Christmas Trimmings Recipes

Christmas Trimmings Recipes

CHRISTMAS TRIMMINGS RECIPES

BY SIMON WOOD

_____________________________

Honey mustard pigs in blankets

 

Ingredients

 

30 pigs in blankets

80g Colmans English mustard

80g runny honey

Chopped chives

 

Method

Cook the pigs in blankets until golden, add the honey and mustard in to a medium heat frying pan, heat until it bubbles and then add the sausages, glaze until sticky and serve with chopped chives

    Pigs in blankets
    Pigs in blankets
    Woods Restaurant

      Vichy carrots

      Ingredients

      1kg Heritage Carrots with tops

      125g Unsalted Butter

      250ml carrot juice

      125ml orange juice

      2 sprigs rosemary

      1 Star Anise

      4 sprigs thyme

      2 cloves garlic, crushed

      80ml white wine vinegar

      100g sugar or honey,

      Salt and Black Pepper

       

      Method

       

      Pick the green leafy tops off the carrots and drop them into ice water.

      Steam the carrots until just cooked, and then in a sauté pan add in all the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil, add in the carrots and cook for 10 minutes, serve with a little of the liquid and the crisp green leafy tops.

      roast potatoes by Simon Wood
      roast potatoes by Simon Wood

      Ultimate roasties

      Perfect Garlic and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

       

      Ingredients

      2kg Red Skin Potatoes

      2 Bulbs of Garlic (Halved)

      1 Bunch of Fresh Rosemary

      1 Bunch of Fresh Thyme

      500g Goose Fat

      Maldon Sea Salt

      Black Pepper

      Method

      Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5.

      Peel the potatoes, cutting any larger ones so they’re all the same size

      Wash the potatoes in cold water to get rid of any extra starch and place a large saucepan on to boil, season with a good amount of sea-salt.

      Add your goose fat into a large roasting tray, the biggest you have. This is to make sure there’s plenty of room for the potatoes and heat to circulate, heat for 10 minutes while your pan of water comes to the boil

       

      Now, add the potatoes to the water and parboil for 10 minutes, you want the outside soft and the inside with a little firmness remaining once ready drain in a colander and leave to steam dry for 5 minutes.

       

      After 3 minutes give the colander a shake to help fluff up the potatoes so they look ‘Snowy’ – this will help to help them to crisp up later on.

       

      Carefully remove your roasting tray with the hot fat from the oven and place on a suitable surface, add in half of your herbs and a bulb of your halved garlic and put it back in the oven for 5 minutes. After five minutes remove the herbs and garlic. You now have a nicely flavoured oil that will make your potatoes taste amazing! 

       

      If you leave the herbs in for the whole time it takes to roast your potatoes, they will burn and taste acrid! We will add in the rest of the herbs with 10 minutes to go to really lift the flavour!

       

      Tip the potatoes into your roasting tray and turn with tongs slowly coating them in the flavoured hot fat, take care not to break them before seasoning well with the sea salt and black pepper.

       

      Roast for 45 minutes, before turning each one to coat in more fat and ensure even colouring, now add in your remaining herbs and garlic and roast for a further 10-20 minutes depending on how much colour you want on them

       

      Once golden and crisp drain any excess oil on a little kitchen paper 

       

      As a chef I find Its always best to do a little test at this point and eat one just to check the seasoning, sometimes I must do this three or four times, just to be sure!

      Peppers & Spring Onions
      Peppers & Spring Onions

      Simons Christmas gravy 

       

      Ingredients

       

      1kg Chicken Thighs or Wings or a mixture of the two

      Olive oil

      4 large carrots

      2 Sticks of Celery

      3/4 Bay leaves

      1 Sprig of Rosemary

      1 Teaspoon fresh Thyme

      1 Teaspoon fresh Sage

      3 White onions halved

      2 Maris piper potatoes quartered

      1 Tablespoon of your cranberry sauce

      Celery Salt (1 teaspoon)

      Ground Black Pepper

      3 Pints of Chicken Stock

      4 tablespoons cornflour

       

      Method

       

      Set the Stock and cornflour Aside

      Add the remaining ingredients into a roasting tin and cover with olive oil. Roast until golden and the meat is easy to pinch away from the bone, approximately 75 minutes at 180c, 350f, Gas 4. Remove from the oven and shred the meat into the roasting tin and use a fork or a masher to crush all the vegetables Place over a flame or on the hob

      Add 4 table spoons of the cornflour and mix well cooking the flour out and then add in the stock slowly stirring well and crushing all the flavour out of the vegetables and the chicken. Cook until thickened and dark brown in colour.

