Celebrities' best Christmases

Tell us about your best Christmas, we asked 10 newsmakers. They dug deep for poignant, funny and bittersweet Yuletide stories

Snow and a proposal

Maddy Barber, 40

Kiss92 assistant programming director and host of Maddy, Jason & Arnold In The Morning

My best Christmas was 10 years ago in 2004. It was the first one that I celebrated with my husband, then boyfriend, IT consultant Wez Barber, and we had been dating for about six months at the time.

He took me to his hometown in Yorkshire, England, to celebrate Christmas with his family.

It was my first Christmas in the English countryside and, the thing is, it doesn't snow there all the time. But on Christmas morning, it started to snow, not a blizzard or anything, just the right amount of snow and it was so wonderful.

We woke up early at 7am and his whole family - there were eight of us altogether - took turns to open presents. Then we all sat around to watch television until it was time for a big lunch and we had roast turkey.

It was cold outside but we had a log fire going so that was nice. It felt like how Christmas should be.

I can't remember the presents that I received that Christmas. But that's because soon after that, at the stroke of midnight of the new year, my husband proposed to me and gave me a ring, and that was the most memorable present of all.

Eddino Abdul Hadi


No crib for a babe

Tan Ken Loon (with son Kiefer), 39

Owner of The Naked Finn, a seafood restaurant at Gillman Barracks

My best Christmas was 11 years ago, in 2003.

My wife, Carolina Ng, 38, who handles brand communications for a property developer, and I were expecting our son, Kiefer. He wasn't planned. In fact, we had never thought about having a kid, but no regrets.

He was due in January 2004, but came a few weeks early - that was unplanned too.

We had just moved into our first home, an HDB flat in Farrer Road, and barely had any furniture: One Chesterfield sofa, a low television console and a mattress that rested on a low frame with wooden slats. And because we hadn't planned for a child, we had designed the flat in a way that was not very child-friendly. It had a lot of glass and low furniture, but we made do.

Most of our other Christmases had been spent throwing parties. We always felt it was a great excuse to give people presents and have a meal together with beer and wine.

But Christmas that year was just the three of us. We didn't throw a party. We didn't put up a tree. We fed Kiefer, who was about two weeks old, sat on the couch and slept early.

It was a quiet, contented Christmas and I wouldn't have changed it for the world.

Rebecca Lynne Tan


I still believed in Santa Claus

Jeremy Monteiro, 54

Jazz musician, composer and managing and creative director of Showtime Productions

It would be Christmas in 1972. I was 12 years old then and our family was living in Jalan Antoi, Seletar Hills. We were back in Singapore after living in Sabah, where my dad had been working for about a year.

Our family were there, not just my parents, my sister Sheila, who was then 10, and my sister Claressa, Kiss92 DJ and jazz singer, who was three years old, but also my maternal grandmother, who lived with us, and my paternal grandmother, who was visiting from Malaysia.

On Christmas Eve, the whole family sang Christmas carols for a couple of hours non-stop, everything from church carols to Frosty The Snowman.

At that time, I still believed in Santa Claus so, by 9.30pm, our parents told us to go to bed or else we wouldn't get any presents. No arguments there.

On Christmas day, we woke up early for church service at Church of Saint Vincent De Paul.

My dad rarely went to church but I remember that morning, he joined us. Then we went home to unwrap the presents. I got a 17-speed bicycle and until today, I am an avid cyclist.

After that, dad took us all for buffet lunch at a hotel, where the late entertainer Victor Khoo performed with his puppet Charlee. It was one of the first times I saw them perform.

I remember that Christmas well also because it was the first one after our family got our first colour television set, a Sony Trinitron, so we watched shows such as Little House On The Prairie.

I guess I remember this particular Christmas so much because it was the last one before I began to grow older and started to want to hang out with friends more than with family.

These are the kind of moments that I treasure.

Eddino Abdul Hadi


We'll be home for family time

Fann Wong (with husband Christopher Lee and son Zed), 43

Actress

This year is the best Christmas. To be able to celebrate ZedZed's first Christmas makes me very happy. It is the best present. As long as I can spend it with ZedZed, my hubby and the rest of my family, it will always be the best.

My hubby and I are really busy with work during this period, so we haven't made any plans.

Christopher was in Beijing to promote his new movie Wang Pai, Trump Card, which stars Taiwanese model-actress Chiling Lin and Hong Kong veteran actor Tony Leung Ka Fai, but he will be flying home in time for Christmas.

We'll be off work on Christmas day. Check our Instagram accounts for updates on how we spent Christmas.

Gwendolyn Ng


Going crazy with presents

Beatrice Chia-Richmond (with son Sol), 40

Theatre director

The most special Christmas for me was in 2007. It was the year when my husband, sports presenter Mark Richmond, and I first celebrated the occasion with our son Sol.

Being first-time parents, we were completely nuts and went on a shopping spree to buy presents and Christmas decorations, which were enough to rival Orchard Road's.

We had a tree dressed in crazy decorations and lights around the house.

I remember Sol was sitting next to a mountain of about 40 to 50 presents from family members and all he cared about was the wrapping paper.

What made that Christmas so memorable was actually his teething problem, as he was seven months old then.

Earlier in the day, he was quite uncomfortable and crying, as the gums can get quite itchy. It stressed out the family and threatened to dampen the mood.

