When I was in my early 20s, long before children and before I discovered that I loved the adrenaline and stress of planning and executing events, I loved fashion. And my favourite issue of Vogue Australia was always the December one. The party dresses, the tips on how to look fresh after a big night and the Tiffany’s holiday ads; oh the Tiffany’s ads! As a 20-something, I would dream about how one day my December would be filled with glamorous parties and scenes that could be from those Tiffany’s ads.
And while, for a few years after Mr Something-Wonderful and I met, I managed a pretty close approximation, these days I don’t have much call for dry-clean-only, worth-a-week’s-rent, party dresses. And although tips for how to look fresh on minimal sleep are always welcome, the ones in fashion magazines always seem based on the assumption that I am alone in my bathroom for more than... well, ever.
So I am left with the Tiffany ads.
The reality of life with my beautiful, boisterous boys is that our Christmas tree has been set up inside a plastic play pen for the last three years lest my younger son scale it, dismantle it or hit his older brother over the head with a branch. But the thing I always loved about those Tiffany’s ads was that they were never really about reality. And I like to take that maxim and use it to create two or three beautiful moments each Christmas that could be mistaken for the glamorous life of a woman who uses the bathroom alone.
Here’s my recipe for a glamorous Christmas. I’d love to see how you go creating your own Christmas fantasy. Post a pic on Instagram and tag #SomethingWonderfulHappenedthisChristmas so that we can all live vicariously through each other!
Step 1. Book a babysitter- early!
And by early, I mean ideally in mid-November. But if you haven’t done it yet, that’s ok. Just panic. No, not really. But call your sister, the teenager next door or whomever it is that you rely on. I know you may not know what your plans are for December yet. But book in a night anyway. Have you noticed how, come mid-November, friends you haven’t seen in months start saying “oh we must catch up before Christmas?” Well now you’ll have a date on which to do so. And if you get lucky, perhaps no-one will insist on catching up this side of 2016 and you’ll get your significant other to yourself for an evening. Either way, there is a really good chance you’ll eat an entire meal in one sitting- while it’s hot!
Step 2. Create, and taste-test, a Christmas cocktail
You need a Christmas cocktail. No seriously, you do. It doesn’t matter how epic your toddler’s tantrum was in the glacially slow supermarket queue this afternoon or how it is 9pm and you still have to clean up the kitchen and put on the laundry before you even start on the Christmas to-do list. You have something beautiful and sparkling in your hand and you are sipping it from a 1920’s style-champagne saucer and by god, you are a siren! My favourite Christmas cocktail is a Sparkling Napoléon. You freeze the ingredients in ice cube trays. When you are ready, you pop an ice cube in a glass and pour your sparkling over it. I kid you not. If that is not a mum’s version of a cocktail, I don’t know what is. And for all the pregnant or breast feeding mama's out there, soda water with lemon is equally delicious in this recipe.
Step 3. Create some atmosphere
Play some Dean Martin. Or maybe Frank Sinatra is more your thing. Don’t cringe until you’ve tried it! It doesn’t even need to be their Christmas stuff. Pop one of their albums on iTunes or Spotify or whatever your jam is and I challenge you not to feel old-school glam. If nothing else, it will make the 47th request for one more episode of Peppa Pig a little harder to hear. This works well in combination with step 2. And if you really want to go all out, do step 2 and 3 while bathing the children before the babysitter arrives for your night out.
Bonus step 4! Pause
In those late hours of Christmas Eve, when the final gift is wrapped and that awful play kitchen that came in 137 pieces has been assembled, before you stumble to bed, take a detour via your little ones' room. Pause. Listen to the tide of their breath. Breathe in their scent and remember what Christmas felt like before they came along. Sure you slept in a little longer, but grown-ups with dry-clean-only, party dresses don’t really squeal in glee at the sight of stuffed stockings or become wide eyed at Christmas lights.
Laughter, wonder, love- what could be more glamorous than that?
All images shown here (with the exception of the Sparkling Napoleons) are from Tiffany's 2010 Holiday Campaign by photographer Peter Lindbergh featuring Doutzen Kroes.