It’s a rainy late November evening at Soho Home’s pop-up and Laura Jackson and Laura Weir are arguing about tinsel. Keeping things civil, and asking the questions, is GQ’s Mikey Hennegan, and, fresh from designing the LoveShackFancy party at Annabel’s, is Fiona Leahy. We wanted to gather the panel to tackle the age-old dilemma when it comes to Christmas – should you go traditional - AKA tacky - or take a chicer approach? And, in the spirit of Christmas ‘disagreements’, keep reading to see what silliness ensued…

What are your dos and don’ts when it comes to Christmas decorations?
Laura J: 'I hate tinsel.' Laura W:'No! I love tinsel! It’s the one time one time of year when taste goes out of the window. I love tacky! I would never have a Scandi Christmas.'

Do you host parties at Christmas? And when do you start the planning?
Laura W: 'My Boxing Day party is always carnage. I invite all of my old friends and it’s the chance to escape family.'Laura J: 'I’m not hosting a party this year because we’re having our house renovated but when I do I tend to go all out and start planning it at the end of November, beginning of December. I hired a grand piano one year!'

How much does food play a part in it?
Laura J: 'Massive! If I went to a Christmas party and there was no food, I’d be out the door! I tend to concentrate on one big dish and then get people to bring sides.' Laura W: 'This is the one time of year when I come into my own with cooking. I like the all the usual Christmas buffet favourites - big ham, sausage rolls…'


Important question: do you let people smoke indoors at your house parties?
Laura W: 'Definitely! It’s the one time of year when you should be able to.'Laura J: 'Yes, just light a stick of incense and open some windows!'

And music?
Laura W: 'It’s a bit random, but I love playing Reggae at my Boxing Day party. And a bit of George Michael never goes amiss! I do a Boxing Day playlist and there aren’t so many Christmas songs, actually.' Laura J: 'I’m all about Bublé. And Mariah. Or - and this a good tip - I love a film soundtrack - Call Me By Your Name is a good one. And Oh Brother Where Art Thou? You want people to dance, though. That’s why hiring a DJ is always a good idea.'

How about table decorations?
Laura W: 'I like candles, holly, sprigs from the tree, glitter and stars.' Fiona: 'You can paint the table cloth – use brown paper and then illustrate it. I once took a taxidermy parrot for a table decoration on a long-haul flight for a party - strange cargo, indeed! Lots of miniature Christmas trees are a good idea.'

How many parties do you all tend to go per week? Are you out every night, for example?
Fiona: 'It’s about knowing yourself in December, and picking and choosing how you want to spend your time. I love nothing more than a night at home in front of the fire, with my dog and a glass of red wine.' Laura J: '7 nights a week!' Laura W: 'There are two types of people at Christmas. FOMOS (fear of missing out) and JOMOS (joy of missing out)! I’m definitely a JOMO.'Everyone: 'Yes!!!'

'Don't overplan'

Fiona, you’re the fashion industry’s go-to planner for Christmas parties. Can you share some tips?

'Because I design events for a living, when it comes to my own parties, I do it randomly. I don’t think you need to overplan. I like it to be organic, let the people do what they want at Christmas! In terms of decorations, right now I’m obsessed with making my own crackers. I like a cracker to be visually interesting. Don’t throw things away – things like ribbons and toilet paper rolls, nice wrapping paper. Then you order the ‘cracker snap’ online. You can put anything inside but I tend to like something meaningful, like a crystal. You’d be happy to receive a rose quartz. Scrunchies are also good. Or a Harrods voucher! You can also make snow globes – buy kits online. A snow globe could be twee but it’s what you do with it!'

'Barbara Cartland at Christmas'

What are your decorations of choice?

Laura J: 'I like buying retro decorations from eBay - Tartan ribbon, 70s and 60s baubles. When I’m up at home my mum gets everything out each year.'

Fiona: 'I have a random collection of trimmings – a Wooden man, Fair isle sweater. But a flocked Christmas tree is my thing at the moment. I go flocking crazy! I get a real tree and spray them. Then I have boxes of Babushkas. I’m like Barbara Cartland at Christmas: more is more.'

Laura W: 'I always have a Boxing Day party every year so I go all out. One year I had a light-up Santa in the garden that eats up the grass!'

'Do nothing and pig out'

What is the best thing about the Christmas holidays?

Laura J: 'Do nothing and pig out. We never allow us to do nothing.'

Laura W: 'Yes, we call it the ‘Christmas perineum’ – that period between Christmas and New Year when you can legitimately do nothing and revert back to being a child!'

Fiona: 'I like going away, certainly for New Year. One year I went to the Mayr clinic and did a retreat. That’s my dream between Christmas and New Year.'

'The British Hygge'

Laura W, your brilliant book, The Book of Cosy, is so perfect for this time of year. What can you tell us about it?

'It’s basically the British version of Hygge - and innate in the way we live. It’s about simple rituals and pleasures and celebrating those, such as decorating the tree. The Christmas lunch has to be the cosiest ritual. Steamed up windows, everyone pitching in, buckets of gravy and a feeling of togetherness. I also love the ritual of being sedentary and doing absolutely nothing after Christmas day. Some call it twixmas, some call it food week, but sitting on the sofa and ceasing to exist for a day or two before new year, is absolute cosy bliss.'

Shoreditch House

Find a cosy corner at Shoreditch House and settle in for a long winter afternoon of eating, drinking and relaxing.