Celebrity Christmas tips and tricks

While the Christmas season can be a festive time with friends and family, it can also be a frenetic time of the year which can be quite stressful. Angelique Ruzicka asks several celebrities what they will be doing on Christmas and for their tips on making sure that the festive season is an enjoyable one for the whole family.

Riaan Manser, pioneering explorer 

[I’m] trying to spend quality time with family and friends. But we are preparing for a big year. Our On Honeymoon documentary on Discovery Channel as well as our first Mali song of the first Ocean Rowing World Cup , and IP which we recently have managed to register globally. This will be a more direct extension of the business arm and future ambitions of RM Explorer.

My tip: Everything in moderation…only kidding. Enjoy yourself to the maximum.  Be adventurous and go shopping the day before Christmas. Try something new you wouldn’t have [tried before]. We are all too cautious during the year. Making sure we don’t ruffle any feathers the wrong way.  Above all, the secret to surviving the New Year is to completely let go of the last, and most importantly be fresh when you walk back into the office.

Lisa Raleigh, media personality, wellness expert & change agent
This year has already been such a year of firsts for me, and Christmas will be yet another one. This year I acquired a wonderful husband and my precious baby Bella, and I’m thrilled to be starting some new traditions as a family – always featuring a real Christmas tree and stockings. With a brand new baby in tow, our usual December overseas trip is obviously out the question, so we’re looking forward to a lot of R ‘n R on our farm in Dargle, in the Midlands. Stafford is also father to two wonderful teenage girls, and this will be my first Christmas as their step Mum! There is always a fun ‘fake Christmas’ we hold with them in Johannesburg ahead of the 25th with all the usual festivities.

My tip:
From a wellness perspective, my approach to Christmas is one I always preach and practise: balance. This is certainly not the season for deprivation, but it needn’t be the season for excess either! Practising portion control, following a decadent meal with a very clean one, exercising daily and committing to taking in your quota of daily nutrients before indulging are all useful little strategies to keep you relatively on track during the festive season.


Sarah Kozlowski, actress
Christmas is my family, food and festive binge time. Every year Christmas Eve dinner is with my parents, no one is allowed to go on vacation until after we all celebrate together. My Dad is Polish and the Polish tradition is to wait for the first star on Christmas Eve before you give each other gifts.

My tip: Have an attitude of “worry about it in January”. The diet and all the resolutions can wait. It’s amazing how much less you over indulge when you are not obsessing about over indulging. Just enjoy and be happy during the happy time and the rest will fall into place.


Vincent Ntunja, SA basketball player
Well, we all get busy throughout the year and if there was ever a good time for Christmas, it is now. Christmas reminds us that we don’t have to face life alone. It reminds us there is strength found in the love that we receive from family and friends. Now, how do you ensure you reach out to all the people who supported you when you needed it?
On the morning of December 25th, write down all the important numbers you saved on your phone then send Christmas wishes messages or Christmas text to your loved ones. Beautiful Christmas wishes and Christmas quotes can be written in Christmas greeting cards but the best way is to send them as a text so it can be received on time. Adding to that, most people tend to keep important messages in their phones and often look at them when they miss or think of you. Happy holiday season and Merry Christmas.”


Jaye Keyz, Africa’s keytarist and singer
I don’t usually celebrate holidays, and personally not big on festivities. In previous years, when I lived in Nigeria, there was no escaping it though. Couldn’t run, couldn’t hide. It’s all in your face back home. This year, though I’ll be spending Christmas in Cape Town. Hopefully I get to have some fun with fellow foreigners in my “solo” position. About saving money, whew! I don’t think there’s any way out.

My tip: I’d advise anyone to have a budget and when it’s done, it’s done. The bottom line is don’t stress. Know when to sit at home and when to be out balling. It’s all about the Yin and the Yang! ”

Uzair Cassiem, Springbok rugby player. Also plays for the Cheetahs in Super Rugby and the Free State Cheetahs in the Currie Cup
During the festive season I spend most of my time with my family. As we do not celebrate Christmas we make a point of making sure that our children in the Strand Community has a festive meal as many cannot afford it. We make sure to watch some beach touch rugby and visit sites we haven’t seen before. Over this period my parents’ home is always filled with people so we make sure there is always something to eat and drink.

My tip: Over New Year’s we make small platters and enjoy a night of laughter and New Year Resolutions on my parent’s porch.”


Michelle Garforth-Venter, conservation journalist
The Garforth-Venter’s are in Atlanta USA for Christmas 2016 – our 6-year-old son Rainn is singing in the school holiday concert and he really wants to wear one of those cheesy jerseys with either a reindeer on it or a Christmas tree and snowflakes. Mommy will oblige as it will make for precious memories and photos! We can’t wait to go shopping!

As an activity, we are going to the lighting of Macy’s great tree at Lenox Square, and while we are there, Rainn and I will take a ride on Macy’s famous pink pig! What I love about the States is that Christmas includes Hanukkah celebrations and Kwanzaa traditions all through the month of December. So, all religions come together as one.

My tip: My DIY husband Riaan tends to do the festive chefing, as he’s a much better cook then I am. Riaan likes to keep it healthy and one tip we’ve come up with is to put lots of vegetables on our plates, then your protein on top. This way your plate looks full but will keep those calories off!


