She heard Christmas before she saw it. Cascading white veils, the ethereal chorus of nature’s whispered hymn. Laughter dancing through the frost-kissed air, imprints of innocence. Each snowflake a fleeting moment of grace and solace. Falling gently, finding their own story. For Christmas was a season of joy, where the world was bathed in a warm and festive light. Though there were Christmases that she wished would be erased from her memory, there were others that made her glow. Christmases where the air was perfumed with sugared cookies. A dusting of icing sugar on the kitchen counter. Indulgence taking hold, with delicacies that made her mouth water. Hot chocolates steeped in marshmallows, bobbing comically. Poured down rasping throats, scratchy from a cold. She drank deeply, letting the rich cocoa rock her into a sublime lullaby. Even though she spent most of her life on a budget, it was the small things that felt like a luxury to her. The hot herbal teas that transported her into faraway climes. The bottle of port, shared between loved ones. The games played until the early hours. For an indulgent Christmas gift was about feeling good. A present that held onto memories that were dear to you. A gift that transcended time. That she could look back on years later, knowing how lucky she was.
She lifted her blinds, and smiled. It was a typically British wet day. The heavens weeping in a celestial lament. Cleansing the air, reviving life. Pouring water over the dead and the alive. She shook herself out of her reverie. Though it didn’t feel like the festive season, the excitment was very much palatable. Remembering the ghosts of festive dinners past. Her first real Christmas aged ten. Going into foster care, spoiled for the first time. Salty tears running down her cheeks, real tears of joy. Growing up, she had very little. But it didn’t matter. She had her books that would help her escape her abusive childhood. That showed her she would be OK, that she did have the strength to fight back. The notebooks and pens, where she would write scrawly journals. Journals that had been destroyed a long time ago but still lived in her memories. She couldn’t get them back. But as she got older, she had new memories to hold onto. Ones that were more indulgent, that made her feel good. Being rescued by her foster mum, spending Christmases in a family where there was so much love. At times it felt cloying. She didn’t feel like she belonged. She was an outsider here. But going into foster care was the best thing that could have happened to her. It helped her change her mindset around Christmas. Showed her that there was more to it than just disappointment, and neglect.
There were the decadent self-care gifts that made her feel good. The PSP, in silver chrome. The indulgent Christmas gift she would always remember. The one she could never afford. She was not materialistic by any means. But even she could admit that being treated felt right. It was what she deserved after years of not being looked after. And yet, there was always something that was missing. Sure, the gifts were wonderful. But where was the spark that would ignite her senses? She realized why. She had lost the feeling ‘of belonging’. Of not feeling like she was an outsider looking in. She felt like a ‘borrowed family member’, who never really fit in. Who often alienated herself, because she was scared to be hurt again. It was never their fault. Despite her foster mum being strict, she did so much for A, especially at Christmas. She normalized it as a holiday that should be celebrated. She tried to get A involved with the whole family. She treated A, even though she didn’t have much money herself. She gave her security and safety, when for years she had none.
The idea of indulgence to A was different to most. When she was 5, her indulgence was being at School, so she could escape the abuse at home. When she was 10, her luxury was being in a safe home. And when she was a teen, the toliets were her best friend. Hiding away from the bullies that made her life a living hell. As an adult (and with her own money), the indulgence became more. Being able to treat herself to self-care gifts that boosted her physical and mental health. Living on little money, but affording herself the clothes, food, and luxuries that she rarely had growing up. But she never forgot the little things. The indulgence of being an adult who had a loving home, with a partner and three cats. Of no longer having to alienate herself from housemates who used her for their own advantages. Where she didn’t have to hide from violent housemates who had anger issues. She was safe here. Really safe at last.
Last year was her first Christmas in the rented flat. Her partner, three cats, aunty and cousin. On a walk, where the ground was arid and dry. Cracked over with frost, patches where verdant green grass used to be. The call they weren’t expecting. A Christmas tinged with sadness. The death of her partner’s grandma, on Christmas day. His stalwart growing up. And yet, despite the tragedy of her passing, the Christmas was beautifully poignant. A reminder of what the season was all about. To spend time with loved ones whose very aura shrouded you in love, light, and laughter. The indulgence in not only the gifts, but the stories, memories and connections shared. And that’s what she had in mind when curating this indulgent Christmas gift guide. Presents that made you, and the receiver feel good. That felt meaningful, that defined what Christmas should be. And what were those gifts she heard you ask? Presents that inspired conversations. That were self-care rituals, that made you think and feel. That had the ability to inspire, surprise and excite, no matter who you were.
Decadent food and drink, that caressed A in a comforting hug. That wiped away her tears, and hitched up a smile. Frown lines smoothed, laughing eyes. An aged reserva tino, that traced the road that her ancestors once took. Spiced berries lingering on the palette, deep red on her tongue. The memories that came flooding back. A glass of red, and a book after a long day at work. The simple pleasures, as the light grew darker and the nights grew colder. A warming, heady concoction that langorously embalmed her limbs in coziness. The glazed vegan doughnuts that had her going WOW! Zingy pear dancing in a ginger glaze, setting the stage for berries that tried to steal the limelight. A reminder of a winter evening in Shoreditch. Stumbling across the doughnut shop. Not wanting to go home, revelling in the buzz of the people around her. Sitting in a garden where murals invited her closer. Feeling the crumbs disappear down her chin. Bits of doughnut sandwiched between her teeth, bemused glances.
The games that felt like hidden gems. The crowd pleasers, and the heart stealers. Entertainment that felt indulgent not in price, but in value. Board games and card games, bring families closer together. Snorting with laughter, stomachs squeezed with elation. Card games that were tongue in cheek. Shocked chuckles all round. Those who dared to be different in a league of their own. The fun and silly games, and the risque. The card games that made you think, that opened up a whole new world. On her own, with her partner, or with loved ones, playing games where they dared to dream. Where indulgence could spread its wings without restrain. With each move minds intertwined. It wasn’t just games either. The books that made her feel. Cookbooks that made her excited about food. The world on her tongue, watching the spices, aromas and flavours sprinkle magic in her mouth. The books that were historical, that educated, excited and informed. And the books that were magical realism. A flashback to her younger years. Books were she was lost in the story, where time ceased to exist.
Her eyes growing heavy, like sleet drowning her pupils. Pulling herself sluggishly to the bathroom, her nighttime routine. She would peer at herself in the mirror. Just over a month until Christmas. Silver eyeshadow on creased lids peering back at her. Scarlet red on her lips. Embracing the quiet santuary, the wind tip-tapping at her window. Peeling back the layers until her bare face stared back at her. Rinsed with ice cold water, rejuvanating her senses. A night cream on freshly cleansed skin, flaws out in the open. In the morning, she would wash her hair and begin the day anew. Unravelling her hair from its messy plait, enveloped in a shower that soothed ice cold skin. Shampoo slathered in hair that was dehydrated. Conditioner on roots that had seen better days. Even on Christmas day, the routines would be the same. Setting free the shackles of stress. Embracing the simplicity of indulgent pleasures at Christmas, that would go beyond the festive season. She would light a candle, and breathe out. Feeling the calm wash over her in an unusual trance. Breathe in, breathe out.
And who could forget indulgent Christmas gift ideas for fashion lovers? The ones that made you smile with pleasure. The retro handbags, and the casual trainers. The coords, and the colourful hats. The handmade headdresses months in the making. The clothes that felt like summer even in the heart of winter. She couldn’t describe it. The inexplicable feeling of opening a present, and finding joy inside. Colourful dresses that danced with printed trousers. Elaborate embroidered headbands that serenaded retro cat eye peepers. Even in winter, fashion was like art. From haute couture to street-style chic, style was liberating, a manifestaion of the unique. A tapestry of heritage, tradition and flair. History in each garment, memories in each seam. The yesteryears and the present. Honouring roots and culture, in an extravagant display of art. The colours at Christmas, breathtaking too. Berry burgundies like deep red wines. Silky forest greens verging on emerald hues. Pillarbox reds infectiously bright, a dopamine blessing. Cobalt blues like lapiz lazul. Our own personal catwalks, where our souls were laid bare.
Decadent Food & Drink
She would write an ode to the decadency of food. Joyful feasts that called out her name. That shrouded her in nature’s sweet kisses, a gift so divine. The golden sheen of freshly baked doughnuts, that tasted like home. Humble circles of sugared art, with glazes crafted by a master’s hand. A vegan doughnut who once lived in a pleasure palace. Drenched in ginger, pear and berries, a nostalgic confection. Food that was more than just food. Food that meant something, that was meaningful. Vegan cheeses all lined up in a row. 1,2,3,4. A moment stolen, a savoury escape. Memories fleeting, in a haze of stories. A Brixton Blue on the table, smooth and creamy. Hands wiped clean, sitting on the sofa cross-legged. A glass of red wine swilling in a large glass, a heady aroma. For Christmas was a time of indulgence, falling in love with the food and drink that made you happy. A was a simple woman. Cheese, doughnuts, wine. Oh, and a cocktail or two. A morning hot drink, herbal tea to wash it all down. For there was something spiritual about festive food and drink. The rush of endorphins to her brain, that rewarded her on a hard day. The sparkle in her eyes that gleamed. The energy that coursed through her veins. Childhood memories resurfacing. New narratives weaved. A tale of love and hope the foodie way.
Crosstown Merry Christmas Doughnut Selection
She remembered her first doughnut. Her tongue circling a ring of dough, that melted into her mouth. A powdered sugar high that burst within her. She laughed at the memory. Though she was a savoury queen, doughnuts would always turn her head. Her first love, a smooth chocolate pastry of joy, iced with squiggly lines of white chocolate. Oh how her tastes had changed since then. More adventorous, more daring. Letting the sensations wash over her like a holy cleanse. For Christmas might have been labelled as ‘chocolate season’, but in A’s mind, joy came wrapped up in powdered sugar circles. Rings of cinnamon, dashed with lemon zest. Chocolate doughnuts with a rich chocolate ganache. Like those Love Raw 2 Vegan Cre&m Filled Wafer Bars that reminded her of Kinder Buenos. A hug in chocolate, melting hearts like early winter sunsets. But there was more to doughnuts than just a taste. For doughnuts held a special place in her childhood heart. Going into foster care, opened up to new worlds. That aforementioned chocolate doughnut with a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Remembering the childhood innocence, that first Christmas. Where everything in her life had changed.
