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6. It wouldn’t be Christmas without…

We’re back with more favourite festive things from more of our lovely Bookends authors. Delia, never-ending drapings of tinsel, hysteria… there’s something we can all relate to here. It wouldn’t be Christmas without…

Julia Stagg

… opening presents with my family on Christmas Eve. After a leisurely evening meal, Santa comes calling, hammering on the door and then disappearing, a sack of presents left in his wake. I’m not sure where this odd tradition originates from but it means we get to celebrate two days of Christmas!

Julia’s festive novella A CHRISTMAS WEDDING is available in ebook now.

Sarah Vaughan

… making a Christmas cake. Though, it has to be Delia’s recipe. My brother-in-law flirts with Nigel Slater’s – with dried pears, prunes and apricots – but Delia’s is more traditional. The first year my husband and I were together, we made it in a Le Creuset casserole as we didn’t own a big enough baking tin, and, novice bakers that we were, it didn’t occur to us to buy one. He tried to maintain this tradition but I got fed up with undercooked middles and blackened sides. The most important thing is that it practically oozes brandy.

Sarah’s debut novel THE ART OF BAKING BLIND is available in paperback and ebook now.

Tracy Rees

… rest. That might not sound exciting but life is busy for everybody, and I absolutely love that feeling of going to ground, hibernating, hunkering down as the earth passes its darkest point and keeping cosy and warm with family.

There’s always Christmas Magic playing the good old songs, making me nostalgic for the 80s (but not the fashions), and plenty of good food. Family, friends and a real chance to take a breath and give thanks. Also, a real Christmas tree, smelling divine, and presents of course, but not for their own sake so much as the excitement of spoiling each other. Tinsel is VERY important. Drape it, wear it, why not? And Christmas films… yes I am that slushy and I’m not ashamed!

In the run-up, there are a few traditions that I get excited about every year. There’s usually a Christmas meal in my favourite restaurant with five or six friends a week or two before Christmas, and this year is no exception. Christmas Eve means mulled wine in a cute local bar with more friends. And my parents (retired) and I (self-employed) have our “office party” during Christmas week, which means more food (and more mulled wine) in yet another favourite hostelry!

Tracy’s debut novel AMY SNOW is available in paperback and ebook now.

Rosanna Ley

… hours spent choosing a tree (later to be christened Jack, Ralph or Colin)

… a pre-Christmas walk around Langdon Woods to collect holly and other festive greenery (sssh, probably not allowed)

… singing ‘On the first day of Christmas’ with my two daughters whilst wielding a rolling pin and making scrumptious mince pies on Christmas Eve

… a windswept walk along Chesil Beach on Christmas afternoon.

… tears. (Anyone can join in).

… hysteria. (Ditto).

… a raucous game of Articulate – in teams.

… going to bed thinking: I love it. But thank goodness it’s over for another year!

Rosanna’s latest novel THE SAFFRON TRAIL is available in paperback and ebook now.

Emylia Hall

… The Rat Pack. I can’t remember when Christmas With The Rat Pack first found its way into my music collection – truth is, it feels like it’s been there forever. Dean, Frank, and Sammy came with me to the French Alps when I spent my first Christmas away from my family, working as a chef in a ski chalet – their voices ringing out over that winter wonderland made me miss home both more, and less.

The boys were there again, blasting out across Bodmin Moor, when we drove to Cornwall to show our baby son the Mousehole Christmas Lights.

Every year they provide the soundtrack to my present wrapping, and when I step in through the door of my parents’ cottage in Devon the first thing my sister asks is ‘did you bring the Rat Pack CD?’ Of course I did. It’s Christmas.

My favourite? A deliciously melancholic Sinatra singing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas always leaves me reflective and grateful. But Baby, It’s Cold Outside runs a close second, making me want to don a knitted sweater and play it coy while being hit on by a sweet-talking suitor.

Emylia’s latest novel THE SEA BETWEEN US is available in paperback and ebook now.

Katie Piper

… Elvis! All of our family squash round our kitchen table with the outdoor patio table added on the end, while Dad sings on the karaoke late in the evening to Elvis’ greatest hits!

The gift edition of Katie’s book START YOUR DAY WITH KATIE: 365 AFFIRMATIONS FOR A YEAR OF POSITIVE THINKING is available now.

In case you missed it, why not catch up on…

… our Christmas gift guide for him for last minute ideas