      Check Seasoning and strain through a colander and then again through a sieve to get a refined finish to your sauce

      Cranberry Sauce

       

      Juice of 2 clementine’s

      400g cranberries

      200g light muscovado sugar

      100ml port

       

      The Method

       

      Add all the ingredients into a saucepan and cook on a medium heat until sticky and delicious, store in sterilised jars in the fridge or give away as Christmas gifts!

        

      Chicken fat brioche bread sauce.

       

      Ingredients

       

      500ml whole milk

      500ml double cream

      100g Chicken fat

      25g unsalted butter

      150g chopped white onion

      10 white peppercorns

      2 bay leaf’s

      10 thyme sprigs

      2 grated garlic cloves

      200g brioche crumb

      1g Ground Nutmeg

      3g Maldon sea salt

       

      Method

       

      Sauté the Onion, Garlic, Thyme, Peppercorns, Bay Leaf and salt in the chicken fat and butter. Add in the Brioche crumb and stir before adding the milk and cream.

       

      Add the nutmeg after 5 minutes and then cook for further 25 minutes and then blend until smooth.

      Simon Wood Christmas
      Simon Wood Christmas
      Simon Wood Christmas

      Buttered chicken sprouts

      Ingredients

      1kg sprouts, shredded
      150g chopped shallot
      300ml chicken stock
      Crispy chicken skin
      100g smoked bacon lardons
      Chopped Chives
      250g butter.
      Ground black papper

      Method

      In a saucepan over a medium heat add the lardons and cook until just starting to crisp up. Add in the chopped shallots and cook for two minutes, next add the sprouts, stock and butter and bring to the boil reducing slightly, season with pepper

      Serve in a bowl topped with the chicken skin and chopped chives.

      Buttered chicken sprouts
      Simon Wood
      Written by
      WoodKraft Cheltenham

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      Christmas Gift Guide and Christmas Present Ideas

      Christmas Gift Guide and Christmas Present Ideas

      Chrismas Gift Guide and Christmas Present Ideas

      Meet Lou and Steph, the dynamic founders of needi, a thriving tech startup based in Manchester. Their innovative gift-matching service, powered by AI and psychology, is a game-changer for busy parents, business owners and people who love supporting local independent businesses.

      Having led large corporate sales teams in their previous careers, Lou and Steph intimately understand the challenges parents face when balancing professional success with family life. They know the stress of finding that perfect gift to show appreciation to your team or clients, and the hassle of dealing with complex logistics like international shipping. They recognized the need for a more convenient and heartwarming way to shop online, one that spreads joy through thoughtful and responsible gifting.

      Failure was never an option for these determined entrepreneurs. In just two years since launching, they’ve achieved incredible milestones…

      Needi Founder, Steph Scholes

      One of the Needi Co-founders, Steph Scholes

      Ric Moylan

      Investment and Innovation: They secured significant investment from a venture capitalist to advance their gift-matching technology and kickstart phase two of their platform.

       

      Exclusive Partnerships: needi is now the exclusive gifting provider for prestigious businesses in the FT100 and global powerhouses.

       

      Team Growth and Family Expansions: Their team of gift aficionados has grown to ten members, and the most exciting part? Lou and Steph both welcomed three new babies into the world (including twins!) while running their successful startup. They’re breaking the mold for women in business, showing that success and parenthood can coexist harmoniously.

       

      Supporting Small Businesses: Their clear vision is to support small businesses, foster meaningful connections, and deliver endless joy through meaningful gifts.

       

      Thanks to their cutting-edge Gift Matching service, thoughtful gift givers, and video gift messaging, they’re achieving their vision and more. Today, needi offers you a stress-free and impactful way to shop for your loved ones, whether at home or in the office. Their platform boasts thousands of thoughtful gifts and highlights numerous outstanding independent businesses.