From then on, the love affair began. The air perfumed with a sweet sugary bliss, as the naughty pastries danced. Granting a heavenly kiss, her stomach growling out for more. Then came the magical day. Standing outside her flat door, the Crosstown Merry Christmas Six Pack Doughnut Selection on her doorstep. Wrapped up in a black box of temptations, her mouth salivating at the prospect. She was longing for its taste, begging for its touch. Unwrapping the box, memories came flooding back. All the doughnuts over the years that stole her heart. The chocolate iced doughnut rings that first Christmas, aged 10. The blackberry and raspberry doughnut with a jammy filling aged 15. Apple Fritters American style at a corner shop aged 18. Yet, without a shadow of a doubt, Crosstown’s doughnuts were her indulgent Christmas gift must have.
The first, a Gianduja Chocolate and Hazelnut Christmas Doughnut. Rich, decadent, luxurious. A temptor whose velvet whispers left A weak at the knees. A cocoa charade, melting on chapped winter lips. Layers of homemade gianduja ganache wedged between chocolate cake dough. A harmonious blend of deep chocolate, with nutty undertones. But the topping? Santa’s very own fairy dust. Glossy chocolate glaze, a sprinkling of hazelnut nibs. A light dusting of gold shimmer, each doughnut a festive treasure. The poet’s potion more precious than gold. To A, doughnuts were a me-time ritual. Savouring the doughnuts slowly, as it wrapped her in warmth and erased life’s strife. The chocolate was like balm for her soul. It was almost as if it knew the week she was having. Shrouded in anxiety that had got out of control. And yet for one far too brief moment, she was still. Her hand on a second doughnut, whose fruity essence whispered her name. Ginger, Blackberry & Pear, a vegan Christmas doughnut with a kick. Comically, it looked like an egg on top of a doughnut, the ‘yolk’ a blackberry, pear and ginger compote filling. But the taste of Crosstown? Chef’s kiss. Tangy, fruity, with bursts of spice. Topped with a smooth pear puree. Crowned with an aromatic vanilla and candied ginger crumble. She sank into a hazy stupor. It had been a long time since she felt this relaxed. Where time would bend, surrendering to peace. Her spirit finding repose, through realms of solace.
Price: Merry Christmas Doughnut Selection (6 or 12) from £29.95
La Fauxmagerie Vegan Cheese Selection
She couldn’t imagine an indulgent Christmas gift guide without cheese. Whose humble beginnings, created a feast for the senses. A symphony of textures, a tapestry of taste. On its own, as part of a cheeseboard. In desserts, and main courses too. Every meal of the day, where cheese would caress her tongue. Every mouthful savoured, a myriad of sensations. Soothing yet invigorating. Me-time, yet shared with others. Tangy sweet, pungent, savoury, salty, creamy and even smooth. But it was the memories that made cheeses feel like home. Cheeses round the dinner table with her Foster Mum’s family. Slathered in chutneys, a smattering of pickle on a porcelain plate. A cheeseboard with her Aunty and Cousin, a slither of Portuguese Port. Even on her own, the cheeses held special meaning. Watching her favourite Disney movies, her eyes lighting up. Bries, cheddars, and blue cheeses on crackers, a glass of red on standby. But the biggest and best memory of all? The date nights that were unplanned. A cheeseboard at home, wrapped up in her partner’s jumper. A mosaic of orange, blue, red and creamy white, shoved into waiting mouths.
It took a lot to win A’s cheesy heart. From feta, to paneer, mozarella and buratta too, A’s last meal on earth would be centered around cheese. And yet La Fauxmagerie was on another level. Though vegan cheeses had a bad rep, she couldn’t help but savour their cheeses like a long last secret. Brixton Blue, an almond cheese that tasted eerily like the Roquefort that she once coveted. Beige white threaded with intricate blue, smooth on her rasping tongue. A muse of unparelleled bliss, on crostinis, paired with pear and walnuts. A drizzle of maple syrup on top. The Balham Blue enriched with sweet potato, inspired by Shropshire Blue. Fragrant blue notes balanced with annato, that slipped into her mouth effortlessly. Sandwiched into a vegan beef burger, drizzled with cranberry sauce. Sweet potato cinnamon wedges, drizzled with sea salt. But her absolute favourite? The Shoreditch Smoked. Tangy savoury cheddar with a hint of smokiness. Crumbling into her mouth like the Applewood smoked that she coveted. Sliced with warm homemade tiger bread, slathered in vegan butter. Rosemary sprigs and rainbow peppercorn dashed liberally a’top, dreaming of a Christmas surrounded by vegan cheese.
She had a special connection to the Brick Lane Bree as well. Two memories floating by, waiting to be caught. Brick Lane, where her love affair with street art began. Her signature aesthetic, where cheese and art came together. The other, Brie, her beloved Aunty’s favourite cheese. Everytime they would meet, she would cut hunks of bree with its creamy and delicious rind. Fresh mixed grapes, newly washed, popped in too. She would pack this one into an ooey-goeey toastie, with rashers of vegan bacon. Salty unami flavours, melting into cheese that was oh so indulgent. She loved how some of the cheeses had connections to East London. Her watering hole, her adopted home. And the Clapton Chive was no exception. Their take on a Double Gloucester, packed with bold garlic and fresh herbs. She let the cheese sorcery wash over her. Betwitched by its alluring spell. Baked into cheese scones that felt like a warm hug. A dainty ramekin filled to the brim with tomato and apple chilli chutney.
Brut Prestige Rosé NV
She cast her mind back to 2018. Before she met the love of her love. Before her three cats. Before her rented flat. On holiday in Tuscany with her best friend, drinking delicate Rosé Brut out of champagne flutes. In hues of blushing pink, a poet’s muse, a journey for the bold. With every sip, delicate bubbles like fairy’s silver flung. They would smile and laugh, bathed in the evening’s gentle streams. Cotton candy hues of pastel pink submerged into darker violet purples, nature’s masterpiece unfolding. For Rosé had a special place in her heart. With every sip a dance upon the tongue. Effervescent melodies sung, ethereal whispers cascading inside her. The two friends sharing a magical moment of friendship. Drinking champagne, that went straight to their heart. In the middle of Monetebuoni, Lecchi in Chianti, one of her favourite places on earth. The birds gurgling water from the nearby pool, the crickets chirping at night. Though it was 2023 now, the memory of that night still rung clear. Longing for a Rosé that matched the energy of sunnier climes.
Brut Prestige Rosé NV stepped up to the plate. Delicate salmon pink, with notes of wild strawberries and a hint of spice. Each sip a moment of reflection, sweet lingering bliss. Today, the air was tinged with frost that leapt out of the shadows. But the balanced and smooth Rosé was lively, coaxing her into a lulling stupor. Her eyes growing heavy, her limbs loosening. Delving into the persistient flavours of crushed wild raspberry, cherry and blackcurrant, on cloud nine. She smoothed down her hair, frizzy from the wind, a cup in hand. The harmony of flavours both a summer aperitif and a winter warmer. Aged for three years, a high proportion of Chardonnay synonymous of the Tattinger style. Grapes expertly sourced, from a number of crus in the Marne and L’aube. It was both an elixir of passion, and a social talking point. A crowd pleaser and a date night special. But for this indulgent Christmas gift the intentions would be different. All around the dinner table, missing one person. Raising a toast, bubbles frothing in a pool of pink. A glass with the dessert, Aunty’s famous cheesecake. With a proper biscuit base just the way she liked it, fresh strawberries ladled with lemon zest. The cats desperate to get a look in, up to mischief. The tabby hanging off the table, begging to join in.
Stockists: Sainsburys, Majestic, Tesco, Ocado, John Lewis, Drinx.com/Champagne King, Champagne Direct, The Champagne Company.
Esporão Reserva Red Organic 2021
She had a special connection to Portugal. Her parents from Madeira, in lands where sun-kissed islands bloomed. A tapestry of beauty in a verdant embrace. Roaring valleys with gushing waterfalls, you put your head under. Where vibrant brushstrokes caressed the sky, in azure blues. Bathed in sunlight’s golden yellow light. A postcard come to life, far warmer than here. Gardens picked by Eden, flowers beyond your wildest dreams. Jagged peaks, and high cliff-summits. Misty mountains, and hazy lazy basalt beaches. Black sand between your toes, sitting on a jagged rock. Tracing the volcanic ancestors that once bellowed free. Through cobbled streets where the locals welcomed you with Poncha. To the markets in Funchal, where Madeira wine slipped into your bag. There was no denying that her heritage was blessed by a bountiful island. Wandering through the sweet banana plantations, into a straw basket. Twirling through terraced vineyards were grapes would grow. A serene and soft soul, blessed by nature’s harvest. Drink and food that would captivate her to this very day. Portugal was no exception. A would leave enchanted, forever smitten. A hand-written paradise, where wine flowed greedily. Eternal in her poetic rhyme, a treasure for all until the end of time.
And so, she poured a generous glass of Esporão Reserva Red, watching the deep scarlet hue swill. Complex notes of black fruit jam with spices that felt luxurious. Black pepper whispering sweet nothings to cloves. Berries and dark chocolate peeking through. The lingering finish is what captivated her. Feeling the aromas and taste, long after the wine was gone. Sipping slowly, hearing the revellers gathering round. Shoppers with their bags crammed full. The streets busy despite the slush of rain that splattered the pavements. The silky tannins a teasing caress, a dance upon her taste buds. It was an intoxicating thrill, to think of organic vineyards kissed by Portuguese sun. Each variety vinified seperately, destemmed and crushed. Aged for 12 months in American and French oak barrels, marinating in perfection. Aged a further eight months after bottling, the perfect red coming. She brought another bottle, to open at Christmas. Planning to cook a butternut squash risotto, peppered with spinach. Parmesan cheese sprinkled, melting into Arbiro rice. They would sit and laugh until the early hours. Feeling free and happy, away from the confines of work. At last, they had reclaimed calm once more.
Price: £23.30, available at Cambridge Wine Merchants, Dulwich Vintners & Hop Cellar.
