| 11.6°C Dublin

Running away from Christmas: 'My mother can finally have a stress-free day with a Grand Buffet in New York'

Close

Cold outside: Cameron Diaz house swaps from LA to an English country village in the 2006 film 'The Holiday'

Cold outside: Cameron Diaz house swaps from LA to an English country village in the 2006 film 'The Holiday'

Family: Eva and her dog, Clint

Family: Eva and her dog, Clint

Rockefeller Center ice rink in New York

Rockefeller Center ice rink in New York

The Plaza in New York

The Plaza in New York

/

Cold outside: Cameron Diaz house swaps from LA to an English country village in the 2006 film 'The Holiday'

As I sit watching my sister battle with her tangled fairy lights, while she gripes about her lodgers asking if they could help her put up her Christmas decorations - "Why would I need help? It's my tree... I do it every year..." - I get a sense of relief that I don't have to worry about dusting off the tree and fighting off spiders from the shed, while chasing the dog around the house to take the stuffed Santa head out of his mouth for the fourth year running. Because this year, I've decided to run away from Christmas.

Before you get all 'bah humbug' on me, let me be clear that I love Christmas - well I did, up until last year when I realised I didn't quite love it at all.

I love the winter weather, the prospect of snow when you get to pull your (faux) fur from the wardrobe and pretend you're Carrie Bradshaw popping out for milk. I love the carols playing in the shops, the hustle and bustle of panicked shoppers fighting over the last 'Star Wars' mug on the stalls.

I love creating my own gift tags with jokes for my niece and nephew. I love wrapping their Toblerones in wrapping paper every year, despite them knowing exactly what's in it.

Close

Family: Eva and her dog, Clint

Family: Eva and her dog, Clint

Family: Eva and her dog, Clint

I love being the only child of seven to have a Christmas decoration with my name on it on my mother's tree. I love filling a stocking for my dog and seeing him tear open every toy and treat all at once on Christmas morning.

And I love taste-testing every course my mother has cooked, from the duck starter to the gravy, to the three different types of stuffing she makes, right down to the trifle.

Yet despite all the love, I realised something last year - I actually hate the day itself. When siblings and their partners arrive at the door, it's a reminder that I'm still single and have no one's plate to throw my unwanted Brussels sprouts on to.

With the entire city closed down and no car at my disposal, there's nowhere to go other than your sitting room, where you can't hear RTE's showing of 'Oliver!' for all the chitter-chatter. Then there's the awkwardness of having parents who are separated, but still live together; they don't want to sit at the same table so one of them ends up in the other room, which inevitably ends up with one or two other people joining them so they're not alone.

The dog gets so excited at the sheer amount of people and wrapping paper all in one place that he has to be put out the back, which makes me resent the visitors for making my dog leave his own house.

Then there's the drinking, and with seven siblings and their partners all congregated in the broken home with shots of whiskey in free flow, sparks most definitely always fly, resulting in the family separating into two tribes for the next six months of the year.

Close

Rockefeller Center ice rink in New York

Rockefeller Center ice rink in New York

Rockefeller Center ice rink in New York

Home & Property Newsletter

Get the best home, property and gardening stories straight to your inbox every Saturday

This field is required

The niece and nephew are now teenagers, so don't really want to sit around playing Pie Face and listening to some neighbour no one really likes anyway singing 'Fairytale Of New York'... badly.

So this year I'm taking my mother and we're running away to have our own fairytale of New York, so to speak.

I've told everyone there'll be no presents - the extra cash is going on fur-lined boots and woolly hats. The dog is getting shipped off to my sister's where he has four furry cousins to play with, and the niece and nephew will just have to accept a Toblerone from the airport.

After cooking Christmas dinner for 45 years - one year she cooked four meals, one for the family, one for my grandparents, one for the neighbours and one for the homeless - my mother can finally have a stress-free day where a scrumptious three-course Christmas Grand Buffet meal will be served to her in the luxurious surroundings of The Plaza on Fifth Avenue, before we head to a Broadway showing of 'Jersey Boys'. We're going to sip hot whiskies and eat mince pies with no arguing or filling up anyone else's glass. We'll head to an Irish bar and sing Christmas songs with the locals, and the next day, we'll avail of the winter sales in Macy's and Bloomingdales. Glorious.

So if you too are sick of battling with tangled fairy lights, making four different types of mash just to please the in-laws, or just want to get away from the family, here are our top tips for how not to do Christmas, in style.

Be selfish

The guilt will start to creep in as December 25 draws closer, but this is when running away matters even more. All those presents you bought for your siblings' kids and friends' kids? Unless you have your own kids, you're never getting them back, so screw them. Spend the money you'd usually spend on Lego and Roald Dahl books on a plane ticket abroad instead.

Would you rather sip a margarita on a sun lounger, chatting up the hot foreign waiter, or chug a mulled wine while spurning Uncle Harry's advances? What Eva did: Booked a three-course meal at The Plaza, where we'll choose from traditional turkey or ham, or Cabernet braised beef short-rib rossini or seared salmon for mains, with mandarin orange white chocolate buche de Noel or Three King's Cake, baked almond and pear puff pastry for dessert, $145 each for three courses.

Plan ahead

It's always more budget-friendly to book things in advance so look up your hotels and flights the summer beforehand and you'll bag yourself a good deal.

If you're not heading abroad, consider a staycation - a number of hotels in Ireland will cater for large groups for Christmas meals and if you want to keep some Christmas tradition, most are offering turkey and ham dinners. The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin offers a two-night stay with breakfast and a five-course lunch or dinner on Christmas Day with prices starting at €455pps, theshelbourne.ie. What Eva did: Collected points on Expedia all through the year and flies to Toronto on December 17 with Aer Lingus (€482pps), and flies to New York on December 23 with WestJet (€255pps).

Do something for charity

If you don't fancy indulging yourself, but want to get away from all the hassle at home, the Order of the Knights of St Columbanus is now taking volunteers for its annual Christmas Day dinner for homeless people at the RDS in Dublin. Register at christmasdaydinner.com. What Eva did: Stuck to the Christmas Shoe Box appeal tradition and filled a box - collections take place at the luas stop at Connolly Station in Dublin tomorrow. Teamhope.ie also run one, as does Samaritans and other worthy organisations, as well as schools up and down the country.


Most Watched





Privacy