       

      At the heart of needi are its people, from extraordinary independent businesses to their incredible gift-matching team. Their shared passion for people, the planet, and the power of gift-giving creates a shopping experience like no other.

       

      Join the needi gifting revolution and experience the joy of meaningful shopping with Lou and Steph. 

       

      Book a chat with Steph to discover how she can assist you with your gifting needs and simplify your life, all while celebrating the magic of parenthood and business success.

       

      Happy (meaningful) shopping!

      Christmas Gift Ideas for Mum
      BROOD Magazine Christmas Logo
      Christmas Gift Ideas for grandparents
      Ric Moylan

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      CHRISTMAS DAY RECIPES – SIMON WOOD

      CHRISTMAS DAY RECIPES – SIMON WOOD

      The Turkey

      Ingredients

      • Carrots 
      • Celery 
      • Garlic
      • 4 Large Potato’s
      • 2 Large Onions
      • Clementine
      • Streaky Bacon
      • Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

      The Method

      • If you have stuffed the Turkey you will need to remember to Weigh it again and calculate the cooking time (about 20 minutes per 500g/1lb). 20 minutes per pound
      • Cook your Bird from room temperature not straight from the fridge
      • Cover with Tinfoil
      • Preheat your oven to maximum and as soon as you put your turkey in turn it down to 180c, 350f, Gas 4. 
      • Baste your turkey regularly this will keep the meat succulent.
      • I Like to add Sage, Rosemary & Thyme and a halved clementine inside the cavity of my turkey
      • Always use the giblets in your gravy
      • Cover the breast of your bird with smoked streaky bacon and butter this will keep it from drying out.
      • I like to sit my Turkey on some roughly cut vegetables, just to keep it raised from the bottom of the roasting tin and allow the hot air to circulate and cook the bird evenly
      • Remove the tin foil for the last 50 minutes basting regularly still.
      Peppers & Spring Onions
      Woods Restaurant

        The Cranberry Sauce

        • Juice of 2 clementine’s
        • 400g cranberries
        • 200g light muscovado sugar
        • 100ml port

        The Method

        • Add all the ingredients into a saucepan and cook on a medium heat until sticky and delicious, store in sterilised jars in the fridge or give away as Christmas gifts!

        The Gravy – Ingredients

        • 1kg Chicken Thighs or Wings or a mixture of the two
        • Olive oil
        • 4 large carrots
        • 2 Sticks of Celery
        • 3/4 Bay leaves
        • 1 Sprig of Rosemary
        • 1 Teaspoon fresh Thyme
        • 1 Teaspoon fresh Sage
        • 3 White onions halved
        • 2 Maris piper potatoes quartered
        • 1 Tablespoon of your cranberry sauce
        • Celery Salt (1 teaspoon)
        • Ground Black Pepper
        • 3 Pints of Chicken Stock
        • 4 tablespoons cornflour

        The Gravy – Method

        • Set the Stock and cornflour Aside
        • Add the remaining ingredients into a roasting tin and cover with olive oil
        • Roast until golden and the meat is easy to pinch away from the bone, approximately 75 minutes at 180c, 350f, Gas 4.
        • Remove from the oven and shred the meat into the roasting tin and use a fork or a masher to crush all the vegetables
        • Place over a flame or on the hob
        • Add 4 table spoons of the cornflour and mix well cooking the flour out
        • Add in the stock slowly stirring well and crushing all the flavour out of the vegetables and the chicken.
        • Cook until thickened and dark brown in colour.
        • Check Seasoning and strain through a colander and then again through a sieve to get a refined finish to your sauce

        The Stuffing – Ingredients

        • 750g pork mince
        • 25g sage, chopped
        • 100g dried cranberries, roughly chopped
        • 75g Chestnuts, roughly chopped
        • 2 apples, grated
        • 2 onions, grated
        • Salt and Black Pepper

        The Stuffing – Method

        • In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients
        • You can use to stuff the neck of the turkey, or put in an ovenproof dish, cover and bake at gas 4, 180ºC, for 1 hour until golden.

        roast potatoes by Simon Wood

        Perfect Garlic and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

         

        Ingredients

        2kg Red Skin Potatoes

        2 Bulbs of Garlic (Halved)

        1 Bunch of Fresh Rosemary

        1 Bunch of Fresh Thyme

        500g Goose Fat

        Maldon Sea Salt

        Black Pepper

         

         

         

        Method

        Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5.

