Neil Patrick Harris’ family loves Christmas almost as much as Halloween

Elton John AIDS Foundation in New York

National treasure Neil Patrick Harris has already earned the title as Hollywood’s King of Halloween with his family’s elaborate costumes, but now, he’s also hoping to be a Christmas inspiration for parents everywhere.

The 44-year-old actor and author talked Christmas traditions in a recent interview with PEOPLE. He told the magazine that he and husband David Burtka take their 7-year-old twins, Harper and Gideon, out to dinner on Christmas Eve. And before you think TGI Friday’s or Chili’s, think again. Neil and David take their kids, whom he refers to as “adventurous eaters” (remember when he threw them a Chopped-themed playdate?) for a traditional Italian fest, a meatless meal called The Feast of the Seven Fishes.

In the interview, conducted before we heard about TMario Batali’s true nature, Neil said that he takes the family on the night before Christmas to Batali’s restaurant Babbo in NY, where David used to work. NPH will probably not be taking the kiddos there this year, but I’m sure he can find another Italian eatery in New York that serves a similar menu. Babbo’s 2016 Feast of the Seven Fishes menu featured grilled shrimp, pasta with lobster and green chiles and (my personal favorite) octopus and garbanzo beans. Yum. As an adventurous eater myself, I would be glad to dig into a feast like this (as opposed to my traditional Christmas Eve pizza).

Neil told PEOPLE, “We like to get dressed up on Christmas Eve night and go and eat an amazing meal.” And, after dinner, the family walks around the streets of New York, taking in the snow, window displays and Christmas spirit.
“We walk around and talk about the stuff we’re thankful for, hoping that Santa brings no coal.” He went on to say that before he had kids, he felt lonely during the holidays, but now can appreciate the holidays and traditions through their eyes. This made my Grinchy little heart grow a few sizes.

If you also like to let your Grinch flag fly during the holidays, you might also enjoy this clip from earlier this month, when Neil hosted Jimmy Kimmel Live and introduced a fun game called “Santa’s Lap or Flu Shot?” I got 100% and am pretty sure I’m going to hell for laughing at the photos.

If you’re still looking for a fun present for your kids, you might want to pick up Neil’s new book, The Magic Misfits. The book centers around a runaway magician and his squad of fellow illusionists, and Neil hopes it will be the first in a four-book series. He told PEOPLE, “[This] book teaches about magic tricks, about the ideas behind magic, but also about inclusion, about being powerful within yourself, embracing your differences. I think everyone feels (especially at that age) like they’re a misfit so I wanted to really be able to honor the differences that people have.”

As for the subject matter, Neil confessed, “I love magic. More of the card trick/illusionist on a stage magic, as opposed to sorcery/wizards/dragons magic. I thought it would be fun to create this world of kids [who] feel out of place, and then come together with their love of magic and actually help save the town.”

When writing the book, Neil made sure to inject his sense of humor, acknowledging that, “I think that children are innately sharper, comedically, than adults give them credit for.” He added that when he was growing up, was raised by parents who “talked to us rather than at us,” and were at least partially responsible for his wit and sense of humor. This sense of humor has definitely been inherited by his kids, Neil recently posted a photo of a letter Harper wrote to the tooth fairy. On the note, Harper scrawled, “Dear Tooth Fairy, I lost my tooth today. I love you because you rock!” and proud papa Neil captioned the pic, “Harper lost another tooth. Wrote this letter. Sigh. I just love being a father.” How freaking adorable.

I have made no secrets about how much I love NPH and I hope he, David, Harper and Gideon have a most wonderful Christmas and post lots of pictures and videos. I do enjoy celebrating the holidays vicariously through Neil and his family.

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Elton John AIDS Foundation in New York

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25 Responses to “Neil Patrick Harris’ family loves Christmas almost as much as Halloween”

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  1. Nicole says:

    Love this family

    • Ripley says:

      I’m only commenting because they make me happy and I love CB posts of the NPH Family.

