TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 31, 2021

Team Zoella’s Top 5 From 2021

Before we unleash the sequins, pop the bolly and start feeling 2022, we’re taking a fond look back at the team’s best bits from this year: the memes, the precious mems and the mega babes we couldn't have done this year without.

That’s a wrap, folks! 2021 has slipped through our fingers quicker than a tub of Celebrations we vowed we wouldn’t touch till Christmas Day, all Bountys aside, and what a lively 12 months it’s been.

We’ve had personal highlights and pop culture drama aplenty, including parish council memes, Bernie and his travelling mittens, Adele’s hotly anticipated new album, the Euros, Taylor’s version of events, the Friends reunion, masks, no masks and back to masks again but we can all agree, it’s been a whole lot brighter than the year who shall not be named.

Before we unleash the sequins, pop the bolly and start feeling 2022 – let that be your official reminder to film your NYE reel & Tik Tok to the soundtrack of Taylor Swift’s 22 mashup – we’re taking a fond look back at the team’s best bits from this year: the memes, the precious mems and the mega babes we couldn’t have done this year without.

Lareese

Coming in hot at number one without a shadow of a doubt is my sister’s wedding! After having to postpone her dream day due to covid restrictions last year (standard), it felt surreal to finally celebrate together. It was a magical winter wedding – the sun was beaming down all day and I just remember feeling like my heart could burst for her. She looked blissfully happy and of course, she made the most stunning bride I’ve ever seen. Watching her and my darling dad walk down the aisle was the happiest moment of my life. After their husband and wife first dance, loads of confetti came down over everyone on the dancefloor and that feeling will stay with me forever. After a rocky year, everyone being back together again in one room for such a special occasion was the icing on the cake! What a wedding, what a couple <3

The Euros – for the feel-good vibes it gave the nation in the summer of ‘21. You couldn’t help but get wrapped up in the energy of football season and I often found myself shouting “it’s coming home” for no apparent reason to anyone who’d listen. It was one of those events that just brought everyone together and what could be more top 5 material than that.

The year of staycations (take two) – I think I’ve become rather fond of holiday from home ya know. We’ve had some great staycations this year with my absolute favourite being our trip to Norfolk to stay in a little converted train carriage. I love being amongst nature and greenery and that place is a haven for it. Chucking some logs on the fire in the evening and moving at a glacial pace for the weekend was endlessly good for the soul. We also managed to have a bougie night’s stay at The Pig in the South Downs and escaped to the Cotswolds for a few nights so as holidays go, that’s not too shabby for a year when travel was still up in the air.

My Zoella angels – I’ve cried several times thinking about how lost I would have been without them this year. We know the ins and outs of each other’s lives, the good, the bad, the ups and the downs and they’ve helped me more than they’ll ever know this year. We’ve all had our own personal hardships throughout 2021 but going to work is always a joy when you know these wonderful women are in your corner every step of the way. Calling them colleagues just sounds wrong because at this point, they know too much haha, there’s no going back now. LOVE YAS.

Jackie Weaver – the national treasure that she is! Well, it wouldn’t be a top 5 without a viral phenomenon would it now and that chaotic parish council meeting is the gift that keeps on giving. Whenever I’m faced with difficult times or shouty men, I ask myself what would Jackie do? Give that woman a Netflix docuseries for crying out loud.

Charlotte

Moving house was something I knew was inevitable towards the end of 2020 but I had SO much anxiety about actually making it happen and all the unknown of who I would live with and where, especially because I loved my old flat so much. I’m v proud and grateful that I found it within my past self to actually make the move happen though because oh my god it has just been the most transformational thing for my mental health and almost every amazing memory I’ve had this year has been a result of the new people I’ve met and loved getting to know. We’re planning to renew our tenancy in April and I can’t wait to create so many more memories with the special girls I spend every day with.

Red Taylor’s Version- would it even be a top 5 without mentioning this MASTERPIECE?! In the year that I got a Taylor inspired tattoo, the re-release of Red was just pure magic and experiencing all the feels of All Too Well again and with the new verses was exactly what I needed to get me through the autumn season, just in time to start listing to Christmas Tree Farm! I’m manifesting being able to write in my 2022 top 5 that I’ve seen Taylor live in concert next year and let me tell you I will SOB.

Can I write about my work colleagues here? Because I absolutely am going to. I started working for Team Zoella in 2020 and it was a pretty turbulent year (as we all know) to start a new job and get to know everyone properly – or at least attempt to – via Zoom. 2021 in comparison has been a complete breath of fresh air since we headed back to the office in September and to genuinely look forward to going into work and catching up with this wonderful group of women every week is truly a dream. They’re all bloody brilliant in so many ways and the emotional support they provide me is also second to none! Get yourself work besties who know the ins and outs of your entire life!

I wasn’t confident that I would be going abroad this year but escaping to Portugal at the end of September was truly such a tonic and I’m 10/10 grateful that it was possible. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed stepping off a plane and feeling the heat hit your skin and UGHH I would just like to relive it again ASAP. We didn’t choose Portugal for any particular reason other than lovely weather and it was not on the red list (lol) but I genuinely loved it and would really like to visit again because it was so beautiful- lack of vegan options aside!

In the words of Lizzie McGuire, my birthday weekend was what dreamssss were made of. My 2020 birthday was a very sad affair and so I tried to manage my expectations for this year but I tell you what, good friends always come through and have your back and I should have known I could rely on them to make it a great time. I spent it covered in glitter, wearing great outfits (if I do say so myself), drinking lots of tequila, eating brunches galore and wondering what I did to deserve such a transformative year. 24 is going pretty great so far!

Danielle

My House – My biggest achievement/excitement for the year has to be the house my partner Harry and I bought right at the end of 2020. We moved from our one-bedroom basement flat to the new house in between Christmas and New Year 2020 and I have to say it was THE DREAM. Being able to actually WFH in different rooms was fantastic for the first few months and then being able to host all my family and friends when we were eventually allowed has been wonderful. I’ve loved getting bits and bobs when I’m out and this year was my first year decorating properly for Christmas as I never usually bothered in my old flat! Obviously, houses are an ongoing project so there is tons to do next year, but I’m really proud of the progress we’ve made in 2021.

Attending Weddings – I’d say my most fun days out this year had to be weddings! I think because so many were cancelled and re-arranged I knew it was such a source of pain for so many couples and the ones that did end up going ahead felt like true normality! The first was a friend’s in July and felt like one of the first to be allowed an actual dance floor gasp! I remember it feeling like COVID didn’t exist which was such a relief after the previous 18 months!

Becoming a Formula 1 fan – This year I REALLY got into Formula 1 after being a bit of a fringe fan for so long (I blame the drive to survive Netflix series) and I have to say it’s been such a joy! Race weekends started quickly becoming my favourite and Harry is also a big fan so it was great watching a sport we both adored. I bought him tickets for the Silverstone Grand Prix in July and went with my sister and brother in law. We stayed so close to the track in these fun shepherds huts and the weekend itself was an absolute scorcher. I didn’t go on any abroad holidays this year but this weekend and the whole F1 season was such an adventure, ending exactly how I wanted it to for anyone curious #SuperMax!

Trips down to Cornwall – My parents moved to Cornwall at the end of 2020 so being able to visit them so often in arguably one of the most beautiful places in the country was a dream. As soon as lockdowns were over and the sun started to come out we came down for a week in May and it was simply glorious! I know a lot of people have rediscovered lots of the UK that they’d been neglecting over flying off to somewhere warm in Europe so Cornwall was inevitably heaving, there’s so much to see and do and enjoy down here! I’m down again for Christmas and can’t wait to go for a sea walk on the 25th!

Lifestyle changes I’ve made – It got to the point at the end of the summer where I just couldn’t deal with how unfit and sluggish I constantly felt. I contacted a friend who is also a lifestyle/nutrition/wellness coach to start forming some better habits and I feel SO much better. I look after what I’m eating so much more, drink a ton of water and I even joined the gym and I have to say it’s made me a lot happier. Being able to get to Christmas and feel a lot happier with my body was something I never thought I could do and I’m amazed how quickly I started to feel like my old self again after being a slob throughout so many lockdowns. Probably a bit of a weird thing to talk about but when I look back on the year it’s definitely brought me a lot of joy!

Darcey

Staycations – This year I went on some truly lovely staycations with friends and family, I had a trip to Broadstairs and Margate, to Dernwood Camping and Hastings most recently in the year. Not being able to go abroad (well could but unfortunately not for me this year) has made me appreciate all the wonderful things we can do in England. Although we don’t have the lovely heat that hits you when you step off a plane (that is the best feeling, we do have some lovely beaches and places to see, a whole lot of countryside and lovely English old towns with so much character. I think moving forward, I’ll try and do a UK staycation every year and one abroad, I’d love to visit Edinburgh one day so maybe that will be next on my list!

Back to (somewhat) Normality – After spending the majority of 2020 shielding due to living with someone who was at high risk, the vaccination programme for me was really fundamental to me having any kind of normality again and something I truly am forever grateful for. Yes, vaccines don’t mean we can wave goodbye to covid, unfortunately, but it makes life for people like me a lot easier. Being able to go to a pub again with friends, or out for food felt super special but also so normal, like I hadn’t just spent a year unable to do these things. That was a big moment for me this year so it had to make it into my top 5.

My Birthday Babyyyy! – So my birthday in 2020 was so lovely and I was lucky that I am born in June so by the time my birthday came round I was able to meet 5 others outside (sounds strange saying that now ha). However, my birthday this year was bloody spectacular! My friends and family made so much effort and I felt truly so loved. I had a birthday brunch at Oeuf cafe, followed by the most delicious meal at The Salt Room (if you are Brighton based or visiting and love seafood, you need to go). One of my closest friends Amna surprised me with a meal at Park Chinois in Mayfair which was absolutely divine, with live music and really tasty food, particularly their dim sum! I also spent a weekend with some other friends in London celebrating mine and my fave twins birthdays (we are born 3 days apart), so all in all I was like the Queen and had a birthday week, will be doing that every year I think.

Team Zoella – I know a few of us have mentioned this, but I really don’t think I would have gotten through the last 18 months without this wonderful team of people around me. Working with these gals is like working with friends, I don’t think I could even class them as just colleagues, we have so many laughs together, we cry together, we act like crazy people together when the 3pm slump hits in the office and the caffeine or sugar we’ve all just inhaled hits haha! They are all such amazing human beings in their own right and getting back into an office with them all this year really was a true highlight, although we can’t be together now (WFH hits again) I can’t wait already until we all get the go-ahead again to go back to the office! For now I shall appreciate seeing all their lovely faces on the old zoooomy.

