Christmas Traditions Part Two

It’s Christmas Eve, so hopefully you have sent all those cards, chosen, bought and wrapped all your gifts and maybe you are about to pile them all into your car and set off to spend time with your wider family. I still have some presents to wrap and later I am invited to spend the evening and tomorrow, Christmas Day, with Anna and family, and will spend Boxing Day with Suzy and her husband and their three girls. We will be doing all the usual things, eating and drinking more than is wise, wearing silly paper hats and playing board games (boys against girls in Trivial Pursuits which gets surprisingly competitive - I wonder why?!) But it will also be a happy and slightly chaotic time which I always feel privileged to be a part of.

Last week four of our LFF Ambassadors shared their Christmas plans which ranged from very quiet to extremely hectic, and this week we have four more alongside their style choices, with not a single Rudolph the Reindeer jumper in sight!

Jenny Pek: An Irish Christmas in County Cork

“I’ll be celebrating Christmas itself with my daughter and my 3 grandchildren in County Cork, Ireland, and just before Christmas I will be with my son and his 2 children in Whalley, the  Ribble Valley, Lancashire. 

Christmas will be traditional. We open our gifts on Christmas morning, which takes some time as we take it in turns to open each present with everyone watching. We eat at around 2pm, using our heirloom silver cutlery, giving a nod to the ancestors we inherited it from. My daughter has planned the menu this year and is very organised with pre-cooking and freezing a lot of our Christmas lunch, which will be accompanied by wine and champagne bought on an earlier visit this year to France. I’ll be making a trifle when I arrive. 

On Boxing Day we will have a trip to a beach in either East or West Cork with lots of stunning beaches to choose from. Or maybe, like last year, we will go to Killarney, but we always have a nice walk with the two dogs. On New Year’s we will light a fire in the ‘fire pit’ in the garden, write our wishes for the coming year on pieces of paper and throw them into the fire. Then we’ll wait to see all the fireworks at midnight, and then toast in the New Year.

Being with family at this time of year is just perfect, cooking together, listening to Christmas music, Jimmy Durante’s  ‘Make someone happy’ always has me in tears and my daughter knows it! Walking the dogs, playing charades, Balderdash (my favourite game of all time) all makes for a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas and New Year."

Casual outfit - Top: Fat-face, Trousers: jeans from Local store called Dawsons in Clitheroe, Earrings: Katie Timson - swallow eggs bought from Artisan Market at Holden Clough garden centre, Shoes: Brogues from Local Lancashire shoe manufacturer ‘Lanx’ in Whalley

Dressy outfit - Dress: Hope Fashion bought a couple of years ago before they went out of business, Felted Necklace: Craft shop in Cork City, Silver earrings: from a friends shop ‘Blue Tree Interiors’ in Macclesfield, Shoes: Ballet flats by Giesswein recycled PET plastic 

Sue Harasyn: Christmas Heralded by the Abbey Bells

“We like to wrap up warm and attend a Carol service as near to Christmas as possible.  It always feels like magic is in the air when we hear the abbey bells ringing on the night before Christmas.

On Christmas Eve even if we stay up until after midnight we never open any presents until Christmas morning. On the day we get up early and have a glass of bubbly with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast.

There will just be me, my husband Noel, Harvey and Coco, our two dogs and a friend is joining us for lunch. I will be cooking a traditional 4 course Christmas dinner but usually make individual sticky toffee puddings with toffee sauce and homemade ginger ice cream instead of Christmas pudding.

I will of course be wearing full LFF makeup but no cocktail dress for me.  For a stress free day I prefer to wear something smart casual so I feel relaxed and comfortable.  Always remember it is  not worth worrying over the small things.  If you forget the cranberry sauce or overcook the sprouts it really doesn't matter. The most important thing is we are sharing another Christmas together.