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2021
Her flat was full of love. The cats who stole her heart every second, minute, hour and day. The partner who was hers until the end of time. And now, one of her best friend’s was living with her. Who she had known for about 7 years. Just before A had moved into London, on an event job, two souls connected. Bonded since that day, who felt more like family. Her borrowed sister, her partner in crime. Living at hers for three months now, a welcome addition to her family. They had shared laughs, tears, stresses, and happy news together. But if there was one thing they hadn’t shared together? A glass of white wine, L’s favourite kind. A would sit drinking her trusty red, stories told in its deep ruby liquid. L, with her golden elixir, whose grapes were kissed by moonlight. Where grapes would ripen in a dreamlike haze. Nature’s hand orchestrating perfection with an idyllic sigh. When A asked L why white wine was her favourite, she paused, contemplating. What was once a drink reserved to nights out, became a home drink. One to be enjoyed, lulling her into tranquility. A rare treat that felt like escapism from her everyday life. A could see the appeal. She often described red as a comforting hug in a glass. To L, white wine was the same.
The Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2021 was just as comforting. A blend of selected vineyards from the key sub regions within Marlborough. Pungent herbal aromas bursting with zesty grapefruit and rock melon. Rounding out with a weighty finish. L would drink it chilled. A large glass of sepia nectar, a vessel of ambrosia. Bathed in the glow of the yellow dim bulb overhead. As she curled up in a leopard print blanket. Her latest favourite read perched askew on the sofa. A journal further down, a pen putting down feelings. She turned back to the wine. Holding the cup, like it was a herbal tea. Smiling with her eyes. Though it felt like summer in a glass, it was a beautiful festive season addition. A roast with all the trimmings. Vegan turkey cut into chunks, serenading rosemary potatoes. Baby carrots in garlic and thyme. Parsnips with roasted hazelnuts. Kale seeped in zesty lemon. The crowning glory? Yorkshire puddings, stuffed with chilli and garlic broccoli. Drenched in gravy, with a touch of Port Wine. The glass was empty, and the head felt lighter. If she was looking for an indulgent Christmas gift that embodied the festive season, Villa Maria was the one.
Price: £15.75 – Tesco (£12.00) & Booths
Identity Shiraz 2022
It took a long time for A to get on board with Christmas. Festivities that dredged up painful memories that she would rather forget. A story of abandonment, neglect and abuse. Alienation and isolation. Feeling like an outsider looking in. And yet, over the last three years, the meaning of Christmas had changed. A day where she no longer felt unwanted, or mourned the ghosts of the family that she once knew. She realized, at long last, that it wasn’t about quantity but quality. The people that mattered were right there beside her. For Christmas wasn’t about regretting what you didn’t have. But it was celebrating what you were grateful for. And for A? It was having a real family, who would be there for her no matter what. Sat around the dinner table, a feast for the gods. Glasses of red, where they would embrace family traditions. Putting down their phones, and doing the things that would make them happy. Finding balance in a world governed by chaos. Surrounded by the people that made her heart sing. And wasn’t that the most precious indulgent Christmas gift of all?
The candles would flicker, illuminating yellow light. Shrouded in shadows, the dream of dreamers. The smell of incense wafting around the room, patchouli, cinnamon and sandalwood. Though winter had reared its icy head, their hearts, and souls were warmed. Identity Shiraz 2022 poured into their wine glasses. Deep purple, flashes of scarlet. A gentle palette with fresh and rounded tannins. Where enticing blackcurrant pastilles and mulberry aromas waltzed into their mouths. Uplifted with subtle cinnamon, and piquant white pepper. But the best part of all? The aromatics that continued into the palate with blueberry, red cherry, plums, and a hint of roasted black olives. A vibrant medium-bodied wine, with a lengthy, and elegant finish. Like an artist’s stroke across a canvas so vast, caressing lips, a tale to be told. It was a tango of sweetness, like love’s blush on cheeks anew. Shiraz produced from vines over 20 years old, sustainably farmed. Grapes hand selected, chilled over night. Wine transferred to 500 L third fill French oak barrels for six months. They would have Christmas season burgers. Vegan burgers slathered in cranberry sauce and rocket. Brie sandwiched in between, oozing into paprika thin fries. An ample glass of red setting the scene. Every drop a symphony, a sensual affair.
Price: £10 at Sainsbury’s
Non Alcoholic Drinks
Clean Co Cocktail Collection
She fell in love with cocktails, the way she fell in love with life. Headfirst, deeply, madly. There was something so intoxicating about a good cocktail. The way it made you feel like a superhero. Who had the whole world in the palm of their hand. The sugary rush like lucid dreaming, poetic verses on her tongue. She would trace the alphabet in spirits and liquors. Spiced rum cascading in circles. Bitter gin slipped in with tonic. Licor de Tangerina, a taste from home. Swirling ice in her drink, listening to the slithers crash into liquid. At home, red wine was her drink of choice. Mulled wine for the festivities, an indulgent Christmas gift. And yet, when out, cocktails were her go to. Mojitos where mint leaves were muddled, sugar crystals dissolving. Rum’s sweet embrace, a cooling orchestera. Aperol Spritz, the sweet smooch of orange. Hints of bitter notes, in a potion of dreams. Pisco Sour laced with lime, egg white and sugar. Creating a melody with each frothy tide. And at Christmas? The cocktails were just as spectacular, the fading sun’s delight.
Yet, she wasn’t someone who drank a lot. She enjoyed a drink or two when she was feeling well enough. But often she would be sober, opting for non-alcoholic cocktails instead. Ones that felt like the real thing without the hangover. Where she didn’t feel like she was missing out. Clean Co (run by Spencer Matthews), was a treat that she came back to again and again. Non-alcholic spirits that created sober cocktails at home without the fuss. Clean R, a personal favourite, served in a small shot glass transperent and clear. Sip by sip the worries dissolving. Dissipitating into the sunsets blaze. The Bronze Award Winner (IWSC) in 2021, it was easy to see why. Warming spice wrapping its lips around golden caramel. Cayenne pepper in a boldy flavoured distillate. Their ‘clean’ take on Spiced Carribean Rum, A’s all time favourite. Was it any wonder that she kept coming back for more? She paused, breathing in the scent of Bourbon vanilla, and ginger spice. A Christmas drink in a spirit, medium bodied and smooth. She turned to her Clean Cocktails recipe book, thumbing the pages for inspiration. Tried and tested by Spencer himself, cocktails for any festive occassion. But for Clean R? Something different. A Ginger & Lemongrass Highball, punctuated wiith a lime wedge. Warming, sharp, fresh.
Clean G, the most popular non-alcholic spirit was just as memorable. Kindling laughter, making memories forever. The Gold Award Winner in IWSC 2021, their take on a London Dry Gin. Crisp juniper balanced with botanicals, that was oh so zingy. Cloudy in the glass, lemon and grapefruit wafting up to her nose. Citrusy, with a subtle herbaceous complexity, that almost felt like the real thing. Even A’s Aunty who had a penchant for gin could agree that there was little difference in the flavour profile! By itself with a tonic, surprisingly moerish. But just like Clean R, it’s moment to shine came in cocktail form. The Clean Floradora, a current favourite. Pairing sweet and tart raspberry with ginger spice. Warming, sweet, and festive approved. Watching the ice melt into the pink liquid, in a tall glass. And so, she would raise her glass to moments that were dear. To the beauty of life, and the luckiness of being in it. To ignite the spirit, a warm afterglow. Sober cocktails that felt like an elixir of delight. Even as the inky darkness of night cast their home into shadows. The taste of passion would course through her heart, even as sleep came. But in the morning when all was still? She was energetic, not sluggish. Focused, not unproductive.
Prices: Cocktail Spirits £16 each & Clean Cocktails Recipe £20
In hues of twilight’s fading glow, she grasped a cup of tea. Where ancient healers healed within, nature’s decree. A potion of serenity that reminded her of verdant fields, and sunlight mornings. Herbs unfurling wrapped up in teabags. Gifted from Earth, life’s simple pleasures. Her hands numb from the lashings of rain that permeated her clothes. The bite of the wind still tussled in the tangle of her curly hair. She drank, slowly at first. As a veil of shadows flickered across her face. The glow of the silver moon burrowing through the window, mixing with steam. For Christmas was a time of rest, contemplation and mindfulness. A chance to connect with loved ones, letting the stresses melt away. Her with her cup of tea, rosy-cheeked. A gentle refuge, a chance to unwind. Drifting into ephermereal planes, where reality ceased to exist. White noise in the background, the endless chatter fading. Her senses blurred, her limbs relaxed, until at last, she felt calm.
But she had a little help. Aduna, whose range of superfoods and teas, coaxed her into good wellbeing. On a journey to creating a better world, starting with ourselves. Even the name was poignant. Aduna, ‘life or world in Wolof, the language of The Gambia & Senegal’ where their superfood story began. The connection between all living things, an expanded philosophy of wellness, at the heart of everything they did. It was this mantra that drew her to the African Super Tea bundle. Lovingly made with whole pieces of fruit that danced with herbs. Leaves twirling with flowers drenched in spices. Served in tea pyramids that sank into hot water like baths. Every tea supporting the creation of sustainable incomes for rural African households. Her personal favourite? The Aduna Defence, a tranquil harmony of lemon, ginger and natural baobab. It was a tea that she gravitated towards often in the Christmas months. A powerful immune booster, protecting cells from oxidative stress. Rich in antioxidants that made her skin glow. The Relax Tea another festive favourite. Revelling in the ancient soothing power of African cacao, spiced with cinnamon. Warming the soul, igniting a grin. An elixir of strength to heal and renew. Two teas that were like happiness in a cup. Head and shoulders above the rest.
The teas weren’t the only indulgent Christmas gift on her wishlist. Super Cacao Premium Blend Cacaco Powder, luxuriously rich. A sacred alchemy of flavours rare. Bittersweet notes in harmony intertwined. On her lips a melody so luxurious, she felt alive. Awakening senses, finding hidden treasures in taste. Cacaco’s warmth unravelling, like a Christmas spell. In hot drinks it would be something special. But in dinners, it was a surprise. Cooking a Brazillian bean stew for the family, tempered with coriander. Brown rice, earthy and nutty. Cacaco sprinkled over soft black beans. The Baobab Superfruit powder another personal favourite. A sweet release like sherbet. Citric fruits dancing, lulling her into a feel good trance. High in fibre, it made sense to add to Christmas smoothies. Laced with berries, bananas too. And yet, A never played by the rules. A twist on a Red Lentil and Spinach Curry, a dash of Baobab for subtle zing. Shallots melting in a pool of butter. Garlic sizzling, chillis tangoing. Tumeric and cloves that lent warmth to every bite. Ginger and cumin, whispering secrets, adding charm.
