Celebrity Families

EXCLUSIVE: Mahalia Barnes shares a glimpse inside the Barnes family Christmas, and you can bet there's a carol or two

''I do put up a good fight when it comes to, uh, winning Christmas.''

By Faye Couros
It's not hard to imagine that the Barnes family Christmas includes well-harmonised carols, perfectly timed punch lines, and lots of good food.
Whilst it may seem too good to be true, Mahalia Barnes tells Now to Love that they really do have a festive extravaganza filled with hearty traditions.
"It's a huge family gathering," she says. "There's a lot of us. There's a lot of kids. So, it's a huge feast, with lots of Christmas carols and music and lots of chaos because there's pretty close to 50 of us these days."
"There's a lot of us. There's a lot of kids. So, it's a huge feast." Instagram
Of course, their guest list is bonkers, between her siblings David Campbell, EJ, Jackie and Elly-May Barnes as well as sisters Amanda Bennett and Megan Torzyn, they have 14 children. Plus, we can't forget patriarch and matriarch, Jimmy Barnes and Jane Mahoney and their extended family.
It can take a lot to co-ordinate so many people, but it seems they have struck gold with some clever ideas.
"We share the load with the catering. So, a few of us will do the veggies, and some people will do salads, and someone will do the turkeys, the ham, and things like that," explains Mahalia.
"So, we try to share the load and those who don't cook they get stuck with the worst job; they're cleaning up after."
Mahalia with her youngest daughter Rosie on Christmas day 2020. Instagram
They also have a solution for the otherwise never-ending pile of gifts that would build if there weren't some rules in place.
"We have a tradition where you're allowed to buy presents for the kids, but we try to encourage the making of presents, especially for other adults," Mahalia tells.
"It's a little bit more sustainable, and also you put in that effort and that personal touch; it's a nice gesture, and that makes it a really special thing."
It's a wholesome idea, but apparently, a competitive element ups the ante for the adults.
"It's sort of a huge surprise to see who has outdone each other. We're quite a competitive family," says the mother-of-two.
"We also have like wrapping competitions, as in gift wrapping, where we come up with our themes for our wrapping paper and how we're gonna make it look amazing."
Mahalia pictured with her husband, Ben Rodgers. Instagram
However Mahalia admits that when you think you've aced it, that's when someone in the family pulls through with a showstopper.
"It's like, 'guys really thought I had it this year,' and then my auntie's got this impeccable wrapping that looks so beautiful, or someone's done something completely different," she laughs.
But if Mahalia's going to put it on the record first, she is one of the top performers each Christmas.
"Look, if I do say for myself, I do put up a good fight when it comes to, uh, winning Christmas," she sets straight with that famous Barnes humour.
"It's been too long since we got to sing together." Instagram
Gifts, food, and jokes aside, as one would hope, the musical family inevitably sing some carols after a bit of nudging from Jane and their aunties.
"I think for those of us who are musicians, which is quite a few of us, we'd be quite happy just to put on a record and let it be," Mahalia admits.
"But, my mum and her sisters, they usually instigate at least a few carols."
Once they embrace the plea of their elders and get into the music, the fun is infectious.
"That's the thing, once you get started, you think, 'oh, I dunno if I wanna sing, this is our day off,' but it is actually what we love," says the singer.
Carols by Candlelight is making its grand return on December 24, with Mahalia's brother David Campbell hosting alongside Allison Langdon.
If all goes to plan, audiences may be treated to a long-awaited performance from the siblings.
"I'm actually hoping to get down there and sing with him [David]. It's been too long since we got to sing together," she reveals.
Jane Barnes and her sisters like to encourage the family to sing some carols. Instagram
On that note, the proud sister would like everyone to know that David is the real deal.
"He is such a wonderful performer and an amazing host on TV. I love watching him. He's like that all the time in real life. Just so everyone's clear, that is just who he is," she states.
"He's so funny and so quick and so silly and so warm. He's really a beautiful human being, and I'm hoping that I'll get to have a sing with him this Christmas."
This year, with the help of her daughters Ruby, 12, and Rosie, five, Mahalia has created four giant LEGO Christmas Tree ornaments inspired by festive tunes.
"It's such a wonderful chance to sort of sit with the kids and rebuild some cool things and hopefully inspire others and remind people of the joy of LEGO," she says.
"They're certainly showing signs of being very musical, and they love music." Instagram
With Mahalia's musical gifts and her husband, Ben Rodgers' artistic talents, it's not surprising to discover their daughters have inherited their creative flair by taking a natural interest in music.
"They're certainly showing signs of being very musical, and they love music. The little one loves anything loud. So, maybe she's more like me and my side of the family, she loves drums, electric guitar, and Jimmy Hendrix, and that's so cute.
"And the older one is a bit gentler than us, but she's got a beautiful voice and has started doing a lot more singing and song writing in the last couple of years," shares the proud mum.
Of course, Mahalia isn't pushing her girls to follow in her footsteps, but if they do, she's going to be beside them all the way.
"If they wanna do it, we've got the tools to help."
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  • undefined: Faye Couros