    • FLORC says:

      Love this family so much! Everything. How they handle themselves in public. What they share. How they speak of each other. How they are to fans. And how the whole gang seems like they were always meant to be family.
      I’m not crying. You’re crying

    • Sally says:

      Ditto, this is a beautiful family full of love. Lucky and also adorable children.

  2. OriginalLala says:

    the feast of the seven fish is a big deal in my family. We’re Italian-Canadians. I’m vegetarian so it’s more complicated for me, but I try to be creative with it!

    • SilverUnicorn says:

      I am Italian-Italian and never heard of it during my whole life.

      When I was living in USA I was baffled the entire time about foodstuff that Americans called ‘Italian’ and I had never heard of it.

      It’s more like some stuff was originally from a southern Italian region (whose residents migrated to USA at the start of 20th century) and it became representative of ‘Italian’ in a foreign country.

      • Beth says:

        Every Italian restaurant I’ve been to has millions of pasta meals which isn’t actually Italian food. Isn’t pasta originally from China?
        Anything with tomato sauce and pasta in the US is called Italian food for some reason

      • OriginalLala says:

        hi Silver Unicorn – my mom came to Canada so it’s not like we’ve been in Canada for a long time. I’ve spent over 10 years studying Italian Canadian foodways (got my MA and PhD in this) so I understand what you are saying but the Festa was a tradition that my family took part in when they lived in Abruzzo (L’Aquila) and they do it now that they live in Canada.

      • Esmom says:

        Just yesterday Fresh Air had on a celebrity chef, Barton Seaver, who specializes in seafood and he talked about how magical this Italian feast was. Maybe it’s a foodie thing?

      • Cee says:

        Yeah, I don’t trust “italian” food when in the US. It’s not italian, it’s american.

      • graymatters says:

        I’m German-American, so my foodie traditions fit in well with the meat-potato-beer aspect of American food, but I imagine that Mexicans feel similarly about what we call Mexican food here. Burrito, anyone?

      • SilverUnicorn says:


        Then it’s possibly a tradition of southern Italy. Us from central Italy don’t celebrate it (I am sure about Tuscany and Emilia Romagna; not sure about Umbria), possibly never did as none of my grandparents ever mentioned it.

    • mama T says:

      I’m first generation sicilian and Neapolitan. We absolutely do the feast of the seven fishes.

      • SilverUnicorn says:

        Sicilian/Neapolitan, southern Italy, as I said above.
        Us being born in central Italy have never heard of it.
        Many people abroad forget Italy only exists from 1861 and our regional cookery is still varied (as our dialects, I cannot understand a word of any dialect in the North or South of Italy).

  3. mellie says:

    I love that family, they are the cutest!

    • milla says:

      Adorable family. And there are still some who think this is not natural… urgh. I am sad and happy at the same time…

  4. Alissa says:

    I think this family is absolutely fabulous! the twins always seem extremely cute and well behaved and the family always seems like they go out of the way to make sure they’re having great family experiences.

  5. Snowflake says:

    Those kids hit the jackpot with those two as parents.

  6. Esmom says:

    This is adorable. I could read a blog of their daily activities — I imagine it to be the ultimate anti-Mommy blogger type thing.

    And reading about his book(s) brought a tear to my eye. What a lovely concept. I’m excited to go buy it for my little niece, who struggles sometimes with feeling like she doesn’t fit in. And she devours books!

  7. sam says:

    I love them and will definitely get this book. Love how much NPH loves being a dad

  8. Lindy says:

    Definitely picking up this book for my 8yo, who would love it.

  9. Va Va Kaboom says:

    Starting today till the 21st NPH is in Orlando for DisneyWorld’s Candlelight Processional. Just an FYI.

    • Eve V says:

      @vaVa Kaboom
      Thanks for the info, I will definitely try to make it, as I don’t live too far from Orlando.

      And +1000 to all of the comments on here saying how much this family rocks. They are such good dad’s and posts about this family always make me smile.

  10. Jayna says:

    I don’t think it will change their routine at all. If they love that restaurant and it’s a tradition and David used to work there, I imagine they will still go there.