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Alexandra Fullerton’s Christmas how-to

Glamour’s Fashion Director shares her perfect big day celebrations

“Recreating magical moments from my childhood Christmases while adding a few new elements gets me the most excited for the big day. From the age-old tradition of discovering the crumbs Father Christmas left from his mince pie – “He’s been!” (along with the dregs in his glass of champagne – although this year, he might appreciate an Old Fashioned) through to choosing what spices to experiment with in our desserts, it’s the collision of ancient and modern that makes Christmas for me.”

“My best childhood memories? When my grandma would visit with her nursing charges. I remember our home becoming this wonderfully welcoming space for total strangers. That feeling of bringing in friends remains crucial now I’m building my own traditions so the guest list is key. My husband Colum, daughter Jerry and I celebrated with my old friend Rekha and her husband Rob (who we never manage to spend enough time with during the year), my parents (who won’t miss any opportunity to be with their granddaughter) and Niamh (Colum’s niece and Jerry’s godmother). Mixing generations makes for brilliant conversation and the most entertaining discussions.”

“While I love bringing in freshness to our festivities, there are the non-negotiables. Starting with a new outfit: it has to be box-fresh and it has to be tartan. There is something so nostalgic about checks at Christmas, I can’t shake off the tradition. I’d wear stiff little taffeta plaid dresses with white socks and patent Mary-Janes when I was small so adult me was thrilled to find Tu’s updated version. The shift dress silhouette with fancy frills is my perfect hostess dress, keeping me cool while I hit the kitchen but still looking perfectly styled with the rest of the festive decor. Something I always consider.”

“My daughter always gets a new dress for Christmas too and as we’re reading Cicely Mary Barker’s Lord of The Rushie River at bedtime (a classic that always has me close to tears) so the swans in crowns print on this one is perfect. She wore it three days in a row which, considering she sometimes tears things off as soon as she puts them on (“it’s itchy”), it’s a result. The table has to get a new covering too, this year the cloth was shot through with lurex to add subtle sparkle to the proceedings.”

“While I’m not a paid-up member of the fashion police, all my guests knew not to show up in a Christmas jumper. They’re fun, I know, I know, and I don’t want to be a Scrooge, but they’re just not chic. I’m certainly not anti-comfort – when you’re serving in the kitchen, flats are a necessity (although they can still be fancy ones) but when I get a chance, the heels come out. And all the women round the table agreed, heels are the ultimate finishing touch for a special occasion look. Along with a chic clutch and some flashy jewellery.”

“In between courses, we all reminisced about the cultural moments that make our Christmases. The songs and movies we can’t get through December 25 without… my dad pointed out that when he was growing up, “we didn’t have a TV to watch films on,” although everyone else cheered for Elf as the most magical movie. Unlike my festive film choice, with music I go for the underdog. Sometimes I feel like the only person in the world who isn’t keen on Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. I was certainly the only person around the table extolling the virtues of Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses but I’m proud that I know all the words and am not ashamed to join in with the radio after a couple of pear and sherry sparklers.”

“Making up a unique cocktail for each season is one of the most fun tasks when it comes to hosting. As is planning the menu. Although making sure you have enough of the old favourites mixed with new flavours is always a tricky balancing act. I felt bad that my mum didn’t get to have brussels sprouts this year. She loves them and I’ll always have a few out of politeness. But when it comes to the washing up, are they really worth another pan if people aren’t going to come back for seconds? I knew Jerry wouldn’t touch them – neither will my dad – so I decided tenderstem broccoli would be a better bet for a necessary flash of green. Offset by braised red cabbage (such a favourite, we served it at our wedding breakfast) there was plenty of colour at the table. There were also warming pops of red from the felt placemats and a golden glow from the glittered tealights reflecting off the gold-rimmed glassware and that sparkling tablecloth.”

“Dinner is always served in the afternoon and everyone tears into their presents first thing. The families that only do stockings in the morning and wait until after lunch for the big reveal are just a literary myth, we decided. And after lunch, when the cheesy jokes have been read out, Christmas cracker puzzles have been decoded and everyone takes off their paper crown? The best place to chill out is on the sofa, dozing in and out of satisfied slumber as films we’ve seen a hundred times play in the background. The Christmas afternoon nap is a tradition we are all unanimous in wanting to preserve. It might seem like we never stop all year long but Christmas is the one day to let time sit still. And it always will be.”

The Menu (From Sainsbury’s)

Aperitif: Pear and Sherry Sparklers

Starter: Avocado, grapefruit and king prawn salad

Main: Roast Bronze Turkey with chorizo and rosemary stuffing balls, pigs in blankets and gravy

Stilton and sourdough stuffed mushrooms (vegetarian main)

Roast potatoes & parsnip and parmesan gratin

Braised red cabbage, honeyed carrots & tenderstem broccoli

Dessert: Christmas pudding with cream or brandy butter

Spiced cranberry jellies