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HOSTS WITH THE MOST (ON THEIR PLATES) Christmas hosting advice from Dame Joan and M&S

Festive party hosts feel the pressure as picture-perfect spreads, menu prep and arguing guests bring on entertainment anxiety.

  • New research from M&S Food reveals over a quarter (28%) of the South East feel stressed, overwhelmed, nervous or even TERRIFIED at the thought of hosting over Christmas
  • Three quarters of us now worry our food needs to look good enough for guests to post on Instagram!
  • M&S Food Ambassador and Hollywood’s “hostess with the mostest” Dame Joan Collins reveals her top tips for throwing a memorable bash with minimal effort, including her favourite fuss-free GLAM-APÉ recipes!

Christmas party season is in full swing and this December homes across the UK are gearing up for more hosting than ever before – however according to new research from M&S Food, over a quarter of the South East are already feeling stressed, overwhelmed and even TERRIFIED at the prospect of hosting guests this Christmas.

Despite this fear, a quarter of us will be putting on more parties this Christmas than last year, with a quarter hosting three or more get-togethers over the festive period. The North East of England is this year’s Christmas party capital, with a fifth (20%) of households hosting five or more events this month alone!


And it’s not just the number of events on the rise – the number of seats around the table is also growing, with households now expecting an average of six guests per shindig and one in three (35%) hosts catering for seven or more people (rising to 48% in Glasgow!)

While many hosts still prefer serving guests a full sit-down meal, over half (51%) of us will be getting creative with grazing boards, picky bits and canapés this year.


Although two thirds of hosts relish in their role, over a quarter (28%) admit to feeling stressed, overwhelmed, nervous or terrified at the thought of hosting over Christmas. Brightonians feel the greatest stress (29%) – well over twice the UK average (13%).

Topping the tables of the biggest concerns for hosts this year, include:

  • Ensuring that guests have fun (32%)
  • Planning what food to serve (32%)
  • Having enough time to prepare and cook the food (30%)
  • Making sure the food looks well-presented (30%)
  • The cost of ingredients (27%)

To pile on even more pressure, almost three quarters (71%) of hosts feel it’s important to make their food ‘picture-perfect’ for guests to photograph, rising to over 80% of 25-34 year olds and 82% of Londoners.


Luckily help is at hand for stressed hosts this Christmas, courtesy of a powerhouse of entertaining experts. As the UK’s go-to destination for Christmas party food, M&S Food has joined forces with its FABULOUS new Food Ambassador and legendary Hollywood hostess with the mostest, Dame Joan Collins, to offer simple tips for the most sensational parties, all with minimal effort!

M&S development chef Russell Goad explains: “Dame Joan has spent many decades perfecting the art of hosting and if she can throw a soirée for the great and good of Hollywood without getting stressed, there is certainly a lot that the rest of us can learn from this legend of the hosting world!”

Dame Joan and Russell have been hard at work turning the humble canapé into show-stopping, Instagram-ready GLAMAPÉS (yes that’s glamorous canapés!) with just three simple ingredients. Each one takes just minutes to assemble and comes with their own easy wine or cocktail pairing:

M&S Collection crisps


crème fraiche


Prunier caviar

Pairs perfectly with…

M&S Collection Sancerre or M&S Collection De Saint Gall Champagne

M&S Collection Baci di Dama


M&S Collection hazelnut crème


shaved dark chocolate

Pairs perfectly with…

M&S Stollen Rum Liqueur in a light-up bottle

M&S Collection goats cheese & rosemary biscuits


goats cheese


Kalamata olive

Pairs perfectly with…

A vodka martini, made with M&S Collection Jersey Royal Potato Vodka

To make things EVEN simpler, hosts can also choose from M&S’ iconic range of ready-prepared party food favourites, including exciting new options like the Our Best Ever Prawn Toasts, Pulled Beef & Potato Rosti Towers and Middle Eastern Style Chicken Flatbreads.

Everything in the range cooks at the same temperature for added convenience and is available on a ‘4 for 3’ offer, so hosts can make sure they’re fully stocked!

Russell adds: “It’s little surprise that Brits are nervous about finding time to prep food or cook for guests given many of us expect to spend two or more hours in the kitchen each time we host. More get-togethers are now also being held mid-week when we typically have less time to prepare, making it all the important for us to have these speedy hosting hacks up our sleeves! And that’s where our simple glamapés and drinks pairings come in – we’re confident that they’ll not only add some serious sparkle to soirées up and down the country this December, but will also significantly reduce the stress for hosts too!


Dame Joan would never dream of inviting boring people to her parties, and now South East hosts have also had their say on their top party peeves:

  • Guests who use their phones too much during the party or meal (23%)
  • Guests arriving late (26%)
  • Guests arguing with each other (20%)
  • Guests with bad table manners (15%)
  • Guests overstaying their welcome (14%)


The list also includes guests not complimenting the chef, not dressing for the occasion or not bringing a gift. So if you receive an invite in the post for Dame Joan’s next glitzy get-together, don’t forget to bring your best guest etiquette… and a bottle of something special too!

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