For many of us, the holidays are a time for family, eating too much food, and avoiding awkward conversations over the dinner table. But can you imagine how much better our lives would be if our holidays basically entailed all of those things — only fancier?
Well, that’s how Christmastime is for the British royal family. Each holiday season, the Mountbatten-Windsors cope with uncomfortable family drama while simultaneously hosting charitable Christmas parties, sending out tons of cards, watching their grandma Queen Elizabeth’s televised address, and exchanging gifts at Sandringham Estate. Sure sounds better than having to return the 17 pairs of socks we get as presents each year.
But those looking to add a dash of regalia to their holiday season need look no further. Here are some royal holiday traditions that you can weave into your own celebrations (although it might be easier if you have a castle, full staff, and perhaps a crown handy).
Take a train wherever you’re going.
If you’re traveling this holiday season — be it by land or by sea — make sure to take a train wherever you’re going, even if a train might not be the best option. That’s how Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip get to their 20,000-acre estate of Sandringham each holiday season. The longtime couple — 71 years married! — were spotted last year arriving at King’s Lynn station in Norfolk on their Christmas journey. Regardless of where you’re going, make sure to travel the same way.
Eat a meals prepared by your private chef, and then unwind with some stew also made by your private chef.
Like the rest of us, the royals celebrate the holidays with a lot of food. But unlike the rest of us, the food is prepared by a chef and full kitchen staff. As former royal chef Darren McGrady told Good Housekeeping, on Christmas morning, he would prepare a “hardy breakfast” for the family before church, followed by a lunch with shrimp or lobster salad and turkey, and then later a turkey buffet for after the queen’s Christmas speech. He also told Today that after royal shooting parties (?) during the holidays, he would prepare beef bourguignon and other dishes. “Shooting lunches at Sandringham and Balmoral Castle always had to be hearty meals — lots of stews with mashed potatoes,” said McGrady. Just tell your chef to do the same.
Give gag gifts that relate to tabloid stories about the recipients.
If you find yourself tasked with buying presents for your extended family members but you don’t know what to get them, why not follow in the footsteps of the royal family and buy them gag gifts that directly relate to tabloid stories about their life, ha-ha? Follow in the footsteps of Kate Middleton, who apparently bought Prince Harry — back when he was single — a “grow-your-own girlfriend” kit one year. Oh, and then another year, Princess Anne reportedly gave Prince Charles a white leather toilet seat, and then rumors started that he travels with his own toilet seat. What fun! Also, the royals open their gifts on Christmas Eve, so better do it that day.
Have the paparazzi follow your family around as you walk to anywhere on Christmas morning.
Each Christmas morning, everyone in the U.S. (or is it just me?) frantically rushes to the laptop to check out the photos of the British royals walking to church at Sandringham. Last year was particularly notable, because Meghan Markle was photographed walking to church with the family — and at the time, she was only engaged to Prince Harry. Usually you have to be married (or born) into the royal family before you can make that trek, so her presence was a big deal. But there were photographers along the path, and we were all given the gift of amazing pictures. You could easily do that with your family if you go to church or literally anywhere that morning. Maybe just tell the paparazzi that someone famous will be joining you?
Broadcast a Christmas address.
Each year, the queen (Elizabeth) broadcasts her annual Christmas address on television, and the whole royal family sits around to watch it. Do you remember that plot point from The Crown, season two? I do. Anyway, the address is broadcast in the U.K. and various places around the world (and online!) on Christmas day, and it’s a tradition in which she chats about the previous year, what she’s grateful for, and other such Christmas-y things. Here’s the address from last year:
Using that as a template, the most royal thing you could do with your holiday — other than actually become royal — is to broadcast a similar address on Christmas day. You can do it on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, FaceTime, and other such apps and pieces of technology. Tell your followers and/or one person via a screen what you think of the last year!