The Francis Brennan Guide to The Perfect Christmas

We sat down with Francis Brennan for the Christmas Edition of TheTaste to see how he plans out his festive season, we asked him about his new book and his hopes for 2021.

If you were in charge of this family celebration what are the key do’s and dont’s and the absolute must haves to set the party off right?

The Do’s

Do stick with a traditional Christmas menu Turkey & Ham with all the trimmings.

Do have crackers and hats as it is a fun element  of the dinner

Do have a glass of Champagne and some wine.

Do  spoil children rotten.

Do watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the 100th time

Do play Charades or any family game

Do dig into the boxes of Celebrations

Do switch off your phone for as long as you can and enjoy the company of those you are with

Do visit and elderly family member, friend or neighbour on the day with a little token

Do set the table beautifully

Do visit a Church or listen to some Carols

The Don’ts

Don`t forget what the day is about and have a little crib as part of your home  

Don`t spend a fortune on gifts but select something small and thoughtful  

Don`t over indulge in drink so that the day is a blur

Don`t forget to blow out the candles before  you go to bed

Don`t stress as it is only one day

You will be glad to see there are much more do`s then don`ts

Can you recall a party going wrong that you planned and what lessons did you learn from it?

Not really a party but I shall never forget our neighbours Christmas party!

Back in the 70’s a neighbour of ours, who lived a little above her station in life, reported to all that her new oven was programmable and was the bees knees!!

On Christmas morning she put her 22 pound turkey in the oven set it’s programmable dials and went off to visit her mother and father as was traditional.

Returning at 17:30 she was met by the absence of “a turkey cooking at the front door smell”.  Non plused she entered the kitchen to find a raw turkey in the oven.

She did not know that the setting also needed a date entry and her programming was for 28th Dec and not the 25th!!!

They ate at Midnight!!


Don’t leave it to the most important meal of the year to learn how to use new technology!!

You have just released The Homekeepers Diary for 2021, can you tell us the inspiration behind it?

I love to be organised and I have all my relevant phone numbers and personal details in one place , from the plumber to my Health Insurance I can lay my hand on the details in a minute. I am amazed even with technology people have details everywhere. That is what started it. I get many letters from people asking me questions about the best time to plant bulbs, or when to start making a Christmas cake. I  thought there is a need for people to have a bible with all their details in it and hints season by season on when to do things so that the household no matter how big or small runs smoothly.

Where did your attention to detail come from? Were your parents similar to yourself in this way?

Definitely. My father had a grocery shop and if the tins of peas were not turned the right way and placed evenly on the shelf he would have a fit. My mum ran a beautiful home and even though there was the odd calamity she kept everything perfect. Milk was in a jug, butter was in a dish and spring cleaning was a mammoth task.

Have you taken part in any zoom parties and what is your view on zoom parties in general?

Any zooming I have been doing really has been for work. I am old fashioned and I love a personal call and chat, which can go on a bit. I keep in contact with friends all the time.

What are your plans for Christmas this year?

Due to Covid the hotel is closed. It is my second Christmas not working in 40 years and I am sure I will get a bit of turkey somewhere but like most of the country I have no plans to date.

What are your hopes for 2021?

In 2020 I hope there is less anger in the world. There are a lot of angry people out there! I would obviously like to see the elimination of Covid as people health is their wealth.

If you were going to plan the perfect Christmas Party and could invite 10 Irish people that have inspired you in your life and career, who would the 10 people be?

My brother John who  inspires me every day, Margaret Ryan who bosses me every day, Pat Kenny for being such a great broadcaster, Marian Keyes for her wit,  Hozier as a great Ireland ambassador and he might sing, Kathleen Watkins as she is a national treasure as was Gay, Margaret Heffernan as she is such a great business woman and it is a pleasure dealing with her, Derry Clarke as he is such a great Irish food ambassador, Ryan Tubridy to give him a break after the Toy Show and Michal Ryan from WHO as he is doing so much good during this pandemic.

For more information on Francis Brennan, please visit

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