What epitomises Christmas in London for you?
For me it’s two-fold: firstly, the effort to which the stores across London go in turning the city into a Christmas wonderland. Always stylish, and thoroughly over the top – perfect. And not just The Royal Exchange, but all over the city. And secondly: the people, full of joy, both local Londoners and visitors, all descending on one of the world’s best shopping cities.
What’s your earliest Christmas memory?
My earliest Christmas memory was setting off for New York, during one of the UK’s heaviest snow falls. My parents had a 4×4 car, which got us to Heathrow in relative safety.
What smells and tastes do you associate with the festive period?
It would have to be mulled wine. The perfect combination of sweet and spice, and it provides sufficient warmth on the coldest of winter nights.
What is your favourite Christmas dessert?
Chocolate Yule log all the way! Always choose chocolate first. Although, with the addition of plenty of custard and brandy, Christmas pudding is a close second.
What’s on your Christmas list to give and/or receive from The Royal Exchange?
This is tough, because every Royal Exchange store has something I’d like to give and receive. However this year I’m all about giving presents in experience form, so a voucher for the Fortnum & Mason store – afternoon tea anyone? Receiving wise, if I have to choose, a Hermès tie works!
What’s your Christmas gift-wrapping style?
Always simple. Understated elegance. It’s what’s within that counts anyway.
Do you have any special, unique or unconventional Christmas traditions?
Where my family live in Derbyshire in the Peak District, each year on Boxing Day there’s a raft race along the River Derwent. Hundreds of people don wetsuits and brave the sub-zero waters in the name of charity, while onlookers throw eggs and flour ‘bombs’ at them. We usually have a good crowd of family and friends who head down, and then swiftly head to the local pub for a Christmas ale.
Do you own a Christmas jumper?
Of sorts. It’s a Ralph Lauren big bear jumper. Ralph Lauren seems to market these jumpers around Christmas. It’s more of a sweatshirt than a woollen jumper but the fleecy lining is seriously comfortable.
What’s your favourite Christmas film?
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York. Mainly because NYC is my favourite city, but who doesn’t like a good-versus-evil battle, that ends in presents for all.
Do you have a favourite Christmas song?
I can’t say I have one specific Christmas favourite – they’re all good. The perfect tonic for getting everyone in the office into a joyful Christmas mindset. Once we’ve written all of our content of course.
What signifies the start of the festive season for you?
It has to be the opening of the first advent calendar window on 1 December.
What do you think is the best way to help others at Christmastime?
Tell your family and friends that you love them. And let this message spread throughout their family and friends too – it’s a butterfly effect.