Tips of the trade - COVERING CHRISTMAS

Lindsay Nicholson, editor-in-chief, Good Housekeeping

The December issue of GH sells around 100,000 extra copies on the news-stand so it’s extremely important to get it right. You must be fanatical about Christmas, which I am.

If I didn’t have the outlet of working on GH I’d be the sort of person with illuminated reindeer on the roof of their house.

It never feels repetitive to me.

Should it be a Kelly Bronze turkey or a free-range goose? Has tartan ribbon had its day? I obsess about it for months. Effectively, we work on the Christmas issue all year. (Our first planning session for next year is already scheduled for 5 January.) Apart from the practical advice and gorgeous festive imagery, I think it’s extremely important to set the right tone. We always include something about the spiritual significance of the season and keep in mind that not all our readers are Christian.

I am also very conscious of the fact that families torn apart by divorce or bereavement may find endless jollity too much. This year we included eight pages on the subject of peace, both personal and international, with contributions from, among others, Frances Lawrence, widow of the murdered headmaster Philip.

Richard Preston, features editor, The Daily Telegraph

Our Saturday sections wage a month-long campaign on all fronts – turkeys, trees, presents, drink – from late November. That means we don’t feel obliged to be festive in the weekday features pages.

Fashion will show you how to dress for a party and we’ve run a page of hangover cures in health, but too much tinsel probably drives readers mad.

Last year we infiltrated Neil and Christine Hamilton’s panto and had a writer appear as the back end of the cow. Not a coup on the scale of Ryan Parry becoming a Palace footman, admittedly, but it was funny.

Overall, though, I think the trick at Christmas is to veer towards the uplifting rather than the miserable and just to keep on looking for good stories, whether they’re seasonally adjusted or not.

Kate Thompson, woman & lifestyle editor, Southern Daily Echo

It’s pretty standard Christmas fare to cover the nativity plays and to find out which house in your town is causing the greatest drain on the national grid with its twinkling festive lights.

And there are always lots of heartwarming tales of people who have overcome adversity in the year.

Miracle babies celebrating their first Christmas and families reunited with loved ones.

It’s important to follow a few simple rules: Plan ahead – brain-storming in November will pay off.

Don’t be tempted to turn every story into a Christmas story as it becomes monotonous.

Always retain the magic of Christmas – even cynical hacks have to believe in Santa.

compiled by Sarah Lagan

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