With the festive season very much upon us, it seems the perfect time for our annual Christmas post. Christmas is my favourite time of the year; spending time with family and loved ones, preparations and decorations offering an atmospheric build up to the day itself. There's something very comforting about the the sense of tradition too, from decorating the tree with a glass of mulled wine (indeed wearing a christmas jumper is a sartorial requirement in my family :)) to church, Christmas lunch and a long walk if the weather permits, it's a splendid time of year.
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No doubt Christmas plans were very much on the agenda when Kate, Carole and Pippa enjoyed dinner out at romantic Covent Garden restaurant Clos Maggiore on Tuesday night, much to the surprise of other diners. The restaurant is a very popular venue for pre and post show dinners, and it's entirely possible the trio took in a show after their meal. Rod Stewart also had dinner there the same night. The Duchess wore a white top for the evening out (with thanks to Ashley for the tip).
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The eatery offers French cuisine and is influenced by the country inns of Provence and Tuscany. Chef Marcellin Marc’s love of Provençal cuisine is recreated with individual style and flair. Marcellin is committed to sourcing local and seasonal products throughout the year to create perfectly balanced menus which have consistently been recognised and awarded with AA-rosette awards. Below, a look at the apple blossom-adorned conservancy.
A look at the restaurant's festive exterior. One customer described it as "the most festive restaurant in London".
A snap of Carole from the night.
|Josephine Wadman Instagram|
Before we look at William and Kate's plans for this year, let's take a quick look back at how they spend the holidays thus far. In 2011, the couple joined the Royal family at Sandringham. It's a packed day for the royals with no less than five outfit changes. The Duchess of York once famously complained about changing seven times in one day. More than twenty royals traditionally join the Queen and Prince Philip for the festivities. Upon arrival, guests are ushered to their rooms, furnished in the post-war Spartan style.
In 2012, the Cambridges opted to celebrate with the Middletons at their home in Bucklebury. Kate was expecting Prince George and had recently been hospitalised with Hyperemesis gravidarum. Still feeling quite poorly, it was reported Kate wanted to spend her last Christmas before motherhood with her family.
In 2013, a smiling William and Kate held hands as they joined the Royal family for the walk to St Mary Magdalene Church. Wearing an Alexander McQueen Black Watch Plaid Coat and Aquatalia, boots the ensemble remains my favourite Christmas look from the Duchess.
It is understood the Duke and Duchess were very eager to model their home and their Christmases on the relaxed, family-filled and fun days the Middletons enjoy rather than the usual formality of royal life.
During an interview with trainee journalist Sophia Kichou, who landed the exclusive due to a promise William made her four years ago when she was homeless, the prince revealed: "If he gets any sleep on Christmas Eve it will be good". Needless to say George is more than a little excited :)
|The Big Issue|
More on the Cambridges' festive plans from the Mail Online:
'So that will be two children, one who suddenly appreciates Christmas, which could be quite challenging. But I’m looking forward to it.’ Speaking further about his festive plans with wife Kate, George, two, and Charlotte, seven months, the Prince said: ‘We’ll go to church as a family on Christmas Day, as we always do.
Then we’ll watch George try to tackle his presents as he tries to unwrap them. It’s a very different experience at Christmas, having a family of your own. It’d be nice if we got a white Christmas because we haven’t had one in many years.’
This year is expected to follow the same plans as last year. We'll see the Cambridges making the walk to church before they tuck into a traditional Christmas lunch of roast turkey with all the trimmings, warming soups and Christmas pudding for dessert.
It's all about board games, opening stockings with the children, walks with the dogs, and relaxing by the fire. One imagines the Downton Abbey Christmas special will feature in their evening itinerary too. It will be one to watch as it is the last episode of the show...ever (I know I'm one of many who will miss it). Below we see Kate with Lady Mary and Anna during her visit to the set in March.
At Anmer Hall, Kate will be busy making plans to ready the house for entertaining over the coming weeks, while also shopping for gifts. The Duchess is regularly spotted at the local flower market where she favours roses and white freesias to fill her country home. Decorative candles and centrepieces will add a fabulous festive touch. A keen cook, Kate will be sourcing local ingredients for family meals and making jam which she reportedly gives to members of the Royal family as presents.
Carole Middleton shared some insight into Princess Charlotte's first Christmas in her column for Baby London magazine along, with plans to make the month ahead special. Carole and Kate are very close and Mrs Middleton will have an integral part in preparations at Anmer. More from Hello!:
'"Relax and enjoy baby's first Christmas," Carole wrote. "They won't remember it, but you'll have fond memories. We're all busy planning festive parties and get-togethers, but taking time to choose and make those all-important festive touches is a must."
Hoping to get the little ones excited about the upcoming festivities, Kate’s mum has suggested making a "paper-and-string sew your own Christmas garland", which is a great family activity as it’s perfect for "young helpers to personalize".
As well as getting crafty, little George and Charlotte can look forward to some baking with their grandmother. They can roll up their sleeves and get stuck in with the "Very Merry Cupcake Set" because, as Carole says, "all children love to bake".'
Annual Christmas events for the family have begun already with Prince William, Carole and Pippa Middleton attending the annual carol service at St Luke's Church for the Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund. Interestingly, both ladies repeated the coats they wore last Christmas Day with Pippa in French Connection whilst Carole selected her green Really Wild Bottle Green Pelham Coat (now reduced from £425 to £150) and boots that look identical to Kate's Aquatalia 'Royal' booties.
The Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund is a member of the charities forum and currently helps over 28,000 children in Uganda by improving the quality of education, buildings and hygiene. The carol service is an event the Duchess used to attend annually before the royal wedding and it's one we miss seeing her at. In previous years, Kate played an active role helping out by preparing refreshments and tidying up afterwards.
What is on William and Kate's agenda over the next couple of weeks? The royals will treat over twenty members of their staff to the traditional Christmas luncheon over the next couple of weeks. In previous years, their chosen venue has been popular eatery Bumpkin in South Kensington. We don't expect to see photos, although it should be a lovely afternoon.
|Bumpkin Facebook Page|
The Duke and Duchess will also attend the Queen's pre-Christmas luncheon at Buckingham Palace before Her Majesty and Prince Philip depart for Sandringham. We can expect to see arrival and departure photos as usual.
There's also a possibility we'll see a portrait of Prince George and Princess Charlotte released. There's no official word on this, but it would be lovely to see another photo of the adorable twosome together :)
In terms of royal engagements for the month, William and Kate are attending the annual ICAP Charity day next Wednesday. On Thursday Kate will visit Warminster to visit the Centre for Addiction Treatment Studies. Also taking place next Tuesday, 8 December - the annual Diplomatic Reception. Attendance is never confirmed but there are whispers the couple will be there. If so, we should see arrival photos. The Duchess will be wearing a tiara and a gown similar to the stunning lavender lace Alexander McQueen dress she wore to the white-tie event in 2013.
Are you excited for the festivities? How will you be spending them this year?