Spending another Christmas and Birthday with my Mumzy – I don’t speak too often about my personal stuff on here and actually, this is number 1 of my highlights but I didn’t want to start off too soppy for my top 5. My Mum has been unwell for the past 18 months with terminal cancer, it’s a real emotional rollercoaster and it really puts life into perspective when you go through something like this. Every Birthday and Christmas we get to spend with her again feels like a true blessing, it’s her 50th birthday this year and a milestone we feel so grateful to be able to celebrate together.

Maddie

My top moment of the year without a doubt is becoming a mother to my little girl. It definitely took me a little while to adjust but after the first few months of many tears, painful recovery and sleepless nights, things have been getting better and better and despite still not being the best sleeper in the world I honestly couldn’t love her any more. She’s a wonder, so fun and incredibly determined already, I wake up every day feeling incredibly lucky to be her mum.

After a two year design and construction process my family and I finally moved into our home, it’s probably my biggest personal achievement to date and I feel incredibly proud of all of the hard work my husband and I put into making our dream a reality. It was a long old rollercoaster of a journey to get us to walking through the front door and calling it home, there were many tears and long nights to make it happen but it was so worth it.

Joining Zoella full time was definitely a highlight of the year for me. Although I’ve worked with the team and Zoe for years and I’ve always been a part of the Zoella business, it was really nice to make it official and join as the new MD post my maternity leave in September. Juggling motherhood and this new role has been much smoother than i had pictured and I feel really lucky to have such an amazing support system both at home and the brilliant team at work.

I feel like TV shows have been really strong this year and especially during my maternity leave I devoured a lot of seasons far too quickly. Some front runners include; Sex Education, Selling Sunset, Dexter, Bridgeton, Emily in Paris, It’s a Sin, The Crown and the Undoing. Told you there was a lot! The end of the year is also coming in hot with the new Sex and the City show ‘And Just Like That’ coming to our screens which I’m sure I will LOVE.

Cornwall! I’ve been really fortunate to spend a lot of time in Cornwall given that’s where my husband’s family are from so we naturally try and spend as much time there as we can but during my maternity leave we really made the most of it and had a lot of extended stays there this year. I think like the rest of the country I fell in love with it even more than ever, the wide sandy beaches, clear waters and home from home feeling was just what we needed after being pushed apart by the pandemic for far too long.

TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 30, 2021

The Top Winter Accessories Keeping Us Warm This Season

From berets to beanies, mittens to Ugg mini boots (iykyk), there are endless ways to jazz up your coat and thermal leggings look this winter and accessorise in a way SJP would be proud of.

Brrr- whack the heating up, get your electric blankets going and put on another layer people, it’s cold out! The coolest months of the year are upon us and now that Christmas is done and dusted, suddenly those low temperatures aren’t so magical anymore. Thankfully balaclavas are having a moment this season, and we’ll forever be advocating for style + comfort + warmth wrapped into one, thank you very much- there will be no bare legs in the name of Fashun around these parts!

From berets to beanies, mittens to Ugg mini boots (iykyk), there are endless ways to jazz up your coat and thermal leggings look this winter and accessorise in a way SJP would be proud of. Add a hat, scarf, gloves, and of course mask to your daily lewk and watch how easy it is to dodge that ex you’d rather not see from across the Sainsbury’s fruit and veg aisle now. What did we say about comfort and practicality again!?

Danielle

I feel like in the UK I forget how cold it can be EVERY year, then all of a sudden it’s January and my fingers are freezing every time I leave the house. I’ve actually already picked up a few of these items all ready for winter, I couldn’t resist jumping in the ultra-mini UGG boot trend after seeing how good they looked post-gym (I also think they’ll be great for travel). Azurina does beautiful personalised accessories and this scarf is SO soft! Invested in some North Face gloves with ‘e-tips’ they’re quite thin so I can slip them in my small handbags. Cashmere socks are such a delight and really do make a difference in terms of warmth, perfect if you always have cold feet when you go to bed like me. Berets seem to be the new beanies, not sure if I can get it to sit right on my head yet but I’ll give it a go!

Azurina, Brown Blanket Scarf, £35
Oliver Bonas, Cashmere Blend Bed Socks, £24
ASOS, The North Face Etip Recycled gloves in beige, £35
ASOS, ASOS DESIGN wool beret in stone, £10
UGG, CLASSIC ULTRA MINI BOOT, £125

Charlotte

I live with a good accessory in winter to brighten up all the dull thermals and layers aplenty, and there are some real gems online this year! We shared some balaclavas on a Zoella post earlier during autumn and I’ve been contemplating if I’m cool enough to wear one ever since then. As the temperatures continue to drop I feel like for practical reasons alone it’s a must! As a matter of urgency though I need some gloves because this gal has seriously poor circulation and my hands are COLD AF lately. I love these kitsch mittens!

Weekday, Disa Balaclava, £18
ASOS, COLLUSION Unisex scarf in green check, £15.99 
Icewear, MAGNEY HAND KNITTED WOOL MITTENS, £35
Oliver Bonas, Disco Nap Blue Velvet Hot Water Bottle, £26

Lareese

It’s that time of the year when I start getting weirdly into berets again and Emily in Paris season 2 is only partly to blame. During the winter months, I gravitate towards snug layers and cosy accessories because I’m a nicer person when I’m warm. I’ve been dream shopping these Birkenstocks for far too long so I’m taking that as a sign I need these glorified slippers in my life. I’ve also linked to a pair of shearling gloves and a chunky scarf because no one above the age of 30 likes a chilly neck and frozen phalanges when they’re out and about.

New Look, Dark Brown Wool Blend Beret, £13.99
Wolf & Badger, SHEEPSKIN MITTENS, £49
Office, BIRKENSTOCK Boston Clogs M Cocoa R, £70
Arket, Check-Pattern Wool Scarf, £69

Darcey

Can’t go wrong with some good quality winter accessories to keep you warm this winter! I’ve linked a cosy lilac scarf from ASOS for a pop of colour, touch-screen gloves are a life saver when it’s freezing but you’ve got texts to reply to. I’ve linked a really bright green beanie from Mango which I think will look so cool with a lot of outfits and lastly thermal socks are a must-have in the winter to wear under your boots, it keeps you so much warmer.

ASOS, recycled blend scarf with raw edge in lilac, £12
ASOS, touch screen gloves in black, £5
Mango, Knit beanie, £15.99
Marks & Spencer, 3pk Thermal Ankle High Socks, £12

Maddie

I wish i had the head for a beret. I’m half French, it should suit me but it just doesn’t so i embrace bobble hats and beanies in a big way come winter. I bought some North Face boots this year and they’ve been an absolute godsend on the cold days. I feel like, as long as your head and feet are warm, everything else takes care of itself!

Arket, Classic Beanie, £35
& Other Stories, Fuzzy Mohair Beanie, £29
Oliver Bonas, Green & Pink Faux Fur Pom Beanie Hat, £22
The North Face, WOMEN’S THERMOBALL™ LACE-UP BOOTS, £100

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TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 29, 2021

The People We’ve LOVED Following on Social Media in 2021

Whether it be their outfits, their words, their sense of humour, their crazy good creativity or simply their gorgeous digital presence, these are the people who light up our feeds like the human lighthouses that they are!

Social media is often condemned for the negative impact it’s had on our lives – the comparison, the relentless consumption of information and unsolicited opinions to name a few, but for all its messy & murky pitfalls, it has created this incredible sense of community and connectivity, allowing us to discover some incredible people from all walks of life and all corners of the globe.

Whether it be their outfits, their words, their sense of humour, their crazy good creativity or simply their gorgeous digital presence, these are the people who light up our feeds like the human lighthouses that they are, continually making these platforms an open and inviting place to spend our precious downtime.

Here are the people, brands, meme accounts and insanely talented creators who have given us a much-needed daily dose of serotonin throughout 2021.

Maddie’s Faves

Ashley James – @Ashleylouisejames

Since becoming a mum the content I consume has changed slightly and I’ve definitely noticed a gravity pull towards other women in similar shoes to me. One woman in particular who has been a real source of inspiration and comfort this year is Ashley Louise James. Her little boy is just a few months older than my daughter and it’s been so reassuring seeing her be so honest about her feelings towards motherhood, breastfeeding and postnatal depression. She shows all sides of motherhood and isn’t afraid to share the dark as well as the light, in social media that can be very rare to find.

Lorna Andrews – @Lorna_luxe

My life turned upside down this year, things got very REAL and responsibilities have peaked now I have a person to care for. Pre pandemic I was always working and playing in equal measures at a million miles per hour. If I had a free weekend, a quick trip somewhere in Europe wasn’t off the cards. Those days are behind me and although I wouldn’t change where I am now for the world, sometimes it’s nice to escape in some content which echos your past life. For me that’s Lorna! She’s so genuine and down to earth yet she lives this absolutely fabulous life and takes any opportunity to explore the world whilst clearly also working very hard at the same time.

Lareese’s Faves

Carrie Santa da Silva – @wishwishwish

s/o to my number one baby girl. Not only does Carrie’s creativity leave me floored every single time (her Space NK Christmas campaigns are nothing short of a masterpiece), but she has a wonderful way of making life’s most ordinary moments an art form. Crumpled bed sheets, desk days, breakfast in bed, a cup of tea and some welsh cakes – how she captures the quiet and easily overlooked joys the every day on film brings me a ridiculous amount of happiness year after year.

Her account feels a lot like a home within this app, forever inspiring me to pick up my camera and savour life’s simple pleasures whether it be a stroll in the park or a misty morning. Her account is curated and considered but with a lived-in magic that’s so quintessentially her own. If I sound like a fangirl it’s because I am.

Lydia Millen – @lydiamillen

I’ve followed Lydia for years now but watching her invest in herself this year and show up for herself in ways she’s never had to before has made for the ultimate wholesome feel-good viewing. I find great comfort in people sharing their vulnerability openly and the way she’s spoken about her personal hardships over the last 18 months and the changes she’s put in place as a consequence of what she’s gone through in the online space has been so inspiring to see. I love it when women love themselves harder, fight for their boundaries and live their truth, all while creating a wonderful life for themselves. It’s bloody beautiful. No, you’re crying!

