food blogger
The unlikely string linking a decade of dinner parties? The hysterically diverse threads I’ve worn to each of them.

When I’m fortunate enough to be invited to a friend’s, I go all out; sparkles, heels, and a bottle to match.

When I throw my own, I tend to go all…well…in; a onesie, an empty bottle, and the closest thing to a smile I can muster after having compulsive meltdown in the kitchen.

I am the keenest of home chefs. And I love hosting. But the combination can be a nightmare for a perfectionist.

Discovering La Belle Assiette was a game-changer.

The service offers Londoners a choice of affordable private chefs for any and all culinary needs; dinner parties, romantic surprises, birthdays, et al.

It sounded like the ideal exploit for catching up with friends after the holidays.

After long days at work, five of my most discerning foodie amigos arrived to an out-and-out feast without so much as a consideration to what they might want to eat that night.

Chef Ali, who arrived two hours prior to prepare his menu, curated a four-course banquet of dining room dreams; a herbed chicken amuse bouche (with shaved parmesan, sherry vinegar anchovies, parmesan croutons & a caesar dressing), wild tuna Salade niçoise (with soft-boiled eggs, served with English new season potatoes, green beans, heritage tomatoes, red onions & wild rocket), chicken stuffed with smoked tomatoes & goat’s cheese (with beetroot puree, smoked garlic, crispy mint fondant potatoes, roasted baby onions, carrots, Himalayan salt, &jus), and a white & dark chocolate tart with peppermint cream & fresh berry confit.

It was a roaring success.

With nothing to deliberate beyond which wine we wanted with each course, La Belle Assiette truly put the party in dinner party. Right the way through to the discovery of a spotless kitchen (with zero washing-up!) after the world’s most mutinous game of Monopoly.

The entertainment, of course, is rather deliciously left up to you and the merriment of your tribe.

I would live the entire evening again in a heartbeat. For the opportunity to crack out every thread of sparkle in my wardrobe, alone.

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food blogger
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diy coffee liqueur
Whether you’re hosting or guesting this Christmas, sharing an interesting bottle or two with your loved ones will never go unappreciated. This festive season, I’ve been conducting a little alco-haul to sample and select something for everyone’s tastes. A handy little Christmas Drinks Guide, if you will…

For the gin loverGin Mare.
A herbaceous Mediterranean gin with a noticeably unique flavour profile, contrary to many gins on the market. It’s a gin worth Hendricks’ notoriety and destined to become a big-hitter as the years go by. It is also Amazon Prime-able, which is excellent for last minute shopping.

For something that will blow everyone’s mind1800 Tequila.
This silky little number is, hands down, the tequila that turns the wary into the obsessed. Not only that, but they’ve released a beautiful limited edition bottle featuring the ‘Gherkin’ for Christmas (designed by Enoc Perez and available to purchase exclusively from the London branch of Selfridges while stocks last).

For the cocktail aficionadoSolerno Blood Orange Liqueur.
A citrus sensation for those Winter warmers. Solerno’s blood oranges are hand-picked from the sun-drenched slopes of Sicily’s Mount Etna and make for a delicious addition to a Negroni or Old Fashioned. Get yours at The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt.

For a toast with the most…Echo Falls Summer Berries Vodka.
I am relatively averse to anything vodka-related, but this new arrival received rave reviews when I taste-tested my colleagues. It also adds great balance to cheaper (read: far too sweet) Prosecco, which would be ideal for a pocket-conscious Christmas toast.

For a bottle of wine that will impress everyone…Borough Wines & Beers.
Though it’s not a particular bottle, I respect wine and diverse palates too much to suggest only one. Instead, head to Borough Wines with an open mind and their insanely passionate staff will guide you to something special for your desired budget. If you can’t get to their physical shops, their website features the best of the best.

For bonus pointshomemade coffee liqueur.
While it normally takes a couple of weeks to brew your own booze, this delicious coffee liqueur only takes three days ’til perfection! With your coffee cold-brewed into 1 1/4 cups of water (I’d give it around 12 hours), you simply create a syrup (with the sugar and 1 cup of water), let it cool, then add it to the coffee with the rum and vanilla bean.

After three days, all you have to do it remove the vanilla bean and your liqueur is ready to be served!

1/4 cup fine ground espresso (I used Starbucks’ Christmas blend, natch)
1 cup turbinado sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 cups light rum (you can go cheap as chips here, but a great rum will offer more complexity to the final liqueur)

Happy drinking and Merry Christmas, gang!

oxford street shopping
Nothing beats Christmas on Oxford Street. It is beautifully chaotic. The hundreds – maybe thousands – of shoppers dashing throughout the 200+ shops, the glistening lights, the tourists carefully choosing presents for their loved ones from the greatest city in the world – it is all so wonderfully London.

It also happens to be the only place in the city guaranteed to meet holiday party dressing needs so, for all intensive festive purposes, I decided to treat myself to a personal shopping excursion with the wonderful Style Doctors team in the one spare hour I had this month.

With nothing but a few sparkle-loving pointers, the ‘Power Hour’ session (an Oxford Street exclusive service that employs a Style Doctors’ stylist to a perfect outfit in one hour) left me with a new ensemble of dreams for less than £100. In under 45 minutes.

If only that saved time and money could be spared come the January sales…

(Outfit details: Long Sleeve Pearl Embellished Body, Eyelet Detail Mini Skirt, and Julian Hakes Mojito heels)

oxford street shopping

oxford street shopping
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la soiree
The first ‘non-essential’ I bought myself when I moved back to London as an adult was a ticket to La Soiree. Trading a week of caffeine-dependent sanity for nose-bleed seats to a modern circus no-one had ever heard of felt like a risk at the time.

Eight years later, it has become an essential annual ritual.

Be it from laughter that has you clutching the seat in front of you or the physical reaction required when seeing act after act defy death, La Soiree simply takes your breath away. Each act – be it this year’s raucously inappropriate Daredevil Chicken Club or blindfolded cradle act from The Chilly Brothers – is mischievous and magical by equal measure and only heightened by their well-deserved arrival at the West End’s Aldwych Theatre.

The Olivier Award-winning phenomenon is neither circus nor variety show nor dive bar nor burlesque act. Yet all of them, all the same. Though their cast changes annual, the show always feel like home. A home where people fly through the air, strip, and sing the most politically incorrect songs you’ll enjoy all year.

So, you know, normal Christmas vibes.

Do not miss out this year. But do watch out for the bananas.

boohoo christmas dress
Most December evenings riding the tube feels like something of a Christmas party on tracks. The women line seats in glitzed-up garms while men stand overhead in shiny shoes they forgot hurt until a few hooches in.

I bloody love it.

As part of Boohoo’s Christmas campaign, I’ve made an effort to be as sparkly as possible for the 24 days people will raise their eyebrows less. And their party dresses have been the catalyst of dreams.

What I Wore:
This glitter-threaded v-neck skater number (but honestly, all their party dresses are next level)
My trusty Sargossa nude heels

boohoo christmas dress