Darling! Do help yourself to sherry and a Mr Kipling iced mince pie (the best ones) and welcome to The Museum at Christmas
I wanted to do a new festive display with a few of my favourite things and how I dress up the flat for Christmas. It’s only since I moved here five years ago that I started really going for it with Christmas decorations, before that I would just home to June’s and let her take care of it all. What’s lovely is over that time I’ve built up quite the collection of baubles, disco balls and flamingos in Santa hats. It’s so gorgeous to unpack things you haven’t seen for a year and be thrilled by them all over again.
Apart from Adele, no one has the bank balance to buy everything at once so instead every year treat yourself to a little something to add to the collection. This year it was my Babycham baby reindeer and a Grayson Perry bauble, both from Blackout in Brighton. And of course no Christmas is complete without going to my favourite shop in London, We Built This City on Carnaby Street, where I bought a green laser cut out of the Queen. Because of course.
Decorations make brilliant presents for people. One year I bought personalised glitter baubles for all the girls from not on the high street, they were only about £5 each and every year I get messages to say they are hanging on the tree once again. This year darling Jules Von Hep bought me an Oliver Bonas flamingo, called Yules. Also my sweetheart Jon had quite the bargain in The Conran Shop and brought home two glitzy zig zag baubles for half price. I fell slightly more in love with him.
One of my big goals for 2018 is to finally get a sausage dog and call her Rita, so when I saw the last hot dog bauble in Paperchase, I couldn’t leave him there.
My best tips:
Buy Christmas decorations just before or just after Christmas, they’re usually in the sale and you can get something incredible for half the price
Keep your favourite Christmas cards each year and put them up again or thread smaller ones on to ribbon for the tree
Have baubles everywhere, in bowls and tea cups and plant pots
Put fairy lights all over your plants, they’ll love it
Tinsel is naff not kitsch. Use threaded pom poms instead.
Put your shabbiest home made decorations that you made when you were little in pride of place
Don’t just keep Christmas in your front room, bedrooms and bathrooms love it as well
Always use ribbon on presents, it will tart up anything
And finally, throughout decorating, never be without a sherry
Whether you go all out and your home becomes a grotto for the whole of December or you wrap a bit of tinsel around a branch, absolutely enjoy it. Christmas can be full on, I’m writing this to you from bed, in a onesie and I should definitely be wrapping more stuff, so just know you’re doing your best. Be kind, stay warm and have the most gorgeous time you can love.
“Good lord it’s cold!” I said as I emerged from an 8 year old’s trampolining birthday party last week, “Hasn’t it’s dropped!” I added to further fortify my weather chat. At first I thought it was just the cold air hitting my sweaty post bounce body but no it’s happened. It’s officially winter. Proper chilly, hats-gloves-scarf- seeyourbreath winter.
I loathe the summer with it’s small clothes, sweating and salad. No, I love faux fur and thermals. I love candles and it being dark at 4.30PM. I love pies, slippers and tea. I love staying in, drinking lorry loads of red wine and watching Strictly. I love gloves and wrapping a scarf round so tight it constricts my breath. I love boots and socks and putting a jumper on. The cold doesn’t really bother me apart from one key area. There is one place where it really gets in: my ears.
Whilst I am always toasty from the neck down, my ears shiver on either side of my head. They complain they want to be at home beside a radiator. This is unavailable in the middle of Oxford Street so instead my ears try to push themselves back into my head for warmth. This makes my head cold and results in a sort of dull headache, the sort of thing my little brother used to get when he ate ice cream too fast.
A hat could clearly be the thing here but this brings it’s own problems. Squashed down hat hair is never a good look, also I usually end up taking a hat off and leaving it somewhere. I still mourn the loss of a mustard knitted beanie which was left on a tourist bus in Berlin. Last night I was on my way to record Jules and Sarah the podcast and it was the coldest it’s been for 6 months. I put thermals under my ripped jeans, faux fur up to my neck but my unwashed tied up hair meant my ears were exposed. I thought I would have to brave it with a hat over a ponytail like an odd cone but instead my Sprig Knitwear headband came to the rescue.
Sprig Knitwear was founded by Antonia Sullivan when she made a snood for her friend one Christmas, in her “knitting nook.” Obviously the snood became the talk of the town and everyone wanted one. Antonia says she was inspired by old family photographs of children growing up during 1950s and 60s Britain and says “these photos were mostly in black and white, yet were filled with delightful patterns and personality.” Antonia now runs her small knitwear from the heart of Hampshire. Everything she makes is from 100% pure lambswool which is sourced from Geelong, Australia before being spun and dyed in a Yorkshire. Sprig Knitwear say their ethos “focuses on wrapping our customers in love and bringing brightness on those bleak winter days with colour, softness and warmth.” My ears are entirely thrilled.
I love IKEA. One day I hope to live in IKEA and have 8 bedrooms to choose a different one every night to sleep in. The staff would tuck me in and I could live on meatballs.
