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December 2014 / Diary / by Cassia Geller


Although positively punch drunk on the best and busiest time of year, like the good little elvish types we are, we’ll be taking a break from bursts of spontaneous fa-la-la-la-la-ing, novelty jumper wearing and eating ALL the mince pies to bring you a Fabric-shaped festive treat each day of Advent – be it the merriest events or the finest gifts for one and all (and us). Christmas officially starts here!

24Yes, Christmas is a time for overindulgence and overspending. For parties and presents and Prancer and thingy and Rudolph. For good tidings and bad jumpers; hangovers, carollers, and excessive consumption of absolutely everything – it is, without doubt, the most wonderful time of the year. But it is also very much a time for sobbing yourself silly to Judy Garland so, for the final FABVENT, we’ve nothing for it but to leave you with this, and to wish you a very merry Christmas…


23It’s almost time to lay the festive table – and what better excuse is there to set out the stylish silverware and crack open some classy condiments? But if you must forego the brandied orange cranberry sauce for a good old bottle of Heinz, may we suggest you dress your can’t-do-without household names in these shining examples of luxury tableware pieces from Theo Fennell and er, have a HP Christmas!


22So swiftly demoted from proud centrepiece to sad anticlimax, even the most accomplished festive domestic god/dess will tell you Turkey is tough. Determined to get it right this year, we turned to OXO restaurant’s head chef Jeremy Bloor for his top turkey tips.



21If you’re braving the West End this week for some last-minute present panic, you’re going to need to know where you get a sugar hit and a sit down, stat. Thankfully, the beloved English afternoon tea has been given a festive facelift this month – so there are plenty of places in town at which to get your Yule log on. Claridge’s are showcasing 24 teas from across the globe, alongside Christmas pastries and Champagne; Dorset Square Hotel is serving up Yule Log and Earl Grey Martinis in their cosy Potting Shed; and One Aldwych are offering a Charlie & the Chocolate Factory twist on the afternoon tea, pictured, featuring decadent golden eggs and fantastical cocktails. Job done, just prepare to check into sugar rehab come 1 January.


20With the working week over and Christmas all but wrapped up, we’ve nothing for it but to settle into the festive nest – snuggle up with the best sounds for a holiday homecoming.




Come all ye faithful, it’s time for some Christmas cheer – in singalong form, naturally. Whether it’s alternative folk carols at NW1’s Cecil Sharp House this Sunday, mingling with musical media types at St. Bride’s Church tonight, carolling by candlelight at St Martin-in-the-Fields next Tuesday, or sticking to the tradition and beauty of Trafalgar Square’s daily offerings from over 50 carol groups – there’s more than enough musical joy to go around. Joy to the World!

18We’re in a Christmas bubble, and it’s lined with endless parties, frantic last-minute shopping and copious wrapping and cooking. Amongst all of this, it’s hard to make time for a relaxing bath – let alone a massage. Until now, that is. It’s time to take 24 hours out and put your weary bones in the safe, knowledgeable hands of Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa. With a militant yet relaxing hour-by-hour schedule, this 24-hour break will take you from London to Sussex and back, with spa treatments, fruit smoothies, gastronomic Michelin dining, pilates and swimming thrown in along the way – all set in nine acres of beautiful, green bliss. Watch out Queen Lizzie, we’ll be ready to rule the world after this trip… Single occupancy starts from £280 p/p, including dinner, breakfast, an hour’s spa treatment, isopod flotation tank session and a fitness class. (01444 416111 ; www.hshotels.co.uk)



17With just a week to go until we hang our stockings up and start stuffing that turkey, there’s never been a better time to hit pause on our manic Xmas prep and enjoy a good old fashioned family trip to the flicks. Fabric’s elves have been working overtime to round up the best festive cinema across the Capital; from a snow-filled Notting Hill cinema, to a Hollywood classic and a glass of fizz, and even an al-fresco Knightsbridge evening in a rooftop chalet – there’s something to suit the movie buff in all of us.

