Christmas can be a bit of a disappointment can’t it? The weeks, sometimes months, of preparation and imagining just how perfect that one measly day will be often places too much pressure on it. No, the table setting won’t be perfect, because people will dare to sit at it and enjoy conversation and food. The tree won’t be a thing of instagram-legend because there are those lovingly toddler-crafted decorations I can’t bear to say no to. The gift we thought long and hard about will be abandoned in favour of a plastic cracker toy. Inevitably I will be tired and grumpy from a sleepless Christmas Eve where I play through every inane step of making Christmas dinner in my head again and again in some kind of weird gravy-based stress-dream. There’s probably be a tantrum of some kind. It’ll likely be mine.
But you know what? It doesn’t matter, because I’ve learnt two things: the run up and preparation is more fun than one day can be anyway and actually no-one’s Christmas is totally magical and photograph-ready.
What, no-one’s? Not even ethereal instagrammers, stylists and chefs have a perfect Christmas? Well I’m sure there are people who spend just a little bit more attention to the way the house is decorated, or who have time or even a ‘theme’ for their year’s celebrations; but having recently spent a gorgeous afternoon in the company of some of the people who care most about how an experience looks and feel, I find that behind even the most whimsical and romantic of pictures is a real, approachable person who isn’t that different from you or I. No matter how beautiful your ‘vision’ and how much planning you put in, children don’t run to a plan, schedules get upset, messes get made; and that’s true if you’re Carly from Windsor or HMQ from Windsor. We all have a tendency to share the just ‘best bits’ from our lives, but it pays to remember that this creates a bit of an illusion.
That said, I do enjoy moments of escapism into really beautiful things, the trick is to remember to bring the little of them that you can manage into your own life, but not to hold yourself to some unachievable ideal; so indulge me whilst I share a little bit of an illusion of Christmas. A feast of an afternoon spent with like-minded ladies playing with gorgeous details in a stunning room of white, green, natural light and candlelight.
For a few brief hours under the tutelage of stylist Hannah Bullivant and photographer Sara Tasker we made wreaths, crafted and wrapped; exchanged conversation, photo opportunities, and exclamations about how pretty each and every detail was.
Will I punch my own gift tags and stamp my own wrapping paper in real life? No, not a chance – I have a job, a toddler and really do need to get to the gym at some point! But I will now give a little more care to the outside of a gift to match the attention that went into what’s inside; I might take a try at making my own wreath this year. (It’ll likely involve a few more primary colours than the understated beauty from the workshop).
And then there was the table, and the food. Tiny pops of natural flavours and colours accenting something very calm but still festive. Christmas can be a bit of a ‘more is more’ event, so this was a nice reminder for me to pare-back; enjoy the simple things; and stay true to what we love: which is to keep things uncomplicated, but to do them well. Use the best-quality seasonal produce we can afford, and don’t worry about too many trimmings. Don’t go overboard on presents, but think carefully about the ones we give; and above all to be in the moment and drink everything in from our excited toddler to our family and house-guests.
The afternoon at Rye London was billed as a ‘slow living’ event, but you know what – I really dislike that as a moniker. I’ve never been a ‘slow’ person, or a ‘faffing’ person. I’m a purposeful, three projects on-the-go, rushing around type person. But what I increasingly enjoy is being a ‘soak everything up and notice every detail’ sort of person. A ‘making and enjoying all sorts of lovely little details’ person. This was a wonderful afternoon to do just that.