IKEA have been in the UK for 30 years, Happy Birthday IKEA 🎉🎂 They are throwing a massive house party with a different decade on each floor designed exactly how your front room would have looked then. The 80s has chequered wallpaper, on the 90s floor there is blue WKD and Magic Eye books as well as a Nintendo you can play Mario Kart on. The 00s is all about feature wall and up another flight of stairs is The Future with a mirror you can chat to and a light changing wall. It’s so clever and if you are in London town between now and Saturday during the day, go and have a look. There are parties there each night though of course they sold out in about 8 seconds. I DJed there last night in the noughties room and if you want your own little party, I’ve done you a playlist of 00s bangers I played. Get someone to flash the dimmer switch, eat a Twiglet and you’ve got the greatest Friday night of all time.
Here’s the official IKEA House Party video with my face talking about about it all:
The IKEA Marketplace is the bit right at the end with all the plates and fake flowers and it’s one of my favourite places on earth. I usually spend three hours in there choosing candles, fake roses, soft toys, placemats and flamingo glasses (I shrieked when I found those) Sometimes I have to walk through quickly before I get drawn in, if I see a pink fork that’s it. Last time I only went to IKEA for a bathroom mirror and I came out with 18 cushions.
My current favourite IKEA piece is one of their armchairs. I think an armchair is a the sign of success. You’ve made it when you’ve got an armchair to eat a bit of Victoria sponge on or read unbothered because no one can sit next to you. The BENARP is colour of a tomato and I’m thinking of exchanging my bed for it. I also got very excited about this entire living room until I realised it was doll’s furniture.
House parties are the best because you can have nice drinks, full access to a fridge and if it’s your own house you can go to bed. Here are a few of my house party thoughts…
Lighting: Don’t underestimate a dimmer switch. Also a few lamps around the place. By the time I get to a party I will have almost definitely split something down myself so low lighting is terrific to disguise this.
Music: Music is obviously vital, but so is volume. I love talking and there is nothing worse than you’re in the middle of a brilliant anecdote and the music is too loud. I have been known to ask to turn the music down at parties and I’m a DJ. Everyone hates you for a minute and then they go, “oh this is so nice, I love this song and I can talk to this man I fancy.”
Food: Food is controversial at a party. My sister doesn’t believe in food at parties, I believe in food everywhere. But it should never be left out too long. Soft crisps, houmous with a skin on it and a olive going crinkly is just not ok. The best policy is eat it or get rid of it. Or better, serve some little canapé things. Take them round, make people eat them (they’ll want to) and then finish the last ones off yourself, DONE.
People: The bottom line is you need people to have a party but make it quality and not quantity. One of the best parties I ever had was with three other people. Get everyone to bring someone but tell them they have to be brilliant. In fact they should tell you a brilliant fact about that person before they’re allowed in invite them.
If you follow my instagram you will have seen me getting very excited about these phenomenal glittery clutch bags from SoS15. In fact I have already put them into The Museum, in an earlier blog post The Best Clutch Bags on Earth.
A few weeks ago I got a lovely message on instagram from a lady called Saundra. Saundra said she’s a fan of my radio show (day MADE) and she would like to make me a clutch bag. You can imagine my delight. I think I actually squealed. Saundra makes all her bags by hand and they are amazing. Every single one is smothered in glitter and it’s proper covering of glitter as well, not just an apologetic smattering. She also does pop art eyes with big lashes and others with huge lips. She’ll make you one with your name on it or your postcode and has just done a commission for some peacock feathered bridesmaids clutches which are to die for.
Saundra has become such a lovely friend since then and I was delighted to travel down to her workshop in Crystal Palace where we drank a lot of tea, chatted and made one of her signature bags.
Saundra hand makes all of her bags in her studio in South London and is proud to be a British company who sources all her materials from within the UK. We made an “All about You” clutch bag and drank a lot of tea while we did it. You can buy SOS15 products from Saundra’s store, as well as Not on the High Street.
Sammy and I have never met but we’ve adored each other from afar for a long time. I love her instagram, she loves Jules and Sarah the Podcast. I love her bright yellow hair and the pictures of her baby girl eating a cucumber in the bath and she bought my “Stand Up for Love” t shirt after I posted eating a crumpet in it at Field Day. We’re friends, we’ve just never had a G&T together.
Instagram is full of these glorious relationships. I’ve met people to work with, I’ve found events, clothes, homewares I wouldn’t otherwise know about and I’ve got my own little community of people I love but I’ve never met. One of the reasons I love this hotbed of instafriends is because I am obsessed with how people spend their time. I love knowing when they get up, what they eat, when they read, what they do of an evening. I feel like I work, watch First Dates, eat, have a bath and go to bed so if anyone finds the time to do anything apart from that I’m all over it.
When Sammy posted her incredible lobster “that shit cray” needlework on instagram I was in awe. I also wondered “how does she do it?!” Sammy is one of those amazing people who runs a teenage magazine, does massive celebrity interviews, has her daughter (the divine Daphne) makes amazing vagina cupcakes, has a cat, finds the best vintage tops and always has perfect eyeliner flicks. And now needlepoint that is on point. I barely have time to watch Dr Foster.
I told her it was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen and she said she would make me one and she has. She also asked if it would go into The Museum of Sarah and I said it would go front and centre on it’s own plinth and that’s exactly where it is.
She’s completely inspired me and tonight, I’m going to my first quilting class.