄2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 cups (300g) plain flour
- 1⁄4 cup (40g) rice flour
- 1–2 tbs demerara sugar
1 Using an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, caster sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the flours and beat on low speed until just combined.
2 Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and gently knead each until smooth. Form each portion into a 10cm-diameter log (or one slightly larger than your cutter). Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and roll gently into a cylinder. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.
3 Preheat the oven to 170C (150C fan-forced). Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
4 Cut logs widthwise into 5mm slices, then cut slices into star shapes using a star cutter. Place on prepared baking trays. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.
5 Bake for 10–15 minutes or until just firm. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (they will firm up more on cooling). Biscuits will keep, refrigerated for 2 weeks.
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