Neil Patrick Harris used to find Christmas ''a bit lonely'' before he had his children.

The 'How I Met Your Mother' star - who has seven-year-old twins Harper Grace and Gideon Scott with his husband David Burtka - admits the festive period was tough on him before he had a family of his own.

He said: ''Before I had kids and I had moved out of my parents' house, it felt a little bit lonely.

''I would have Christmas with my friends or I would go back home to my family. But when you have kids you start appreciating the holidays and the traditions through their eyes, it becomes really inspired.''

Neil also revealed that the family always follow tradition and go out and have an ''adventurous'' fish meal on Christmas Eve.

He added: ''We go out to Christmas Eve dinner. We have been going to a Mario Batali restaurant called Babbo, which my husband worked for a bit. And he has a meal called the Feast of the Seven Fishes. It's a traditional Italian meal, and our kids are adventurous eaters. We like to get dressed up that night on Christmas Eve night and go eat an amazing meal and walk around and hope Santa brings no coal.''

The 44-year-old actor loves everything about the festive period but hasn't quite mastered how to keep his Christmas tree alive.

He told People TV: ''I love the holiday party. I love the gift exchange. I love trimming a tree. Although I can't keep them alive, if you have any tips on that. I've tried soda in the water. I've tried drilling holes in the base. It just seems to always die before the end of the year.''