Mariechan Luiters, singer

The holidays are a wonderful time to recharge, reflect on the year and prepare for 2017.  I will be spending time with my family and my man.

My tip: Leave half the holiday planned and the other half up to the universe.  For anyone like me and my man who live a million miles away from family, if you don’t plan, the family will take over and you’ll find yourself spending the holiday working for your family, so it’s critical to plan special time.  However, too much planning will create a rigidity and not allow for the special unpredictable moments that make life special.  So, we’ll be near beaches and mountains and enjoy the range of shade and waves that Cape Town offers.  I wish everyone a beautiful holiday and festive season.


Chester Martinez, dancer and choreographer
This festive season I plan to take advantage of everything Cape Town has to offer. After travelling the world for months on end, I have come to realise that I am from one of the best cities in the world. So this summer, I plan to really see this City. Next week I’ll be hiking Table Mountain with friends, then heading to Franschhoek for some celebrations, coming back to the city to enjoy the wonderful beaches and chilled out yet vibrant nightlife, rounding it all off in Saldanha down the West coast celebrating Christmas with the family. I am pretty sure I’ll find myself back in the city to kick off the New Year in style attending an event or two to usher in the New Year with friends and colleagues, as I’ll surely be networking right through into next year.

My tip: Fully and without guilt: relax, life is not a race. The destination is the here and now.

Amy Samuels, ENCA sports journalist
Festive season is my favourite time of the year! I have a fairly big family and we’re quite big on our gatherings. Christmas time is just another excuse for us to go bigger! More food, more dishes, more laughter and cheer. Since moving to Cape Town, I’ve worked throughout the December holiday (and on Christmas day), but that’s never stopped me from sharing the love and celebrating this special day with loved ones. New Year’s Day the troops round up again for our annual pool party.More often than not, it ends up being a jam session with the family (perks of being bred in a musically gifted family). Big families do have their downside though – it’s heavy on the pocket.

My tip: Secret Santa. With friends and family. I’m a bargain bunny so this fits perfectly with my pocket. Try DIY. The more sentimental the gift is, the better. It’s also so much fun making a unique gift for your loved one, filled with all their favourite things. And it scores you extra brownie points.


Carishma Basday, Mela TV presenter on SABC3, actress and yoga teacher
I am so excited for this festive season as it is the first time in a while that my whole family is going to be together for Christmas and New Year’s! We will be having a low key Christmas at my place with a massive decadent lunch spread, my family and I are all foodies we love to cook and to eat. Then we are off to Thailand for some R&R (rest and relaxation) before we party our way into the New Year.

My tip: Keep it simple and do what you love. For me being with my family is paramount, we never make Christmas about gifts it’s always about experiences which I love and it takes away all the Christmas shopping stress!

Zena Wood, actress and producer, currently living and working in New York City
My festive season is going to be very exciting because I’m home in SA for over a month. It’s been a year since I’ve been home. I plan to do a lot of hanging with friends, beaching and outdoor activities that I miss when I’m working or in Manhattan.
My tip: I’ll stick to my exercise regime and go to yoga classes here. Regarding the festive season- I think the world is currently in a state of flux with people having different opinions or even emotions about the state of the present and future that will present themselves over that Turkey. I think it’s important that we all voice our opinions if a topic arises and openly debate with family when we see each other. Sticking to our beliefs and also our love for one another. Happy holidays.

Carlo Abrahams, SA singer and songwriter from Worcester
This year Christmas will be spent somewhat differently than the usual. I moved to the Garden Route recently, so this year my family will be spending Christmas with me in George. Over the festive time lots of my friends and family will also visit me, so I am quite excited having them all over. I also made changes to my booking and gig schedule this year as I want to make the most of it spending with friends and family.

My tip: Plan accordingly so that you don’t sit with an overcrowded house and people not having a place to sleep. Don’t overspend, remember January can be long.

Kia Johnson’s, 2000FM radio presenter
On the home front each year has been routine in our home over the festive season as my Mum, Stepdad and sisters reside in New Zealand. This year however they have flown down so it’s full house. My Mum is also vegetarian so double meals will be on the menu. The plus side, having them here means that everyone can pitch in with an allocated task, that means lots more gets done at a quicker pace for both Christmas and New Year’s.

My tip: I’m the type to create a shopping list and stick to it. By doing so I save time, money and stress. Another trick I’ve also learned is to buy gifts early, that way you don’t run around last minute in a crazy mall about to lose your mind. Luckily my four year old is very crafty and can make Grandma and Grandpa some beautiful handmade gifts at little to no cost. It’s a win-win for me.

Jodi-Cash, SA rapper

Christmas can be a rather manic time of year, but I love the festivities that come with it.

My tip: I generally try to keep clear of public spaces like shopping malls. Instead I prefer to organise a keg of beer and have a group of good friends come over for a game of pool and a braai. It’s a time of the year where you are surrounded by those close to you, there is lots of sun by the pool, good food on the table, sports on the TV and loud music. Not to mention we all get to catch up with one another, which is great because I don’t always get to see my closet friends and family very often.
New Year’s is always one for the books, I enjoy going into a new year just as big as leaving the last because the New Year is a great time to celebrate life and embrace what the future holds. So to everyone, eat, drink and be merry!