Fern Britton: My Perfect Christmas

TV presenter and author Fern Britton lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, TV chef Phil Vickery. She has four children, twins Jack and Harry, 23, Grace, 19, and Winnie, 15, so Christmas is a real family affair…we caught up with Fern to find out what she loves about Christmas.


What is it about Christmas that you enjoy the most?
Everything! The run-up is almost as magical as the day itself; going to parties, seeing old friends, Christmas carols and choirs – and putting up the decorations. Christmas is a magical time in our house. I’m very influenced by what Christmas was like when I was little. My parents divorced when I was young, so we would always share Christmas between my mother and her brother, my Uncle Paul. Both houses were stuffed full of tinsel, decorations, snowmen, a huge tree and lots of lights and it was just joyful. They were magical times and very much what I try to emulate now.

What’s your idea of perfect Christmas decorations?
It’s a case of ‘more is more’ and ‘abandon taste all ye who enter here!’ in our house. It’s all tinsel, glitz and glitter and there’s nothing tasteful about it, I’m afraid. We tend to accumulate a few new decorations each year and our decorations box is now very big! We always get a real tree and decorate it on the first weekend in December, but the icing on the cake is masses of fairy lights – there’s nothing quite like a dark house lit only by a roaring fire and fairy lights.


What would be in your perfect Christmas hamper?
Cornish delicacies. A couple of years ago Phil and I made Cornish hampers, with Cornish salt and chocolate along with homemade pots of mint jelly, blackberry jam and sloe gin.

What about Christmas Day itself?
Phil always brings me tea in bed, which is lovely. We have Christmas lunch, but we all like different things and we are all very spoilt: I like lamb and no one else does, so Phil always makes me lamb, and then he makes turkey or pork – or both – for everyone else. I realise that I’m very lucky to say that in the 18 years Phil and I have been together, I’ve never once cooked Christmas lunch. We always have Christmas pudding and I adore brandy butter so that’s always on the menu, as is Christmas cake. After lunch, we have a family quiz. I’m always quizmaster and we divide into teams, with rounds for all levels and skills.


What special family Christmas traditions do you have?
There’s only one tradition that we always adhere to: my mother and I both dislike sprouts, but on Christmas Day we have to have one each – and that’s it for the year.

What’s your most magical Christmas memory?
I have a couple of really special memories. The twins’ birthday is 14th December and they were premature, so I ended up bringing them home on Christmas Eve, both wearing little Christmas suits. Then of course there is Christmas 1999. I spent Christmas Eve manically making mince pies for my new boyfriend Phil who, even though he was a chef, said he hadn’t had a mince pie for a long time. Halfway through, he disappeared off to London and came back four hours later, sat me down in a chair in front of the Aga with my apron on, cross and covered in flour. Then he got down on one knee and proposed. You can’t really top that!

Fern's latest novel - The Postcard (HarperCollins, £12.99) is out now. If you know someone who likes nothing more than curling up with a good book after their Christmas lunch, then this would make the perfect gift.