Chloe Plumpstead – @chloeplumpstead

This woman needs a book deal because no one crafts words like her. I’ve always loved long chatty captions and glorious streams of consciousness full of observations about life, relationships, orgasms and all the vanilla moments in between; all the glimmers of existence we often forget are the absolute essence of living. Chloe is a wordsmith of the highest order and reading her musings on everything from working from home to the thundering passing of time has been like food for the soul. Praise be for your glorious mind CP.

Grave Victory – @gracefvictory

Following her survival story has been incredibly life-affirming and inspiring for so many reasons. Grace was put in a coma after contracting Covid whilst pregnant with her son. After delivering him two months early via c section, she then spent 3 months in an induced coma and was given just a 5% chance of survival. Hearing her brave account of her experience and watching her be the mama she was always destined to be to her baby boy feels like the reminder we all need to LIVE life to the fullest.

Daisy Cooper – @Daisymaycooper

The wonky knob showdown with her publisher had me howling for days. And then she called him again when his cat died and that sent me over the edge. I mean she dedicated said book to ‘fit’ Ben Shephard on morning tv – get this woman knighted for her services to public morale already.

Danielle’s Faves

Adéṣayọ̀ Tàlàbí – @simplysayo

Most people who know me well know I love a poem, I have an IG folder of saves packed full of Brian Billston and Rupi Kaur and Zoe actually bought me a poetry book for Christmas last year! So when I came across simplysayo on TikTok I was immediately obsessed! Hilarious poems in short video format from many of her different characters are a joy to watch, some are ridiculous, some are hard-hitting, and some are so clever it takes you three watches to get all the double meanings and puns thrown in! Sayo perfectly captures the vibe of the nation when she comments on the most popular stories of the week which can be anything from England in the world cup final to Matt Hancock doing… Matt Hancock things. Her recent poem covering the Omicron variant and its original roots poorly portrayed by the media was nothing short of a masterpiece. As with most of my favourite TikTok accounts, I end up finding them on Instagram so I can gobble up even more of their content and get a feel for who they actually are as a person and let me tell you Adéṣayọ̀ is such a badass and beacon of inspiration. Watching her celebrate so many milestones with followers this year has been brilliant, and I can already see it’s opened up so many doors for her as it absolutely should because the talent is immaculate! 100% one to watch over the coming years, urging you to follow!

Christina Najjar – @itsmetinx

If you haven’t heard of Tinx yet you must have been living under a rock for the last year! Tinx’s rise to creator stardom started with her pretty profound dating advice (see box theory, and reverse box theory) using a tiny mic on TikTok but I must say I now watch her far more on the gram. Her stories are always right at the front of my follower list and they’re super casual, funny, inspiring, the list goes on. As someone who is quite happily engaged you wouldn’t think one of my favourite creators would be someone who gives so much advice on finding your person but I assure you Tinx is so much more than that. From telling us what she’s eating at all times, to what book she’s binging, to whether or not she’s spotted a Bronco that day, it’s always fun to see a day in the life of someone in LA/New York/ London (she gets around!) There are so many ‘Tinxisms’ that knowing her codes makes you feel like you’re in a fun millennial internet crew, for example, RMW = Rich Mom Walk – getting your steps in early morning and thinking about the day ahead/manifesting what you want out of life and kick-starting the day with power and control. I might not be doing the whole thing justice so just go and follow and join us in the club!

Abisola Omole – @AbiMarvel

I’ve followed Abisola for YEARS, ever since she created a relaxing apartment for LFW bloggers needing a rest, so we’re going on 8ish years, however, this year Abi’s content just hit different! Currently, Abi is delivering the chicest, sexiest, on-trend fashion and interiors content on Instagram, no contest. From showing us what’s going on in her studios (available to rent out for shoots) to where she’s travelling, I’m always hooked by both her feed and story content. Where Abi really shines for me is through her branded content, usually something you might skip. The utmost care, respect and effort is always put into the content she delivers and you can tell she only works with brands that she has a really natural fit with, recently Abisola was commissioned to create a temporary retail space with By Rotation and seeing her put together the space and why was so interesting to watch, unsurprisingly it turned out beautiful! I’ve loved watching her on her travels to New York and LA, quickly scribbling down all of her recommendations and saving her outfit inspo. Go and check out Abi on IG now if any if this sounds like your vibe as she does it SO WELL.

Charlotte’s Faves

Ethan and Hila Klein – The H3 Podcast

Can the Klein family adopt me already?! Listening/watching along to the H3 Podcast during lockdown honestly got me through those first dreary months of 2021 and it’s become a solid part of my WFH routine to have Ethan and the crew in the background of so much of my life now. For those who don’t know the podcast is a comedy and chat show based on popular culture and current internet moments and it’s kept me going having such regular content to go-to whenever I need a laugh- 100% my comfort watch! I would also love a wardrobe full of Teddy Fresh (Hila’s brand) in 2022, please.

Karina @StyleIdealist

The queen of Reels! I met Karina in 2019 and her infectious personality and smile has stuck with me since then, giving me a boost of positivity every time she pops up on my feed. Not only are her outfits always 11/10, but I live for her Story updates too and the balance of real-life with a dreamy style that makes you wanna be besties IRL. She is the absolute queen of smock dresses and occasion styling and I always head to her page when I need a dose of achievable and gorgeous style inspo.

Hannah – YogawithHan

Team Zoella did a gorgeous Self Love Yoga class with Hannah earlier this year and I’ve been obsessed with this ray of sunshine ever since. I’ve since been to more of her classes and always leave with a full heart and feeling recharged and with a newfound appreciation for my body and self. Her Instagram is a gorgeous extension of that, regularly sharing unfiltered selfies, easy and accessible ways to connect with your body and in general beautiful tips for a life more in tune with yourself. I can’t wait to learn more from her in 2022!

Bonny & Emily – Chats and Reacts

I got my Taylor Swift/Evermore inspired tattoo in 2021 and with the re-release of Red, it’s clear this year was the ONE for Swifties everywhere. The gorgeous girls from Chats and Reacts came up on my TikTok FYP so many times and I fell in love with both their gorgeous Australian accents, charm and insight into all things Ms Swift. Their reaction to the 10-minute version of All Too Well was a personal favourite of mine and I want to be pals with them both so much!

Mark Groves – Create the Love

Thank goodness the latter part of 2021 saw me heal a lot from a 2020 break-up, but the first 6 months of the year were still pretty rough. Filling my feed with positive energy and healing tools and information was a really transformative choice for me, and the content from Create the Love/Mark Groves was such a big part of that. I can scroll through any of Mark’s posts or videos and gain so much- he just really speaks my language and I can’t wait to learn more from his work in 2022.

Darcey’s Faves

Simple Politics – @simplepolitics

Without these guys I would have never been able to keep up with everything that’s going on in the UK at the moment, from politics to covid, they cover everything and with rules constantly changing for Covid, I’ve found this account super helpful. Definitely an account doing a whole lot of good for the people!

Sarel Madzebra – @cocosarel

I am obsessed with this woman, OBSESSED. She is so bloody funny and her Love Island rundowns are iconic to say the least. You don’t even need to watch the series, just watch her narrow the best bits into one video and you’ll be laughing in seconds. She also does celeb rundowns, things happening in the news etc, but always so funny and also so accurate!

Ellie Beatrice Joslin – @missjoslin

I go to Ellie for the majority of my style Inspo, she dresses super cool and her gram is very aesthetically pleasing. I really like using Instagram and Pinterest for fashion Inspo and building saved folders, I think this is always a real positive from these platforms is people expressing themselves how they choose and inspiring others.

Rosie – @rosiebreenx

At the later end of this year, I decided that I wanted to work on my health and to start eating more nourishing meals accompanied by more exercise. I live a very sedentary life and with the past year of lockdowns, I became quite unfit and wasn’t feeling like myself anymore. I followed Rosie from the beginning of my journey and she is so great, she is super positive and everything she does revolves around self-love and making these changes in life for the right reason. She shares really tasty recipes and keeps everyone updated with her own journey, she also very much preaches to still enjoy the things you love. She’s just bought out a cookbook too so definitely check her out if this is something you are interested in!

Benjamina – @bakedbybenji

If you love baking you need to follow Benjamina asap! She bakes the most delicious looking goods, including gluten-free and vegan options so there really is something for everyone. The other day she posted about a pistachio, cardamon and lemon cake and I was actually salivating. There’s a load of baking Inspo over on her Instagram and she also works with other bakers too on recipes so there’s always fresh new things to try!

TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 28, 2021

The Redecorating Game Every Interior Design Addict Will Love!

Introducing Redecor – the design app made with home decor lovers in mind. Whether you want to get some inspiration for your next decorating job, develop your aesthetic, pick up a creative hobby or simply indulge in a spot of mindful self-expression!

AD – this article is sponsored by Redecor.

The Christmas tree’s packed away for another year, you’ve tussled with the tinsel and your home is suddenly looking cold, naked and a little bit sad without the warm glow of a hundred fairy lights and all of December’s jolly fandangle. 

Before you know it, you’re ordering paint samples (we’ve got more Farrow & Ball colour cards to our name than underwear at this point), seven cushion covers and mentally redesigning every inch of your living space because that post-Christmas interior itch has found you and it won’t leave until it’s had a good scratch. All you want for 2022 is a utility room and a floor-to-ceiling bookcase, is that really too much to ask? 

But what if there’s another way to get your interior design fix without committing to yet another spenny and time-consuming reno project? We’ve discovered just the thing and there’s not one blister-giving heat gun in sight. Huzzah!

Introducing Redecor – the design app made with home decor lovers in mind. Whether you want to get some inspiration for your next decorating job, develop your aesthetic, pick up a creative hobby or simply indulge in a spot of mindful self-expression, Redecor has hundreds of design solutions and materials for you to try and a new design challenge to complete every day. 

Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

How to play! 

In classic design challenges, you’ll be answering a client brief with set requirements, designing everything from an extravagant dinner party, a makeup studio, a reading nook or a Japandi-style home office. If you’re the competitive type, you can go head-to-head with another random player in a design duel to battle it out in a 24-hour challenge. 

Another way to earn virtual cash prizes is to critique other player’s designs by voting on the best ones and collecting XP (experience points), you can then use your Redecor currency to unlock unique décor items from wallpaper to quartz counters, throws, parquet flooring and that *one* particular shade of paint you’re desperate to have in your inventory. Ours is a tub of Sandstone, please.  