Prices: Baobab Powder £12.99 (275 g), Cacaco Powder £9.99 (275 g), African Super Tea Bundle (from 22.99)
Fun ( And Opulent) Games For Christmas
Ever since she could remember games helped her mind find respite and release. A steadfast refuge, in search of solace. Away from life’s turbulence, where chaos would sing. Peace like a flame, blazing through her heart. On her own, a tapestry of stories waited to unfold. Her first games console, the Nintendo 64, a contrast to the XBox she had today. Infinite worlds on video screens, portals to realms unknown. Where pixels danced on a TV screen, Nintendo Switch, mobile phone. Fall Guys, a colourful vibrant platform game, on the XBOX Series X. Beans in a variety of costumes, racing against time. Playing in duos, a pink Witchdoctor and a MR Whippy Ice Cream cone. Mario Party Superstars, another favourite. Her Yoshi, him Wario, battling against supercomputers. Competing to win the star, and be crowned the winner of the game. Wreaking havoc on horror land. Dancing in Yoshi’s Tropical Island. Floating in Spaceland, stars cascading. The most popular maps from Old Mario Games come to life once more. Card games like Exploding Kittens, the first game they ever played together. Making their own rules, who would come out on top? The strategy games, him teaching her to play chess. Each pawn a vessel, that moved with grace. Yet, it was Texas Holdem, the card game most played. Who would get the best five card hand and gain the royal flush? All suited from ten to ace, Jack serenading the Queen. The King looking on bemused. For there was no better indulgent Christmas gift than games that captivated. Card games, silly games. Video games, computer games. Games that were meaningful that made a difference. Games that made her feel good.
There were few things that A loved more than RuPaul’s Drag Race, her safe haven. More than just a TV show, a way of life. A secret discovered in her third year of university hooked ever since. Netflix, then WowPresents. The show that had brought her up through trauma, loss, and grief. That made her smile, even when tears burbled and her chin wobbled. Even when right was wrong, and the world was topsy turvy. Drag artists who blew her mind with their creativity, art, and passion. Monet Xchange whose iconic sponge moment made her smile. A singer, dancer, actor, with a gorgeous mug to boot. Her drag sister, Bob the Drag Queen, another favourite. Multi-talented, whose ‘Empire Cookie’ moment still made her jaw drop. Bimini, the vegan drag Queen who lived and breathed music and fashion. Lawrence Chaney, whose comedy made her chuckle. And who could forget Mo Heart, whose turn in all stars was one for the books. An entertainer, singer, actor, and dancer, with fashion looks to die for. Drag was an art form. A celebration of identity. Non-binary, trans, intersex, cisgender and pangender to name a few. Club kids, and spooky queens. Adrogyny, and pagentary. But there was more to drag than just RuPaul’s Drag Race. Drag Kings and fluid artists. Dragula, and The Boulet Brothers. Queen’s in Soho, and the East End. Drag up and down the country, all around the world.
Drag was feel good. Watching drag artists perform made her feel free. Swept into their world of glitter, dance, comedy, and over-the-top acting. Part Project-Runway, part America’s Next Top Model. With a dash of America’s Got Talent, and a slithering of Eastenders. Comical, yet heartwrenching, a show for the ages. Was it any wonder that she gravitated towards Drags2Riches? A deckbuilding card game that allowed her to live her drag truth. She would step into the shoes of a Drag Queen, building up her wardrobe of heels that made her shine. Wigs that would transform her lewk. Outfits that made her sparkle. Makeup and accessories that were authentic and true. In combinations that would stun the competition. Would she come out on top? She would play, bemused. With family who had never even watched drag race, watching their fantasies come to life. Would she work on her look in secret? Or would she keep it hidden, to win the most prestigious events? Eight queens waiting to be chosen, Kelisha Keys (All Tea No Shade) standing out. When receiving shade blocking it, reversing the effect back on the shady player.
She rubbed her hands in glee, playing her cards to buy others from the market. Creating a wardrobe whose lewks would rival the other players. Peeking at, borrowing and gifting cards to her rival sisters. Would she slay the competition? Only time would tell. Counting to three, all queens declairing with thumbs up or down whether they would reveal their fabulous combo. Mark her words she came to win. And win she did, with a wombo combo, hands in the air. Her cats staring with pricked ears, wondering what all the fuss was about. But how could she be anything but excited? A game that wasn’t just fun to play, but inclusive too. Giving back to the LGBTQ+ community, working with the charity akt. The national LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity supporting young people aged 16-25 in the UK experiencing homelessness. With support in safe homes, and employment, education or training. Always welcomed, never turned away. A game that did good, made you feel good, and looked good. Positive, inclusive, never judgemental. A hug in a box, a connector of love. A had a feeling it would be a favourite indulgent Christmas gift for many seasons to come!
They were almost five years strong now. Love that bloomed like a spring flower, with tender whispers and gentle grace. An emotion the two of them never saw coming. Him, still healing after a six year relationship. Her broken from trauma, loss and grief. But when they found each other, their worlds collided. Not knowing that they had found a soulmate from day one. She, the female version of him. Him the male version of her. So similar, mirror images, yet different too. They fit together like two peas in a pod. Where love took flight, a roaring bird of desire. A love whose touch was like silk. Softly caressing the skin, healing them mind, body and soul. They were vunerable with each other, the most naked they had ever felt before. The most secure, and loved they had ever felt in a relationship. Two wounded souls taking a journey together into healing. Still together, two Tinder matches, in the right place at the right time. With every day that passed, their love grew older and wiser. A teacher unveiling truth beneath the dark skies. Three Christmases out of five. This year, the first Christmas since they lived together seperated. Him travelling home to be with his dad. Her with her Aunty, Cousin and cats. But they would have their own Christmas. One where games reminded them of the very first love they felt. Joyful, weird, humorous, and never boring.
Joking Hazard was an indulgent Christmas gift game that described them in a nutshell. Quirky, with a crude sense of humour. Creative, always inventive. It was a card game that was NSFW, from the minds of Cyanide & Happiness. Though the game was for three or more players, they played as a duo. By their own rules. Competing to build funny and terrible comics, that would make them the ultimate game champ. Three cards at the ready, where creative storytelling and dark humour collided in a sick, twisted world. She imagined playing this with her Aunty, the look of horror that would be on her face. But wasn’t that what Christmas was all about? Pushing boundaries, and trying something new. Each box with 360 cards, where they could even write their own word cards! There would be one judge, who would flip the top card off the draw pile. The player then adding one of their own cards on either side, creating the setup. Everyone else playing third. The other players putting in their best punchline, facedown. The judging choosing the funniest one. But playing as a duo? They would be each other’s judge, creating a story from scratch. The more terrible the better, both in fits of hysterics.
Before she met her partner she had all but given up on men. Frustrated with the endless f**kboys who had treated her like s**t. Who put her down, and made her question her self-worth. On dates that would surely make it into the Guiness World Records. The guy who told her he had a girlfriend before pulling out. The guy who would ghost her, and then use her as he pleased. The man who had an unhealthy obsession with power, who tried to lord it over her. The person who pretended to be someone he was not. The Catfish, the older guy. The one who got away. A had terrible taste in men. That was, until her partner came along. The love of her life, who swept her off her feet. Looking back, it was hard to believe that it was just five years ago that she was single. But it seemed like a lifetime ago, another version of her that walked this earth. Who would have known that she would finally get what she deserved. The man of her dreams, who loved her for being herself. Dating was hard enough then. She could only imagine what it was like now. Head in the cookie jar, getting zombie-ed. Finding beige flags and breadcrumbs. Cuffing to ‘stay warm’ during the Christmas season. To avoid loneliness, to find a connection. Nope, no matter what you paid her, she was grateful and thankful to not be dating anymore!
But if she was dating, she could think of no better muse than Master Dater. The hilairous card game where she would combine a head and body to create the perfect date. Defeating her enemies, winning at love. An orange box, so beautifully emblazoned. Inside, 300 weird interest cards, and 230 head and body cards. She would be the ‘judge’ kicking off the round by sharing her three interests with the daters. Her partner, her friend, her curled up on the sofa laughing hysterically. Her interest card saying that she ‘liked to be swallowed whole’. She watched them whisper, saw the shuffling of the cards. Laying their cards on the table, she could hardly contain herself. Santa wearing human skin full of bees vs a Bigfoot Hotdog. Who would win, whose story would touch her the most? Bigfoot won, a loving tale of overcoming poverty. Doing a Frankenstein, transforming his lower half into a hot dog. Which she could nibble on all day. His Bigfoot mouth swallowing her whole, just the way she liked. Her second interest? Going to heaven as soon as possible. Confronted by a eye stabber shark, who loved nothing more than going ‘all the way’ and murdering on first dates. But would he win against God who was also a Grim Reaper? There was an obvious choice. God AKA Death, who already lived in heaven. The hours passed, a hot flush on all of their cheeks. Equal parts embarrassment, equal parts joy. Illuminating their senses, feeling alive.
Stockists: Amazon, Explosm
Luxury Books For Christmas
As the day light faded and wandered into winter, she smiled. Yes, she was a summer girl. But there was something so inviting about reading a book in colder months. Burrowing into her favourite leopard print blanket, a mug of ginger tea warming her hands. The sun weary, bidding the world adieu. The sunset painting the sky into night. The moon hanging heavy in the sky, a silver crescent. The cold air snuggling against the window, streaks of condensation. But no matter what time of year it was, her love for reading never went away. Historical fiction books about Anne Boleyn and Nerfertari, powerful changemakers of their time. Guilty pleasure romance reads, that always had a happy ending. Cookbooks that inspired her to cook from all over the world. History books about the evolution of life. Ghost stories, Young Adult Novels. Fantasies, mysteries, dystopian thrillers too. Books that became a portal to happiness, weaving magic in the tapestry of time. From sorrows depths, to pure happiness, the books guided her through it all. For when it came to an indulgent Christmas gift that would last decades, books were the obvious answer.
