Christmas in LA: is it better than London?

People ice skating at the Natural History Museum's rink, London
No place like home: there’s nothing like ice skating at the Natural History Museum Credit: Getty

There’s no denying it: celebrating Christmas abroad just isn’t the same as back home. LA may be warmer than London in November, but layering up and getting cosy in a pub is part of what makes this time of year such fun, writes Celia Walden

Brandy butter?” I repeat, a little slower this time. But the woman behind the counter is still squinting uncomprehendingly at me. And that’s when I realise that there’s more chance of hearing a Hollywood actress ask her waiter for “another bread basket please” than there is of us enjoying a delicacy that’s a combination of two of the most evil foodstuffs known to Californians. And as for pigs in blankets, bread sauce or mince pies, well, we could forget about those this Christmas. 

The year was 2011: we were living in LA, and because my daughter was just a few weeks old, we’d decided not to fly home for Christmas. “Just think,” I told my mother with a jollity I still felt, “we get to have Christmas lunch outside!” 

Over the next few weeks, however, that jollity ebbed away. They try hard, do Angelenos, but when it’s 21C outside and the ice rinks are melting, when the open-air malls all have sodium polyacrylate “snow” raining down on them, and when instead of giggling at the sensation of a snowflake in your eye you’re temporarily blinded (non-toxic, seriously?) you start longing for home. 

Mulled wine. Elasticated waistbands. Hot water bottles. Secret Santa. Pubs so loud you can’t either hear or make yourself heard. Leering men loitering beneath the mistletoe. Posh ladies in their glad rags drunkenly lounging against the walls for support as they make their way home. How I missed it all! How I vowed never to take London – the best Christmas city in the world – for granted ever again. And how I’ve loaded up on the brandy butter every year since. 

Enjoy the finest Christmas

The Tesco finest* wine and food range is in selected stores now UK-wide. 

For more Christmas wine and food inspiration and information, or to order from the Tesco finest * range online, visit