We love playing Redecor in the morning before we get stuck into the day or in the evenings, plonked in front of the tv. If anyone asks us what we’re up to in January, we will tell them we are very busy indeed, faffing with lampshades and deciding which tea towel will best compliment our client’s kitchen cabinetry. 

If you’re up to date with every episode of Escape to the Chateau and find yourself stuck in an interior design rut between the Christmas and New Year limbo, download Redecor now (for free!) for hours of creativity and relaxation! 

Alexa, play the Changing Rooms theme tune….

Download the app here!

AD – this article is sponsored by Redecor.

TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 23, 2021

10 Fiction Podcasts to Listen to on a Dew-Soaked Morning Walk

From gripping to gruesome and emotional to inspiring, there’s something for everyone in the world of fiction podcasts to capture your imagination and transport you out of Crimbo Limbo and straight into another world entirely.

The pre-Christmas haze is beginning, in which life feels like a blur of Love Actually quotes, mince pies for breakfast and taking a midday bath because, well, why not? If escaping the conflict over who opened the cheese and crackers before Boxing Day (no comment) is slowly becoming more essential than ever, look no further for 10 fiction podcasts perfect for a morning walk that will have you smashing out 10k steps in no time- ideal for digesting said cheese and crackers, sorry not sorry.

From gripping to gruesome and emotional to inspiring, there’s something for everyone in the world of fiction podcasts to capture your imagination and transport you out of Crimbo Limbo and straight into another world entirely. Just make sure to look when you’re crossing the road on said dew-soaked walks, okay? 

Forest 404:

Welcome to BBC Radio 4’s innovative new podcast – Forest 404! This immersive sci-fi thriller is set in the 24th century, in a version of the world in which forests have been erased from history after a data crash called The Cataclysm. Spanning 9 episodes, the story follows protagonist Pan as she discovers a set of sound recordings of rainforests – places that no longer exist – which prompts her to look for the truth about how the old world died. If you can’t get enough of this sci-fi lover’s dream you’re in for a treat, because each drama episode also has an accompanying talk with a diverse range of speakers including musicians, bio-futurists, anthropologists and tree-climbers that really bring this story to life!  

36 Questions:

Hopeless romantics and musical lovers pay attention, this one’s for you. Released in three 50 minute-long acts, this audio-only musical follows estranged husband and wife, Jase and Judith, on the quest to try and save their crumbling marriage with a set of 36 questions designed to make couples fall in love. Including the star of Hamilton, Glee and Mindhunter, Jonathan Groff, the podcast truly feels like you’re enjoying a movie or broadway show for your ears without needing to leave your home- what’s not to love?! This hit release from 2017 is still as impactful now as it was upon the first release, and covering themes such as identity, oneness and the longevity of our romantic relationships, it’s the perfect Christmas to New Year limbo listening for those feeling reflective. 

The Amelia Project:

Winner of 2020’s Audio Verse Awards and 6 other awards including Best Audio Play Production and Writing of an Audio Play Production, The Amelia Project is a dark comedy podcast about a secret agency offering a very special service: faking its clients’ deaths and bringing them back with a new identity. The series starts with a succession of interviews with clients including cult leaders, scientists, politicians all desperate to disappear before a broader narrative begins to emerge. With an average of 4.8 stars out of 5 on iTunes, start your fiction listening with the best of the best and dive straight into the 46 episode long back catalogue.

Moonface:

Seeking a podcast storyline that stays with you? Moonface is for you. The six 20-30 minute episodes follow Paul,  a first-generation immigrant and gay man, as he navigates living at home with his mother who is unaware of his sexuality, mainly due to their language barrier: she doesn’t speak English and his Korean is somewhat lacking. The podcast follows Paul’s struggle with finding himself and trying to maintain an honest relationship with his mother- something writer James Kim has felt within his personal life too:

“So, I took it from my own experience of not being able to speak to my parents, because my mom doesn’t speak much English and I don’t speak Korean. I played around with that idea and thought, `you know, maybe it’s that this character needs to tell this person something, but they can’t because they don’t speak the same language.”

Raw, thought-provoking and poignant, Moonface is the perfect listen when you’re seeking a podcast to cut through the noise and keep you enthralled throughout. If you miss your stop on the bus, we apologise. 

Honeymoon For One:

Following the story of 28 year old Claire- a soon to be married woman who catches her fiance cheating on her the week of their wedding- the 7 episode series sees her jet off on her non-refundable honeymoon regardless, but instead alone. If you fancy being transported out of the dismal state of affairs we’re currently experiencing and dropped off somewhere in an Italian summer’s dream then look no further – true escapism at its peak. 

Mabel:

With 40 episodes in total, you won’t be left without plans this Christmas if bingeing a podcast is a pastime you’re seeking. Mabel is a listen with a spooky sentiment, focusing on all things ghosts, missed connections, family secrets and homes with unknown entities. Anyone else feeling a cool chill all of a sudden? The story follows Anna Limón, a nurse, trying to get in contact with Mabel Martin, a missing person, and the twists, turns and treachery that ensues thereafter. With themes of magical realism transporting you to a land in which otherworldly presences aren’t so uncommon, expect goosebumps! 

Holy Sh!t:

Holy Sh!t is a comedy podcast about female friendship, sex, betrayal and Jesus, told entirely through Whatsapp voice messages. Meg and Lydia have been besties forever- the only difference being Lydia believes in God and hard work and Meg believes in jazz and sexual freedom. As they study apart at different universities, the podcast is formed of a series of hilarious voice notes that sum up what it means to be best pals. Avoid listening on the bus if you don’t fancy stifling laughter into your mask.

From Now:

Lost spaceship, USS HOPE, suddenly returns to Earth after vanishing thirty-five years earlier, but when the lone survivor disembarks mysteriously​ looking the exact same age as when he left, a media frenzy ensues​. When he finally reunites with his formerly identical twin brother (now an old man), what starts as a joyful reconciliation soon leads to dark revelations that threaten their relationship — and the future of humanity. Starring Richard Madden (side eye emoji) and produced by Brian Cox, this star-studded 6 episode series is intense, immersive and suspenseful – you won’t believe it’s simply audio!

Fruit:

Fruit follows the journey of a professional football player, X, through his sexual exploration as a gay man and his battles with self-identity both on and off the field. The first-person narrative chronicles X’s relationship with his friends, teammates and family and the challenges that arise from the alpha-male dominated industry of professional sports, and the contrasts with his personal life and struggles. From Issa Rae, creator of Insecure on HBO, the reviews of Fruit are full of ‘More episodes please’, ‘I need more!!’ and 5 stars all around. You won’t be disappointed!

The Left Right Game

An idealistic young journalist, played by Tess Thompson, is trying to make a name for herself by following a group of paranormal explorers, obsessed with a seemingly harmless pastime known as the Left/Right Game. But the quest for the perfect story takes her into a supernatural world that she and the other members of the expedition can neither handle nor survive. This 10 episode series has been uniquely adapted from a Reddit post, and with 4.5 stars from nearly 300 reviews on Apple Podcasts, this gripping adaption is one to start immediately for crime and thriller enthusiasts everywhere. 

Imaginary Adavice: 

Fancy something a little different to finish? We got you. Imaginary Advice is a collection of audio-fiction experiments in which writer and director Ross Sutherland presents a brand-new piece of writing, be it short-stories, monologues, essays or a combination of all three across 84 episodes, with more set to return in February 2022! Described as one of the best, original and creative podcasts around, it’s so good you’ll likely be tempted to add to the long list of glowing reviews yourself!

TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 22, 2021

A Fun Festive Quiz To Do Round The Christmas Table This Year

One festive pastime you can rely on to add some spice to your Friendsmas dinner or keep the whole family entertained in the 4pm lull is a good old fashioned quiz - because who doesn’t love a spot of Family Fortunes style excitement?!

Is it even Christmas if you’re not forced to endure endless hours of organised fun with your extended family when most of us would rather be watching the Xmas specials? We thought not. From charades so frustrating you’re forced into grabbing a bev from the bar cart to the most infuriatingly terrible depiction of the Nativity scene during Pictionary, it’s safe to say there are some games best left collecting dust on the shelf…

One festive pastime you can rely on to add some spice to your Friendsmas dinner or keep the whole family entertained in the 4pm lull is a good old fashioned quiz – because who doesn’t love a spot of Family Fortunes style excitement?! All we’ll say is if Vernon Kay is involved, sign us the f**k up. As a nation, it’s safe to say we overdid it on the quiz front during the 2020 chapter of banana bread and Joe Wicks we’d prefer to forget (sorry Joe), but in the spirit of new chapters and rewriting happier memories this Christmas, the time is now for bringing back the humble quiz. With an emoji round for TikTok lovin’ teens of the family, a classic Christmas round for the grandparents, and finally some ‘was it during 2020 or 2021 trivia’ that everyone can get involved in, look no further for a selection of juicy questions ready to pull everyone out of a cheese induced food coma pronto. 

Christmas Films – Emoji Style:

It does what is says on the tin- simply decipher the emojis below to create the titles of some of the most well-loved Christmas films around.  Bonus point for number 9 because he’s a rogue one…

  1. 📆⬅️🎄
  2. 🏝 🇺🇸🇬🇧
  3. ♥️✔️ 
  4. 👑🔄👯‍♀️ 
  5. 🎄📖 
  6. 🤩3️⃣4️⃣ 🏘
  7. 🐷🐸🎄🎶
  8. 🤬🎅🏽
  9. 🎄➡️👪 😡
  10. 🧝‍♂

  Answers:

  1. Last Christmas
  2. The Holiday
  3. Love Actually
  4. The Princess Switch
  5. Christmas Chronicles
  6. Miracle on 34th Street
  7. The Muppets Christmas Carol 
  8. Bad Santa
  9. Christmas with The Kranks
  10. Elf

The Classic Christmas Qs:

The Christmas round- because is it really a December quiz without it? These family-friendly questions range from historic to foodie to popular culture and back again, providing something for uncles, cousins, and grandpa alike. 

  1. If you were born on Christmas Day, what star sign are you?
  2. Which Christmas song is the highest-selling single of all time? 
  3. How many siblings does Kevin have in Home Alone?
  4. Which country donates the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square?
  5. What year was The Snowman first shown on TV (on Boxing Day)?
    • 1982
    • 1985
    • 1990
    • 1979
  6. In the song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ what was the gift given on the seventh day?
    • Pipers pipin’
    • Swans a-swimming
    • Lords a leapin’
    • Geese a layin’
  7.  In which country is it tradition to eat KFC for Christmas dinner?
  8. How many different types of sweets are there in a standard box of Quality Street?
  9. What date in January should all your Christmas decorations come down by, according to tradition?
  10. What do Excitable Edgar and Monty the Penguin have in common?