Happy Christmas everyone and may the new year bring peace, good health and happiness”

Casual outfit - Purple coat and scarf : rileyboutique.com, Earrings: Smart Exchange 

Party outfit - Christmas red jumper: rileyboutique.com, Necklace: a gift 

Sue Gaskin: Christmas in South Africa

“My Christmas has been different since 1983 because that’s when we moved to the southern hemisphere. I think I’ve only enjoyed 3 chilly UK Christmases in forty years! 

This year I’ll be in South Africa where two of my sons and their families live. My daughter in law decorates their home beautifully so it’s very festive. We will have a hot Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve and a cold buffet on Christmas Day.  Each family will bring something for the spread as usual and I will make an ice cream bomb with fruity chocolate mousse inside and with a sparkler on top which we serve instead of a Christmas pudding! Of course there will be bubbly and lovely SA wines.

I’ll  enjoy being with my grandchildren although they are 19 and 14 and it doesn’t have the same magic as having toddlers around. Last year was great as my US son and family joined us in SA and we were all together which was very special.

We have always tuned in to the Queen’s … now the King’s speech after which we go for a long walk on the beach to burn up some calories.

My top tip for a relaxed Christmas is to keep things simple, don’t try and organise adult children or grandchildren and just go with the flow. It’s about WHO is around the table not what’s on it. Get everyone to muck in with the chores. As the family has grown in numbers and age, we've also put a cap on the amount to spend on gifts for each other.

On Boxing Day we relax ……. There’s usually horse racing on!”

Casual outfit - Green sequin skirt: JD Williams, Blouse: Seasalt, Shoes: Miladys South Africa

Evening outfit - Red dress: made for me by Fudge Classics in South Africa, Shoes: Bon Marche

Claire Martin: Quiet at First, then More Hectic

“Christmas for me will be different this year. Instead of a big family gathering on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, or even both, it is going to be rather quieter. Christmas Day will be just myself, my husband and my Dad who is now aged 94 and has had to move to a Care Home following illness back in March. He will come to us for lunch and he won’t cope with lots of noise and activity, so Christmas Day is for him this year. But then my son, partner and my five-month-old granddaughter are coming on Boxing Day, together with my stepson. They will also return on the 28th December with two more of our children, two more grandchildren and my brother-in-law and wife. I will be asking for help with the food so that my husband and I can also enjoy the time we all spend together.

On the 28th we will play a game called by the family “the hat game” where everyone writes three names on a bit of paper which are put in the hat - it can be anyone from a celebrity to Donald Duck. Then we play three rounds of a sort of extended charades with one round describing the name, then the next one acting it and then using only one word for it. After each round, the names go back in the hat and it gets easier by round three as the names are the same. So, it is a bit of a memory game too. It gets very competitive! I will dress up for Christmas Day because I love sparkles and sequins and velvet! But the rest of the break will be in casual wear such as trousers and a Christmas jumper...”

Casual outfit - Top: M and S, Belt: Kettlewell Colours. Bottoms: M and S, Boots: Hotter

Dressy outfit - Top: Wyse London, Scarf and Skirt: Kettlewell Colours, Boots: John Lewis

I hope you have enjoyed reading these Christmas stories from Jenny, Sue H and Sue G and finally Claire, as much as I have. Everyone has their own way of making the festive season traditional and special, whether that’s the food that is chosen, the games that are played or the time that you open your gifts to each other. What shines through all the stories, both this week and last, is the delight in sharing the traditions, the time and the space with others, even if it’s just one or two special people. 

 

I also want to acknowledge those for whom Christmas is challenging for a variety of reasons, perhaps because it stirs painful memories or because a loved one is no longer there to share it with you, or because you are struggling personally for whatever reason. I haven’t always found Christmas easy for a number of reasons, but the older I get (and yes - unbelievably I’ll be 76 tomorrow) the more I have dialled down both my expectations and needs. Every year I slap on my brightest boldest LFF lipstick, wear something that makes me feel good and then I just relax and go with the flow. And nowadays that’s my recipe for a very happy and enjoyable time.

 

And, on behalf of all of us on the Look Fabulous Forever Team, I would like to wish you and your family a very happy and enjoyable Christmas 2023.

 

Tricia x

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