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It wouldn’t be Christmas without… featuring Daniela Sacerdoti

Christmas is one week away! Discover the festive traditions of authors Daniela Sacerdoti, Sarah Knight and Lili Hayward.


Daniela Sacerdoti, author of Don’t Be Afraid

It wouldn’t be Christmas without…

Oh, let’s see. The Muppet Christmas Carol! Every year we watch it with the children. It’s such a funny, cheery movie and it reminds us to have ‘a thankful heart’.

Panettone: it’s a traditional Italian Christmas cake, fluffy sponge full of raisins and candied fruit and topped with soft sugar like snow on a mountain. I couldn’t do without.

Whispered secrets. In the run-up to Christmas the four of us organise presents in a web of secrecy, my husband and I to the children, the children to us and to each other, and it’s a flurry of parcel deliveries and “Don’t open that!”

Fairy lights. They appear in all my books for a reason…I love them! At Christmas all my fairy lights come out and I love to see them twinkling against the black, black night.

Finally, putting the Baby Jesus in his crib in our wooden Nativity, and fulfill the true meaning of Christmas, hope and light in the midst of darkness.


Sarah Knight, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k

It wouldn’t be Christmas without…

Until this year, my whole life was spent in the American Northeast, which meant it wasn’t Christmas without cold (and usually snow), a tall, pine-scented tree decorated with handmade crafts from my school years, and easy access to my family—most of whom dwell within seventy-five kilometers of where I grew up in Maine, the northernmost state in New England, USA. After I left home for college, I would take a five-hour bus ride every December to reunite with my parents and brother, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousin in the dark, frozen landscape of my youth. When I moved to New York City with my then-boyfriend/now-husband, we sometimes took that same bus route, other times we rented a car and stopped off in Boston to see friends before continuing on to spend Christmas Eve with my folks.

But this year, my husband and I moved to the Dominican Republic—a good 2,500 kilometers from my hometown. This year, there will be no white Christmas, only white sand beaches and the occasional, temperate tropical shower. No conifers, just the palm trees in our front yard that are too tall to decorate. This year, it’s just the two of us (plus a few new expat friends); my family is sticking with their traditional Christmas in Maine, and I’m starting a new tradition in my new hometown.

As it turns out, it’s still Christmas—just with better weather and fewer relatives. Maybe next year, they’ll make the trip.


Lili Hayward, author of The Cat of Yule Cottage

It wouldn’t be Christmas without…

Grandma’s Squidgy Chocolate Log. She makes two or three for Christmas  dinner every year. (We’re not all pudding fans). It’s to die for. Literally. By the time you’ve ploughed through one slice of dark chocolate sponge, double cream, dark chocolate ganache and more cream, you have to lie down somewhere dark and cold for a while.