Fabvent cocktails 2


It may only be Tuesday (and barely lunchtime) but, now we’re fully in the festive swing of things, we’d say the usual rules don’t apply – this time of year, it’s never too early to hit the hard stuff. Whether you’re following our example, hic, or hanging on ’til cocktail hour, do it armed with these special celebratory cocktails courtesy of the mixologists at Portman Square’s Home House. Cheers!


christmas pud


Work commitments, travel, a bit of bad luck; there are a whole host of reasons why one could be home alone over Christmas à la Culkin. But if your diary is looking a bit blank circa December 25th, it needn’t be for long, as fun-time foodies Grub Club are pairing up with Airbnb to create a home-from-home over the holidays: ‘Bring Your Own Christmas’ lunch. With all proceeds going to Crisis, forty people will be brought together in a stunning central London location for a Christmas meal like no other – and one of their own making, as all are asked to bring a festive dish for four, too. 39 new friends and a slap-up meal? Splendid. (www.grubclub.com)



14Being very mature people of the high brow persuasion, we’ve naturally got no time for childish humour, terrible puns, etc., etc., but ‘tis the season to be jolly and, well, some Christmas cracker joke are just irresistible – especially after a litre of mulled wine. Beat the Sunday blues with our top 3:

Why is it getting harder to buy Advent calendars?
Because their days are numbered

How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizza?
Deep pan, crisp and even.

What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?

Cracking. Pictured: Scandi cross-stitch reusable cracker, £12.50, Etsy


13Whatever you think about the 80s, there’s no denying that it was one of history’s best, worst and most, um, diverse musical decades – and at Christmastime it really went to tinselled town. Blast your way into Saturday afternoon with some of our favourite festive tunes of the era. And Wham. And if you haven’t had your fill after that, may we suggest you travel back a year and Cathy your way through to Christmas with this baby too? Happy warbling!



12While we know Christmas isn’t exactly the time to worry ourselves about eating our greens, we can’t help but feel a strange sense of pride from munching on a chocolate treat disguised as a brussel sprout. Not least because it’s made the nation’s most dreaded turkey accompaniment appealing for possibly the first time ever, but also because they’re one of our five a day (okay, maybe that one was a fib). Get your own dream greens for £9.95, pronto. (www.notonthehighstreet.com)



11Worked yourself into a festive frenzy? Play holiday hooky with the best Yuletide getaways. Yes, it’s naughty, and we might be getting coal in our stockings this year, but who needs chocolate coins when you’ve got the Christmas markets of Dresden, the snow-capped peaks of Courchevel or a chocolate box bolthole in the Cotwalds worthy of a Christmas card itself? Sorry Santa!



10Is there a more classically festive scene (and scent) than chestnuts quite literally roasting on an open fire? Of course not, and that’s why today’s Fabvent offering is nut shaped – with our pick of 2014’s most functional yet fabulous nutcrackers. Alessi’s maple seed shaped splitter is the chicest way to add a touch of nature to your Yuletide table; With both nutcracker and coordinating bowl, you’d be forgiven for never wanting to actually use Georg Jensen’s aesthetical wonder; Christmas wouldn’t be the same without novelty tablewares, and Eddingtons’ nutcracking squirrel is a dreamy collaboration of gimmick and glamorous.



09Christmas cake has the power to divide families at this highly charged time of year. For some, the combination of mixed fruit and marzipan is up there with overcooked sprouts. For others, it’s a large slice of Christmas loveliness and childhood memories in one. So, what if you love the tradition but can’t stand the taste? We give you our alternative – but just as Christmassy – chocolate gingerbread cake recipe. You’re welcome.



