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All I want for Christmas

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Broadcaster and stylist Darren Kennedy.

Broadcaster and stylist Darren Kennedy.

Broadcaster and stylist Darren Kennedy.

A glass of sherry, edible Christmas cards for the pet pooch and a board game or two are just some the gifts our invited guests are hoping to find under the tree this year. Edel Coffey reports

MAURA DERRANE
Presenter

I do like Christmas, but I think it's too commercial. For me, it doesn't start until a week before Christmas Eve. It's great to meet up with old friends you haven't seen in a while and drink mulled wine.

I don't like over-the-top decorations, with a million lights all over the house, but I do like decorating the tree and I love old-fashioned baubles.

My childhood memory, like all kids, is of how I loved running down the stairs on Christmas morning to see what Santa had brought. I really like to have homemade Christmas cake and pudding at this time of year.

I don't have anything specific in mind that I want for myself this year, but a good book to give as a gift is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I just finished reading it and it is a really gripping tale, but not for the faint-hearted.

SHEANA KEANE
Presenter

I adore being suspended in the Christmas bubble. Fun is a priority, eve-ryone is on a high and worries are parked until the New Year.

Christmas starts for me as soon as I can get away with it. I am among the few people who welcome the festive adverts that start in September.

Christmas FM is getting me in the spirit at the moment -- classic crooner Christmas tunes, classic films and going to the national concert hall with the kids for their annual Wizard of Oz performance.

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My childhood memories of Christmas are pure magic, from fairy lights, candles, open fires and smells from the kitchen. I absolutely must have an open fire at Christmas.

My ideal present this year would be long lazy days with my family. As a gift book I love the Vanishing Ireland series by historian Turtle Bunbury and photographer James Fennell. It's a beautiful coffee-table book especially for relatives overseas.

MICHELLE DOHERTY
Broadcaster and DJ

I'm a real Christmas person because I'm very close to my family and I love spending time with them. I go home every year for Christmas. My sister has two little babies now and it's great because Santa comes all over again!

I get excited about setting up the tree and it would stay up until February if I had my way, but I don't put it up before the 15th -- you can't be doing it too early.

I'm a nightmare when it comes to buying presents. Every year I say I'm going to be organised, but it never happens.

My family and I love spending Christmas Day playing cards, so we always try to come up with a game. My brother rang me last night to say he's got us a Wii for Christmas, so I'm really excited about that.

When we were younger, my mum and dad would hardly be in bed before I'd come creeping downstairs. I wouldn't be able to sleep with excitement. One year, my younger sister got a doll's chair and I had the baby-like doll, so I was raging and thinking, 'Oh my God, Santa must have made a mistake', and I stole the chair!

This year, I'm just looking forward to getting home for Christmas because this is our first one without my nanny, so it's going to be really hard. The kids, thank God, take your mind off it a wee bit. I was just mad about her and we're trying to look out for each other this year. It's all about family; it's so important for me.

I love a good Christmas card. I could spend hours in shops looking for a card. It's not about what you get, it's the thought more than anything. Simple is best for me.

DONAL SKEHAN
Author and cook

We do Christmas dinner in parts: someone does the starter, someone does the main, someone does the turkey and the ham, then someone does the Christmas pudding. It's delegated and very carefully decided every year, based on the last year's success.

I'm spending Christmas in Sweden this year. My girlfriend is Swedish, so I've been told I have to come, otherwise there'll be big trouble. This is my first Christmas away from home so it will be strange; apparently, we're going to do a live Skype telephone thing à la Eurovision jury, calling in the votes from Sweden.

I am insanely into Christmas this year, especially because last year I was doing panto in the Tivoli. I was Peter Pan and we were so busy with rehearsals: we worked right up until the 24th and were back in on the 26th, so I didn't get any sense of Christmas. But I am so into it this year that I have Christmas FM on 24/7; it is brilliant.

On Christmas morning, my dad and brother go for 'the swim' in the sea. I do the cooking with my mam. She used to teach us when we were younger to set the table two nights ahead and we'd be banned from going into the room, but we'd be peeking in the door at the crackers on the table. That's what I grew up with and it is those little details that make this time of year special.

I'm a ham man. Turkey is not the main event for me; it's all about the ham.