Answers:

  1. Sagittarius
  2. White Christmas, Bing Crosby 
  3. Four
  4. Norway
  5. A, 1982
  6. Seven swans a-swimming
  7. Japan
  8. 12: The Purple One, The Green Triangle, Coconut Eclair, Orange Chocolate Crunch, Toffee Deluxe, Fudge, Milk Choc Block, Toffee Penny, Caramel Swirl, Strawberry Delight, Orange Creme.
  9.  January 5
  10.  Both are stars of previous John Lewis adverts

A Year in the Making- The 2021 Round:

Have you been paying attention this year? It’s time to find out. Unlike 2020, the past 365 days have flown by faster than it takes to demolish a freshly baked camembert , but for the attentive amongst us, this round might just be a breeze…

  1. What was the name of the picture book for children written by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex?
  2. Marks & Spencer goes to war with Aldi over what cake?
  3. Which football club wins the FA Cup for the first time, defeating Chelsea 1–0 in the final at Wembley?
  4. Who was the former owner of a Ford Escort sold at auction for more than £52,000?
  5. At the end of November, which country became the world’s newest republic?
  6. Line of Duty finally identifies the Fourth Man, better known by what initial?
  7. Which of the following billionaires went to space in 2021?
    • Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg 
    • Sergey Brin and Bernard Arnault 
    • Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos 
    • Elon Musk and Bill Gates
  8. What anniversary is the Harry Potter film franchise celebrating in 2021?
  9. Who won Album of the Year at the 2021 Grammy Awards?
  10.   In which month were zero daily deaths from Covid 19 reported in the UK for the first time since the start of the pandemic in March 2020?
  11.  How many players took part in Netflix’s record breaking Squid Games?
    • 391
    • 422
    • 456
    • 337
  12.  Which body of water was blocked by the Ever Given container ship back in March?
  13. Which singer performed at President Joe Biden’s inauguration?
  14. Who wore an all black, head to toe bodysuit to this year’s Met Gala?
  15. What was the name of the comedy special released by Bo Burnham? 

Answers:

  1. The Bench
  2. Colin the Caterpillar
  3. Leicester City
  4.  Princess Diana
  5. Barbados 
  6. H
  7. Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos 
  8. 20
  9. Taylor Swift with Folklore
  10.  June 2021
  11. C, 456
  12. Suez Canal 
  13. Lady Gaga
  14. Kim Kardashian 
  15. Inside 

Think Twice- Was it 2020 or 2021?

You’d be forgiven if every answer in this round was wrong because honestly wtf was the last two years. Nevertheless this quick fire final round is the light relief we need after another heavy year, and some potentially easy points for the pop culture experts in your family. 

  1. Bridgerton dropped on Netflix
  2. Olivia Rodrigo released her debut album SOUR
  3. *The* Jackie Weaver debacle
  4. Meghan and Harry announced they were stepping back from the Royal Family
  5. The US Capitol building was stormed
  6. The Friends reunion 
  7. Emma Raducanu winning the US Open
  8. Jesy left Little Mix
  9. We fell in love with Noodle the pug and if it was a bones or no bones day on TikTok
  10. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Answers:

  1. 2020
  2. 2021
  3. 2021
  4. 2020
  5. 2021
  6. 2021
  7. 2021
  8. 2020
  9. 2021
  10. 2021 

How many answers did you get right? Disclaimer: Team Zoella is not responsible for post quiz arguments with Uncle Steve…

TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 21, 2021

Christmas at Home With Team Zoella

From what we get up to on Christmas Eve to the cocktails we'll be sinking and the tv specials we can't wait to slob out in front of, here’s how the Zoella team will be celebrating Crimbo 2021!

Last Christmas wasn’t exactly the big festive blowout we were counting on thanks to a fresh lot of restrictions just in time for Yuletide. Merry Covid Christmas everyone.

Whilst the rest of us made do with office gatherings on Zoom and low-key Christmas Day plans bubbled up with a couple of households – as per, ya know, the rules – Downing Street (cough, allegedly, cough) partied like coronavirus didn’t exist but the less said about that shambolic bunch, the better. Hey, it was their party, they can lie if they want to.

This year, we’re determined to have our Christmas cake and eat it, feasting, gifting, hugging (hopefully), and making up for lost time with all the cheese and wine. We hope the wrong dishonourable folk at Number 10 enjoy their bundle of coal this year. We stand with Santa.

In the final part of our Christmas At Home With series, it’s over to Team Zoella to share how we’ll be making the most of the holiday season after a year of cancelled plans and tiers aplenty. From what we get up to on Christmas Eve to the cocktails we’ll be sinking and the tv specials we can’t wait to slob out in front of, here’s how the Zoella team will be celebrating Crimbo 2021!

Lareese says

Favourite Family Tradition

We nearly always get Christmas pyjamas from my mum which is something I look forward to every year. More recently, I’ve adopted my boyfriend’s family tradition of a twist on the dirty Santa game, so famous by now it’s simply called ‘The Game’ amongst both our families. We buy scratch cards and boujie perfume (we’re talking top-tier gifts alongside a few random stocking fillers. My most random gift being a grout pen. YAY) and it all gets very competitive. It’s a highlight of the day!

Delicious thing to eat

Some sort of melty cheese number like a brie en croute or brie and cranberry parcels from M&S – they’re banging.

Christmas tipple of choice

Usually I love to sink a few glasses of Ridgeview Bloomsbury, my favourite wine from a local vineyard, but as I’m booze-free this year, I’ll be sticking to some kind of elderflower spritz or Nozeco so I can still raise a glass and enjoy a good toast to Crimbo.

Something you’re hoping to receive

I’ll be over the moon to receive a few books!

Decoration you’ve had the longest

My mum’s probably well shot of any clay creations from our childhood haha. I tend to buy a few new ones each year so they’re all a fairly modern mix of H&M, The Range and garden centre bits and bobs.

Where you’ll be spending Christmas this year

We’ll be piling around my sisters for the traditional all-you-can-eat feast. I’m SO ready to relive all the wedding memories, she tied the knot on 4th December so fingers crossed she’ll have some of the professional photos back by then for us to look at <3

Favourite part of Christmas

So. Many. Things. I love the warm familiarity of the season, the gentle pace, the animations, the food, the lead-up, the lights, the smells and of course, the opportunity to spend the whole day with family. Those moments don’t come around very often and the older I get, the more gratitude I have for this time of year, simply for the excuse to hang out with my favourite weirdos.

The time you eat your Christmas Lunch

We tend to graze all day, have a little prawn cocktail starter around 2pm with a little gap for games, films and Queenie’s speech, then the main event usually kicks off around 3ish. Last year we were plating it up at 6pm because someone (read: my sister) went ham on the beers. An iconic hostess if you ask me.

Christmas Eve plans

It’s always a pretty chilled affair at home, swaddled in something elasticated. We’ll usually have some picky bits for dinner like a festive grazing board or cheese and crackers in front of a roaring fire. I’ll almost definitely be roped into helping my boyfriend wrap his gifts at circa 9pm because he’s the ultimate last-minute Larry.

Christmas day attire

Bury me in my Daily Sleeper PJs basically. They obliterated my savings so you bet I’ll be getting the wear out of them.

Christmas TV special you’re most excited about

A Boy Called Christmas and Never Mind The Buzzcocks – purely for Daisy May Cooper.

Favourite Christmas Song

Fairytale of New York, it forever reminds me of singing and dancing with my parents and my sister at home when we were little.

Danielle says

Favourite Family Tradition..

Watching Miracle on 34th Street before we go to bed on Christmas Eve, we practically know the whole thing by heart and it honestly never gets old. I think it’s wrapped up in the tradition that we’re always together, no one ever goes on holiday over Christmas it would be unheard of in our family!

Delicious thing to eat

It’s gotta be picky bits before Christmas lunch, you can’t stop me from housing the pigs in blankets, salmon blinis and a baked brie!

Christmas tipple of choice…

I usually choose a cocktail to make on the day, in the past, we’ve had Pornstar Martinis and Amaretto Sours. This year I think I’m going to start on the classic fizz and home make some fruit purees for Bellinis and then I might make sure we’ve got everything for Espresso Martinis to pick us up in the afternoon!

Something you’re hoping to receive…

Honestly, I much prefer to give gifts I LOVE buying gifts for people, so having my family be really pleased with my choices will be the gift! Although I know I’m getting some white boots from my Mum that I can’t wait to wear.

Decoration you’ve had the longest…

In my house, I only started decorating this year! So nothing specifically new, but at my parents’ house, they have loads we made as children and this picture of me in a silver bell from about 15 years ago.

Where you’ll be spending Christmas this year

At my parent’s house in Cornwall, it’s quite the trek from Brighton so I’ll be heading down there on the 19th of December.

Favourite part of Christmas

I think the build-up to the big day, everyone arriving and the excitement levels rising!

Time you eat your Christmas Lunch…

We tend to go quite late, after gifts and breakfast then party food we’re not really hungry until 5ish so it’s more like an early dinner.

Christmas Eve plans…

We usually go to the cinema on Christmas Eve so this year I think the plan is to see the new West Side Story, which we’ll probably end up singing the whole way home.

Christmas day attire…

I made a last-minute order for this snazzy dress from H&M and sent it straight to my parents, so who even knows if it fits!

Christmas TV special you’re most excited about

A Boy Called Christmas, Never Mind The Buzzcocks Special AND the Harry Potter Reunion (there’s just too much)

Favourite Christmas Song…

Andy Williams – It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Charlotte

Favourite Family Tradition…

I don’t think my family will be offended in me saying that we have a bit of a dysfunctional set up so traditions are a little sparse around our parts- just dishing out a slice of Christmas realness for you all! Over the past few years though it has become a bit of a tradition for my sister and I to head to my Dad’s house on Christmas Eve and play Monopoly and Cluedo with some drinks, pizza and Christmas tunes in the background. It’s not necessarily a classic Christmas affair but it’s something I always look forward to now.

Delicious thing to eat…

Veggie meat substitutes are a topic of hot debate but I honestly love a Quorn Roast and devouring the remainder of it in a stuffing and salad cream sandwich (don’t judge) on the days after Christmas too.

Christmas tipple of choice…

Prosecco on TAP.

