Some of you are still crying “too soon!” but there’s little you can do about it now: there are only six shopping weekends until Christmas – the annual festive juggernaut is gathering pace, and I’m still excited. My Christmas season stepped up a gear this week as I attended the Spirit of Christmas fair for the third time. The event is a pretty insane experience, and I find it fascinating both as an attendee and a former-event manager: the show’s website boasts that attendees have an average household income of £120,000 per year (clearly, they don’t ask me mine, because I’d bring that average down by six figures!), with 71% of their 90,000-strong database coming from the wealthiest ACORN segments in the country (again, I suspect I’ve not been polled). An easier way to put this into real terms is that I’ve never seen so much Mulberry in one place outside one of the brand’s stores, nor – and this coming from an avid horse rider – have I seen so much tweed worn in a non-ironic way. If you had a Spirit of Christmas bingo card with “pearl necklace”, “Mulberry handbag”, “driving shoes”, “tweed twinset” and “Dubarry boots” on it, you’d be a winner in no time.
Although what I present here is a slightly comic version of events, it has become an event I enjoy immensely. I’m a magpie – I love all things sparkly, so this is a fantastic experience for me. The show seems to gain in popularity year on year, meaning it has become more crowded, but it’s still fun. I managed to win tickets again this year, thanks to Wue – a jeweller I purchased from last year – running a competition.
As I had previously, I enjoyed wandering around in a state of glitter-induced ecstasy, admiring the beautiful items for sale and gaining lots of inspiration. I paused for a particularly long time at the Stevenson Brothers stand – in a prime location on the centre aisle – to stroke the stunning rocking horses they make and whisper, “One day” to myself. I also have a serious lust for the gorgeous lanterns offered by Culinary Concepts, and am currently busy displaying them on the porch of my fantasy home.
This year, my purchases were limited to a dress, some Christmas gifts (the details will have to remain a secret!) and some lovely cheese. I felt that the food and drink section was smaller this year than it has been previously, but I still managed to sample some great products – a new Canadian apple wine and marmalade vodka being my favourites.
My top tips if you go: if you want to pay via cash, take lots with you – there’s one major cash machine outside the venue and consequently there’s always a queue for it. Of course, there are ATMs inside, but they charge fees. Many delegates take wheeled shopping trolleys – I prefer cotton shopper bags and take my own. Finally, figure out a route for yourself. The fair can seem like a glittery maze and it’s easy to get distracted. Go up and down the rows – you will get back to that attractive stand you walked last as long as you are patient!
My Christmas season has officially been kicked off by my trip: mince pie, tick; Christmas bento box courtesy of Mosimann’s, check. Bring on the big day!