Weird Walk: Wanderings And Wonderings Through The British Ritual Year
There was something invigorating about winter walks in the rain. The gentle cadence of raindrops descending, a melody unending. She wondered what secrets the rainfall held. In each crystal bead, a world reflected. Reviving the earth with its hallowed kiss.For rainfall was like tears, that brought both joy and pain. Mirroring emotions, answering nature’s call. At times, she saw her own dejected dreams staring back at her. Desolation and despair drifting in the wind. But at others, she felt like her soul was being cleansed. Washing away the dust of troubled times, a symbol of home, of renewal that chimes.And so, she would let the raindrops fall, a fresh new start. Finding strength and grace in the eye of the storm.Slipping into the land of dreams. Like silk threads woven in the night, painting vivid hues in twilight’s soft light. Her soul would wander into the rain. Unencumbered and free. At last. She felt calm. There were walks like she knew like the palm of her hand, etched in memory. The walks that cleared her head, that made her think. But there were the unexpected walks too. The ones that felt like a hidden gem. Discovering them for the first time.
Weird Walk was no exception. An epic folkloric guide to rambling, re-enchanting the landscape and connecting with nature. She would walk the ancient landscape of Britain, engaging with traces of the deep past. Following the wheel of the year as it turns, finding a path that connected her to her shared folklore. To the seasons and to nature, setting a course towards optimism and brighter futures. In Winter, she would dance at the Chepstow Wassail, listening out for the sunken church bells of the lost medieval city of Dunwich. In Spring, she would watch the equinox sunrise light up the floating capstone of Pentre Ifan and connect with the Cailleach at the shrine of Tigh nam Bodach in the remote Highlands. Summer, the resonance of ancient raves and rituals, in the stone circles of Stanton Drew, Avebury and the Hurlers. And in Autumn her birthday month? She would bring in the harvest with the old gods at Coldrum Long Barrow, talking to ghosts at Blakeney point.
But for now, she was in winter. In search of Britain’s haunted Atlantis in Dunwich. She walked past the branches that reached out like skeletal arms. The air crisp, a chilling touch. But she was engergized. Dunwich Beach dense with shingles and pebbles. Searching for quartz, and sea-worn glass. Storms would bring ravaged trees to lurk like shadows beneath the cliffs. But for now, it was calm. Her ears pricked, hoping to catch a glimpse of the fabled sunken sea bells. But alas, she made do, with the gray waves that crashed onto the shore. Thinking of buildings that had long tumbled beneath the waves. Searching for ghosts, would she hear their cries? It seemed macrabre, almost spooky to think of Weird Walk as an ‘indulgent Christmas gift’ but in many ways it was. A guide that got her inspired by the great outdoors. Breathing in the stillness so hushed and calm, in a frozen wonderland. Walks that helped her escape from her reality, that helped her gain perspective. A walk that boosted her mental health, the light coming back into her eyes again. As the day faded into night, she watched the moonlit snowflakes creating a moment, a memory to be made. Closing her eyes. Letting the sensations wash over her. The book that was like therapy. Championing the beauty of nature, love and light.
Eltham Lodge: Where Perfection Meets Convenience
In another life, she was a Princess. Her eyes, like stars in the velvety night sky. Whose pupils held secrets whispered by moonlight’s soft sigh. But her heart? A fortress of courage, defying darkness, saying yes to light. She was a Princess, a Lady, a changemaker of her time. Who always defied societal conventions, and forged her own path in life. Her voice would be like melodies woven by a celestial choirs, her hands a healing touch. In the inside, she would be strong, powerful, self-assured. And on the outside? Richly clad wandering through Enlightenment, Regency, Victorian era right through to the 21st century. No matter what she wore, her spirit ablaze. In another life, she was a historian. With trembling hands and inquisitive eyes, soaking up knowledge hungrily. Wandering through the annals of the past. To resurrect words that time had hidden. Of lost narratives, and forgotten stories. Unravelling the strands, piecing together the past. From ancient Egypt, uncovering the greatest feminist icons, to Medieval Europe, right through to modern day, women in history were her kyrptonite. Her historian’s pen dancing with inked fervour, unveiling the riches from the depths of time. Though her eyes grew tired, and her hands weary, she would choose the path of a historian again, and again.
Eltham Lodge, by John H Bunney was a history lover’s paradise. The tale of Grade I listed Eltham Lodge, one of the finest surviving examples of restoration architecture. Home for nearly 100 years to The Royal Blackheath Golf Club. But until now, the story had been neglected. Gathering cobwebs, biding its time. The architect Hugh May who made this vision come to life. Turned to dust. But thanks to John H. Bunney, the lodge’s legacy had been brought back to life. Delving into archives and libraries to unearth details of the building’s ownders and occupants. Its architecturial history, and evolution of magneficient parkland setting. She might not be a golf enthusiast but even she could appreciate the meticolous research. Lavishly, and beautifully illustrated with original photographs. Thumbing historic paintings, and poring over archival maps. A visual record from 1663 to its current incarnation. The lives of the occupants, from the 1st Baronet, to the exiled Charles II, through to Kitty O’Shea. Personal stories set in the cultural and political context of the age. Changing fashions in architecture and the landscape. The book tracing how owners and tenants developed Eltham Lodge to keep pace with the times. The story of declining fortunes, and reversal of status. A fall from grace, a change of hands. As far as an indulgent Chrismas gift went, Eltham Lodge was the creme de le creme.
Price: £20.29 (on Amazon UK)
Elegant Skincare & Cosmetics
Gentle fingertips traced the rivets of mascara’s jagged tracks on olive skin. Remenants of eyeshadow smearing, a rawness unfurling. Skin tinged with pinkish red, acne scars imprinted. The texture coarse, not smooth, not picture perfect. But there was something liberating about a bare face. Washing away the makeup that cloaked her face, watching colours swirl into the sink. Her face a blank canvas, staring back at her. The dark eyebrows freshly threaded. The brownish pink lips, revealing imperfect crooked teeth. The dark, curly hair that seemed electrocuted with frizz. The small-set dark eyes peering out of tanned skin. And yet, there was beauty in imperfection. She didn’t hide away from her scars or choose to hide her spots. She found self-love from within. In the gentle cleansing of her face, watching the makeup dissipitate. In the washing of her hair, de-tangling knots. But despite what she said, there was something she loved about ‘painting her face’. With or without makeup, she accepted herself exactly as she was. But she couldn’t deny the heady excitment that filled her with glee. Painting her nails in rich winter tones. The sumptous blend of silver eyeshadow on creased hooded lids. Soft brushes swirling pink blush, with a dash of highlighter. When it came to an indulgent Christmas gift, skincare and cosmetics were a favourite.
Earthy Nail Polish
Ever since she was a little girl, she fell in love with liquid magic. Nail polish with delicate strokes of a painters brush. An art of adornment, endless delight. In hues of dreams, the prism of self-expression. From scarlet red, to deep forest green. A kaleidoscope of colours waiting to be found. With every stroke, a story unfolding. A canvas for emotions both bold and shy. There were the ethereal shades of midnight blue like an engima waiting to be unlocked. The shimmery shades, and the matte. The glow in the dark, and nail art in abundance. Colours dancing across each nail, a captivating tale. A touch of grace, of passion of fire. Vibrant, colourful, quirky, just like her. Bare nails smoothed over with gloss. A base coat, then a second. A masterpiece with hues that twirled so grandly. Winter, least of all the Christmas season was no exception. Saphhire blues, and burgundy reds. Emerald greens, and deep chesnut browns. Silvers, and golds, and all the inbetweens. Her nails a centrepiece, a feel good mastery.
Earthy Nail Polish spoke to her obsession. With cruelty-free, vegan and sustainably sourced nail polish and treatments that turned heads. Wonderfall Collection, a treasure. Coziness in a bottle. A warm hug in a hue. Was such a thing possible? Bordeaux, a deep wine red shade. Imagining painting her nails, a glass of red waiting. Deep cherry and raspberry notes, with a hint of spice. Oozing scarlet liquid, tipped back into her waiting throat. Celestial Blue, like the dark blue skies of winter. Imagining the clouds illuminated by the ethereal silver moon. The navy-dark blue swirling, she could almost touch it. Forever Green, like the pine trees that towered on a cold winter’s day. Deep green, verdant, memorable. And who could forget Cocoa Bean? Not her usual shade, something different. A neutral with a hint of richness that she loved imediately. Thinking of melting hot chocolate, with bobbing vegan marshmallows. Made from natural ingredients like Cassava, Sugar Cane and Corn her nails felt winter-ready. With added Calcium and Magnesium to improve the condition of her nails with continued use.
On the days where her nails were bare, she would pamper her hands. Earthy Nail Treatments Collection, an indulgent Christmas gift. 99% natural origin and 21 free. With a sustainable bamboo cap, and brush or pipette. A vegan, eco-friendly nail collection that would give her nails the TLC it had dreamed of. Green SOS in a transperent bottle. Enriched with chesnut extract, vitamins B5 and C. Supporting the repair of damaged nails. This was her go-to. After trying gel nails for the first time, her nails suffering. A dab of SOS, and Berry Oil. Made with Vitamin F, locking in moisture. Hydrating rough nails and cuticles. The Cuticle Oil another Godsend. Rich in Vitamin E and C. Softening the cuticles, nourishing nails that had seen better days. The last but not least? The Strengthener Treatment, enriched in Vitamin E and bamboo extract. Helping to harden soft cracking or thin nails. It was self-care at its finest, during a season that was hard on her nails. Locking in moisture, nourishing and strengthening nails. Intensive repair when it needed it the most.
WonderFall Collection £24.95
Nail Treatments £26.97
Her skin felt like parched paper. Dry, flaky, tight. Her cheeks rosy, mottled with rosecea. Acne scars like constellations, pock marks barely visible. Her fingertips traced the countours of her face. Gentle whispers guiding, the face a vessel. The story of growing up etched in her skin. A scar on her forehead from where she fell off a balcony aged 18. Acne scars of spots popped and picked at. Uneven texture, and hyperpigmentation. Combination skin. Oily, sensitive, dry at times. Craving moisture, begging for smoothness. But she embraced her imperfect skin just the way it was. The face reborn, like stars in sync. A new chapter unveiled, pristine and bright. She looked at her reflection in the mirror, saw the face staring before her. Newly cleansed, discovering the irregular beauty of her own face. Marvelling at the skin that had been with her for thirty years. Christmas, New Year. Spring, Summer, Autumn.