        Peel the potatoes, cutting any larger ones so they’re all the same size

        Wash the potatoes in cold water to get rid of any extra starch and place a large saucepan on to boil, season with a good amount of sea-salt.

        Add your goose fat into a large roasting tray, the biggest you have. This is to make sure there’s plenty of room for the potatoes and heat to circulate, heat for 10 minutes while your pan of water comes to the boil

         

        Now, add the potatoes to the water and parboil for 10 minutes, you want the outside soft and the inside with a little firmness remaining once ready drain in a colander and leave to steam dry for 5 minutes.

         

        After 3 minutes give the colander a shake to help fluff up the potatoes so they look ‘Snowy’ – this will help to help them to crisp up later on.

         

        Carefully remove your roasting tray with the hot fat from the oven and place on a suitable surface, add in half of your herbs and a bulb of your halved garlic and put it back in the oven for 5 minutes. After five minutes remove the herbs and garlic. You now have a nicely flavoured oil that will make your potatoes taste amazing! 

         

        If you leave the herbs in for the whole time it takes to roast your potatoes, they will burn and taste acrid! We will add in the rest of the herbs with 10 minutes to go to really lift the flavour!

         

        Tip the potatoes into your roasting tray and turn with tongs slowly coating them in the flavoured hot fat, take care not to break them before seasoning well with the sea salt and black pepper.

         

        Roast for 45 minutes, before turning each one to coat in more fat and ensure even colouring, now add in your remaining herbs and garlic and roast for a further 10-20 minutes depending on how much colour you want on them

         

        Once golden and crisp drain any excess oil on a little kitchen paper 

         

        As a chef I find Its always best to do a little test at this point and eat one just to check the seasoning, sometimes I must do this three or four times, just to be sure!

        Peppers & Spring Onions

        Pomegranate and Balsamic braised red cabbage

        • ½ Red Cabbage, Shredded
        • 75ml Balsamic vinegar…. The best you have!
        • 250ml Pomegranate Juice
        • 1 Pomegranate 
        • 1 Star Anise
        • Salt and Pepper
        • Olive Oil

        The Method

        • Shred the cabbage and add into a large pan with a little olive oil
        • On a medium Heat stir until coated and starting to soften
        • Add in 250ml Pomegranate juice and the star anise
        • Cook until softened 
        • Add in 75 ml Balsamic (Adjust to taste)
        • Cook down until golden and sticky
        • Sprinkle with Pomegranate Pearls and serve
          Simon Wood
          Written by

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          SALLY ROWE’S TOP MAKEUP CHRISTMAS PICKS

          SALLY ROWE’S TOP MAKEUP CHRISTMAS PICKS

          SALLY ROWE’S TOP MAKEUP CHRISTMAS PICKS

          Whilst we are amidst the countdown to Christmas Day and our  present lists are ever growing. We put ourselves under more pressure each year to buy for our nearest and dearest……and in my case, also the window cleaner, postman etc etc!! 

          Is Christmas time all about giving to others? 

          Well I believe it’s the perfect time to pop yourself on that Xmas gift list and treat yourself too…….you count too right! So spoil yourself. 

          There’s nothing like a little indulgence at this magical time of year. 

          Whether you want to splash out or be savvy, look no further as here, there is something for everyone 

          Here are my 5 top beauty must haves this season that will inspire you and have you feeling fabulous and a festive sensation.

          Skincare: Splurge

          Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream £47

          https://www.spacenk.com/uk/skincare/moisturisers/day-moisturiser/protini-polypeptide-cream-UK200021928.

          ____

          Skincare: Dupe

          e.l.f. Holy Hydration! Face Cream £12

          https://www.superdrug.com/skin/sun-care/face-sun-cream/elf-holy-hydration-face-cream-broad-spectrum-spf-30-50g/p/823819?gclsrc=aw.

          ___

          Foundation: Splurge

          Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Hollywood Filter £36

          https://www.charlottetilbury.com/uk/product/hollywood-flawless-filter-shade-5-5-tan?