08If you took a leaf out of our gift guide, you should be revelling in a smug post-shopping glow by now. But if you’re still after the perfect pressie for that special someone, we may have just the thing. In fact, even if you have got Christmas all wrapped up, we wager this’ll make it to the top of your list. A thing of true technological beauty, the Aether Cone is billed as the first thinking music player. It’s the take anywhere, fit seamlessly into the oh-so-stylish home machine that learns what you like and draws on over 30 millions songs and internet radio for a truly bespoke musical experience. So that’s less time agonising over your Christmas party playlist, and more time throwing merry shapes.



07Heal’s Tottenham Court Road will be transformed into a hub of Christmas creativity this month with a ho-ho-host of in-store events. We’ll be getting our festive floristry on at their Wildabout Flowers wreath making class tomorrow, Monday 8 December. And to get us into the seasonal spirit, we’re promised bubbles and nibbles before we set about creating our very own masterpiece with the help of a talented florist – but, of course, our guests don’t need to know that bit. (Yup, all our own work!)

06Sore head? Congratulations. You survived the first Friday of December, now reward yourself with some merry morning-after music. And, as we’ve plenty more days to overdose on Mariah Carey and the Pogues, we thought we’d ease you in with a little Saturday morning soul. Now bring on the bacon.



05You could say that our fifth advent gift is the same as our offering every month: a shiny new magazine, also available on tablet, plus a new round of exclusive giveaways. But, of course, you’d be underestimating us (and our borderline excessive enthusiasm for the festive period). This issue sees us celebrating in style with the very best party pieces – and places to wear them in – plus everything else you need for a sparkling season. So what’s on your Christmas list? If it’s festive fashion, head here for the finest party frocks; if you’re hungry or thirsty, try the extensive array of good-time food and cocktail recipes on our tablet edition, and if it’s a freebie that’d get you in the mood, we’ve got a sleigh-full of them here. Festive cheer all round!


Hotel Cafe Royal - Exterior - Christmas1

04There’s nothing quite like endless gift-wrapping to put an downer on your festive cheer. Fortunately Regent Street’s Hotel Café Royal (and Wrapsody) is on hand. In brief, you dine on a three-course feast of delights like Daube de Bouef and Mulled Wine Pear Pavlova, while experts get to work wrapping your pressies. Visitors to the venue’s Café can also enjoy the same service when they spend upwards of £40 on takeaway treats, such as minceroonies (mince pie flavoured macaroons) or the hotel’s own Christmas Yule Log. Skiving off Santa duty and eating festive treats? Oh, if we have to.




At Christmastime, many of us can fall into a gift-buying rut – favouring the security of a visit to Oxford Street for traditional gifts instead of scouting something unique that your giftee may not be expecting. Well, it’s time to abandon those slippers you buy Mum every year, and sweep the stalls at one of these fabulous festive markets instead. And once you’re tired of all that gift-buying (and you will be, eventually), we’ve even found a pop-up ski lodge where you can rest your weary bones. Yes, we really are Santa’s favourite elves…


02Long gone are the days when a Christmas jumper was the territory of Mark Darcy only. With a whole day dedicated to them this month, novelty knits now constitute the very chicest fashion faux pas. Try these Fabric-approved beauties. (L-R) Dip a toe into the trend with Markus Lupfer’s (relatively) elegant sequinned affair, £295 (www.harveynichols.com); just in case you were in any doubt how things ought to go down if you want to keep yourself on the nice list (plus a little festive tipple for you too), £97 (www.wildfoxcouture.co.uk); a vision of candy stripes, Christmas green and, er, bad tidings – Cath Kidston’s tongue-in-cheek knit is Scrooge-y, but stylish. Sold, £70 (www.cathkidston.com)



01Kicking off the festivities are the Biscuiteers, who have a whole grotto’s-worth of Noël-themed sweet treats on offer at their Notting Hill boutique. A biscuity Christmas card, DIY gingerbread house, or even an entire biscuit-based nativity scene (main image) all make for gifts so good you’ll struggle not to keep (eat) them – or why not head to an Icing Café masterclass and decorate your own? Children’s Christmas icing events take place this Thursday and Sunday 14.