Discovering the PMD Clean felt like a gamechanger. Pastel pink, the colour of candyfloss, framed with gold. With SonicGlow™ Technology to deeply cleanse, firm, and tone the skin. She felt the vibrations race circles around her face. Breaking down oil and dirt at 7,000 vibrations per minute. Lifting, firming and toning the skin. Bristles that massaged her skin, leaving it soft and supple. She splashed her face with warm water, feeling the droplets cascade down her cheeks. Her cheeks staining red, like crayon circles. Marring the olive that peeked beneath. Slathering the device with her favourite cleanser, putting it on mode one. Moving the brush head in circular motions, cleansing the entire face. With tender hands, like gentle rain. A ritual beginning, a timeless refrain. Caressing her skin, the days burdens going away. Rivulets of water splashing onto the floor. Rinsing her face once more. Patting her face dry, moisturizer next. Activating mode three to massage in her favourite. Her skin smoother than ever. Though she had just started using it, the effects were visible. Less prone to breakouts, even when she was anxious. Reducing the appearence of pores. But best of all? Fighting that winter itch. Her skin moisturized, not flaky at long last.
She glanced at her palette of rainbow hues. Sparkly cobalt blues glistening with glitter. Burnt orange-reds like the colour of bricks. Forest greens, and eyeshadow creme. Golden yellows like the yawning of the morning summer sun. Painting a sunset on her eyes. Red on hooded lids, fading into golden shimmer. Sweeps of mascara lengthening short lashes. Each stroke a flutter, a delicate dance. The foundation a canvas, illuminating tired skin. Erasing shadows like worries crushed. Her gappy eyebrows, filled in with shades of dark brown. A stroke of crimson on her lips, like passion’s flame in darkness it ignites. Matte, not glossy. A creamy confection. Blush swirled in circles around her cheeks. Rosy, verging on dusky. Like blooming flowers kissed by dawn. Tapping golden highlight on her cheekbones, a shining paradise. Shimmering like a glitter ball, catching the festive season light. For makeup made her feel-good. A superhero whose cosmetic symphony made her feel alive. Enchanted by the products magic, still the same girl in the mirror. With or without makeup, her spirit still shone. But makeup’s power was like poetry’s verse. Revelling in art’s sweet embrace.
In the festive season, wearing makeup enveloped her in joy. Gravitating towards winter hues, decked in irridescent glitter. A disco Mermaid/ Unicorn come to life. After all, wearing makeup to A was like a me-time ritual. An act of self-love where she was kinder to herself. Treating her face with compassion as she put each layer on. Careful not to erase the girl beneath. Emolyne Cosmetics, shared the same values. A personalized makeup brand, that was vegan, diverse, inclusive, and always kind. No skin tone exclude. All undertones celebrated. Each shade named after an African country, city or landmark. In homage to Emolyne’s birthplace. Celebrating the colour and excitement of her roots, a journey of self-discovery. A paused and delved into her parcel. Unravelling the Lip Kit in Port Elizabeth Candy Red. The colour of crimson roses, and Red Lady Apples. Iconic London postboxes and chillis too. She thumbed the Velvet Lip. Weightless, creamy, intense colour and full coverage in one sweep. The Defining Lip next, bigger, bolder, better. For ultimate definition and sculpting, her lips appearing fuller. But the ultimate lip product? The Gloss Lip. Infused with Vitamin E, nourishing her chapped lips. A silky finish, her lips catching the overhead light.
Though she was known for her bright lips, her eyeshadows were her signature. High Atlas-Silver Mirror, a creme eyeshadow. Envisioning the festive looks that would make her glow inside and out. Creamy, swathed on her fingertip. Shimmering, glistening, brightening her eyes with a multidimensional finish. She glanced at the silver, impressed by its pigmented sparkle. A hue inspired by the highest point of the Atlas mountains. Rising out of the Atlantic Ocean, across central Morocco. Its saw toothed Jurassic peaks dividing the Mediterrenean from the Sahara. She would frame it with Lashline Lacquer in Bobende Black. Cautious, not having worn eyeliner for a while. But it was smudge-proof and fast drying. Inspired by the coastal city of Limbe, famed for beautiful black beaches. A scenic stretch along the suburb of Bobende. Where a crescent of dramatic volcanic sand was surrounded by palm trees. Caressed by the Atlantic Ocean. Though it was an indulgent Christmas gift, she couldn’t help but smile at the thought of summer. Where warmth whispered in the season of golden rays. Sweeping through verdant meadows, the flowers dancing in the breeze.
Lip Kit £41
Eyeshade CRÈME £24
Lashline Lacquer £19
She sank her feet onto the tiled floor, wedged between train passengers. Blue and red seats, not a spare to be seen. Passengers holding onto the railings, the train chugging along. It spluttered to a spot, she opened her weary eyes. Underground in inky black tunnels, the chatter around her like white noise. She was subdued, her mouth cascading into an exaggerated yawn. The familuar stench of anxiety biting into her flesh. Teeth marks invisible like imprints on her heart. Each stop, more people getting on. Casting shadows on a metal serpent that snaked through hidden realms. No dim-lit cars here, or honking buses. But the same whisper of commuters that permeated the area. Yet, there were moments that were suspended in an eternal dance. The engine that hummed, as the minutes ticked by. Forgotten faces walking past her, like rough crayon sketches. On some journeys, she would sit in silence. The rumbling darkness, a meditative whirl. On others she would read, hands lingering over words of sorrow and joy. Echoes of laughter bouncing off the page. But on many, she would do her makeup. Scrambling for brushes. Eyeshadows falling on the floor. Whispering muttered sorrys, sending furtive glances. A familiuar flush of red staining her cheeks.
Doing her makeup on the go was never easy. On a train which was equal parts chaos, and silent meditation. Yet, her Love Vicci 3 in 1 Multi Makeup Brush was a godsend. A compact vegan and cruelty-free makeup brush sandwiched in a pink pouch. Ideal for a night out or on her travels, she was discovering something new. Made from high quality synthetic hair, a brush that was made to last. But what secrets lay inside? The Foundation/ Concealer Sponge was up first, splattering true beige foundation on her wettened sponge. The sponge swelled with the sweet nectar of water, dabs on her textured skin. Redness transformed, a new glow awaiting. Like an alchemical veil it adorned her face. Colours blending like a seamless stream. She looked into her pocket mirror. The warm light of the underground train flattering.
Eyebrows next, gappy brows tinged with dark brown. Filled in with the Eyebrow/ Eyeliner Brush, smiling at what she saw. Brows now darker, no gaps to be seen. A subtle arch, naturally threaded. Her guardians of expression, a tapestry of emotions. That had the ability to furrow in worry, or raise in excitement. But perhaps her favourite was the Dome Powder Brush. Painting rose-gold whispers upon her cheek. Playing melodies of longing, love and suprise. A blush mixed up with a gold highlighter, an ice Queen thawing. For her all-in-one makeup brush was an indulgent Christmas gift on the go. A faithful companion, a subtle messenger. Even in the teeniest of bags awaiting its journey. She smiled bemused. Yet again another passenger who enquired after her brush. A fleeting whisper, a shy smile, as she told them where she got it from. The widening eyes, and the sparkle of surprise. Long-after she left the train journey, the memory staying with her. Wrapped in a bow of rosy warmth, despite the icy chill that bit at her fingers.
Duck & Dry
She stifled a yawn, her eyes rimmed red with exhaustion. Her hair in a tangled bun, trendrils escaping down her face. Slipping off her socks, and wrangling her toes free. Stripping down the clothes, letting everything wobble free. Stepping into the bath, breathe in, breathe out. Seeking respite and rest, in a sanctuary she called her own. Waiting for the embrace of water’s energizing touch. Her once monotonous limbs coaxed into motivation. But for now, she was sluggish. The ghost of depression lingering in her personal scent. Anxiety wrenching her heart out of its chest. The yawn of tiredness enveloping her bones, her body too gone to fight back. And yet, the shower sang its cleansing melody. Beneath the cascading stream, she felt life course through her veins. The droplets splashing down her body, a giggle bursting to escape. The steam clouded her mind, and her vision went hazy. Yet, every drop, a burden gently lifted. Away from the panicked chaos of Christmas. Drowning out the noise of anxious shoppers that she could hear downstairs. Instead focusing on the small things. The water dancing, swirling down the drain. Body wash lathered on smooth skin, soap pooling between her toes. But the best feeling of all? That it was time for herself. A holistic self-care ritual, embracing self-love, compassion, and kindness.
Her tangled hair lay in clumps down her back. Tangled waves fighting to break out. Frizzy, voluminous hair that needed no introduction. Hair that needed TLC, that craved its own space. She would caress Duck & Dry‘s Full Feathers Nourishing Shampoo into her roots. Hair dried out by the ravages of winters tempestous winds. A once cold scalp warmed in a watery dance of heat. The steam swathed the bathroom, as she closed her eyes. Enjoying the sensation. With a splash, she felt the hydration hit. A reparative formula that added moisture, and fought frizz. Free from harsh chemicals, a cleanse like no other. The grease begone, but her natural oils sheltered. Aloe Vera serenading Coconut, a blend of essential oils, that would leave her hair smooth. The Full Feathers Nourishing Conditioner just as memorable. A helping hand, coating each strand. She thumbed through the curls, wiggling apart the knots gently. Watching the hair snake down her back, enirched with shea butter. Her hair softer, shinier and stronger from the first use. The after care was just as important. The Hair Primer in a pastel pink bottle. An all-in-one to protect against heat styling, while detangling your hair. She used it as a frizz serum, smoothing down the flyaways. Lightweight, easy to use. Making styling sessions a breeze.
