Get the guests to help with Christmas lunch
Entertaining friends and family in your home during the Christmas holidays is a very popular activity during this time of the year.
Carol Potgieter, a caterer, says the number of people hosting Christmas lunches is likely to fall due to financial constraints.
But she says a tight budget need not deter you from having a nice Christmas lunch with people you love.
Potgieter advises hosts to organise a "bring-your- own-food-dinner".
She says: "This is good for the host because everyone must bring a dish. Hopefully that means almost no cooking for the host."
Potgieter adds that the best thing about this kind of lunch is that the host gets to have this great get-together by doing a fraction of the work.
She advises that the host provides a list of foods for guests to bring to avoid duplication.
l Plan your guest list and make sure you have some extra things that you might need. Finalise the invitation list and send out the party invitations at least six weeks before the Christmas lunch and insist guests RSVP so that you have a really good idea how many people will attend.
l Make sure that you invite each person personally. Calling your guests would make them feel special.
l Keep control of the menu. It must be as easy going as possible.
l Don't break out the best dishes. You don't want to make your guests feel as if they should have put on black tie and tails.
l Be sure to use Christmas centre pieces and a few candles. This will give the table a holiday feel.
l Make sure your guests bring the food in ready-to-serve platters so that all you need to do is put it on the table.
l If it is a fairly large gathering and you don't have a serving staff, you might want to set up a coffee and water station.
l Place extra desert dishes and silverware aside for those extra eaters.
l Have background music.
This is a family recipe for a luxurious cake that has a lovely moist texture, achieved by using lots of eggs. While the original recipe is by far the best tasting, you can reduce the oil and sugar a bit.
¾ cup (200 ml) boiling water
½ cup (125 ml) cocoa
1¾ cups (450 ml) flour
1¾ cups (450 ml) sugar (you can reduce it to 1 2/3 cup (400 ml) sugar)
3 teaspoon (15 ml) baking powder
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
½ cup (125 ml) canola or rice oil (you can reduce it to 1/3 cup (90 ml) oil)
7 extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla
1 teaspoon (5 ml) cream of tartar
Mix boiling water and cocoa until smooth and let it cool down.
Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, in this order.
Make a well in the dry ingredients. Add the oil, egg yolks, cooled cocoa mixture and the vanilla.
Mix until smooth. Whisk egg whites until stiff and then add cream of tartar. Fold into dough mixture.
Turn batter into greased and lined tins. Use three 18cm or two 23cm round pans or one large oven pan.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes at 180°C.
Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
Use caramelised condensed milk as a filling between the cakes, and butter icing (made from butter, cocoa and icing sugar) for the top of the cake.