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Kate Middleton's First Royal Christmas With Prince William

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Dec. 18 2011, Published 1:00 p.m. ET

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It's been the most amazing year of Duchess Catherine's life — and now Kate is eagerly anticipating celebrating her first Christmas as an official part of the royal family. And that means hanging out with Queen Elizabeth and around 30 members of the Windsor clan at Sandringham House, the royals' traditional holiday retreat, 100 miles north of London.

A longtime friend reveals that Kate, 29, is "nervous but excited. It's going to seem strange not being at her parents' home on Christmas. And she's certain to feel a tinge of sadness, but the truth is she can't wait." 

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She's been shopping at Zara and L.K. Bennett for clothes for her three-day stay, and requested two Alexander McQueen evening gowns. "Kate will need a casual oufit for breakfast, a suit and hat for morning church service, a dress for lunch, a cocktail dress for early-evening drinks and a full-length dress for the evening meal," explains royal-etiquette expert Jean Broke-Smith. "The golden rule is nothing too short, too revealing or too gaudy."

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On Christmas Eve, the royals gather at 6 p.m. in the White Drawing Room around a 20-foot Christmas tree, cut from the estate and decorated by the Queen herself. Then they exchange presents. "Kate knows the Queen likes high-tech gadgets, but William has told her to keep it simple and give something like homemade jam," confides the friend. "The royals regard expensive gifts as vulgar and not in keeping with the true spirit of Christmas."

FOR MORE ON THE ROYALS' CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS AND WHOM ELSE FROM KATE'S FAMILY WILL BE ATTENDING, PICK UP THE NEW ISSUE OF OK! — IN STORES NOW!

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