Having a girlfriend from another country, you have to take into account that there is that distance and, no matter which country you're living in, one of you is always going to feel that distance -- that's always going to be in the background, so I'd just like to be with her for Christmas.

In terms of gifts, I've been putting stuff together for my blog, thegoodmoodfoodblog.com, and the Asian market on George's Street in Dublin has almost a wholesale kitchen equipment section where you can buy these big pestle and mortars, dishes and bamboo steamers and really cool, quirky stuff that you can't get in other shops.

The other thing I recently did was to put together Asian meal packs, because people generally don't go into those shops, so I was putting together a selection of noodles, spices, soy sauce and sesame oil then wrapping it up and making it look pretty -- it's a handy, cheap present.

Cookbooks are my only other vice and I often get about five or six each year. Last year, all of my presents were cookbooks. I got a great one this year, Bill Granger's Feed Me Now!, and one I'm looking forward to hopefully getting is Nigel Slater's Tender

DES BISHOP
Comedian

I'm a big fan of Christmas and I've had two distinct Christmas experiences -- the Irish and the American. The Irish one took a few years to grow on me. I used to hate that it went on forever. My dad was in retail and we used to work on the 26th, so the first couple of times it drove me mental.

The best Christmas I ever had was when my family came to Dublin in 2005. That was when I properly experienced Grafton Street on Christmas Eve and my parents just loved it. It became properly Christmassy to me. And I'm a Christmas 40ft swimmer and that's the thing that solidified it more than most.

What I remember from childhood was I would be dying to fall asleep so I could wake up for the presents. We were very early risers so we'd be up at 5am and you'd have to wait a painstaking hour to get up, and then we had to go downstairs in age order.

I had to watch A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve, the George C. Scott version. It was one of my great moments in primary school. I was not a great student and, one year, our teacher was asking us what we did for Christmas. Somebody brought it up and I started doing the lines. I did the whole thing in front of the class.

If I'm going home, I don't really engage in Christmas until I leave. This year, my dad is really sick, so this year it's going to be totally different. I'm going back to New York next week so we'll see how he feels.

If I could have anything for Christmas? I'm at that age where some suggest I should have kids. I wouldn't mind one actually.

I'm boring with presents. I'd much prefer three DVDs that I'd watch than a really creative present.

I remember someone bought me a dartboard and I f*cking hated it. Three years later, I realised how cool it was. Another time I got a set of boules. That might have been the best present ever. I use them all the time. When I tour, I have them in the the boot of my car. Good games are really good presents.



DARREN KENNEDY
Broadcaster and stylist

I'm a big sucker for Christmas. I love it because it's a real family time and every Christmas I've memories of myself, my brother and my sister walking downstairs with our eyes closed and being led by my mam and dad to where Santy had left our presents.

I'm quite traditional in that I don't like decorations up before December 8. I think too many decorations spoil the broth!

I don't go mad on decorations because I go home for Christmas. It's more about meeting up with friends who are home and trying to unwind as well, because business-wise it's always busy.

It's important going into the New Year that you set different goals, wind down, take stock and get ready for the year ahead of you.

For the past four years, I've hit town on Christmas Eve and got all my presents in two hours, but this year I've bought a lot of stuff online. I wanted to be a little more prepared. And we're doing Kris Kindle, so it's made me think about it a bit more. It takes the stress out of it and means I've knocked five or six people off my list straight away.

Ideally, little Harry [my dog] would be getting a little brother or sister in the form of an Italian greyhound for Christmas, but it's not going to happen because I don't have a garden, but that's my dream.

I'd love to get him the Sony Rolly -- it's like a robotic egg that dances to music and goes all around the floor. He'd have great fun chasing it.

You can get edible Christmas cards for your dog online -- Eat-Me Edible Reindeer Cards, which are 100pc rawhide greeting cards that are safe for your animal to eat.

I wouldn't get selection boxes because, in my experience, they give dogs upset stomachs. At Christmas, dogs get far richer food than they ever would anyway.

I shop online or in a store called Mutt Ugly in Dublin, which does really nice stuff. Even Penneys does animal stuff -- a friend got a Santa Claus outfit for her dog there.

We had a new addition to the family in Australia, a little baby girl, Ella Aisling, so what I'd really like for Christmas is to see her.


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