Outdoor entertaining at Christmastime is usually reserved for the magical, twinkly markets put on in places such as Germany and Austria. Sparkly, warm, and overwhelmingly festive, these markets provide the perfect inspiration for a small back garden party.
Homemade soft pretzels with senf, the ubiquitous German condiment (or the closest thing we could get to it: wholegrain mustard mixed with yellow mustard and honey) were the stars of the show. Very satisfying to make!
We pulled Christmas crackers (between spouses).
Vaguely resembling the pork sandwiches found in bustling market stalls was my porchetta bruschetta: crisp baguette with a spicy applesauce, pork crisped with fennel seeds, mustard seeds and thyme, and topped with rocket.
Each couple had their own festive grazing board, on a Bavarian theme. Soft pretzels with senf, sugar & spiced nuts, soft and chewy sugar-coated gingerbread cookies and Lebkuchen, a German Christmas cookie, vaguely resembling (in the best possible way) a British Jaffa Cake.
We sat around a roaring fire, tucked up in blankets, surrounded by twinkling lights, fire and lanterns.
It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon seeing family, and despite being restricted to outdoor gatherings with a select few, it felt special, warm and incredibly Christmassy.