Feel Good Lifestyle & Home
In the darkness of winter, she yearned to be inside. Surrounded by the warming flicker of candles that purred. Holding her hand up to the yellowing hues. Watching the cats dance with shadows that bounced off the walls. The tiredness that cloaked her, lulled her into a silent stupor. Half-focused, slipping ice cold feet into Christmas bedding. Burrowing into her partner for warmth. Skin to skin contact. Eyes slipping into the land of nod, a mask blocking out light. The last thing she remembered, was the comforting scent of home. The smell of lavender spritzed onto her pillow, wafting under her nostrils. The personal scent of ‘HIM’, that felt safe, loving, and kind. And the warm furrowing of tiny feet wrapped in hers. The smell of a young tabby cat, that cuddled her into dusk. The mewling of the three cats as morning broke, trying to drown out the sound. For an indulgent Christmas gift was about three things. Contentment, warmth, and wellbeing. Gifts that made silences enjoyable. That allowed her to revel in the calm of stillness. Breaking away from the chaos of Christmas season. Meditating in the present.
She paused, letting the world around her fade. Indulging in a self-care routine, watching worries ebb away. In self-love’s refuge she paid homage to kindness. Affording herself the joy, care, and sweet solace that her body and mind craved. The husk of the early morning sun streamed into the room. Her face bathed in a half light, teetering on golden hues. She lay still in the moment, letting the compassion wash over her. Being kind to herself didn’t come easy, but over time she embraced the need. Unravelling knots that were woven in life’s hurried race. Slowing down, taking stock. Letting memories flood into her mind both good and bad. Tending to her needs like a garden whose roots were unseen. In the silence, she would meditate. Letting her mind embrace her in a cautious hug. Feeling her defences wear down. Her shoulders relax. The tension that she knew so well, melting into a puddle of calm. She would do what made her happy. A cup of herbal tea, steam cascading. Sipping, while reading a book that transported. Writing short stories and poems, swept into its magical world. Hours spent curating outfits that were dopamine hues. And who could forget her cats, mental health warriors. Burrowing into her warm stomach, purrs reverberating.
She sat cross-legged on the sofa. Her hair fanned down her back. Despite the infectious energy of Christmas, she sat in silence. A green box in her hand, enveloped in treats. For GAIA Skincare‘s Home Set was the perfect indulgent Christmas gift. Balancing blends, that would radiate positive energy into her home. She reached in, and pulled out the simple Calming Candle. Creamy white wax, nestled in a transparent jar. A wooden lid on top. Cinnamon oil dancing with coconut wax. Marjoram Oil meditating with Vanillin Oil. Rest-inducing aromotherapy blends, to soothe and relax. She closed her eyes, let the silence seep in. Unwinding, the calm before the storm, her hands on her lap. In search of tranquility and harmony, that would make her smile with glee. But it was the Awakening Room Spray that she gravitated towards the most. Lemongrass uplifting, peppermint invigorating, rosemary comforting. Shaking the bottle, spritzing in all her favourite places. The scent that felt like home. The Awakening Diffuser just as magical, a burst of energy. She held the grey-green container in her hand. The handmade wicks cascading like an artistic centrepiece. But the smell? It felt like Christmas, geranium with citric and fruity accents. Petitgrain sweet, yet woody and fresh. Lemongrass light, with a hint of lemon. Finally, the countdown to Christmas was here.
PRICE: £55 for the gift set (worth £80)
It was the little things that made D smile. A leftover chocolate chip cookie begging to be eaten. An invitation to savour, with eager fingertips. Laying on the sofa in his favourite pair of boxers, wrapped in a leopard print blanket. Ice cold feet curled under blue and red tartan throws. The cats nearby dozing, one eye opening. Their mouths stretched out with langorous yawns. He would sit, controller in his hand. Playing Fall Guys on the XBox. Laughter escaping his lips, the elixir of light. A chorus of jubilation, setting his spirit free. His love A would come in running in with promises of cuddles. Taking off the tracksuit that she warmed on the radiator, placing it on the sofa bed. It was something small that made him feel good, a healing balm, a sweet gift. He would turn the shower on, feeling the steam envelop the room in love. Letting the water tumble down his body. His thoughts ran to Christmas. Imagining the roast dinner of dreams. Pigs and blankets, snaking around crumbly roast potatoes. Peppered with sea salt and rosemary. Thick Yorkshire puddings homemade. Leftovers that he would squash down into wraps, sprinkled with cheese. Warm fluffy socks lined with snowy clouds. Slipped into his favourite trainers. But his favourite indulgent Christmas gift? Sitting in his boxers eating a chocolate Yule Log. Its surface smooth as freshly fallen snow. With a rich cocoa hue that seemed to glow. Enveloped in a velvety embrace, he closed his eyes with glee.
A knock at the door startled his reverie. A slimline envelope from Fleet London, a special surprise inside. He unwrapped it, a gasp escaping his lips like bubbles. Red Cotton Boxer Shorts nicer than the ones he owned. The perfect shade of scarlet red, a splash of colour to his minimalist neutral wardrobe. Where A was the queen of dopamine brights, he leaned towards neutrals. Blacks, grays and whites. And yet, the red was eye-catching, made from sustainably sourced, high-quality cotton that washed well, and wore well. Responsibly sourced in accordance with the Better Cotton Initiative. A slimmer, sharper cut with the comfort and freedom of the boxer over the brief. Designed in Soho, made in Portugal. With a less baggy but comfortable design. A double button waistand, for everyday luxury that was made to last. He lay on the bed, a book in hand, thumbing through recipes. Inspiration buzzing through his brain. A’s Frida Kahlo mug in the other hand, a herbal ginger and lemon tea. He sipped slowly, the steam wafting. On Christmas inspired bedding that felt like cotton daydreams. The radiator gurgled and spluttered in the background. Warmth pooling into the room. At last, he felt content.
A black cat with emerald green eyes preened on the bed. His paws stretched out in a gentle yawn. His playmate a tabby feline, in languid elegance. The cats reclining, enveloped in a hug. The older black cat lolled his tongue across her back. Her eyes closing in pleasure. Two best friends furrowing in the cold of winter, A smiling on with pride. The third cat waiting downstairs mewling for food. A ginger, white and black tortoiseshell that could pass for a fox. She put treats in front of her, watched her gobble them up with glee. Her tail wafting like a puffy cloud. She took came upstairs, sitting under the bed. Her eyes drifting shut. A came and joined the other two cats. Her hands reddened with the cold. Slipping fluffy socks on her ice cold feet, a blanket wrapping her in love. Watching her cats like silken shadows, their bodies curled in a ball. Bemused, she heard the snore of the cats, a lullaby, she drifted off too. Into a cerebreal reverie where their paws softly danced upon the sheets. A symphony of purrs, a sweetness in the darkness. Where dreams and cats on beds became as one. She dreamt of Christmas too. Tangled up in sheets with her partner. Cats dozing at her feet, finding solace, comfort and love intertwined. The scent of gingerbread permeating the air.
Her eyes grew heavy, the scent of pine drifting into the bedroom. Incense wafting, relaxing her senses. A sigh of relief reverberated. For someone who found it hard to relax, she was surprisingly calm. Relishing the stillness. Noises around her fading into nothingness. She had a new indulgent Christmas gift to thank for that. Terrys Fabrics Christmas Foraging Fox Bedding Set in festive red. A reversible duvet with yuletide foxes, prancing on cotton. Sumptously soft brushed, to provide extra comfort as the nights got colder. Her head sunk into a matching pillow, curled to the side. Smiling as the radiator burbled, casting its warm embrace. The smell of vegan burgers wafted up the stairs, her nose sniffing in ecstacy. Blue cheese mingling with toasted garlic. Lemon in a salad, engorged with olive oil. She cast her attention back to the bedding, the pillow a fun touch. A holiday fox snugly dressed for the wintry air. Soft, fluffy fleece fabric in a piped cushion that brought so much joy. For Christmas at home was a gift in itself. Basking in the coziness of love’s eternal light.
Christmas Foraging Fox Bedding Set Red £18.60 (Double)
Christmas Foraging Fox Cushion Multi £7.66
Safe Haven For Donkeys
She would never stop being mesmerized by the beauty of animals. The elephant whose gentle soul was so wise. With wrinkled skin, a map of memories. Her eyes, deep pools of ancient wisdom, hidden secrets. The parrot with feathers painted bright. In every note, she would feel the universe unfurl. Whales who would sing, their echoes joining in nature’s own. Their haunting song, a lullaby to sleep, a reminder of the vastness that we couldn’t keep. Cats, her favourite animal. A creature of paradox, both fierce and tender. From playful pounces to soothing purrs, affection that knew no bounds. Curling in laps seeking warmth and solace. A quiet bond formed. Dogs, so playful yet loyal. Pure hearts, a balm to the weariest of souls. And who could forget the donkeys? Treading through dusty trails and rugged terrains. Steadfast spirit, determined, uncomplaining. A symbol of resilience and tireless toil. Gentle brays a language new, a melody that echoed across rolling hills. As she was bathed in rare winter sun, she smiled. Hearing the calls of her animal friends near and far. Revelling in their tranquil magic that washed over her sweetly.
Was it any wonder that Safe Haven For Donkeys stole her heart? A UK charity that provided veterinary care for the thousands of working donkeys and mules. A virtual gift in the form of vouchers, for just £3 a month or £36 a year. Giving the donkeys the love and care that they needed. It broke A’s heart knowing how much the donkeys were put through. Creatures who since the dawn of time had served humans faithfully with little thanks. Wasn’t it time that they gave something back? She would imagine them receiving the medical care that they so desperately needed, tears running down her face. Recovering from the terrible conditions and lack of care that they had grown used to. Visualizing them being nursed to health, tenderly cared for. Smiles lighting up their faces, living a happier life at the sanctuary. Baby donkeys, the in between ages and the older retirees. Donkeys that deserved the world, that longed for a happier home. She couldn’t think of a better indulgent Christmas gift for animal lovers than this. An adoption pack unveiling adorable cuteness. A photo of the chosen donkey, with a certificate and record card. A small cuddly donkey toy, and updates on your adopted donkey. And who could say no to an ‘I’ve Adopted a Donkey’ window sticker?
