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PARTY QUEEN

The countdown to Christmas with Deborah Brett

The fashion editor and ceramicist talks us through her festive preparations.

Having left London’s Central St Martins with a first-class degree in fashion in the late 90s, Deborah Brett went on to works as a fashion editor at The London Times newspaper before moving to Harper's Bazaar and Red magazine. She is currently editor-at-large of online shopping platform and magazine Wardrobe Icons and she recently launched her own range of handmade porcelain tableware using artisans in Stoke-on-Trent, UK, and has collaborated with Thyme England on an exclusive range (shop her ceramics collection here.) Deborah lives in London with her husband Tom and their three children, Phin, 14, Hermione, 12 and Ottilie, 9.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your new ceramics collection.

My flow ceramic collection was inspired by the landscape in Ibiza. The vibrant blue cobalt bubbles reflecting the Mediterranean Sea. The pieces are made from porcelain and hand glazed. With the bubbles following the form, creating an undulating movement and uniqueness to each piece.

What does Christmastime mean to you as a family?

We take celebrations very seriously in this family. And we love to plan and create our own traditions around festivities whether they be birthdays, anniversaries or religious celebrations. Although I was raised Jewish, my mother's family was Christian, and I just adored taking part in their Christmas celebrations in Germany. My husband has his own English traditions from his family. So, we try to combine them for our three children. But ultimately, it's about spending time together as a family and all the cousins having fun together.

Where do you usually spend it?

When my children were younger we used to do this madcap Christmas, where we would visit my German family and celebrate Christmas Eve in Germany, then we would finish dinner and jump in the car filled to the brim with presents and drive through the night back to the UK to make it in time for Christmas morning in Kent. Now we tend to do a few days with my family before, decorating their tree with decorations I made as a child as well as making and decorating our traditional Knusperhaus (gingerbread house) with all my cousins and their families and then we spend Christmas Day and Boxing Day with our family in Kent.

What are your own childhood memories of Christmas?

Magical! My grandparents would take me to the local Christmas Market in their hometown of Remscheid just outside of Düsseldorf and buy me Lebkuchen hearts and Berliners (jam filled donuts). We would have Bratwurst for lunch on the 24th and I was never allowed to decorate the tree. That was left to the adults – baubles were made from glass and we had real candles on the tree. My grandmother or Omi would ring a bell on Christmas Eve and this signalled for all the grandchildren to enter. The room was glowing from the candles, the presents were out and we would sing German carols around the tree before having stollen and tea and opening our gifts and then dinner with goose and dumplings. The it was an evening of crazy card games and lots of raucous singing.

Tell us more about the amazing gingerbread house you always make and where that tradition comes from?

The gingerbread house obsession has become a big moment in our family. I love hand baking the house and then decorating it with icing, sweets and liquorice. My children are not allowed to start eating it until Christmas Eve. And although they can bake their own smaller versions I love taking the time to design and make a special one for our family. I always had one growing up. We would buy it in the local bakery in Germany and then add extra sweets. One year they had sold out, and I ended up assembling one from chocolate bars. My German family now prefer this one so I make them a chocolate one and we get the traditional gingerbread one at home.

What's your attitude to decorations? Less is more or the more the better?

I'm definitely a more is more person when it comes to getting dressed and the same can be said for my tree. I'm always adding extra touches. I love the decorations my children made when they were younger and each year I gift them each a new one. And I love adding big velvet bows to the end of the branches and silver and gold beads that hang in between. My Omi had glass bead chains and this reminds me of her. I love festive touches all over my house from scented candles to wreaths on the front door and also on my dining room table with a candle at its centre. I've also started adding a pine garland above my fireplace. The scent is heavenly.

How to you celebrate Hanukkah?

We celebrate Hanukkah with my husband and children, inviting friends and family over the eight days to help celebrate with us – it's a festival of light and each night we light another candle on our Hanukkiah. The children made their own out of clay a few years ago and we love the songs and the stories that go with the festival. As well as the delicious tradition of fried donuts and latkes (which are a little but like a hash brown) which we eat with sour cream and applesauce.

Tell us how the kids get involved? Do they make any special decorations?

My kids are involved in almost everything I do. They help bake gingerbread hearts which we gift to teachers as a thank you at the end of term and we love hanging them from our tree too. I often host a little afternoon tea for their friends to decorate their own gingerbread houses and unlike my childhood, my children are heavily involved in decorating the tree. We play lots of music and sing and drink hot chocolate and savour the afternoon together.

Your number one party tip?

Ask for help! We are such a huge family and everyone chips in, find out what people's strengths are and ask them to do that. I'm known for my decorating so I'm in charge of the table and making it look fantastic! My dream job.

Follow Deborah Brett on Instagram at @dbceramic @deborahbrett

Shop Deborah Brett’s ceramics collection www.dbceramic.co.uk

Deborah Brett’s Festive Edit

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