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Effortless Easter dining

Delicious food. The loveliest company. Heart-warming decorations. Springtime sunshine (we hope). Easter is one of our favourite times of year. For many of us, it’s the first occasion since Christmas to gather loved ones and to decorate our homes with seasonal accessories that always encourage a smile.

We say treat Easter seriously. It’s an excuse for a fun-filled day, to make memories, to dine like kings and to relish in all things sweet and innocent.

Five steps

to hosting Easter with ease and elegance

1. Decision time

Garden brunch, an Easter lunch, supper at dusk or even just afternoon tea, decide what meal you want to host so you don’t feel overwhelmed by recipe options.

There are no right or wrongs here, choose whichever you will enjoy the most and whichever you think will be best received. The people you’re inviting may dictate the meal without you realising it. If it’s you and the girls, then afternoon tea may feel the most fitting, whereas grandparents may feel happier with a more traditional lunch.

Keep things relaxed by hosting part of the meal in a different room. Let’s take lunch as an example, have the main event at your beautifully-presented table, but if the sun peaks out from behind a cloud, take dessert outside with blankets to hand so everyone stays warm and comfortable. But if the weather isn’t so kind, place your dessert on a tray and encourage guests into the living room with music playing softly in the background.

2. Send out invites

We all love to receive post, especially when it’s an unexpected card or gift. Treat this as an extra-special occasion and delight your guests by sending them a hand-written invitation.

Take a look at the wonderful Katie Leamon’s bumblebee notecards. Printed by hand here in Britain, they’re dressed in a kraft polka dot envelope and are the perfect opener to your Easter occasion. Be sure to add an RSVP section so you know how many you’ll be catering for. Leaving your mobile number is fuss-free so your guests don’t have to send post back.

3. Plan the meal

Numbers decided and date decided, start planning your meal. This part should be fun so try to limit yourself to a few cookbooks or websites as the options can quite quickly become a bit mindboggling. Put the kettle on and your feet up and dedicate an hour on a lazy weekend afternoon or after dinner in the week as an alternative to watching the telly to seek out your recipe. We particularly like The Ginger & White cookbook from the tucked-away London eatery in Hamsptead. It’s bursting with family-friendly, delicious feel-good food made with artisanal ingredients. If you’re using cookery books, take a handful of bookmarks to make your shortlist, or if you want to steal ideas from various sources.

For our Easter shoot, we chose lemon and thyme roast chicken with honey-drizzled carrots, new potatoes with chives, and a choice of salads with a raspberry pavlova for dessert.

4. Dress the table

Treat yourself to new, crisp white crockery and table linen in a pretty, seasonal palette. Easter is a lovely time for sherbet-like colours, think minted greens, pastel pink and lazy lavender. Vases of springtime bulbs are a must for your table too; hyacinths are our top pick.

Check out our article on dressing the table for Easter to find lots of style tips and ideas.

5. Make a list

A few days before, like on Christmas Day, write out what you need to do and when so you can prepare with complete calmness. If you can, just leave simple bits for when guests arrive.

As Mary Berry often preaches, anything that can be prepared in advance should be welcomed with open arms. So familiarise yourself with the steps involved in your recipes and consider what can be done the day before. Pastry cases can be left resting in the fridge, while salads can be freshened up before serving with a toss and squeeze of lemon juice.

Easter is but a few weeks away, start planning this weekend to give yourself plenty of time and to enjoy any bubbles of excitement as early as you can.