Something you’re hoping to receive…

I’ve struggled to think of what I want this year but I do hope I get Red (Taylor’s Version) on Vinyl. Surely someone in my family has been paying attention to me talking about it nonstop since its re-release?!

Decoration you’ve had the longest…

Almost all of ours at home are ones I remember since childhood, but I also have some salt dough decs a friend made me as part of a Secret Santa gift a few years ago that I’m always surprised are still going.

Where you’ll be spending Christmas this year…

At my mums in Cambridge with just my sister and nan. Told you it was a small affair!

Favourite part of Christmas…

I love Christmas morning as the day feels filled with optimism and we open presents straight away which is always so lovely. I like waking up knowing I have the whole day ahead of me to enjoy, and sometimes by the evening, I get in my feels after too many wines so I need to try and keep it together this year!

Time you eat your Christmas Lunch…

Normally around 2pm I reckon. I live for the Christmas evening buffet of snacky bits and leftovers so there needs to be enough time in between for my stomach to somewhat make some room for more.

Christmas Eve plans…

Head to my Dads as per and then I’d like to go to the pub actually so possibly see if any of my friends are up for it?!

Christmas day attire…

I’ve just bought a gorgeous new black mini dress from Collusion on ASOS that’s pretty timeless and sooo flattering- it’s also a smock style so loads of room for food! I’ll probably add a sparkly headband and for sure make it festive with a red lip too.

Christmas TV special you’re most excited about…

Strictly babbyyyyy!

Favourite Christmas Song…

Underneath the Tree, Kelly Clarkson is always up there as a fave.

Holly

Favourite Family Tradition…

Playing cards with my whole family including nan because I always win (I cheat) and shouting at my brothers for speaking with their mouths full. It’s not Christmas if there isn’t at least one row.

Delicious thing to eat…

It’s never not going to be pigs in blankets. Even when I say I’m cutting down on meat I can’t resist. Give me the mini pre-made Tesco ones and I can demolish a good 3 trays before the Turkey is served.

Christmas tipple of choice…

It’s going to be bucks fizz all day long, gotta speed it up but no slowing down.

Something you’re hoping to receive…

A fuck load of hugs. After last years shambles, I will be hugging everyone I can get my mitts on. And hopefully a bottle of Christmas gin.

Decoration you’ve had the longest…

I have a china bauble with my footprint on it from my first Christmas at 22 days old, so a 28-year-old decoration!

Where you’ll be spending Christmas this year…

At my mum and dads with my brothers, nan, uncle, cousins and some more extended family will pop in and and throughout the day.

Favourite part of Christmas…

Giving gifts, I have got people some corkers this year. I love getting presents but definitely more of a giver than a receiver. My family deserve the world and I try my best to make them feel as loved as possible by putting a lot of thought into my presents.

Time you eat your Christmas Lunch…

It’s always planned for 1 but we usually end up eating around 4 and half the food is cold. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Christmas Eve plans…

Go to the pub, pints, sing carols and have awkward conversations with people I haven’t seen since last Christmas Eve. You’d think ‘we should meet up’ would get old but apparently, it doesn’t.

Christmas day attire…

We open our pressies in jammies and then get full glam to go for a dog walk and dinner. I’ll be wearing a dress and heels and trying to manoeuvre a muddy golf course is all part of the fun.

Christmas TV special you’re most excited about…

It’s always Eastenders. I don’t even watch it anymore and I’m still so excited to watch

Favourite Christmas Song…

The Pogues, Fairytale of New York, I go to a pub every Christmas Eve and they play it as it hits midnight.

Maddie

Favourite Family Tradition…

It’s all about the kids, isn’t it? Seeing their faces light up as they leave mince pies, milk and a carrot for Santa and watching their amazement when all that’s left is the crumbs the next day. The whole magic of Christmas is those little moments of joy.

Delicious thing to eat…

I don’t think you can beat pigs in blankets at Christmas.

Christmas tipple of choice…

Got to be the Champagne or bucks fizz

Something you’re hoping to receive…

A full nights sleep and a lie-in would actually be a Christmas miracle

Decoration you’ve had the longest…

My dad has these god awful old cracked red baubles strung up together that he insists on putting on the tree every year. Saying that, I do think I’d be a bit sad if they weren’t there even though they’re ancient.

Where you’ll be spending Christmas this year...

We will be celebrating the first few days with my family and the second half with our family in Cornwall.

Favourite part of Christmas…

I love all the silly games that come out and just generally being around family is what it’s all about for me.

Time you eat your Christmas Lunch…

Usually around 2ish, so many moving parts it always takes longer than you think!

Christmas Eve plans…

Father Christmas on his sleigh is coming to the village to wave to the children.

Christmas day attire…

As a child, I used to stay in my PJs as long as I possibly could but my grandma always made me change into something smart before breakfast, she was very traditional. Nowadays I’m usually a smart/casual hybrid with comfy leggings and a nice top.

Christmas TV special you’re most excited about…

100% the Harry Potter reunion, I can watch the films on repeat this time of year so I really can’t wait.

Favourite Christmas Song…

Pogues Fairytale of New York, it’s a classic

Darcey

Favourite Family Tradition…

Every Christmas Eve at my Dads we all gather together after our annual Christmas Eve dinner and read “The Night Before Christmas” as a group, this book has been passed down three generations now so it’s really special.

Delicious thing to eat…

My Grandpa always does a really good spread of evening food which I think I prefer more than the actual Christmas dinner, you can’t beat picky bits!

Christmas tipple of choice…

Probably a glass of Prosecco or Champagne (depending on how extra we are all feeling).

Something you’re hoping to receive…

Must admit I am hoping for an Apple Watch this year and I may have bought an Apple Watch and a matching phone case in the Black Friday sales too with high hopes of receiving it… Ha someone take my bank card of me asap.

Decoration you’ve had the longest…

Hmm, I think probably those ones you make at school out of felt which you put a little Christmas wish in and give to your parents, they still make it on the tree’s (multiples as my Mum and Dad both still put them up on their own trees haha). If anyone wants to know I didn’t wish for anything remotely heartfelt at the age of 6, I asked for a pink Playstation.

Where you’ll be spending Christmas this year…

So I’ll be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my Dad, Step Mum and her family. Then Christmas Day I’ll drive to my Mum’s to spend it with her and that side of the family!

Favourite part of Christmas…

Definitely, the build-up to Christmas, like the week before is always so fun with all the excitement, wrapping gifts and seeing all your family! Without sounding too bah humbug, Christmas Day usually leaves me feeling a bit deflated, the pressure for it to be amazing usually makes me so anxious, so this year I need to try and chill. I’m sure some people relate!

Time you eat your Christmas Lunch…

Fairly early I think at about 12:30pm or 1pm, I know some people eat it much later.

Christmas Eve plans…

Off to my Dads and Step Mums for a big family meal that we do every year and some drinks!

Christmas day attire…

I’ll be wearing something fairly simple, thinking leather trousers and a burgundy jumper for a festive feel. I have however recently bought a diamanté bag which I’ll 100% be bringing, sparkles are as festive as it gets!

Christmas TV special you’re most excited about…

I genuinely never really watch any Christmas Specials, but I will be watching The Big Fat Quiz of the Year!

Favourite Christmas Song…

Last Christmas by Wham. Explains why Last Christmas is my fave Christmas film too!

TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 20, 2021

How to Cook A *Chef’s Kiss* Christmas Dinner, From The Culinary Gods Who Know

From the secret to fluffy but crispy spuds to the golden rules for cooking a perfectly succulent turkey or no-beef wellington and the common mistakes us mere mortals make, here’s how to leave your guests saying ‘hats off to the chef’ this Christmas.

Pinnies on people, it’s time for the main event: Christmas Dinner.

Prepping your festive spread for the big day should be fun but feeding the family often becomes the most daunting part of the day, stuffed with family barnies, raw Yorkshire puddings (because of course, you turned the oven off) and lumpy gravy disasters.

To ensure you don’t get caught up in the stress of it all and enjoy the festivities sans the sprout showdown, we asked our favourite culinary gods of the internet, otherwise known as chefs, to share their foolproof tips for a Michelin star level Christmas feast!

From the secret to fluffy but crispy spuds to the golden rules for cooking a perfectly succulent turkey or no-beef wellington and the common mistakes us mere mortals make, here’s how to leave your guests saying ‘hats off to the chef’ this Christmas.

Luke Catleugh

Luke’s taste in food is just as good as his taste in fashion! His recipe reels will have you drooling away, so we couldn’t wait to see how he does Christmas! Follow Luke on Instagram here.

Prep-wise, what do you take care of in the run-up to save us time on the day?

I am a huge believer in failure to plan, then plan to fail. However, especially after last year with everything changing so last minute, it truly doesn’t matter what you have on your plate, it’s more-so who you have around you.

Having said that, we do tend to peel/chop as much as we can the night before. Christmas Day is always such a blur, so the less time spent in the kitchen the better. These things you can do on the 24th:

  • Peel your spuds and leave them in water overnight. Saves SO much time.
  • You can also peel and chop your carrots and parsnips, par-boil them and wrap them on a baking tray ready to roast.
  • If you are having meat (we don’t as I am veggie) it’s always a great idea to prep your turkey or meat the day before. Add any seasonings or stuffing and chill overnight. Don’t forget to bring your meat out to room temperature before cooking.

Sprouts are always pretty divisive. Have you got any trusty recipes or ideas to make them more likeable?

Sprouts have ALWAYS divided opinions in our household. I used to hate them with a passion and would try to hide them under the table or feed them to our dog. However, that was until I discovered a roasted sprout. Absolute game changer! My failsafe method is to blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes and then submerge them in iced water to stop them cooking. Then simply halve the sprouts, add them to a roasting tray drizzled in olive oil, rock salt and cracked black pepper. Roast them for 20 – 25 minutes at 200 degrees/180 fan. You can stop there, or for a festive kick add some torn sage leaves which have been drizzled with oil to stop them burning 5 minutes before they’re done. Gorgeous!

What’s your ultimate Christmas Day starter?

My Mam makes a MEAN cheese soufflé, it’s rich and indulgent. In recent years however, we haven’t bothered with starters as the main is where it’s at!

What about presentation – does the aesthetic matter?

I think we eat with our eyes, but I am a big believer in that you can hide a multitude of Christmas cooking sins with a well-decorated table. I love a table-scape! We tend to put everything on the table if there is room and folks can just dig in and help themselves. That way, people can have as much oras little as they want. Pomegranate seeds and sage leaves add a festive sparkle to any dish to finish!

