If the thought of surviving a whole week of festivities and family time has you just about ready to fall face-first into a cheeseboard and not reemerge until the coast is clear on December 2, do not fret. You simply need a game plan—a holiday survival guide, if you will—to see you safely through the festivities without even a whiff of a tinsel-based meltdown. And the good news is, we’ve got you covered on that front.
We have called upon the cheeriest (not to mention funniest, chicest and coolest) pair we know—Jules Von Hep and Sarah Powell—to share with us their expert tips for navigating the holiday season. If you've heard their podcast (the aptly named Jules and Sarah The Podcast) you’ll know the hilarity that’s in store, and if you haven’t, read this and download a backlog of episodes immediately.
So from last minute shopping tips to New Years beauty advice to the ultimate strategy for navigating leftovers, keep scrolling for Jules and Sarah’s day-by-day holiday survival guide.
If, like me, you could win a medal in procrastination and avoidance of anything remotely Christmassy, you’ll be waking up with a rush of adrenaline and panic at the realisation that you have bought absolutely nothing gift-like (although you’ve treated yourself over and over… and over again, congrats). Fear not, because you are a strong, confident, strategic person. Repeat after me—you will do one, quick, champagne-accessorised shop. The best purchases I have ever bought I don’t really remember buying. A little tipple will help you eliminate any messing about and doubting your purchase: just drink the fizz and blitz that plastic.
You and I might buy ourselves divine life luxury items but not everyone thinks like us, do they? No, no. Buy them something they don’t even know they need, slowly turning them into you (a perfect eye lash-battering chic-ster). Think Haig whiskey (£15), Clive Christian candles (£195), Bloom and Wild florist subscriptions, Monica Vinader jewellery, Estée Lauder sheet masks (£17), a copy of Jackson and Levine Round to Ours (£17), an Instax camera (£65)—my angel, you have got this. Don’t bother wrapping, have them do it in the store while you pull in for a piece of cake. Easy.
I always say I’m going to get everything wrapped before Christmas Eve so I can put it under the tree and feel very smug. Obviously I never do. Also putting presents under the tree is overrated, you’ll only trip up over them every 10 minutes until you drop kick one across the room in a sherry fuelled rage. At 7 p.m. I am hiding upstairs, drinking Baileys, desperately wrapping. Last year I bought some gold glitter paper but sellotape didn’t actually stick to it and every corner kept pinging open like some sort of nightmare Christmas fairground game. This sort of paper should be illegal. However, there is one piece of advice I have for you, dear reader, when wrapping anything. One nugget of brilliance: use ribbon. Ribbon shows you care and makes presents look far more expensive. You could be giving someone a Glade Plug-In but if you put a ribbon around it they’ll be thrilled.
Whatever you do, do not even think about a Christmas jumper. Those overly flammable items are not only extremely offensive to look at, but are not flattering—nor does 100% poly-viscose feel good on your soft, freshly exfoliated and buffed skin. I like to opt for the shock factor on Christmas Day. Am I going to swim with the salmon and wear green, red and gold? Hell no. I’m going to wear something that makes my Aunt Heather coo and my Uncle Bill wince. In the morning, I opt for a cashmere hoody and The White Company PJs with fur-lined Ugg slippers. For lunch, an all-black ensemble is a complete no-brainer—what on earth have we got to celebrate here? I’ll team it with a Topman Design metallic leather jacket to give it that winter glitz. Accessorised with a matte bronzed face and a strong brow. All will comment on how utterly perfect I look and I’ll lap my mother’s kitchen island like a modern-day show pony. Here I am!
Christmas Day is for eating whatever you want and wearing whatever the hell you like. Reindeer onesie? Fine. Erdem x H&M pyjama set? You go for it. Holly and Ivy fascinator? Knock yourself out. I will start the day wearing whatever I fell into bed in following the 186 cocktail sausages I ate on Christmas Eve. I shall appear downstairs for a buck’s fizz before showering and dressing up for lunch in something fabulous, yet elasticated. This year it will be a dress from one of my happiest places on earth, Monki. I tried on their Stay-up-all-night Dress (£20) and refused to take it off so left the shop wearing it. It has long sleeves, an elasticated waistband and enough stars to make it incredibly festive. When I have eaten my way out of that I will slip into any of their super soft oversize long dresses and curl up in front of the fire with a Ferrero Rocher.