There were a range of virtual gift ideas that would help the donkey’s have a happier Christmas. Milk for a baby (£8), watching them latch onto a bottle. Gaining weight, and growing into a healthy, strong adult. Care for a donkey (£10), who had suffered wounds. Funding soothing iodine, zinc ointment and other treatments. What about the donkeys who needed a bed for the night? At £15, helping tired and undernourished donkey’s have a safe haven to call their own. Perhaps the Dinner for a Donkey (£20) would touch her heartstrings. Chomping on fresh hay, their tails swishing with happiness. Full of roughage, nutrition, and energy. A gift that would feed a donkey for a week. Last but not least? The gift for the donkeys who were working. As much as she wanted them to run free in the sanctuaries, she knew for many it was the life they were used to. Help with harnessing at £50 to pay for two new harnesses to be made and fitted, preventing horrific wounds. A feel good gift that would put a smile on everyone’s faces. With eyes that told a lifetime of stories.
She was trapped in the confines of her restless mind. Where anxious whispers breathed their poison deep. Her nerves knotted like tangled webs. She heard the shadows in her mind before she saw them. The overlapping thoughts. The neverending what ifs. Like macrabre demons feeding on her insecurities. Licking their lips with relish. In sleepless nights her mind would go stir-crazy. Racing breaths, swallowing of air. Gasping for survival, fighting against the shadows. A tidal wave of unease, an endless duel. She felt anxiety’s grip tightening around her chest. And yet, she felt the light. The hope that the darkness would be over soon. That she would slip seamlessly into sleep, away from the weight of uncertaintity. She would embrace the tides, let them ebb and flow. Let the sadness wash over her. Replace it with joy. Let frustrations course over her. Anger reverberating in her soul. Then came the light. Sepia-soaked tones of retro yellow, that flooded her in optimism. The eyes that smiled. The mouth that closed. Slowly, she felt the calm after the storm. Emerging from the shadows stronger than ever before.
The night melted into day, but it was blue eerie light. Like it was bathed in moonshine, winter’s own paradise. She was safe here from the clutches of anxiety’s claws. Yet it lingered seeking out her vunerability. Still, even as the darkness came, and the familuar fear plunged her into chaos, she had hope. For she had a new self-care tool; Earths Secret Sleep Mask. Designed to make her dream. 100% blackout design for a deeper sleep. The C-shaped eye cups caressed her eyes sweetly. Soft, breathable, as she dissolved into serenity. Unlike the flimsy flurid red mask she had before, there was no eye pressure. Resilient materials that gently moulded to her face, a lifesaver for her sleep. She spent so many nights in the agony of insomnia, that this was a godsend. Waking up with panic attacks, her tabby cat kissing her face in support. Waiting for her breathing to go back to normal. She was never someone who felt 100% relaxed. But when the edges faded into her normal, the eye mask returned. As the velvet folds of night creeped into her consciousness. In twilight’s realm, the witching hour upon her. A gentle sigh, as the limbs began drooping. Where reality surrendered and ethereal domains took over. For in this ethereal cocoon, she found solace. In the between of Christmas, where troubles dissolved and sorrows depleted. Wandering onto enchanted shores. The weight of existience momentarily abated.
Luxury Fashion & Accessories
Some days, she would spend hours playing dress up, like she was a little girl again. Though some would say that they would go back to a time where ‘life was easy’, A knew that her childhood was different. Abused, bullied and vilified, treated with contempt. Dressed in clothes that choked her, that shut away who she really was. She played dress up because it reminded her of the joy she had missed out on when she was younger. The simplicity of clothes strewn across the floor. Finding something to wear. Finding colour, discovering texture. Layering, accessorizing, knowing what she liked. Truth was, she didn’t find her style until she was 14. When she began making her own money, buying her own clothes. Over the years she would experiment. Different decades, different trends. Skirts as tops, trousers modelled into shorts. Hairbands as wrist ties. DIY necklaces. But no matter what she wore, or who she was, there was always one constant. The discovery of accessories, her shining glory. It began with a single hat. The trilby, her friend gifted her. Then the small filgree headbands lined with faux gemstones. Before she knew it there were bags, in a rainbow of colours. Novelty purses and clutches. Shoes too. Heels, svelte boots. And lately? Trainers, in a rainbow of hues. The iconic headpieces. The flower crowns and the dopamine berets. For she could think of no better way to close out her indulgent Christmas gift guide than a mini fashion recap. Pieces that made her fall in love. That made her feel again.
If A could distill herself into a fashion era, she would teeter between the sixties and seventies. The 60’s that gave birth to a style so bold. Hemlines rising higher, liberating the legs. Mary Quant’s mini skirt, and a-line dresses. Chunky jewellery and oversized sunglasses. Tie-dye explosions bursting in psychedelic array, kaleidoscopic patterns. A statement of rebellion, the space age influence too. Suit dresses First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy style. Boxy, Givenchy inspired, white pearls and a matching hat. Gloves too. The mid-sixties and the mini dresses. New materials, PVC, and acrylics. Mid length calf boots and Mary Janes. The late 60’s fading into the seventies. Flowing maxi skirts, and bell bottom wide flares. The Polyester decade, fashion for all. Patchwork and crochet, the materials of the early 70’s hippies. Quilting, felting and hand painted fabrics too. Reclaimed from craft fairs for the fashion world. Satin, sequins and velvets that ruled the dancefloor. Platforms that were sky high, tumbling over. Baggy trouser suits and wrap dresses. Hues that were earth led. Mustard Harvest Gold and Terracotta Browns. Deep violet purples and burnt oranges. Retro delight, wrapped in two memorable fashion decades.
She would look at her fashion over the years, and see the influences. The fishnet tights and the mini skirts. The patterned flares, and the wide brimmed hats. But there was no greater influence than the colours she wore. Sure, the rainbow brights took prominience. The cobalt blues, and the tangerine oranges. The pillarbox reds, and the pastel pinks. But she loved the 70’s colour palette, autumn and winter their time to shine. Was it any wonder that her Emily Bag Mustard from Totes Luxe was her new favourite retro accessory? A vegan dumpling shaped vintage bag with an eye catching strong top handle. Made from faux leather, an ethical and luxury bag that made her feel good. Though there were other colours, there was something mesmerizing about the yellow. Muted sunshine, like winter’s light. Calming, soothing, the colour of pure delight. When she closed her eyes she saw lemon tarts glazed with icing sugar. Imprints of daffidols that would come in the spring. The colour of laughter, and sunny skies. The fading of autumn leaves. Red yellowing into brown. Even now when the trees reached out with skeleton arms, she still saw yellow. Her bag on her hip, cat eye sunglasses in sunflower yellow. Her face bare, makeup free, soaking up the winter skies.
She looked down at herself. Ochre yellow linen trousers that she thrifted in a charity shop. A slight flare, cobalt blue heeled boots peeking underneath. A a-line electric blue textured mid-length coat. A acid yellow scarf wrapped round her neck. An orange and yellow faded slogan shirt tucked roughly into trousers. A hodge-podge of genres, of eras, of fashion sensibilities. The crowning touch? The teal blue beret, perched askance over wind-swept hair. She smiled, the bag a leading force. In her favourite colour combination of the moment, appreciatives glances. The bus passengers who had complimented her on her outfit. The little kid that said she was wearing their favourite colours. The friends that made her feel good. Just as good as the bag did to her. A superhero in a small package. A vegan luxury that meant so much more. Until she unravelled all the layers and slipped into pyjamas. Her bag nestled in its favourite resting place. The library of all things bright and colourful. A shelf in her wardrobe. Sandwiched between a ‘Sunny D’ novelty bag and a Snow White purse.
A remembered a time in her life where she played with neutrals. A chesnut brown duster, and a black wide brimmed hat. A navy striped shirt tucked into a beige vegan suede skirt. Knee high black socks, and creamy brown brogues. A burgundy clutch, and a swipe of dark purple on her lips. Wandering around a funfair at Christmas, the cold biting. She would wear more black and browns here. Just starting to play with fashion. A black and white shirt tucked into a faux leather pinafore. A vampy dark black purple lip and smokey eyeshadow. The trusty knee high boots and black brogues combo, her style of 2015/2016. What a contrast to now. A self-professed dopamine lover. The brighter the better. Acid brights, and warm tones. No neutrals in sight. Floral green dresses and sunflower yellow kitten heels. A green and pink bow gingham dress, and pink mules. But her signature? A red floral maxi dress, with her iconic red rose flower crown. Red tassel earrings draping out of her ears. Red wrapover stiletto heels, her Snow White small clutch in hand. No neutrals in sight. That was until now. The indulgent Christmas gift that changed up her style. The trainers so different to anything else she owned.
She blew off the cobwebs off her chesnut brown duster, gently parcelled it on the bed. An orange fedora trimmed with brown that lay dormant for years. For her new Blowfish Malibu LEO Earth trainers were here. Vegan, eco-friendly, so different to anything else she owned. Made from innovative BLOOM pellets crafted from algae, in a chunky sole trainer. The Dad trainer trend that she embraced as her own. A multi panelled platform lug sole for improved traction and wear. Perforated details and a back pull tab for easy on and off. Textured functioning laces for extra support. But her favourite part? The colour, so different to her norm. Charcoal grays melding into mahogany browns. Chocolate browns and the colour of pavements mottled with rain. Pristine whites and taupe beiges. The shoes that she could do her Christmas shopping in. Orange wide legged trousers and a tart orange cardigan. Matching socks peeking through. She wandered, her arms full with shopping. Mesmerized by the twinkle of the festive lights. Tiny orbs of dreams, strung with care. Weaving through the night, a celestial affair. Even in the darkness, her trainers still shone. Guiding her through winter’s icy night. Her feet cushioned even after hours of running around. She sat on the underground, sandwiched once again. Her red lipstick frayed, bleeding out into skin. Her mascara smudged, dark circles under her eyes. And yet, her trainers were still alive, even when parts of her werent. Gleaming, like they were fresh out of a box. Embracing her weary feet, a sanctuary complete. Until at last, she tumbled into her home. Slipping under the covers, disappearing into the folds of night.
Price: £45 on Amazon
What Luxury Christmas Gift Ideas Appeal To You The Most?
Please note this is a collaborative post but all thoughts are my own and are not affected by gifted products. I would love to know what your idea of an indulgent Christmas gift is. To me, it is something that is comforting, feel-good, and uplifting. Gifts that touch on memories I once had. Ideas that are meaningful, sentimental and joyful.