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Food

Nigella Lawson’s holiday hosting advice? Keep things relaxed and informal

Food writer and television personality Nigella Lawson suggests making holiday gatherings less formal to decrease the stress and to increase the enjoyment.

The holidays are frantic times, full of hustle and bustle and cocktail parties and big dinners. It’s also a time of high anxiety for a lot of people — it’s the one time of year even folks who can’t normally find the stove feel obliged to prepare a multi-course menu and invite everyone they know.

But our favorite Domestic Goddess says we should stop the madness.

Nigella Lawson, author of 10 cookbooks, including 2000’s “How to Be a Domestic Goddess” and the recently published “Simply Nigella,” says when she entertains at home, she follows a few simple rules, paramount among them: “I can’t invite people over to eat if I wouldn’t be comfortable were I in my pajamas and no makeup.”

RECIPES: Brazilian cheese bread | Sweet potato and chickpea dip

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She’s got a chapter in her new book devoted to this kind of relaxed entertaining, “when I want to feed people but, most importantly, want to make my friends feel welcome, and all of us to feel happy.”

Instead of an elaborately laid table, there might be a canister of mismatched flatware and a stack of napkins for people to choose from. Rather than plated appetizers, she’s much more likely to serve what she calls “picky bits,” such as a dip made by puréeing roasted sweet potatoes and garlic and chickpeas. Or a cheese bread she learned when she recently visited Brazil.

“The perfectionist drive makes life hell for host and guest alike,” she writes in the book. “An informal atmosphere is not only the most welcoming one, but — for me — the only way to ensure that I don’t regret inviting people over in the first place.”

food@latimes.com

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