The final, pre-Christmas build up is now upon us and we're reaching peak excitement levels! As part of our collaboration with the lovely folk at Arnotts, where you can shop for every single loved one under one roof, over the next 12 days we'll be catching up with some of Ireland's most familiar names, finding out what Christmas means for them and what they'll be wishing for. Yesterday, we profiled the ever-inspiring Sinead Burke (who was also featured among the 40 under 40 Irish women in IMAGE's December issue) and today, IMAGE.ie Editor Ellie Balfe talks us through her most beloved time of year.
What is your earliest memory of Christmas?
I guess my earliest memory will be similar to most people's in that I distinctly remember creeping down the stairs to see if Santa had visited yet. My mother tells me this was at 3 am and she hadn't the heart to tell me to go back to bed, so their Christmas day began very early that year! I also recall that I got a beautiful doll, whom I decided to call 'Delicate' (for some unknown reason that I don't remember, but I do recall being absolutely blown away by her beauty and held her very high in my esteem for years to come. I think I was four.
Describe your perfect Christmas?
My perfect Christmas is the very one that we have each year - in my house nothing changes about Christmas - we have basically the same day every single year, and in fact, my Mum still ensures that my brother and I still get a stocking despite us being far, far too old for that! It's a glorious extravaganza of presents, food and gin. My kids have brought a new element of giddiness to it over the years and that's a wonderful thing, but after they go to bed, the evening settles back to the age old pattern of my parents, brother and I sitting (lying) by the fire, listening to music and raising (several) festive toasts.
What do you like most about Christmas - the build up or the week itself?
I'm a fool for Christmas, so I like it all. The run up is exciting, busy and full of social fun, but then it's as though time stops on Christmas day and we just lounge and eat and chill. Both elements are marvellous in my book.
What are the essentials in your household when it come to Christmas day dinner?
The old reliables are present of course - turkey, ham, roast potatoes, etc. I HATE sprouts, but they do feature. And I my favourite thing is the Christmas pudding. I adore it and also eat it in cold slices in the days post-Christmas.
What does Christmas mean for you?
For me, Christmas means a chance to re-connect with not only my family and friends, but also with myself. It's a time for both celebration and reflection on the year that's passed and I like to do a sort of mental review of the year and try to look towards the one that's coming.
What presents are you hoping to buy this year for your nearest and dearest?
This year I am hoping to get a cashmere jumper for my Mum, leather gloves and books for my Dad, and something music related for my brother. My kids will be hoping for an avalanche of Lego Minecraft, Star Wars goodies and My Little Pony/Disney paraphernalia!
What's on your own wishlist??
I would love some new flat boots, a luxury?bobble hat and a small cross-body leather bag. I am also coveting a wireless sound system for my house, but one can only dream!
Browse the gallery above for Ellie's curated gift guide. For more shopping inspiration, head in-store or visit arnotts.ie online.