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How to conquer Christmas with Sarah Millican

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Sometimes! Yes, Christmas is upon us once more, but it can feel more than a little bit overwhelming at times. But don’t you worry as the brilliant, comedian Sarah Millican is here to help you enhance and improve your Christmas! Not only has she selected some of her favourite, funny shows (which she’ll be introducing on Radio 4 Extra on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day) but she also has these handy tips to make the festive season pass without a hitch.

Make Your Own Traditions

One unusual Christmas tradition in the Millican household involved music. Sarah’s dad worked at the local pit and every Christmas morning the colliery band would play outside her house. As she told Comedy Club host Angela Barnes: “They only went to a handful of houses in South Shields, it was so lovely.” The tradition ended when the pit closed, but recently Sarah surprised her family by hiring a band to play once more on Christmas Day. “We were all in floods of tears because it hadn’t happened in twenty years. That was the main tradition we had and it was nice to revisit it.”

The Millican Christmas always involves a dog walk. Everything feels different on Christmas morning because there’s nobody about. And if they are, then they’re on a new bike.

Fill it full of music

While Sarah is delighted to be an audience member when the colliery band play, when it comes to other forms of Christmas music, she prefers to be a more active participant. “I’m not interested in watching people sing,” she says. “I want a go myself. I felt like a need to sing every year.” While it’s lovely to hear children singing 'Christian rhyme', it’s much more fun to join in and belt out a few carols yourself.

Get out of the house

While it would be extremely easy to spend all of the festive season cocooned indoors, getting out into the wider world is also a treat. The Millican Christmas always involves a dog walk. “Everything feels different on Christmas morning because there’s nobody about. And if they are, then they’re on a new bike.”

Add a little magic

Though Sarah admits she has finally come to terms with the idea that Santa may not play such an important part in Christmas as when she was little, she still likes to conjure up a little yuletide mystery. She likes her presents to appear under the tree, but she doesn’t want to be involved. “The room has to look different when I get up than when I went to bed. The door has to be shut, as that means that ‘he’ has been. I need magic.”

Get rid of the guilt

“I’ve always had a bacon sandwich on Christmas morning,” Sarah says, to launch a day of extravagance and indulgence. “It’s just permission to eat continually for days isn’t it?” But, she admits, Sarah does attempt to add a sheen of decorum to proceedings by way of dress. “Christmas jumper, pyjama bottoms. You have the functionality of eating trousers but with a spangly jumper on the top for any Zoom calls. Christmas on top, comfy down bottom. And fluffy slippers.”

Focus on your strengths

While Sarah’s husband Gary takes care of most of Christmas dinner, Sarah gets involved at one crucial stage, making the yorkies. “I like Yorkshire puddings because they showboat a little bit. They take up a third of the plate with their really simple ingredients and zero nutritional value.” While she doesn’t make the most items, she makes sure she makes the largest one.

Tantalise every sense

We’ve heard about the sounds of Christmas (music) and the tastes (food) but what about the other senses? Again, taking a more traditional approach can take care of this. “We always get a real tree because when I was a kid we always had a real tree. You would walk in the front door and it would smell of pine.”

Don't be scared to reach out

For the past ten years, Sarah’s Christmas Day has been occupied with a very special venture. Over on Twitter, she hosts an annual party called #JoinIn. “There are people who are on their own, or feel lonely, and don’t want to be.” Using that hashtag, they can chat to other people, from all over the world, and feel less isolated. “People can then see other people who are on their own and cheer up the people who are a little bit sad. It’s just the most joyous thing. It feels like so much part of my Christmas traditions.”