Ok babes, you’ve woken up feeling less than sharp. Hit the snooze button and just take five. Usually, I can be found in the early hours of Boxing Day, positioned along with a glass of sherry and a cheese board as long as a tube platform, which invariably leads to me waking up feeling, shall we say, a tad shaky. This is time for a relaunch. Begin by listening to anything but dreary Christmas music, cleanse your face and whack on Dewy Tree Gold Snail Eye Masks (£22), and place a Masque Bar Animalz Sheet Mask (£4) over the top. I don’t buy Christmas trees (I can’t be bothered with all that mess) so I buy myself a Jo Loves Christmas Tree candle (£55)—chic and hassle-free. If I feel completely rank I will almost always run a bath, filling it with Neal’s Yard bath salts and oils to give my bathroom that spa feel. Do not answer a single text. Relaunch yourself my darling.
If you listen to Jules and Sarah The Podcast, you’ll know my beauty routine consists of a flannel and anything from Lush. I once rubbed myself down with a Lush bath bomb in the shower (don’t do this, very scratchy). The brand’s Snow Fairy Shower Gel (£9) is one of my favourite things in the world and if you see it, you must buy it because it’s limited edition for Christmas and then disappears. Have a bath which is at least an hour and a half long and dissolve their Magic Wand Bubble Bar (£6) into it. You can use the whole thing in one go or reuse it later when you sneak off for another bath.
What I love about the holiday period is the complete ability to eat guilt-free. Every snippet of mental dieting agility is cast aside and we feed like gannets. Everything tastes great with melted cheese; do you hear me? Everything. Bring me the raclette. Leftover potatoes are incredible fried in truffle oil, and trifle is, to put it bluntly, orgasmic on day three. Silent snaffles alone, gigantic (and I imagine quite random) spreads of food should be adorned and always accessorised with grape juice (wine sweetie, not actual juice). Side-line tip: If you can get your mitts on goat butter it will completely revolutionise a cracker, a sandwich, a scrambled egg. You’re welcome.
So this is the day that you start seeing the same food again and again. The pork pie comes out for day three and there’s a bowl of stuffing balls at the back of the fridge that no one is eating. Cling film comes off, goes back on and off again. Someone asks if there are any cocktail sausages left. Of course there isn’t, they were all gone by Christmas Eve. The answer here, as in so many situations, is cheese. In fact, a second cheeseboard should be bought for just this occasion. Eat sourdough dipped in melted camembert or make like a Lancashire farmer and lay a hefty bit of cheddar on a slice of Christmas cake. Incidentally, Christmas cake can be enjoyed for any meal substitution. Feel free to add brandy butter and then when that runs out, Lurpack is a very dear friend.
Oh for heaven’s sake, you’ve begun to completely mould into your mattress. After lying questioning whether being washed with a mop like a whale is an unreasonable task to ask of my mother, this is a day where I leave the house. The countryside air is not only good for the skin but is also calm and good for the mind. Cobwebs be gone! Lest we risk the chance of running into anyone we do not want to see (old teachers, exes, that snog from many moons ago) ensure activewear is painstakingly perfect. Opt for Lululemon sweats—minimal, effortless, strategically fitted. This is also a good time to boost circulation and improve mental psyche by indulging in a hot sauna, sitting for fifteen minutes and then showering in ice cold water for one minute. Repeat this over the course of an hour to boost skin’s appearance and for a clearer mind.
It is day four of Christmas and everyone is getting on your wick. You’ve been in the house too long and you’ve watched (and cried about) Stick Man on BBC 14 times. You need sanctuary. You need to go for a long walk or a drive or get back in the bath. You need to put headphones on to stop people talking to you. You need Jules and Sarah the Podcast. Not only have you got all the backlog you missed because you were at a Christmas party jumping in a ball pit, you have wonderful Christmas treats and surprises. Like Beauty queen Emma Guns talking about crisps and double shampooing or presenter goddess Sara Cox talking about her mum’s hair. Get yourself to iTunes and fill your boots darling.
If you for one minute think I’m turning up at a New Year’s Eve venue unprepared you have another thing coming. Who knows who you’ll meet—this requires organisation. An array of outfits—let’s face it, there’s some added paunch accessorising your look so let’s pack options here: A capsule beauty kit (a ghd Flight travel hair dryer, £60 is one of the greatest things I have ever purchased to date), decanted shampoo and conditioner (do not rely on your friends or hotel to have anything decent—I am always left disappointed), and skincare essentials such as the Resurfizz Mask by The Hero Project (£47) and Clinique Sonic Brush (£79), skin will be positively glowing after this. Pack everything in an Away case—colourful, decadent and Instagram friendly, brace yourself for the sound of necks cricking as they turn while you walk on by. Hi, darling!
Finally the last of the pork pie has gone. You’ve resurfaced from three straight days of living off sherry and Twix Celebrations and the Christmas tree is a all a bit dry and sad.
