Celebrities share their favourite holiday traditions

Matt Tebbutt, chef and TV presenter, on starting Christmas at the pub

“I’ve cooked the last couple of years, and I really like doing it. I like getting down to the pub in the morning. Obviously we weren’t allowed to do that last year, were we? Which was a shame.

But this year, hopefully, that’ll be back on the cards. Yeah, go to the pub, come back, late lunch. Try and kind of make the day quite long, really, glass of Buck’s Fizz in the morning, or two or three. Stick the dinner in, have a walk to the pub, a couple of pints, rush back, try and put it all together, and then just a late one, so you don’t have to worry about the evening.”

Writer Julia Donaldson on surrounding herself with kids: “We always watch the [BBC One] animation on Christmas Day, but I think mainly it’s just fun playing games. We play this game called the adverbs game, where one person goes out of the room and the others think of an adverb, like, if it’s just for very little children, you might say ‘happily’.

And then they come back in, and they ask you questions, and you have to answer ‘happily’ – or it could be something like it surreptitiously. So we just do those sorts of things, and charades. It’s very much a family time. We’re going to Scotland this Christmas to see our son and daughter-in-law up there, who have six children – all 10 and under. They’ve got about 25 or more cousins, so there will be loads and loads of children around!”

Presenter and actor Amanda Holden on keeping the traditions going


“Christmas Day starts early and it’s normally me that’s up, not them [the kids].

We all have stockings, including the rabbits. We’ve got two rabbits and a dog and a cat. So, Father Christmas is very generous.

And then we normally open everything and I will have a Buck’s Fizz while we’re doing that. I like to make smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast, which no-one eats, but I still like to do it.

They all like going to play with their toys. And then I love starting to cook the dinner quite early, in an apron, with my mum, with Michael Buble playing! We have a nice lunch at the proper time and then just chill the rest of the day, really. Play with the toys and watch Christmas telly.”

Comedian Rob Beckett on his Christmas food order: “This year, my mum and dad will be coming to us for Christmas dinner. I love staying in at Christmas. We have two trees – one in the kitchen, one in the front room.

We have lights at the front and loads of presents. We normally get all our brothers together on Christmas Eve [four brothers] so that’s a big event. I treat myself to a Marks & Spencer’s food order – that’s the big middle-class Christmas.

I pick it up on Christmas Eve, like a big posh sod. I would never have admitted that until recently, because I would have been scared that people would have thought, ‘He’s changed, we hate Rob Beckett now, so we’ll never go and see him again’. You might be ringing me up next year to find that no-one’s gone to my tour dates, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.”

Actor David Harewood on eating all the food


“Very early presents opening – then there’s that lull when you’re opening your toys. I’m still like a kid, so I still expect a Scalextric or something, and it’s normally something boring for adults.

But once I’ve opened my presents, it’s chocolate, tea, and then I love that whole preparation of the food, the smell of the food being cooked, pigs in blankets, gravy, sprouts.

I love munching on the food, sitting sozzled at around three, four o’clock, tuning into some animated Christmas classic, like [The Abominable] Snow Baby, and then fall asleep. And then the evening movie – Bond movie, or some Spielberg classic that you’ve seen a thousand times before, but you just want to see it again. That’s Christmas Day for me. A day of food, drink, presents and togetherness.”

Actor Hugh Dancy on matching PJs: “As of about two years ago, somebody gave us matching Christmas pyjamas. So, the first thing that happens is your matching Christmas pyjamas [go on].

Then, for some reason that I haven’t quite grasped, my wife’s family has half a grapefruit with a glace cherry; that’s a very specific Christmas requirement for breakfast.

Not saying that’s the first thing, because we’ve got kids and there would be mutiny if we were like, ‘First, the grapefruit!’ And everything else is pretty straightforward – stockings first, and then I’m the cook, so you’ve got one eye on the stockings and the presents, and the other eye on the turkey, or whatever it might be. I do enjoy it [being the Christmas cook] and it’s also probably true that I won’t let anybody else do it.”

Comedian Tom Allen on starting the day with fizz


“In our family, we always have a bottle of Asti Spumante in the morning because my mum likes that, which is quite retro, isn’t it?

So, we have some Asti Spumante and open presents, and then usually, there’s some beginnings of cooking happening, which is quite exciting, and then we usually eat really late.

I think some families have a regimented ‘We sit down at 12!’ My family are quite sloth-like and we get up really late, and it’s a slow start to the day. I’ve usually been up late the night before, panicking about wrapping and not having enough wrapping paper.

So we have dinner late and then probably drink too much and then I fall asleep. But it’s quite unusual this year, because I’ve just moved into my first home, so it’s my first year of hosting. And we’re having beef, not turkey, because I heard there was going to be a turkey shortage, but apparently there are loads of turkeys?!”

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