CP: Besides the cooking of the food, preparing the décor can be overwhelming too! How do you like to decorate your home and holiday tables?
NL: I don't care at all about matching china. I kind of go overboard on red, white and green, and I don't really mind it if it's all the same. But I do collect vintage holiday china. I've been collecting those from vintage stores and eBay for years, so I get that out. I put canisters of cutlery on the table … so everyone can help themselves—I like a bit [of] bustle. I get my red napkins out—they're not that expensive. I've got some, again, rather inexpensive Swedish-inspired wooden decorations that ware meant to hang from the tree, like snowflakes or deer—I just dot those around the table. … And then I have a bowl of holiday fruit. One year, I had this lovely thing of red apples and walnuts and red grapes all around the table.
I'm lucky that I have a lovely old wooden table. I don't do an awful lot of tablecloth work. Not least because once you've got cranberry sauce spilled on it, and you've got so many children and everyone passing things, you know it's not going to last until the next year! So I think it's easier. I don't know, I suppose everyone has a different aesthetic. I like things to be both simple but cozy. So I don't want it all perfect and elegant.
And I love tea lights. It's so lovely. Flickering lights is actually that makes everyone, I think, feel so cozy.
CP: Thank you for sharing your recipes and entertaining advice.
NL: I always love talking about the holidays … but I wouldn't if I had to make everything perfect.
Oh! You have to put in my great rule: Food and family together can be very combustible, so you always have to have someone there that your family doesn't know well enough to behave badly in front of! Can be a close friend of yours, but as long as the rest of your family doesn't know that person!