          ___

          Foundation: Dupe

          e.l.f Halo Glow Liquid Filter £14

          Halo Glow Liquid Filter Complexion Booster

          https://elfcosmetics.co.uk/halo-glow-liquid-filter/82116.html

          ___

          Bronzer: Splurge

          Chanel Bronzing cream £43

          https://www.chanel.com/gb/makeup/p/185390/les-beiges-bronzing-cream-cream-gel-bronzer-for-a-healthy-sun-kissed-glow/?

          ___

          Bronzer: Dupe

           

          W7 Bronze Chic Bronzing Balm £5.95

          https://www.w7makeup.co.uk/products/bronze-chic-bronzing-balm

          ___

          Brow: Splurge

          Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz £25

          https://www.anastasiabeverlyhills.com/brow-wiz/brow-wiz.html

          ___

          Brow: Dupe

          NYX Micro Brow Pencil £8

          https://www.nyxcosmetics.co.uk/eyes/brows/micro-brow-pencil/NYX_181.html

          ___

          Highlighter: Splurge

          MAC soft & gentle mineralise skin finish £29

          Mineralize Skinfinish | MAC Cosmetics – Official Site

          ___

          Hightlighter: Dupe

          e.l.f  baked highlighter £5

          https://www.elfcosmetics.co.uk/

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          LOSS AFTER LOVE; CHALLENGES DURING THE FESTIVE PERIOD

          LOSS AFTER LOVE; CHALLENGES DURING THE FESTIVE PERIOD

          LOSS AFTER LOVE; CHALLENGES DURING THE FESTIVE PERIOD

          Loss and grief is something that every single human being will experience at some time in their lives, and so we are never alone in this, however, despite this, it can still feel like a very lonely and overwhelming experience when we are in it. Grief can often feel more difficult at certain times of the year, for example, when there is often more talk around family and loved ones getting together to celebrate, and those that are now missing from our lives are remembered, we may find ourselves feeling sad and overwhelmed, wishing they were still with us.

          There is no quick fix where grief or loss are concerned, and there isn’t an answer or a strategy on how to cope, but there are certainly some things that we can consider at the most challenging of times.

          Patience is one of the main gifts you can give yourself during these times. I have often heard people saying things like, ‘I thought it would feel easier by now’ or ‘It’s been so long I should be feeling different by now’ and many other versions of this. There are no ‘should’ and ‘should not’s’ when it comes to grief. There also isn’t a timeline. It takes as long as it takes for the intensity of feelings to ease, and these feelings can also come in waves, particularly as I already mentioned, around the festive season, birthdays and anniversaries and so on.

          Be kind and compassionate with yourself. Grieving doesn’t have a start and an end date, we are not waiting until it just disappears and then we won’t feel loss or pain anymore. Therefore when it does feel particularly overwhelming, notice how you talk to yourself, avoid judgment and criticism and show yourself love and compassion, especially at the times you need it most.

          Understanding and awareness is also key. There are various stages of grief we can go through such as denial, anger, depression, but these are not linear stages and so you may find that you dip in and out of the stages, and this is perfectly OK. It can be comforting to know that everything you are experiencing is normal and to be expected. Although grief is something we all experience, how we deal with it and manage it doesn’t need to be the same for everyone. Follow your own gut instinct and give yourself permission to grieve YOUR way.

          If you are facing the festive season and feeling like you are dreading this time and want it to be over with quickly due to feeling the sad loss of a loved one, then it’s important to consider lowering your expectations of yourself and your feelings. It’s OK if you don’t want to socialise much. It’s Ok if you don’t want to decorate your home. It’s OK if you want to spend time alone. Equally it’s also OK if you still want to celebrate and make the most of the time you have with friends and family, it’s OK if you want to decorate your home more than ever before!  We are still OK to enjoy our time and socialise when we are grieving too. We can experience the whole range of emotions in equal measures, and there is no need to feel guilty about that as feelings are not fixed, they ebb and flow naturally, and the less we resist all of them, the more peace we will feel in our loves day to day.

          Overall, it’s really about you seeking comfort in people and things or ways that make you feel more at ease, and that will vary for everyone. From myself and the team at Brood, for anyone feeling grief, sadness or loss, we are sending you lots of love. I wanted to finish with a little quote that gave me comfort when I lost very special people in my life over the years.

