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Christmas Day across the Expat Living team

Fancy a quick look into the lives of the EL team? Here’s a round up of what some of us will be up to this festive season. What are you up to on December 25? Let us know in the comment box below (you know, if you like).

Monica, Katie and Verne trying their hand at Christmas dinner during a cooking class

Verne Maree, Executive Editor (South African)
Christmas in South Africa is much like Christmas in Perth, where we spent last Christmas with family: a day spent around the pool with a late lunch of cold roast turkey, ham and other meats and a variety of salads, followed by traditional Christmas pudding, mince pies and favourite desserts such as Pavlova. In Perth, we had the addition of prawns grilled on the barbie, and Pavlova, of course, because Australia (or arguably New Zealand) is where it comes from.

This year, we’re heading to Sweden, to the home of my youngest stepchild, who has married a Swede and gone native! It will of course be a white Christmas, with very short days and very long nights. We’ll be doing the traditional Swedish thing, whatever that is. Plenty of IKEA decorations, no doubt; traditional Swedish dishes; Christmas dinner and the opening of gifts on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day; and I’m looking forward to the Christmas fruit cake that Blaire baked over a month ago and is steadily feeding with brandy every couple of weeks.

Amy Brook-Partridge, Editor (British)
Every Christmas we go back to the UK, and every time I get back, I say never again. Young kids + long haul flight + lots of moving around + jetlag = not exactly a relaxing holiday. Still, we’re going back again this year, as we miss family too much.

Christmas day will be at my dad’s place in Norfolk. My step-mum is an amazing cook and a ‘feeder’, so we’ll be eating constantly and squeezing in plenty of drinks. Tradition in our family is not to open our tree presents until after a late lunch and watching the Queen’s speech at about 4pm.

We’ll still try and have some kind of Christmas celebration Singapore style before we go, most probably at our favourite Saturday brunch at the Mandarin Oriental’s Dolce Vita restaurant with lots of friends. The food is amazing, it’s table service, and it’s one of those brunches that don’t hold back with the free flow champagne!

Rachael Wheeler, Online Editor (British)
Until this year, every Christmas has been exactly the same in my hometown of Frome in Somerset. Furious opening of presents, dad in his pants picking up wrapping paper, granny and grandpa bringing around a huge box of cheap toys they’ve been collecting over the year (this only stopped at 24 when dad got fed up of picking up more wrapping paper in his pants) and mum sweating it out over the lamb in the kitchen while I stuff as many chocolate pennies, frogs, bon bons into my face as possible. At noon, the entire family – other grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, dogs – would head over and drink at least 28 festive cocktails. This would be followed by a row over a game, cackling over Singstar, potentially a dance-off on the Wii and finally the oldies sticking on the U2 DVD and staggering around in the living room.          

This year, I’m heading back to the UK to recreate this exact event on December 14. I then fly back to Singapore and will be spending December 25 with my new pals. Because we’re all going to be homesick, we’re having a Christmas-off – a Come Dine With Me-style event across the festive days. I’ve got Boxing Day, so I’m basically going to buy a bunch of bacon and wave it around in their hungover faces for a certain win. For the actual day, we’re still debating between going for a brunch or getting it catered (sadly, we don’t have a natural chef in our ‘posse’), but we’re each bringing a Christmas tradition of our own to the table. Mine will probably be the row. 

Shamus Sillar, Group Editor (Australian)
This will be my first Aussie Christmas in many years, and will involve the following: beach, beer and cricket – whoever happens to be fielding in the ‘short leg’ position when the cricket is being played is always referred to as ‘Boonie’, after Aussie cricketing legend David Boon. 

There’ll be food too, of course, but frankly the eating takes a bit of back seat for us. In any case, our families tend to go down the fresh seafood route (prawns, oysters, crabs) rather than the ginormous turkey and ham route. Who wants to be slaving in the kitchen on Christmas Day?

High-end crackers or bon-bons with fancy gifts are a no-no. The cheap ones are best, because they come with the classic style of paper hat, and the puns in the jokes are much more dire (i.e. better).

Monica Pitrelli, Editor (American)
Tim, Noelle and I will spend our second (out of six) Christmases right here in Singapore. We will cook up a feast (last year we did Greek food, this year may very well be Israeli, as my copy of Jerusalem just arrived from Book Depository), uncork one of our better bottles and open gifts on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Day, we will head out to the St Regis; I sampled their festive menu a few weeks ago, and it was divine (one of the pros and cons of food writing is sampling holiday fare months ahead of time). But this is, of course, only after Santa comes. Santa brings something for everyone in our household. He brings the good stuff, the big gift (like the CD and record player combo, a flashback to 1989, but still). Then we will watch Christmas movies for the rest of the day; National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Elf and A Christmas Story. Highbrow flicks like It’s a Wonderful Life have no place in my household!

Harriet Empey, Copy Editor (Irish)
I’ll be spending Christmas at ‘home’ in Melbourne with my in-laws. We’ll have a BBQ in my sister-in-law’s backyard with about 15 to18 people. Turkey may feature on the menu as it did last year but it doesn’t always. We will have Christmas pudding too although the rest of the meal will be salads and un-Christmassy desserts.

As there are so many of us, we don’t buy presents for everyone; each person buys one $20 voucher from a DIY shop, department store, music shop, etc. and everyone picks one so then they can buy whatever they want. When I eventually return to live in Melbourne, I will be starting my own Christmas traditions so that I feel a bit more Christmassy because, being Irish, I never feel very festive in hot weather.

Susannah Jaffer, Junior Editor (British)
I’ll be at home in England, at my parents’ house with my mum, dad, little sis and the boyfriend. On the 25, we’ll all be in Beckenham, helping my mum make Christmas Lunch on the 25. We always have a starter of homemade hardboiled egg mayonnaise on a bed of lettuce and prawn cocktail (family tradition – not sure why). As well as the usual, our meal always includes my mum’s famous cheese and potato pie, which is to die for. And traditionally we don’t open presents until the evening of the 25th after the meal.

Richard Lenton, Ex Magazine Editor (British)
The dinkies (aka my girlfriend and I) will be spending Christmas Day on the beach in Phuket quaffing bucket-loads of vino, then heading to Catch Beach Club for a Christmas BBQ in the evening. Admittedly, not the most traditional.

What are YOU getting up to this Christmas? Are you going home, sweating it out in Singapore or going somewhere exotic to celebrate? Let us know in the comments below.

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