18 DECEMBER 2008

It has been a year of many firsts for Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. Praised for the way she has gracefully slipped into the role of France's First Lady, the Italy-born beauty continued to impress as she embraced an Elysee Palace festive tradition.

Ten months after wedding French premier Nicolas Sarkozy, the stylish former model was enjoying one of the lighter aspects of her new role, handing out gifts to delighted children at the annual Palace Christmas party.

Further south in Monaco Prince Albert II and his sisters Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie - all old hands at distributing gifts to local children after their mum Princess Grace began the tradition in 1956 - hosted the principality's annual Christmas tree party.

A Santa Claus on hand to help the trio hand out gifts made the festive scene complete as the royal hosts and their young guests later posed in front of a huge Christmas tree in the Monte Carlo palace's courtyard.

Photo: ©
Enjoying one of her lighter duties, Carla distributes presents to children at the annual Elysee Palace Christmas party Photo: © AFPClick on photos for gallery
Photo: ©
In Monaco a similarly festive scene was unfolding, with local youngsters joining Prince Albert and his sisters Princess Stephanie and Princess Caroline for their annual gift-giving event Photo: © Getty Images
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