The festive season is fast approaching, and for many Zimbabweans that means planning indoor gatherings to celebrate Christmas away from the nascent summer rains. However, hosts must creatively tackle various challenges from water rationing to electricity cuts when entertaining guests this year.
The erratic rainfall may have finally arrived, but reservoirs remain low from a delayed start to the wet season. Ongoing water rationing across urban areas will disrupt typical holiday party preparations. Meanwhile, power outages continue countrywide as ZESA continues to struggle to meet demand.
On top of these logistical headaches, hosts must account for health risks like cholera when serving food and drinks. Having emerged in the capital Harare in recent months, vigilance is required to prevent any spread of waterborne diseases.
Fortunately with some creative planning, none of these need put a damper on Christmas festivities with loved ones. The following tips can help hosts in Zimbabwe pull off memorable end-of-year celebrations against the odds...
Stock Up On Water
With taps running dry for hours or days under rationing, storing water is essential. Fill buckets and containers ahead of time for cooking, cleaning and even makeshift toilet flushing. Borehole water where available offers backup, else bottled water suffices for drinking. Prepare big batches of ice cubes too for chilling drinks.
Get The Generator Ready
Given Zimbabwe’s ongoing power deficits, a generator is a worthwhile investment for home gatherings. Make sure to procure diesel or petrol specifically allocated for generator use. Test it’s functioning ahead of time, while keeping phone charging banks at the ready during any outage.
Focus On Cold Food
To lower infection risks make sure cold salads and desserts are safely prepared amidst cholera worries. Packaged snacks, crisps or nuts also make safe snacks. Sterilise cutlery and kitchen surfaces while enforcing frequent hand washing when handling any ingredients.
Set Up Sheltered Spaces
While the rainy season is underway, downpours remain inconsistent. Ensure there are sheltered outdoor spots to congregate, using umbrellas, gazebos or tarpaulins. This allows groups to enjoy garden gatherings rain or shine. Have paved tile or graveled areas to prevent muddy shoes traipsing through the house too!
Keep guests entertained during extended power cuts by having board games, cards, footballs or outdoor play equipment on hand. Hold off on music, movies or gaming consoles that require electricity availability. Karaoke by candlelight or acoustic singalongs also make festive power-free fun.
Provide Safe Transport
In light of ever changing fuel prices and erratic public transport, arrange group shuttles to safely usher invitees to and from the party venue. This guarantees they avoid dangerous night travels post-celebrations, while providing transport reliability.
Stock The Bar
Providing homemade ginger beer, fruit punch bowls or other non-alcoholic options keeps the party flowing even if stores of champagne, beer or wine run low. Source beverage ingredients from local wholesalers in advance. Infused water dispensers also make for festive refreshment stations.
Keep It Minimalist
Rather than lavish multi-course meals, focus on hors d'oeuvres platters, snack stations and help-yourself finger foods around a few statement dishes. This simplifies preparation with limited water while lowering food waste. Have self-serve bars too so guests can mix their own beverages.
Set Up Handwashing Stations
With cholera a lurking risk, place water dispensers or bottles coupled with soap around the entertaining areas. Gentle reminders for visitors to wash hands after bathroom visits or before eating also helps prevent any contamination.
Check On The Elderly
Make a list of elderly attendees and check in on them frequently throughout the proceedings. Ensure they are eating, drinking and taking any medications. The excitement can cause them to forget self-care. Arrange transport for early departures too if required.
Following these hosting tips that account for Zimbabwe’s unique challenges, will ensure this your end-of-year celebrations can still live up to the yester-year. The spirit of joy and togetherness always prevails during Christmas - even amidst adversity.