Christmas is almost over and today is the time to sort your life out. You need to go food shopping for something which isn’t a mini mince pie. You need to put eyeliner on and put the recycling out. You need an exfoliator and the best one is Benefit Refined Finish Facial Polish (£21). It will rub off your sins and start your life again. Motivation is at hand. The Jules and Sarah Mixtape on Spotify will see you right. There you’ll find a mixtape full of absolute sort-your-life-out-babes-you’ve-got-this bangers. From En Vogue to TLC via Liberty X, turn it up, get a bin bag and let’s DO this.
As someone who spends the most part of the festive break up in wintery grey north England, I have no intention of looking like I’ve spent my festive break back in Yorkshire when it comes to New Year. No, no, I will be glowing from head to toe and pretending that I have been whisked off to the Cayman Islands by a made-up man named Pablo who has a big fat yacht upon which I have sunbathed and achieved such a bronze glow. Reality is, there is no Pablo but there is self tan. I swear by Tan Luxe The Water (£33) to give my complexion a lift and my skin a subtle natural-looking bronze. It’s easy to apply to the back too, leaning forward and misting over the shoulder… well—you never know, Pablo might be real. For an eye that pops with your tan, run a hint of Victoria Beckham x Estée Lauder Kajal Eyeliner (£30) underneath your upper waterline—trust me, this will hide all signs of Christmas fatigue.
I saw something brilliant on Instagram this morning which said “By Friday, my hair is 90% dry shampoo.” This is me every single week and by New Year I think it’s actually just powder. What I only discovered recently is that you can also put it on clean hair to make it huge. I love big hair. I want my hair the size of Wales. I want to be turned away from bars because my hair is just too big and poses a fire risk. Batiste make gorgeous huge cans of dry shampoo but the mini travel ones are just as mighty. Never leave the house without one. Also pack your hair with as much of the XXL Plumping Powder (£4) as you can and disguise anything from eye bags to Christmas weight gain under your own gigantic hair.
New Year's Eve
New Year’s Eve can go one of two ways for me: I’m either in bed for 11 p.m. or 6 a.m. What I’ve learnt so far is to resist that first glass of tipple for as long as you can (do not pull a Jules circa 2013 where the first tipple was 1 p.m… it did not end well). Start your day with a brunch, eat things that will fill you, you’ll have digested it by the evening so don’t stress about a bloat. Have a large late lunch of mainly protein. Arrive late to your event (that small talk nonsense is the worst) “Yes, yes, hi, hi, Christmas was fabulous, bye” and line yourself up a snog early doors and don’t lose sight of them, scrambling about at 11.45 p.m. for a smooch is not chic. To avoid cringe-worthy evening endings, drink water all night—you won’t say anything you regret, you’ll remember getting home and remain sophisticated (in appearance anyway).
Two things that are universally flattering: handbags and socks. Handbags we’ll come on to shortly (Hill and Friends, the dream) but firstly let’s talk about socks. The New Year dilemma I face every year is whether to go out in strappy heels and get low-level frostbite or to wear socks and boots and look like an ice trucker. This year though will be different. This year I have Hysteria by Happy Socks. If you’ve got Happy Socks you’ll know they’re a world of fun and Hysteria are their super cool older sister. From glitter to cashmere via stripes, there is a fabulous sock for every single New Year’s Eve outfit. Even if you’re staying in. Strappy heels, amazing socks, eyeliner and one of those oversize Monki dresses we talked about from Christmas Day. Spritz with perfume, no need to wash. Voilà, babes!
New Year's Day
I hate resolutions and always have. What a negative way to start your new year by sitting and thinking about how crap you are at different things and trying to change it—just awful. You are great just as you are, and if you’re not then why have you waited until a new year to change yourself. You should just be great all the time.
Instead of resolutions, I like to make goals—such as in 2018, I am going to climb Ben Nevis, I’m going to visit three new countries and I’m going to continue not using aerosols. Dry January is the most nonsense thing I have ever heard of, yes I know what will really help the blues from Christmas being over, the weather remaining grim and being back at work with a scrambled bank balance—to have no tipple whatsoever, it’s completely ridiculous. Cheers, sweetie!
Handbags: they can save your life. They can cure a hangover. They can disguise living off camembert for a week. There is an untold joy that comes from buying a new handbag, especially if it just so happens to be in the sale and from the comfort of your own bed. So here’s the plan: Go to the kitchen and make a bucket full of tea. Grab all cheese and bread items as well as shortbread. Go back to bed with your laptop and don’t move before mid-afternoon. Go to all your favourite sites and shriek at how clever you are for buying lovely things without getting dressed. I will be spending this time on the Hill and Friends website squealing and falling in love with the Jelly Bean Green Friendly Padlock Bag (£1200) or the Happy Slouchy Tote (£395).