© Mario Testino / Art Partner
© Mario Testino / Art Partner
For Prince George and his new little sister, the countdown has already begun. Preparations have been underway for weeks, from buying gifts and hanging festive decorations to baking for a gaggle of visiting family and friends.
"I think George will be extremely bouncy this year because he's suddenly worked out what Christmas is all about…If I get any sleep on Christmas Eve it'll be good," William revealed to The Big Issue magazine.
Charlotte's new home, the sprawling Anmer Hall in Norfolk, is going to be a hive of activity. Set in the English countryside, there is obviously no shortage of space for the expanding Cambridge clan—and the Middletons! Kate's mom and dad, Michael and Carole, and sister and brother, Pippa and James, are packing their bags so they can join in the festivities for 7-month-old Charlotte.
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Her first Christmas is a big deal for everyone involved. "Relax and enjoy baby's first Christmas," Carole Middleton recently advised in her Baby London magazine column. "They won't remember it, but you'll have fond memories."
For headstrong William, who will one day become king, the holiday gives him another opportunity to rip up the old royal rulebook and provide the third- and fourth-in-line to the throne as normal a life as possible. He's determined this Christmas will be an intimate, informal affair, more in line with the kind of Christmases Kate used to enjoy when she was growing up in her comfortable yet comparatively modest family home in Bucklebury.
Due to the Duke of Cambridge's insistence on bucking tradition, a source tells E! News, "William and Kate will not attend Christmas Day lunch at Sandringham with the queen and the rest of the royal family. Instead, the plan at the moment is to host the day's festivities in their own home." (The palace has not yet confirmed William and Kate's plans for the holidays.)
Traditionally, most members of the royal family stay at Queen Elizabeth II's Sandringham estate, three miles away from Anmer Hall. Presents are exchanged on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day—a tradition put in place by Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, over a century ago.
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On Christmas morning, the clan will attend services together at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham. A formal lunch is served at 1 p.m. before the family gathers around the television to watch the queen's annual speech, which is broadcast to the entire nation.
Kate, William, George and Charlotte are expected to attend the Christmas Eve gathering, where the little heirs are sure to be fawned over. But if you think the pair are going to be unwrapping extravagant presents studded with priceless jewels ("she'll grow into the tiara one day"), guess again.
"The queen doesn't like extravagance when it comes to presents, so there is never an abundance of them," our source says. "The royals actually have a limit on how much they spend on each other, like Secret Santa." In fact, they quite like seeing who can buy the cheapest and tackiest present!
© Mario Testino / Art Partnerr
Kate has previously used this as an opportunity to get crafty and make homemade presents, loving that the limited budget allows for a more personal touch when it comes to doling out gifts. One year, a source claims, she even made homemade jam.
On Christmas morning, William and Kate will bundle up in thick coats and join the rest of the royal family, in their array of extravagant hats and fascinators, to attend the religious service at St. Mary Magdalene. We've been told it's unlikely teeny Charlotte will join them as, with temperatures hovering around freezing, it might be too cold for her (George didn't attend the church service when he was around her age, either). "This year, Charlotte will remain at home with nanny Maria Borallo," says a source. As for whether George attends with his mum and dad, we'll just have to wait and see.
With their public duties behind them, William and Kate will return to Anmer Hall for a more private celebration with Charlotte and George—which equates with a lot more presents for the smallest members of the elite family.
"Prince George is the most excited about Christmas out of anyone in the family!" says our insider. "Obviously Princess Charlotte is too little to know what is going on, but George is not! He is super excited about Christmas and his little sister's first Christmas."
HRH Duchess of Cambridge
We've been told George and Charlotte (and maybe even Lupo the dog) will have stockings placed at the end of their beds (or crib, in the princess' case) filled with clothes and little toys. "The family can't wait to make a fuss of Princess Charlotte and, of course, Prince George," the source says. "James, like Uncle Harry, dotes on her so when it comes to gifts from the uncles they are going to be a little spoiled."
Judging by her recent official picture, one of Charlotte's favorite toys appears to be a furry dog called Fuddlewuddle, but her doting family will focus on filling the nursery with more personalized gifts.
"Pippa always puts a lot of thought into present giving. She is renowned within the family for her attention to detail and plans for months ahead, so little Charlotte will be very lucky. She is big on getting personalized mementos, so [she] may have had something engraved for Charlotte or a cute little Christmas outfit with her name on it."
The insider adds, "James has got a great sense of humor, as does Carole, so there will no doubt be some fun festive attire from him."
Carole, who runs her own party company, Party Pieces, likes organizing games too, so there will be fun activities for Charlotte and George to do in the afternoon. In a recent edition of Homemaker magazine, Carol shared, "We're all busy planning festive parties and get-togethers, but taking time to choose and make those all-important festive touches is a must."
"Paper-and-string sew your own Christmas garland," she recommends as a great family activity, as it's perfect for "young helpers to personalize."
Press Association via AP Images/HRH The Duchess of Cambridge
There will also likely be some baking in the days before the big day, as Carol suggests making festive cupcakes with the kids because "all children love to bake."
As for what little George will be giving his little sister for his first Christmas as a big brother, "it is more than likely that George will have made some craft for key family members, as he likes making things," the source says. "Kate and Carole encourage their creativity. He will probably have made a present for his little sister as he is already very protective and proud of her, which is just adorable."
We couldn't agree more.
Speaking of family traditions...
For more details on Princess Charlotte's first Christmas, tune into E! News weeknights at 7 p.m. & 11 p.m.