A Christmas Q and A with Gwyneth Paltrow
How far in advance do you start your Christmas shopping?
I generally start my Christmas shopping at least 2 months before. I like to get things personalized and my gifts usually require some advance time. I’m definitely a planner.
Do you rope anyone in to help you – are you a solo shopper or do you do it as an activity with friends?
I’m a solo shopper; I don’t rope my friends into it. I spend a lot of time searching for things on the internet.
You said you like to personalize your presents – is that getting things engraved on them?
Yes, I think it’s really nice that when someone opens a present it has something personal. Last year I gave everyone these beautiful handmade cutting boards, everyone in the family’s name was engraved on one side. I’ve done ceramic plates, jewellery with initials. It takes it from being a normal present to being something that’s actually really special and requires a lot of thought and planning.
Who your hardest friend or family member to shop for?
I think men are really hard to shop for, much harder than women. Probably my husband, my brother, my husband’s brothers – they’re usually the hardest.
What kind of Christmas Day rituals do you have as a family?
Our Christmas rituals are pretty much the same every year; it’s basically trying to keep the children in bed until at least 7am! Father Christmas always leaves a stocking at the end of their bed, which is great because then they wake up and they have lots of little bits to unwrap. Then they wake us up and they just go to town on the present opening. I do a lot of the cooking before Christmas but then I usually spend a lot of Christmas cooking too. All the smells, all of the mulled wine, all of the trimmings for the turkey. We like to have all the family around. A very traditional Christmas.
Christmas often gets a bit hectic. How do you manage the madness at Christmas?
I have a master list of presents and people that I need to get presents for – work presents, kid presents, godchildren, friends. I start thinking about it a few months in advance and then I see on this master list what I got them last year and the year before. I also send Christmas cards, so it takes some preparation but I think it’s such a nice, warm time of year, and it’s so nice to give gifts. I really enjoy it.
Fragrance makes a great gift at Christmas. How would you go about picking a fragrance?
I think it’s nice to buy a fragrance that they’ve never tried, or buy them their favourite. It’s a luxury gift, it’s personal and it’s always wonderful to get perfume. I think it’s a nice time to try something new. But for people who are really married to their scent it’s also a really good time to give them that.
You said you like to do all the cooking at Christmas. Do you get your kids involved?
My kids are very involved in the kitchen with me, especially my son. He loves to cook and he’s very engaged when we do it – he has a lot of patience for it, it’s very cute. He helps me measure and he cracks eggs perfectly, he’s very good.
Do you start the Christmas festivities early?
Not too early. Normally we go to America for Christmas so we really wait and do it all there. It’s really just the week before that I make the house all full of Christmas decorations.
So you have Christmas in the sunshine?
It depends where we are, sometimes we have Christmas in London and sometimes we have Christmas in New York. We like a wintery Christmas.
What’s your fondest memory from Christmas growing up?
I remember being probably about four years old and coming down and my presents were so tall, they were taller than I was. It was this incredible moment where Santa Claus had brought me all of these presents and it was the most astounding thing to have a mountain of presents that was taller than myself.
Do you have turkey and all the trimmings?
Christmas dinner is very traditional – turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, pecan pie.
Do you throw Christmas parties for your friends or do you do things in the run up to Christmas with your girlfriends?
This year we did have a Christmas party, we were in Los Angeles the week before Christmas and we had a really nice Christmas party. We sang carols, but that was the first Christmas party we’ve had that was a pre-Christmas entertaining thing. But it was fun, maybe it could become a tradition.
What’s your go-to Christmas outfit if you’re going out to a party?
I always feel like I end up wearing something black. I have a number of black jumpsuits that are always very easy because then you don’t have to think about much else.
In England people get really dressed up on Christmas Day. Do you do this?
We get dressed up for Christmas Day. It’s not a tuxedo or anything but just a little bit nicer.
Is there a beauty look that you like for Christmas, like a red lip, or do you keep it quite neutral?
I always think it’s a good idea to have a red lip at Christmas but I’m not very good at doing that so I usually just end up looking very natural.
You mentioned that you like to send traditional cards – are you someone who prefers that over the popular e-card?
I definitely send my Christmas cards as a physical paper card, not as an e-card. I think I’m more traditional and prefer a paper card more often than not.
She has really inspired me to get organised now rather than later and I although my Christmas party will be in North London rather than LA I am as excited about Christmas as she obviously is! I also love a new fragrance for Christmas and know one or two people who would simply love a bottle of Boss Jour Pour Femme and I may even treat them to an extra specia gift set from Boots.