          “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. Alfred Lord Tennyson

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          BLUEBERRY DUMP CAKE & FIZZY FESTIVE FRUIT COCKTAIL CUBES BY KATE DEVINE

          BLUEBERRY DUMP CAKE & FIZZY FESTIVE FRUIT COCKTAIL CUBES BY KATE DEVINE

          BLUEBERRY DUMP CAKE & FIZZY FESTIVE FRUIT COCKTAIL CUBES BY KATE DEVINE

          I love everything about this time of year. The preparing, the celebrating, the socialising, the woolly jumpers, the cosy nights in watching ‘I’m a celebrity’ religiously for 3 whole weeks! What’s not to love?! Talking of preparing, this the week I’ve been thinking of wholesome, family foods to share with you all to enjoy throughout the festive season. Instead of a main meal, I’m thinking more about a warm, hearty dessert filled with sweet fruits with a crunchy, crumbly texture which is perfect to share with friends and family during the festive season. Introducing the Blueberry Dump Cake. Not the most enticing name for a dessert, I know, but it’s an original American recipe which comes from the concept of this cake – dump and bake! Quite literally you ‘dump’ the ingredients into a baking dish and bake. It’s as simple as that! I use the term ‘cake’ loosely, it’s more of a crumble or cobbler to me but let’s roll with it! It’s pretty simple and take around 40mins to make and bake so you’ll be done in the kitchen in no time.

           

          Here’s the recipe, give it a try, you won’t be disappointed!

           

          BLUEBERRY DUMP CAKE – Serves 8

           

          You will need:

           

          • A medium sized oven proof dish
          • A mixing bowl

           

          Ingredients:

           

          • 3 cups of frozen blueberries – you can use fresh, just reduce the cooking time by 5-10mins
          • 1/2 cup of sugar free sweetener
          • 1 tbsp lemon juice
          • 1/4 tsp Xanthan gum
          • 1/2 cup coconut flour
          • 1/4 cup almond flour
          • 1 tsp baking powder
          • 1 egg
          • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
          • 1/4 tsp salt
          • 1/2 cup melted butter/coconut oil
          • Handful pecan nuts – crushed (optional)

           

          Method:

           

          • Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C or 375 degrees F
          • Place the blueberries, sweetener, lemon juice, xanthan gum in a bowl and mix well, coating all the blueberries
          • Once mixed, empty the blueberries into the ovenproof dish
          • In a clean mixing bowl, add the coconut flour, almond flour, baking powder, egg, cinnamon and salt and mix together
          • Layer the mixture over the blueberries
          • Drizzle the melted butter/coconut oil evenly over the top of the mixture
          • Sprinkle the crushed pecan nuts over the top if using
          • Place in the oven for approximately 30 mins or until the top is golden brown
          • Enjoy with piping hot custard or a scoop of your favourite ice cream.
          Festive Fizzy Ice Cubes

          Something else we all enjoy during December is raising a glass with friends and family, below you will find my ‘fizzy fruit cocktail cubes’ recipe which are perfect for both the adults and the children to enjoy!

           

          FIZZY FESTIVE FRUIT COCKTAIL CUBES

           

          You will need:

           

          • Ice cube trays – one regular square shaped tray and one star shaped tray if possible
          • Clear tumbler glasses – to get the full effect of the colourful fruit

           

          Ingredients:

           

          • Fizzy water/lemonade/champagne
          • Blueberries
          • Raspberries
          • Cranberry juice

           

          Method:

           

          • Prepare the fruit ice the night before you plan on making these drinks – start by filling the star tray with the blueberries and raspberries and fill each mould with regular water and place in the freezer
          • Do the same with the cranberry juice in the square shaped ice tray and place in the freezer
          • Once frozen, place the cranberry cube(s) in the glasses first, then a fruit star, then the sparkling water/champagne to get the nice colour gradient in the glass
          • Be careful not to get the fizzy water drinks mixed up with the champagne drinks!
          • Raise your glass and enjoy!