No Christmas dinner is complete without…

Before I was vegetarian, pigs in blankets, without a shadow of a doubt. Now, I’d have to say a roast potato. Potatoes are life.

What makes for the best fluffy on the inside crispy on the outside roast pots?

There is an art to roast potatoes and everyone does them differently. Some good tips I have learned:

  • Cut your spuds on an angle, this gives better surface area for texture
  • Cut them different sizes, but not too small or they will disintegrate
  • Boil them in salt and a 1/4tsp of bicarbonate soda. This helps with the ‘fluff” until just softened.
  • Leave them to steam once drained and fluff them in the colander before adding them to the oil
  • The hotter the oil, the crispier the potato. We use olive oil but I know traditionally you’d use goose fat.
  • Turn them regularly too!

What are you having as your main meat or alternative this year?

The past few years we have done a nut roast and it has always gone down a storm. This year, we are going for a mushroom, spinach and chestnut wellington for a change.

Let’s talk sauces. What’s the key to a great homemade cranberry or bread sauce?

Bread sauce is completely unchartered territory, however cranberry sauce is my go to! My Nana used to make a gorgeous cranberry sauce and she used to add a splash of port for good measure. She always said, the earlier you can make it the better the flavour gets. What makes for a 10/10 gravy? I am a northerner, so gravy is our thing! If you are a meat eater, save your cooking juices from the roasting of the meat and add that to your gravy. Depth of flavour is super important in gravy. I start with a base of onion, then add a good red wine and vegetable stock. I then stir in some cranberry sauce and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Leave it on the hob on low so the flavours have chance to develop. Cornflour will be your saviour if you have a thin gravy!

Thinking of the veggies, how does one level up their humble carrots or parsnips?

We always glaze our parsnips in honey and mustard. It’s an age old tradition. The mustard always has to be wholegrain. Last year, I tried fennel seeds and maple syrup on my carrots and instead of roasting them I fried them in a pan. They were gorgeous!

Talk to us about the cheese board situation – any pointers for layout, what needs to be on there and what can we do away with?

Cheeseboards are a thing of joy! I love them and you can go as overboard as you like. It’s Christmas after all! I think as long as you have 3-4 cheeses, a good robust cracker and some fruit, you are onto a winner. A classic cheddar is a crowd-pleaser, a creamy brie or a roulade will add flavour and a blue for those who love it. I think simplicity is key. Make sure you have more crackers on hand and plenty of cheese knives.

Have you got any Christmas Eve foodie traditions?

We always used to make hot chocolates before bed. As we grew up, we were allowed to join the adults and add a splash of whiskey or Cointreau for a festive touch. That would be the last thing we had before we went to bed.

Does the perfect time to serve up your Christmas dinner exist?

Absolutely not. We used to have our Christmas dinners SO early as kids, but it’s a much more relaxed affair now. I think everyones Christmas is different and special so enjoy it when it’s all ready!

Three sides you wouldn’t be without…

Roast potatoes, Sage and onion stuffing, Braised red cabbage!

If you could only have one festive dessert?

It has got to be a mince pie. I know so many people don’t like them but I just think they fully encapsulate Christmas. Always warmed and with a huge dollop of brandy cream. Delicious!

Katie Pix

Katie’s recipes are quick, easy and always filled to the brim with laughs! Her latest Food Flix series has Katie recreating the most delicious eats from well-loved films and TVs, and of course, recreating the costumes too. Follow Katie on Instagram here.

Prep-wise, what do you take care of in the run-up to save us time on the day?

In all honesty, we do very little forward-prep when it comes to Christmas dinner. Everyone’s assigned their various tasks (even grandma’s made to roll her sleeves up) and we all get stuck in on Christmas morning. It gathers us into the heart of the home and takes the pressure off any one person to get it all done. But things like sauces, the gravy and vegetable sides can all be happily prepped and ‘finished’ on the day. A great way to do it if you also have limited hob and oven space. 

Sprouts are always pretty divisive. Have you got any trusty recipes or ideas to make them more likeable?

Sprouts are sensational. If you’re eating sprouts and they evoke an unpleasant odour rather than a delicious taste, you’ve overcooked them! They’re essentially tiny little cabbages and relish being tossed through butter, generously seasoned and even served with chestnuts and bacon. Shred them up, fry them off with a dusting of nutmeg and cinnamon and give them a chance!

What’s your ultimate Christmas Day starter?

We love to go retro – prawn cocktail, melon and prosciutto or smoked salmon mousse with melba toast. Christmas is a time to indulge in nostalgia and it’s these dishes that help us revisit that wonderful feeling of Christmas every single year. 

What about presentation – does the aesthetic matter?

Absolutely! We eat with every one of our senses. Whether Christmas time or a mid-week meal in January, we almost always enjoy a plate of food more if it looks inviting. I’m not suggesting your crockery makes the difference but taking into consideration the balance of colour certainly will. Have you got some bright orange carrots and cherry red cranberry sauce alongside your ultimate beige delights? 

No Christmas dinner is complete without…

Pigs in blankets. And if you give Tom Kerridge’s ultimate pigs in blankets a try, you will absolutely agree with this statement (unless if you’re vegetarian, of course!). Juicy pork sausages wrapped in black pudding and crispy streaky bacon and glazed in a sticky cranberry and honey sauce. OOOOUFF! 

What makes for the best fluffy on the inside crispy on the outside roast pots?

1) Par-boil your potatoes in unseasoned water until they are just about to fall apart. 2) Lightly shake them in a colander to rough up the sides. 3) Allow them time to steam dry. 4) Use beef dripping or goose fat and make sure it has rendered first. 5) Add some rosemary and garlic about 10-15 minutes from the end and season upon serving. My mouth is watering. 

What are you having as your main meat or alternative this year?

We get a Kelly Bronze turkey every year – the best of the best – and a side of pork belly. Bring on the meat sweats. 

Let’s talk sauces. What’s the key to a great homemade cranberry or bread sauce?

Take your time. Allowing flavour to infuse and mature is game-changing when it comes to sauces. For example, let the milk in your bread sauce prep infused with cloves, onion, bay, peppercorns and nutmeg for all long as possible before adding the breadcrumbs and finishing it off. 

What makes for a 10/10 gravy?

Use your trimmings! Vegetable peelings, giblets and meat scraps can all be merrily roasted off and added to your gravy. Be sure to really mash them into the sauce before pouring it through a fine sieve to get the most flavour from them. Texture also makes for a game-changing gravy. Making a cornflour slurry will help add a velvety, thick viscosity to your gravy without having to panic about measurements. 

Thinking of the veggies, how does one level up their humble carrots or parsnips?

Cook carrots vichy-style. It is a French cooking technique where you cook the carrots in water, sugar, star anise and butter to make an outrageously festive glaze. And no parsnip is complete without a drizzle of honey and sprinkle of sea salt. 

Talk to us about the cheese board situation – any pointers for layout, what needs to be on there and what can we do away with?

Hold my butter knife… I’m going in.

It may be controversial but there should be 3-4 cheeses. Any more than that and there’s too much for the palate to enjoy. So with such a reserved number of cheeses, it’s important to include different styles, textures and flavours. Now, put away your packet of sandwich cheddar and don’t you DARE buy pre-sliced, it’s time to treat yourself and your taste buds with a sophisticated lineup. A soft cheese (often my lightest flavour option), a hard cheese (like a gnarly, tangy cheddar), something blue (can’t go wrong with a stilton) and an alternative cheese (something really special). I always like to buy straight from the cheese counter, not only to get a perfect size and shape for my table but to have a natter with knowledgeable cheese specialists.

If you’ve chosen your cheeses well, you shouldn’t need nor want to lay on too many additional flavours, but a lovely chutney and seasonal fruits and nuts not only offer new textures, they are colour to an otherwise beige cheeseboard canvas!  As for the crackers, it’s a minefield – the purist’s water biscuit, the classic cream cracker, the crumbly oatcake, the savoury digestive, classy charcoal squares, sophisticated crispbreads… But, there’s really no need to go mad! Blue cheeses go best with something a bit sweet and soft cheeses with a crisp, light cracker, but something neutral should work with everything.
It’s called a cheese BOARD for a reason. Grab yourself a beautiful hunk of wood and go wild. No need to be too strategic in how they are laid out. Often the ‘scattered’ tactic makes for a sumptuously rustic look. By bundling it all onto one plate, you also play a part in the true sentiment of Christmas – sharing. Reaching over one another, grabbing a slice and clashing knives on the stilton makes for a lot of loving interaction.

To help people know where to go, number your cheeses with little flags – guiding your guests from mild to strong – you need to start mild so you can actually taste each one as you go. Cheese is happiest wrapped in greaseproof paper, or even tin foil, so unpack and re-wrap it once you get home if you need to. In the grocery store, most cheeses (unless they’re vacuum packed) are kept cold in a refrigerated section, so it’s logical to assume that cheese should be served cold. However, cheese is at its best when served at room temperature, so remove it from refrigeration at least a half-hour before serving. If you have a large piece of cheese, only take out what you intend to serve.

Have you got any Christmas Eve foodie traditions?

Homemade pâté. It’s the first thing I make with my Dad when I head home for Christmas. We’ll often open up some ‘picky bits’ alongside but otherwise hold ourselves back from anything resembling a full dinner to mentally prepare for the feast to come!

Does the perfect time to serve up your Christmas dinner exist?

Yes – when you’re hungry! Christmas traditions should come with an asterisk to say *unique and applicable to you and your family* as we’re all so different, but I think this rule applies across the board. We are often up early in the Pix household, opening presents and tucking into smoked salmon and scrambled eggs alongside our Cadbury’s selection boxes.

By the time we’ve polished off a few bottles of bubbles we are slowly starting to get washed and dressed and lunchtime has been and gone. Our Christmas dinner starts at 3pm. Primetime to leisurely indulge, play party games and take full advantage of the perfectly timed post-Christmas-dinner lethargy around 5.30pm with a sofa nap. 

Three sides you wouldn’t be without…

Cauliflower cheese, Vichy carrots and red cabbage. ( I don’t think I’ve answered a question more speedily). 

If you could only have one festive dessert?

Bread and butter pudding made with leftover panettone and slathered in a thick vanilla custard. 

Madeleine Shaw

Madeleine brings an element of health and wellness to all of her foodie content which is always welcome over the Christmas period! Follow Madeleine on Instagram here.

