Along with summer comes end of year parties and the festive season. A recent Mr Price Home event, in partnership with Sunday Times Lifestyle Goodlife Experience, celebrating a South African Christmas, presented a series of demonstrations by local experts on how to welcome guests with simple flower arrangements, affordable table decorations, delicious home-cooked feasts and cocktail mixes with a local twist.

Local creatives have collaborated to produce 40% of Mr Price’s summer range, revealed Stacey Gibhard, Trend manager for Mr Price Home. Andrea Nagel, editor of Sunday Times Lifestyle, applauded the trend to support local, pointing out that lifestyle stories celebrating artistry, design and soul food were a necessary escape from politics and load-shedding.

“Flowers for a Christmas Table” was the subject of the first demonstration, by floral artist Katja Kellhofer, who encouraged affordable garden-to-table arrangements. Her “Plett-Xmas” seaside arrangement used large palm leaves with proteas, succulents and accessories such as baubles. For a “Safari-Xmas” she suggested using reeds, thorn-tree branches with small flowers on the thorns, and fairy lights to add a festive touch. Dried flowers could also be used. Christmas, she said, is about family and togetherness and arrangements should reflect the host’s personality.

Bronwyn Parsons, interior stylist, demonstrated “Setting up a Christmas Table”, using a Georgina Taylor tablecloth featuring vervet monkeys and hadedas, with a plain overlay and “imperfect” place settings, each one slightly different. She created drama on the table with a big vase of proteas and fake green leaves, with a golden vervet monkey further down the table. She then added areas of accents: a lit scented candle, baubles, glittery balls and sparkling glassware.

Her “Summer Table” was more fun, reflecting wellness, with an arrangement of hydrangeas, proteas and pincushions complementing the colours of the tablecloth, cans of rooibos tea on ice, lemons, limes and naartjies, olives and scented candles. She used tea towels as place settings, with plain paper napkins, emphasising the need for comfortable spaces while still adding a touch of drama.

Local food expert, Themba Gwejela – better known as Mr Gwej from Mr Gwej’s Kitchen – demonstrated his choice of summer food. He used a huge cheese board, filled with a variety of local cheeses – “Don’t overthink it,” he advised – along with salami sticks, biltong slices, blueberries, grapes and strawberries sprinkled with edible gold for a Christmas effect. His meat platter included chicken wings, lamb chops, wors sausage, and pap, which he rolled, dipped into an egg-wash and breadcrumbs, and then fried in hot oil.

Salad’s, he said, should be layered. His salad consisted of layers of butter lettuce and roasted butternut and beetroot, with blue cheese to balance the sweetness, and an olive oil and balsamic dressing. His final creation was arancini balls, made from left-over rice mashed with onions and mushrooms, rolled in egg-wash and fried. He served them on top of tomato relish and garnished them with baby-greens and gold sprinkles. His top choice for a Christmas dessert was a trifle, either deconstructed or served in layers in closed glass jars with ribbons.

Finally, Thando Nxumalo, mixologist at Thirst showed off his skill at mixing perfect summer cocktails: a ginger rooibos cocktail consisted of Inverroche Amber gin with rooibos peach tea; a coconut fynbos old-fashioned cocktail included Irish whisky and coconut syrup; while a sour blossom cocktail included Victoria gin and elderflower syrup – all beautifully garnished and presented.

To re-watch the festivities of the day, please click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOZjXg-VgBU&t=727s

Image source: Pexels/Nicole Michalou