WHAT CHRISTMAS MEANS TO ME Emma Bridgewater
For British pottery designer Emma, mince pies, home-reared turkey and family carols at her Oxfordshire home are just a few of her fondest Christmas traditions
Emma’s stunning Oxfordshire home. The designer loves an excuse for a bonfire, and they feature regularly over the festive season
Some of my earliest Christmas memories are of decorating the tree with my sister Sophie and brother Tom; it’s something my four children have also enjoyed doing together over the years. As a family, we love Christmas music and enjoy singing carols around the piano together – my son Michael was a chorister one year, and I love hearing him sing.
On Christmas Day, we have a big breakfast to keep us going, then eat our main meal later in the afternoon. It usually stars one of the turkeys from our own flock. I adore Christmas pudding, but seem to be the only one. Each year I try to tempt my family with my own version, which I make on Christmas Eve. It’s full of apricots, figs and lots of orange and lemon juice.
With all the eating that goes on, I like to fit in some long river walks, which the labradors are also always grateful for! I love bonfires, and at Christmas there’s an excuse for one every day. Twelfth Night is perfect for a bonfire at dusk. I’ve almost always spent Christmas at home in Oxfordshire with my family, but now that the children are grown up, I like the idea of going abroad. One of my daughters is living in Mexico, so I’ve been toying with the idea of visiting at Christmas. I’m already dreaming of the gorgeous decorations I’ll find there!
I approach Christmas decorating in the same way I’d style a dresser. I dig deep into my archive of decorations, pairing old favourites with new. My mother received a card when I was born – just before Christmas – from my grandfather that said ‘Blessings on Charlotte and her baby girl’. It occasionally resurfaces, and gets a special place on the tree.
There are some lovely 1960s pieces
I have that I mix with more current buys, and I always include some of the tiny Emma Bridgewater china items on the tree. This year, I’m looking forward to using the new little mugs with gold initials – it took a long time to get the colour just right.
The more candles the better at this time of year, and I even take the time to polish my brass candlesticks! I enjoy eating by the light of tall, cream church candles, surrounded by ivy and branches of bay. Each year, I do as my mother and grandmothers did, incorporating traditional pieces of family china among the dinnerware, such as a well-loved platter for the turkey, and a dedicated dish for the pudding.
I absolutely love mince pies, which is why there’s always at least a couple of plates for them included in the Emma Bridgewater collection each Christmas. Our plate at home gets a lot of use in the winter months, I’m ashamed to admit! When I’m designing, I always think back to Christmas at home – opening stockings, going to church – and remember how special the day feels. Every year, we design a densely decorated pattern in red and green, and this Christmas, I’ve added a reindeer to our traditional Joy range. I also enjoyed making a festive edition of our signature Black Toast pattern – it’s been reconfigured as Christmas Toast.
It’s so satisfying to see an existing pattern take on a new life.
Candles are a big feature of Emma’s festive decor and she loves to hang tiny china mugs (above left) on the tree. Her Christmas Joy range (right) includes plates for mince pies. Emma always makes her ownChristmas pud