My daughters Sunday and Faith had dreamed about having their own kittens for so long. They are very close and wanted pets that would emulate their sisterly bond. My husband, Keith [Urban], and I found two beautiful sister Siberian kittens and put bows on them, then surprised the girls. They named the kittens Ginger and Snow because of their colouring. They are both so sweet in nature, and the girls adore them and take them wherever they travel. Who wouldn’t want a kitten with a bow on it?
Tracee Ellis Ross
Although I hardly celebrate Christmas, and give presents only if a friend of mine has had a rough year, I’m a massive reader, and like to give books that have made a real impact on me, such as The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari. This year, I loved Melissa Broder’s novel The Pisces, about a girl whose boyfriend dumps her after nine years together. It’s a good balm after a heartbreak – especially because it’s seriously funny as well. Otherwise, my present-giving is totally spontaneous (I’m also an appalling wrapper; I carry presents around in my handbag and whip them out at the last moment). Recently, for example, I was filming a project in Ghana, and one of my co-stars was having a birthday. He’s obsessed with bright colours, and I asked my mum to make all of us outfits from traditional kente cloth as a surprise – including a patterned suit for him – then flew his mum out to celebrate with us.
I still believe that the best gifts are the ones you make yourself. When I have the luxury of time, I love to create photo albums by hand – could be of a holiday or could just be random memories of a year. If I’m too busy around Christmas, though, the company Keepsaker will edit down your photographs then bind them into a gorgeous leather album for you. A Russian friend of mine put me in contact with the wholesaler Princesse d’Isenbourg, which stocks the most incredible decadent foods in a strange warehouse filled with sea-themed tchotchkes, and one year I gave everyone baskets of food, the highlight being tins of caviar. You can go for a tasting and there is every imaginable variety – from Royal Beluga to Oscietra – and it’s much more affordable than buying retail. Plus, everyone loves caviar, including a so-called vegan I know. If you have anyone in your life who’s really difficult to shop for, make an appointment with Idea Books. The team has a little room in Soho that’s filled floor-to-ceiling with vintage books, rare catalogues and editions touching on every possible subject, from Provençal gardens to David Bowie. You’re guaranteed to find a volume on even the most niche of interests.
I converted to Judaism before marrying my husband, Sacha Baron Cohen, a few years ago, and I adore Hanukkah. Of course, this being my family, our celebrations are a little… different. I listen to my brother-in-law Erran Baron Cohen’s rap album, Songs in the Key of Hanukkah, on repeat, and our table is covered with the opposite of traditional blue and white decorations – kitschy antique menorahs everywhere. In terms of presents, we tend to go in for experiences, both over the holidays and all year round. (Case in point: my husband once managed to convince Katy Perry to sing for me and all of our friends in our garden, where she belted out Roar into a glittery microphone.) Most recently, for my mother’s 70th birthday, I got our entire family together at a villa in Provence for a Noël Coward-themed party. There were musicians playing her favourite songs from that era and tons of bellinis with fresh peach juice. The night ended with the two of us in a lip-sync battle at three in the morning. Classic.
As a girl, I always dreamed about going to college and finding a job that would mean I could afford to buy my mother a trip back to her native Somalia. She had to flee after her village was invaded during the civil war, ending up in a refugee camp in Kenya before resettling in the United States. As it turned out, I became a model instead of going to university, and the first big purchase that I made was a ticket for her to go back home. She was able to visit my grandmother and my older sister Asha, from whom she had been separated for more than 20 years. She was even there for the birth of Asha’s child. My mother is my hero, and it was incredibly special to be able to reunite her with our family.
I have to be honest: I’m a Jewish 53-year-old, and I’m obsessed with Christmas. Actually, I am obsessed with the idea of making people happy, and what makes me happy is being able to give. I’m also the idiot who feels compelled to find a gift for every single person I know. Tom Ford says that I should have gone into business doing it. My go-to present is a miniature Christmas tree that can be planted after the holidays are over. Everybody in my life gets one. I head to New Covent Garden Market at 5am to choose them (the sellers there recognise me as the crazy lady who takes home 350 pine trees every year), then I put on an elf hat and wrap every single one – usually with bows. For good measure, I save every ribbon that comes into my office and reuse them at Christmas time. It adds a personal touch, and I feel like I’m giving back to the environment in a small way. My other trick is to collect luxurious blankets, scarves and throws for people when I’m on the road and have them embroidered with the date and the names of everyone that they love.
Tracee Ellis Ross
I learned my approach to present-giving from my mother [Diana Ross]. She always told me that you should choose a gift for somebody based on what you most love receiving. I adore flowers, so I send a lot of bouquets, which just brings so much joy. My mother is also the sort of person who will give you the shirt off her back if you compliment her on it, and I’ve inherited that love of giving away sentimental treasures to the right person at the right moment. Recently, a friend of mine was about to undergo surgery, and I gifted her a pair of earrings of mine that she had always loved. It was a beautiful moment.