December is exciting, it’s festive month!!I consider the lead up to Christmas to begin on 1st of December. There’s nothing more magical than seeing London all lit up with Christmas lights and the shops richly decorated and festive. I usually prepare for Christmas around this time by putting up the fairy lights a la Nigella (Lawson) who claims to have them on all year round! I’m not that bad but yes, they go up on the 1st and then the beautiful indoor decorations, nothing tacky but very tasteful, a bit like the White Company followed by tea lights and winter candles. I also scour the food magazines and my Christmas cook books for recipes and make a list of everything I’m going to cook over the festive period.
My Christmas Cake.
Then if I haven’t left it too late, I have a more stress-free shopping experience in December where I concentrate on wrapping, cards, booze and food, well not the fresh quite yet but everything else that you need to make Christmas special. I usually visit Fortnum & Mason in December with my mum and then hop in there every now and again during the lead up to Christmas, you can read my post on this fine epicurean store here. It’s a store that really comes to life at Christmas, it’s beautifully decorated and I love that part of London all around Jermyn street with its old-fashioned store fronts and individual shops that have so much more to offer and more character than larger chains. In fact, I’ll go as far as saying that I detest Oxford Street and usually only descend upon this part of London to visit Selfridges.
This year, I did leave the shopping quite late so there was a mad rush to get it all done whilst suffering the flu, not a good idea let me tell you! But when I have been organised, I just love meandering around Mayfair, Mount Street, Jermyn Street and all the pretty arcades such as the Burlington Arcade which is close to my heart as my husband and I bought our engagement and weddings from RosesJewellers who have a shop in the arcade.
Some of my favourite shops in Jermyn Street
Also in the arcade is a favourite perfume shop of mine, Penhaligon’s, I love popping in and smelling everything and perhaps spoiling myself with a little something, they make fab presents for Christmas. Also at the Burlington Arcade is iconic French Macaron company, Laduree which I adore especially when I’m in Paris but alas, I can’t get to Paris every month, so a visit here is obligatory. So, I often visit this part of London and I love it in December, it’s kind of romantic to stroll round, visiting small bookshops, stopping by a little café for lunch or coffee and really appreciate and take in the Christmas vibes without stressing.
Penhaligon’s and the Burlington Arcade, I love meandering around here especially at Christmas.
In early December, I visited the Charles Dickens museum which really is a very special place to visit during the festive month. The house is decorated just as it would have been when Charles Dickens lived there (which is in Doughty Street) all those years ago and it really does feel like stepping back in time to Victorian London, a time in history I have a special interest in and totally fascinates me. Charles Dickens is synonymous with Christmas because of his story “A Christmas Carol” so I consider a visit to the museum in December an essential part of the lead-up to Christmas. The museum has all sorts of events on throughout December such as readings of A Christmas Carol, Costumed Dickensian walks tracing the steps and haunts of Charles Dickens, exhibitions, Christmas Lates where you can visit the museum in the evening giving you a chance to see the museum dimly lit and lavishly dressed for Christmas while enjoying mulled wine/cider and a mince pie. It’s a place to visit year after year to get you in the Christmas spirit, you can read more here.
In December, I had the pleasure of going “back home” to the Savoy Hotel for a festive Afternoon Tea which was a truly memorable experience.
Thee Christmas tree in the lobby of The Savoy, this year, partnered with Penhaligon’s.
I advise everyone to visit one of London’s luxury hotels for Afternoon Tea in December, suddenly the experience becomes even more magical when hotels are dressed so dazzlingly for Christmas, it’s jaw dropping! The Savoy doesn’t disappoint as it’s one of London’s most glamorous and luxurious hotels. My husband and I stayed overnight at the hotel in May for our weddinganniversary and were made to feel so special and part of the “Savoy Family”. I was welcomed back a couple of weeks ago to enjoy Afternoon Tea in the enchantingly decorated Thames Foyer, it was faultless, delicious and very special, I really recommend doing this at least once in December.
There’s nothing more special than festive Afternoon Tea at London’s top hotels, The Savoy didn’t disappoint.
Next Christmas, I’m going to add Claridge’s to my list as I have already done the Ritz but who says you can’t visit more than once? In fact, I say have all of them on a loop so every 3-4 years you get to visit them all over again for a pre-Christmas treat!
London has so many Christmas Markets to satisfy your festive cravings but unfortunately this year, I was so busy because I left everything to the last minute and because I was quite ill the week before Christmas, I only visited one near Tower Bridge where TwoRuba had a month-long Christmas event called TwoRuba By the Pier where you could enjoy cocktails, mulled wine and other nibbles, it’s a new bar at the Hilton London Bridge Hotel which I visited in October as part of a bloggingevent. It’s a great little bar and most definitely worth a visit, I hope TwoRuba By The Pier returns next Christmas.
In between Christmas and New Year, my daughter Zoe and I went to see the Nutcracker Ballet at London’s Coliseum Theatre, it’s a bit of a tradition now to visit the ballet pre-or post-Christmas and though we have seen the Nutcracker many times before, it’s an enchanting ballet which we sometimes “switch up” by seeing the Royal Ballet’s version at the Royal Opera House. You can read my post on that here.
The Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker Ballet
Finally, on the big day itself, the whole family apart from my younger brother were together at home for festive fun, too much food and champagne and generally being silly and having a fantastic day, my middle brother who hosted Christmas Day this year has two little boys who make the day extra fun for us with all their antics! The only person missing was my eldest son who has been working in South Korea having taken a “a 2 year” gap year after graduating from University in July 2015 but he’s coming home in March so next Christmas will be extra special having him home as he’s missed two Christmases with us, so it’s quite hard for us a family coping without him on Christmas Day.
On Boxing Day, it’s a bit of a tradition to go to a country pub for drinks after left-overs, this is usually in Amersham/Great Missenden, a beautiful part of Buckinghamshire where we would eventually like to move to. At some point, I cook a goose which I strangely find so much fun, it’s different from Turkey and I love pottering around the kitchen and then presenting this glorious bird for dinner! Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a Goodman’s Goose.
This IS NOT a goose that I’ve cooked!! just an example of what a goose should look like cooked with all the trimmings!! I recommend cooking a goose over Christmas BUT you must buy from Goodman’sGeese who deliver to your home, it’s a delictious bird.
So, that’s it for another year! All the madness and shopping for one day or a week if you count Christmas and New Year but it’s a lovely time of year too, time for family, friends, special days/nights out and lots and lots of food and cocktails, until next year……
Happy New Year to you all, love Helen XxX