Prep-wise, what do you take care of in the run-up to save us time on the day?

I always pre-make my Yorkshire pudding batter in advance and freeze it so that it is already ready for the day. I also make a homemade cranberry sauce that lasts all Christmas.

Sprouts are always pretty divisive. Have you got any trusty recipes or ideas to make them more likeable?

I absolutely love brussel sprouts, which for some people may seem ridiculous. But I truly believe if you don’t like them, it’s because you have been doing them wrong. I’ve rustled up mine with some maple syrup, roasted sweet potato, dried cranberries, pickled cabbage, pecans, coconut flakes and almond butter. WITH, a delicious miso dressing…. Now, if this doesn’t convert you, I don’t know what will

What’s your ultimate Christmas Day starter?

I love to make a grazing board and smoked salmon blinis as it gives a lot of variety and you can keep going back to them.

What about presentation – does the aesthetic matter?

Of course, it always helps to eat something that looks appetising and colourful as we always eat with our eyes first, I think the addition of fresh herbs or pomegranates are great at Christmas to add on top of dishes but we always know what we are getting at Christmas and it tends to never disappoint even if sometimes it is a little burnt!

No Christmas dinner is complete without…

Honey roasted vegetables!!

What makes for the best fluffy on the inside crispy on the outside roast pots?

It’s all about the shaking of the potatoes before you put them in the hot oil before roasting.

What are you having as your main meat or alternative this year?

I love a mushroom wellington. As there are a few different dietary needs with our families we tend to have a great mix of meat and veggie options to cater to all. 

Let’s talk sauces. What’s the key to a great homemade cranberry or bread sauce?

Maple syrup for the perfect refined sugar cranberry sauce.

What makes for a 10/10 gravy?

The juices from the roasted veg and meat – you can’t beat it.

Thinking of the veggies, how does one level up their humble carrots or parsnips?

Smothered in cinnamon, nutmeg and garlic or of course the honey-roasted veg.

Talk to us about the cheese board situation – any pointers for layout, what needs to be on there and what can we do away with?

I have never been a huge fan of cheese so I always do a vegan grazing board and this goes down a treat. With lots of dips, crackers, dried fruits and nuts.

Have you got any Christmas Eve foodie traditions?

I love to eat some fish the day before a heavy Christmas day – usually something light and fresh like my Pomegranate Glazed Salmon.

Does the perfect time to serve up your Christmas dinner exist?

No, I think the key is to let the day flow, sometimes things are out of your control so just enjoy every moment.

Three sides you wouldn’t be without…

Yorkshire puddings, roasted potatoes, Brussel sprouts 

If you could only have one festive dessert?

It’s got to be a perfect Christmas pudding or some gluten-free mince pies.

TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 19, 2021

10 Christmas Traditions to Start This Year *And Not One of them Includes Eggnog*

Maybe you’re yet to find your family’s *thing* or perhaps 2020 threw a rule-of-six shaped spanner in the works and it’s time to forge new seasonal fun, from signed, sealed and delivered self-care rituals to festive tipples!

Christmastime, mistletoe, and wine! The Christmas period is all about soaking up the festive vibes for as long as possible and making memories with family and friends, even if said memories do involve a communal effort to make Uncle Peter feel better about the fact that you had to staple two paper hats together to fit his one head. 

From eating the same dinner and playing the same games, to watching the Queen’s speech and forcing everyone out on a post-roast walk, the warm familiarity of our 25 December routines is what makes Christmas Day feel Christmassy.

Maybe you’re yet to find your family’s *thing* or perhaps 2020 threw a rule-of-six shaped spanner in the works and it’s time to forge new seasonal fun, from signed, sealed and delivered self-care rituals to festive tipples with the squad, we’re hoping at least a few of these ideas will make your spirits bright. And if you just so happen to come from a long line of Grinches, let this be the year their hearts triple, nay quadruple in size thanks to these wholesome Yuletide traditions. 

Whether you’re looking for all-out festive ideas or something with a subtle and tenuous link to Christmas but with a solid link to mirth, here’s 10 holiday traditions you can adopt as your own. You’ll be v pleased to read, eggnog didn’t make the cut – it’s been banished to the cupboard under the stairs where it belongs. 

1. Get yourself a new Christmas decoration to chortle & weep over in years to come

Nothing says tradition like a commemorative decoration you can pluck out the attic every year as your annual reminder that you once had a real thing for *drumroll please* excessively sparkly lobsters. 

From the cult ‘n’ classy Harrods bauble to space rockets, avocados, hotdogs and trad nutcrackers (or buttcrackers as they’re now known to Team Zoella thanks to a rather beautiful slip of the keyboard) there’s an ornament for every aesthetic from minimal through to novelty and picking one out each year brings silly amounts of joy. 

If you skipped decorations altogether last year and want to ensure you never forget the year when banana bread became our sole food group and even Santa was working from home, we can think of no better way to keep the 2020 mems alive than with these guys:

2. Nourish your soul with a seasonal feel-good read 

Part of the beauty of Christmas is that we can do whatever the figgy pudding we want. Getting up at 11? Sure, it’s Christmas. Indulging in a digital detox, well they wouldn’t have wifi in the stable now would they (in a bit TikTok). Slipping into a peaceful cocoon of pure, non-threatening fiction in lieu of leafing through Instagram until you’ve got a throbbing migraine – we love to see it. 

Selecting your book of the season will truly light up your soul with wide-eyed wonderment (times that by ten if it’s a distinguished gentleman bound in cloth) and bequeath you with plenty of reasons to stay at home in the loving arms of your weighted blanket. 

Unlike a night out where you’re coerced into shotting seven ‘Bucas despite appearing to be a grown up and counting down the hours until your feet can live in flat, heavenly peace once more, season’s readings always end on merry terms. If you’re looking for a recommendation, allow us to hard plug Mandy Baggot’s One New York Christmas. 

3. Break out the matching pjs for the family portrait 

‘Tis the bona fide trademark of Christmas, no? Presenting your dad with a pair of dorky candy cane stripe pyjamas – or even better, a onesie that is evidently *not* one size fits all – and arranging him in front of the tree + self-timer while he wonders what the Dickens is going on is wickedly entertaining. The best bit: he thinks all this fuss is for Tweeter (sic). Everyone’s a winner, most of all your now exclusively holiday-themed flannel pyjama drawer. 

4. Arrange A Girls’ Festive Brunch

Whilst we don’t have a remedy for the fresh hell commonly known as: trying to arrange a date that works for every woman you’ve ever loved in December, the girls’ festive brunch is the one social event that doesn’t require a Doddle intervention, namely because it’s a daytime thing. And daytime socialising is the preferable mode of peopling. Send round the pdf menus, get the pre-orders in and most importantly discuss whether this will be your party pj’s time to shine. Spoiler alert – it is. Feathers and setting spray at the ready, here come the girls. 

5. Go Christmas caroling 

Like karaoke but with etiquette and volume control, bursting into song with a crowd of strangers does weird and wonderful things for the heart, even if you are off-key for the entirety of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. It’s the taking part (and the mulled wine) that counts, even if it’s just amongst the neighbours you do your best to avoid for 11 months of the year. 

7. Cook something together

It simply wouldn’t be the season to eat, drink and be merry without a recipe cobbled together between blood-relatives and bezzie pals. Whether you decide on homemade mince pies, yule log, Christmas Eve cookies or a boozy clementine gin, nothing says Christmas like a pathetic feud over who’s hogging the rolling pin. 

8. Write a letter to your future self 

Christmas spirit doesn’t have to cost a bomb. Some of the most meaningful gestures come straight from the heart, with a simple handwritten letter ‘to you, from you’ being one of the most thoughtful gifts of all. As we gear up to sing all three words of auld lang syne for another year, now’s a great time to take stock, practise gratitude, and reflect on the last 12 months, and what better way to savour every peak and pit than by putting pen to paper and addressing it to yours truly. It’ll be nostalgic to look back on this pivotal moment in your life and see what you were thinking. 

Maybe you’d rather look ahead to next year, exploring what’s next for you, penning your aspirations for where you want to be or what you want to achieve by next Christmas and setting the tone for 2022 with some positive affirmations. Put it in an envelope, seal it with some gold wax – because no one deserves fancy stationery and elegant correspondence as much as you – and open it on Christmas Eve next year to see what whopping great big dreams came to fruition. Manifestation mode – activated. 

9. Watch your favourite Christmas movie 

If you’ve got to the ripe old age of adulthood (symptoms include waking up in the middle of the night worrying about the whereabouts of your birth certificate) and have yet to know your favourite Christmas movie of all time, what are you playing at? Peruse our definitive ranking of G.O.A.T festive flicks immediately and let the movie marathon commence. Psst! if you want an enduring classic, go for It’s A Wonderful Life, if you want a radiant and respectably dewy Jude Law, go for The Holiday. Better yet, gather round the warm glow of your devices and watch one a night between now and the big day. 

10. Start a puzzle / make a wreath 

Take it from us: avoid anything that resembles a 1,000 piece Dickensian house because it will ruin your Christmas, unless of course you consider yourself someone who is capable of not getting a piece stuck to your arse cheek and sabotaging the entire finale. It was a child’s scarf if you must know. 

Generally speaking, puzzling is a top-tier mindfulness activity, perfect for taking it down a notch ahead of social butterfly season. Whack on a Christmas movie in the background and time will fly by. Unless you’re sitting on the missing piece in which case you will pass away and wish you started a wreath instead.

TEAM ZOELLA DECEMBER 18, 2021

26 Gifts For The Guy Who Claims He Doesn’t Need Anything For Christmas

From luxe fragrances your S/O will smell divine in, whiskey glasses your brother's guests will forever be admiring, to mug warmers Dad will be wowed by, there are gadgets and gizmos aplenty to fit the last minute gift brief this Christmas.

If your Mrs Claus magic has been used to its full capacity this December and you find yourself left with the uncle/brother/father-in-law who has everything, look no further, we’re here to help! Because whilst some gift inspiration comes naturally, for the men in your life who have it all, securing a present that’s sure to delight is no easy feat. Spoiler: no-one actually wants another Lynx Africa set.

From luxe fragrances your S/O will smell divine in, whiskey glasses your brother’s guests will forever be admiring, to mug warmers Dad will be wowed by, there are gadgets and gizmos aplenty to fit the last minute gift brief this Christmas. With presents starting from as little as £9.99, consider this our gift to you this December…

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