25 November 2022

Joe Swash and other stars share their festive plans: ‘We just like to entertain’

25 November 2022

Double the Christmas tree fun and opening “too many presents with a glass of Buck’s Fizz”, plus find out who refuses to be “bamboozled by Christmas” too.

We asked a few famous faces about their festive plans, secrets to having a magical day and more.

Ben Miller, actor and comedian

“We had the great extravagance of two trees last year – one in the kitchen and one in the sitting room. It felt like the height of decadence. We go big at Christmas. We go crazy on decorations. It’s like Christmas turned up to Mark 11. My favourite present always is socks. I’m probably part of the reason that everyone else is given socks for Christmas – there is nothing that makes me happier, particularly a novelty sock, whether it be bicycles or Catherine wheels.”

Gino D’Acampo, celebrity chef and TV presenter

“Christmas we usually spend on the island of Sardinia. At my house in Sardinia, it’s all about the food. Everybody chooses the dish that they want to prepare, and we all do it together. Well, not technically together, usually my wife does the potatoes and the vegetables, and I cook fish. My boys, they’re in charge of meat. My daughter Mia, she’s usually in charge of the antipasti. She loves to make the little things like bruschetta. We’re on an island, remote from everyone, so we play games, cook and also open a huge amount of presents, because my wife, she thinks that Christmas, unless you get 10 to 15 presents, is not a proper Christmas.”

Michael Ball, singer, actor and TV/radio presenter

“It’ll be Christmas either at our house (he lives with journalist Cathy McGowan) or at (his stepdaughter) Emma’s house in Cobham, Surrey. I’ll do all the cooking and none of the cleaning. I cook every Christmas dinner and it’s as traditional as it gets. We get up late, open too many presents with a glass of buck’s fizz, then it’s a slow meander towards dinner at about 5pm. I’m brilliant at buying presents but nobody ever knows what to buy me. It’s very depressing. I’m apparently very difficult to buy for. I don’t know what I want. The best present I ever had – having never kept any memories of my career or what I’ve done – was when Cath put together these beautifully bound books of all my reviews, all the things I’ve appeared in, posters, going right back to my schooldays. It was just amazing.”

Alan Titchmarsh, gardener and TV presenter

“When I was little, I used to make Pollock’s model theatres and a few years ago my wife bought me a little hardboard Pollock’s model theatre made in about 1948, which took me back to my childhood. (Now), I always go out into the garden on Christmas Day, wherever we are. It’s the only day in the year where you can’t hear any traffic. On Boxing Day the sales start so it’s all off again then, but I love the pause of Christmas Day, and the fact that the shops are shut. (Of the small 60-seat theatre that sits next to his house in Hampshire), we will have some sort of party or celebration there, not the least to celebrate that we’re all back together again. We couldn’t do it for a couple of years.”

Josh Widdicombe, comedian and TV presenter

“I will be spending Christmas at home in London, drunk, with my family – but obviously not drunk until the children have gone to bed. There will be extended family, I imagine. We do Christmas at our house because we are lazy and don’t like to go anywhere. But it does mean that it’s very stressful. There’s lots of cooking going on, and I’m not involved in that. I’m looking after two kids which I think is much more difficult than cooking, but that’s up for debate, apparently. I like order and rules in my life. The presents should be turn-taking and everyone should enjoy giving the presents and I think I’m fighting a losing battle against young children and a family who doesn’t care about stuff like that.”

Joe Swash, actor and TV presenter

“It’s probably the same as everyone else. The kids get up at about half four in the morning – some ridiculous hour. We like to have an open house. So our house is always open to any family members that want to come over. Anyone can come and join us for Christmas dinner. We do a thing called ‘day after Boxing Day dinner’, so everyone can get Christmas Day and Boxing Day out the way and then they’ll all come over to our house. We just like to entertain. We love being around our family, there’s no better feeling.”

We just like to entertain. We love being around our family, there's no better feeling.

David Baddiel, comedian and TV presenter

“I love all the sparkliness of it, the sort of sound and smell of it and the sort of idea of it, even though it never snows anymore. I love all that. And the family-ness of it, and all the rest of it. In terms of what we do, we tend to go to Cornwall, which is where my wife is from. And we try and have as much of a proper Christmas as possible. It often goes really wrong. One time my wife cut her finger off on Christmas Day, and we had to travel around Cornwall trying to find a hospital unit that would put her finger back on. So that kind of stuff happens. But generally, I just really like it. I just really like eating. I like days devoted to eating, that seems like a really good idea to me.”

Miriam Margolyes

“We absolutely don’t celebrate Christmas. Heather (my partner) and I, we make no concessions to Christmas whatsoever. We don’t cook, we might have sandwiches or something. What we do is we phone up friends in different countries, and speak to them. But otherwise, we just stay at home and read or go for a walk. It’s just any other day, like any other day. We refuse to be bamboozled into Christmas.”

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