Ant Anstead's two oldest kids experienced a few special "firsts" while visiting California from the U.K. for Christmas — including meeting their dad's girlfriend of seven months, Renée Zellweger!
The Radford Returns star's daughter Amelie, 18, and son Archie, 15 — who live in England with their mom and Anstead's first wife, Louise Storey — got to spend time with the Oscar-winning actress while visiting Laguna Beach for the holidays, Anstead tells PEOPLE exclusively.
"It was great," the car expert, 42, says. "I mean, Renée's so personable, and so great with people, and they've met a few times on FaceTime, so everybody was excited to finally get together."
He continues: "Of course, everybody got on famously. It's really nice."
Ant Anstead/Instagram Ant Anstead and Renee Zellweger
Anstead says he was also thrilled to see that Amelie and Zellweger had an immediate bond.
"She and Ren really hit it off. Just as two girls," he shares of his firstborn before gushing: "Amelie's amazing because she's so talented, and funny, and she has this strand of kindness just running through her. She's just this really kind, solid human."
Amelie and Archie hadn't been able to visit the U.S. for over two years due to COVID restrictions, Anstead shares, making the visit extra special for the teens.
"There were a lot of big firsts for them," the father of three says of the kids' three-week-long trip. "New house, seeing Hudson, meeting Ren... It was great."
ant anstead / instagram
Ahead of the visit, Anstead told PEOPLE that "Hudson was just 12 weeks old the last time Amelie and Archie got to see him in person. Then COVID hit and the borders shut down." Now, he says, the reunion was everything he could have asked for.
"It was the sweetest reunion, because I've been so consistent with making sure that we always FaceTime, always text, always talk, always Zoom, that when Hudson, Amelie and Archie were reunited they already knew each other," Anstead explains. "It was really interesting to see how technology had kept us together. But because my fear is, gosh, as a little boy, his world exists within the bubble we create. And it really, really was amazing."
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While the trip was the first in-person meeting for Amelie, Archie and Zellweger, Hudson is well acquainted with the Judy star, 52.
An insider previously told PEOPLE that the actress has loved getting to know Hudson.
"Renée spends a lot of time with Ant in Laguna Beach," a southern California-based source told PEOPLE in September. "Ant is very focused on his son. Renée seems to very much understand this focus. She seems to enjoy all the fun outings with his son. She is always very playful and sweet with Hudson."
The trio spent Thanksgiving together in New Orleans, where Zellweger was filming a new movie, to kick off the holiday season. The couple took Hudson to a New Orleans Saints football game, where the automotive expert snapped a sweet photo of the actress holding his son as they cheered on the home team.
ant anstead/instagram. Inset: getty
Anstead met Zellweger on the set of his Discovery+ show Celebrity IOU: Joyride in early June. The pair began dating shortly thereafter, making their first public appearance as a couple in August and going Instagram official with their relationship a month later.
"There is so much respect between them," an entertainment source told PEOPLE in September. "They spend as much time as possible together when they aren't working on other projects. They truly like each other as well as their romantic attraction. The relationship is serious."
"Renée has found love again, a love where she feels confident and secure about herself," added the source. "And Ant, too, has had a lot of ups and downs, but seems to have stability in this romance."