           

          And as usual, don’t forget to share your creations with us @broodmagazine and @thedevinelife and feel free to drop us a DM with anything you might want help with or any nutrition related questions you might have. I’m more than happy to help!

          written BY KATE DEVINE

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          HOW TO CO-PARENT AT CHRISTMAS

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          HOW TO CO-PARENT A HAPPY CHRISTMAS

          I love Christmas as much as my children do.  When I was younger I used to get so excited on Christmas Eve I used to give myself stomach ache and my mum would get cross with me and have to calm me down. Now I’m a parent myself I don’t get the Christmas Eve stomach-ache (now it’s usually the anxiety of how many presents there is left to wrap) but there’s an added layer of excitement to Christmas when you get to experience those feelings all over again with your own children.

          But what if your divorced or separated and have to share the holidays with your ex-partner? It can be a tricky one, Christmas is an emotional time for many of us and navigating it so everyone’s happy can be a juggle.

          In my research for this piece, I spoke to parents whose experiences were positive and negative.

           Suzanne told me she finds Christmas a depressing and lonely time as she’s completely alienated at Christmas. ‘I’m not the residential parent of my girls so I find Christmas awful as my girls prefer to be with their dad. I find it difficult as we don’t share the holidays. Fortunately, I have a lovely supportive boyfriend who I will be spending it with and pray that one day that things will get better’

          Laura Naser, family lawyer and author of ‘The family lawyers guide to separation and divorce – How to get what you both want’ advises planning early and considering the lone parent in your discussions Although the focus is on the children, and from a legal perspective the decisions about arrangements for children are always based on ‘what is in the child’s best interests’, I commonly see solo parents having concerns about the Christmas period in particular because if it means the children are with their other parent, it often also results in that parent spending time alone. Depending on when the handover is between the parents, it is frequently an issue for the other parent to not have enough time to travel anywhere to be with family or friends because they need to stay local to do a handover, meaning they not only spend Christmas without their child, but they may also spend it without their extended family or friends.

          Alice on the other hand has a great relationship with her ex and even though they both now have new partners they still spend Christmas morning together for the sake of their son Jesse and split the rest of the day. “We make it work even though we have different partners, they have to accept this is how Christmas is for us. They can join in or do their own thing, but this has worked well for us for 11 years, so we stick to it”

          I separated from my husband some years back and while I dreaded the first Christmas we weren’t a full family unit it’s always been something that’s turned out happily. We are lucky that we get on as friends well, (arguably better than we ever did as husband and wife) so my situation is unique in that we are still close enough that we do things together as a family and my ex-husband  still likes to spend Christmas day with me, my children and my extended family. We did it once successfully and it sort of set a precedent for all future Christmas’s. I feel torn somewhat in that my parents still traditionally host Christmas dinner (I’m a good cook but my Christmas dinner doesn’t come close to my mum and dads, and they aren’t ready to pass the baton on yet thank goodness) I can’t invite my ex-husband without them offering first but care about him enough that I won’t leave him alone either. The children understandably just want everyone together and we always put them at the forefront of our decisions. We split the rest of the time between us equally and alternate bigger days like Boxing Day and New Year etc.

          If you don’t get on with your ex-partner communication is key in any decisions about co-parenting but especially for the holiday season. Kids don’t want the burden of choice around who to spend it with as they will feel guilty about whichever parent is left alone so its preferable if you can sit down amicably and do it together as early as you can. Make sure to stay as busy as possible if you are the lone parent to distract yourself from overthinking about what you are missing out on. Have a photo of the children in front of you while you discuss it together can serve as a visual aid in making them the priority in your decision making. Keep going back to the same question, what would make the children the happiest? and you will be at a great starting point for negotiation.

          For the parent who won’t be able to be there for wake up and present opening arrange a separate time for opening gifts, not forgetting grandparents and extended family as well who may still want to see them.

          Consider a fake Christmas where you do all the festivities again on a different day meaning no one is left out and the children benefit from two separate days of celebrations.

          If you do feel completely alone consider reaching out to like-minded individuals if not friends in a similar situation, then online apps such a Frolo a single parent community where you can meet up and make friends with local people in your area.

          Laura Naser says the most common arrangement for Christmas is to alternate each year and to remember that whatever you argue for this year you will experience the flip side the following year, so try to visualise what both sides of the schedule would look like for you.

          Laura says it’s a rare few in my situation that have a joint Christmas and gifting joint presents but if you can manage it, it’s bound to be something that your children will benefit from.

          Natalie Ferrigno is a writer, health coach and single parent of two boys.

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