Our favourite Kiwi celebs share some of their favourite Christmas traditions

Kanoa Lloyd, Katrina Rore, Tandi Wright and other well-known Kiwis on their festive frivolities and how they cope with Christmas calamity.
Kiwi celebrities celebrating Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – well, mostly!

For all the traditions and excitement the silly season brings, there are always a few problems to solve and disasters to overcome before you get to sit down with an impossibly big plate of ham and pav.

We spoke to some of our favourite stars about their own festive frivolities, their time-honoured traditions, and how they cope with Christmas calamity.

Kimberlee Downs – 1 News reporter

“You can’t go past decorating and making Christmas treats with the dulcet tones of Michael Bublé on in the background. It’s simple, but it never fails to get me in the festive spirit!

There are no disasters that I can think of – touch wood! I do like to be pretty organised about my Christmas shopping to decrease the stress levels.

But I think it’s just remembering what’s important, and for me that’s enjoying the time with family or the people closest to you.

Everything else is ultimately immaterial, so it’s not worth worrying if everything doesn’t go exactly to plan.”

Jeremy Corbett – 7 Days host and Weekly columnist

“There are always a couple of extra presents under the tree: a massive bag of either jelly beans or cashews.

They’re from Bud Kowalski to the Corbetts. No one knows who he is. It’s a tradition from our childhood, when I really liked jelly beans and cashews.

We also send out a family photo as our Christmas card. Once you’re on that list, it’s almost impossible to get off.

If you want to make the day easy, my tip is this: marry my wife. She is awesomely organised and loves Christmas.

I remember a Christmas lunch with friends. We were just about to tuck in when a car pulled up outside.

It was a family of five. Our friends’ relatives. They’d come for the Christmas lunch they had previously said they couldn’t attend.

It was like a food fight as we redistributed the meals. They were none the wiser,but for once there weren’t any leftovers.”

Lana Searle – More FM host

“Every year my family sets up a badminton court and we all battle to win the Badfest Trophy.

We get dressed up and walk out to theme songs. We do need to watch the competitive members of the family, however!

I’ve a great tip to make Christmas easier: when taking off price stickers on gifts, cover the price with sellotape and whip it off quickly, like a wax strip.

It’ll cleanly remove the price so you don’t have to deal with fiddly, sticky pieces of paper.”

Kanoa Lloyd – The Project and Moving Out with Kanoa host

“When it comes to traditions, my Aunty Kate introduced a newfangled mayonnaise to our family Christmas in the mid-nineties, a kind of homemade aioli packed full of mint.

As my 13 cousins and I have grown up, it’s not as common for us to be around the same Christmas table, but that mayo lives on.

My mum always makes it with fresh herbs from her garden, and I always take a jar of it home for post-Christmas ham sandwiches.

Plus: Aunty Maureen’s little fruit mince pies. I’m obsessed with them and I’m telling you this in the hope that she’ll read this and send me an ice-cream container of them in the post!

The biggest tip I have is simple: sneak off for a swim. Even if it’s a crappy day, you never regret a swim.

It makes coming back to dishes and round three of Christmas lunch much more enjoyable.”

Katrina Rore – Silver Fern

“Our family always plays the secret Santa gift game.

Everyone buys three $5 presents. We sit in a circle and the presents go in the middle.

You get three numbers and can pick presents, swap presents or steal presents from each other. It’s hours of fun.

And if the food turns out to be a disaster, just relax and order pizza!”

Alison Leonard – The Breeze host

“A Christmas meal, of course, is my favourite tradition. I always have to do a glazed ham and a turkey, thanks to the British heritage.

I also have the best tree! It’s big and tall and has so many decorations from all over the world. Every decoration reminds me of a person or a place.

I often end up making a lot of phone calls when putting up the tree to say hi to everyone.

The worst disaster was definitely the year I flew home to Nelson on Christmas Day morning. I got Mum to put the turkey on and said I would finish everything off once I got there.

I arrived and noticed the turkey was on grill! I asked Mum and she said, “Well, that’s what the instructions for the oven advised.” Me: “Mum! Since when do you grill a whole turkey?”

I managed to get some cooked turkey carved and then had to put it back in the oven to cook properly.”

Aziz Al-Sa’afin – The AM Show presenter

“Christmas is important in my family. It’s the birthday of the most important person in my life – my mum!

My tradition is to paint Mum a mural/canvas. I’ve done it since I was in school, and the look on her face is something I cherish every year.

We have a mix of the most delicious Lebanese food, and fish and chips! I suppose that’s a reflection of how my family has made this beautiful country our home.

My biggest tip: always get your car serviced early if you’re intending on driving it on Christmas Day.

I once broke down halfway to Bethells Beach. As you can imagine, getting roadside assistance on Christmas Day is a mission.

Eventually, we decided to make the most of it and had our Christmas picnic in a field instead. It was frustrating, but we were together, which was the most important thing.”

Shannon Francois – Silver Fern

“Every Christmas my Mum always gives me and my sister a new decoration with the year on it.

She’s been doing it since we were babies, so we each have a great collection of special decorations and memories to hang on our own Christmas trees.

I think you need to remember what the day is about, and for me it’s just about spending quality time with family, especially now that I live away from home.

The time you get to spend with loved ones and making memories is the best present of all.”

Tandi Wright – The Sounds actress

“My family used to go wassailing every Christmas Eve.

We would stand outside our neighbours’ houses late at night and sing carols until they were forced to open their doors and invite us in for Christmas cake and whisky.

It was probably very annoying, but also fun, delicious and we got to know the neighbours.

As for a tip, I did love the year I gave everyone a fake moustache to wear at the dinner table. It somehow took the sting and stress out of the day.

It’s hard to get touchy about overcooked turkey when you look like Salvador Dali. Or Charlie Chaplin. Or Hulk Hogan.”

Yvette Parsons – Educators actress

“My favourite tradition is baking the cake. I’ve made some good ones, but I’ve never been fully organised to make one far enough off from Christmas for it to mature with rum and that sort of thing.

More often than not I’ve made it a night or two before Christmas Day, but I love being up all night making it, when the world, and the house, is quiet.

I put on some music, pour a glass of wine or Baileys, roll my sleeves up and get to work.

I do find that in my experience Christmas opens up huge opportunities for disasters big and small, mainly to do with preparing the dinner.

One of my ex-husbands brought the turkey home on Christmas Eve and put it in the fridge manfully. I found to my dismay the next day that he’d ordered the most gigantic turkey I’d ever seen or heard of.

By the time I realised, it was too late to get it on the table at a reasonable time of either the day or night. We all sat around for hours waiting for it to be roasted, and my son fell asleep at the table before it was even served.

A disastrous Christmas, or rather a lucky one, depending on how you look at it, was when my fridge caught fire in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve.

Luckily, I was up doing a marathon bake-off and I was awake and in the kitchen at the time, so I was able to put it out.

I smelt burning and when I went to investigate I saw a flame coming out of the back of the fridge. I was able to beat the flame out and turn the fridge off, but I’d not normally have been awake at that time.

If it hadn’t been for the fact I had all the Christmas baking to do for the next day, the fire would have built while I was asleep and it would’ve been a disaster.”

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