Thankfully, the problem subsided towards the evening, when around 30 of us gathered for dinner.

As a new mother then, I was so relieved and was really close to tears.

Kenneth Goh


Cooking up a new tradition

Ryan Tan, 29

Owner of Strangers' Reunion and Waffle Slayer cafes in Kampong Bahru Road and three-time Singapore National Latte Art Champion

It has become tradition to spend Christmas Day cooking a huge dinner with my interior designer mum Leslie Goh, who is a great cook.

But the most memorable of all the meals so far would have to be in 2008, the year I moved to Melbourne, Australia, for my studies.

I came home for Christmas after taking some culinary courses in Melbourne and I could finally cook our annual Christmas meal without having to ask my mother for guidance.

She said that I had learnt something in my time overseas. Now, I can cook faster than her and have taken over cooking many of the dishes.

For Christmas meals, my mum is in charge of the turkey and stuffing. My main dish is roasted root vegetables, such as sweet potato and beetroot. We'd also do roast beef and lamb, as well as ham and salads. Desserts would include bread and butter pudding and a trifle.

By the time dinner is ready for about 15 to 20 relatives and friends, it would be about 9pm and we'd eat until 2am.

It is usually just my mum and I cooking together, but perhaps this year, my 21-year-old twin siblings can join us too.

Eunice Quek


Dreams of a white Christmas

Colin Chen, 31

Creative director of The General Company, a lifestyle store in Tyrwhitt Road selling wares from local crafters, makers and artisans

I think most people dream of a white Christmas because we grew up seeing it in the movies.

I was fortunate enough to enjoy that last Christmas.

I was travelling in Europe - Iceland, Britain and France - over the festive period with my girlfriend, teacher Lynn Choo, 31.

We explored the magical white lands of Reykjavik, experienced snowfall and soaked in the Blue Lagoon spa.

We visited all the lovely Christmas markets in London and saw the gorgeous Christmas lights and decorations in Oxford Street.

There was also a road trip to see Stonehenge and we attended a workshop on how to make pasta at Jamie Oliver's Italian restaurant in London and skated on an ice rink in front of the Eiffel Tower.

We didn't have time to take that many photos because we just wanted to enjoy our trip.

To me, there's no better way to spend Christmas than to explore new places and create new experiences with your loved ones.

Lee Jian Xuan


Winter wonderlands

Alicia Pan (with husband Peter Thew, 32, brand manager), 30

Singer-songwriter and founder of Yoga Movement

Christmas, to me, is the time of the year when we let go of all the negativity that we've held on to. It is the time of the year when we put our friends and family first in the spirit of giving.

Having said that, Christmas is best spent with the people you hold closest to your heart. I love a white Christmas, so my fondest memories are of those I spent up in the snow.

We did a family trip to the United States two years ago and stopped over in Las Vegas for a few days.

And while I am not the biggest fan of Las Vegas, my husband and I spontaneously rented a car and drove up to Mt Charleston to snowboard for two days. They were two fun days and the highlight of our trip.

The weather was perfect and the sun was out, which created the perfect Christmas atmosphere.

Lee Jian Xuan


When a child is born

Godwin Pereira (with wife Waheedah Osman and daughter Maya Lynn Pereira), 40

Co-founder, Limited Edition Concepts, which owns basement nightclub Kyo and manages properties in Circular Road

My best Christmas ever was probably in 2011, the year my daughter Maya Lynn was born. She became the youngest granddaughter in the family and it gave a whole new dynamic to Christmas.

My family is filled with old buffaloes, you see; the youngest niece and nephew in the family are 24 and 26. My daughter was born in February, but by the end of the year, she had brought a lot of joy to the family.

For the past few years, we've been travelling as a group overseas to celebrate Christmas. There are 24 of us. Last year, we were in New Zealand and this year, we have rented a villa in Bali.

But in 2011, Maya Lynn was still too young to travel so we stayed in Singapore.

We had food catered and my mum cooked a couple of things - turkey and fruit pudding cake. I felt like my daughter's birth heightened the Christmas spirit.

Before my daughter came along, you could say I was nagged at the most, being the youngest among five siblings. Not anymore.

Melissa Kok


The poor student’s Xmas

Anthony Chen (with wife Rachel Yan, 32, PhD student), 30

Award-winning director of Ilo Ilo and founder of film company Giraffe Pictures

This was in 2009 in London, when I was a student pursuing my Masters in Directing at the National Film and Television School.

My wife and I were living in north London at the time, in a pretty large flat that housed eight people. We were all students with not very much savings and scraping by, but we wanted to make the best of Christmas.

My wife and I chanced upon a small provision shop late one night on Dec 23 and it was slashing prices of Christmas trees. We managed to grab a tree - a real one, not plastic - for about £15. We were so thrilled, although it was a hassle dragging the tree onto the public bus to take it home.

On Christmas Day, it was a whole day of cooking and it was also the first time I was preparing a big Christmas meal. I cooked a huge roast turkey and Beef Wellington. It was the biggest meal of the year for us, so we ate like there was no tomorrow.

It was a rather cold winter and it snowed quite a bit. We spent the rest of the evening playing in the snow in our backyard. For a Singaporean like me growing up in the tropics, it was quite a Christmas.

Ever since then, I have always tried to do Christmas in London. Somehow, it feels more Christmassy when it is cold and wintry.

Yip Wai Yee