All Fiona Leahy wants for Christmas is 'Don Draper, a Soho House drinks trolley and a whisky sour!' The queen of the party scene told us how she prepares for the festive season and explained why, when it comes to trimming the tree, she swings between kitsch and classy.

‘We were making Christmas crackers a month ago for a client in America who was shooting them for a book so it does start early, but I don’t really mind. My birthday’s in December so I see it as a huge celebratory month, a coming together of everything amazing. I absolutely love putting up a tree. Last year I had all these flocked velvet pink and lilac trees which were a complete dream. I do love a real tree because I love the smell. Usually mine are left over from jobs. There’s a company that recycles the trees, I’m mindful of that – I don’t want to have a tree and just dump it on the side of the street.'


'My default setting is to have a big green tree with loads of lights and loads of colour and have it look like a child’s dream. But it depends. I think this year my dream tree is really green, really abundant, natural, it’s going to be recycled and it’s got white lights and blush and apricot clear baubles and it’s just beautiful to look at. That’s what I would do this year and probably next year and the year after. It’s like the seven year itch - I do seven years of kitsch and full on frippery and then I want to be chic and understated and grown up. This Christmas tree is what I would imagine Doris Day in Palm Springs with Don Draper making whisky sours on the Soho House drinks trolley would be doing!’

Setting the Scene

‘I will always spend money on the tree because I think if you have a beautiful tree, you don’t really need so much. I collect decorations whenever I go to markets in different countries – I’ve got a load of Russian wooden ones, sometimes I just put bows on the tree or shimmer. Sometimes I just do white lights, I think that looks really chic and minimal. I recycle my decorations and white lights every year – again, you just keep stuff and use it every year.’

Trimming the Tree

‘I love the Rosendale baubles because they capture the light and they’re quite minimal. There’s something about tinted glass, candle light and fairy light which is really beautiful. That’s very me – to have pale pink or peachy nude-y glass baubles. Baubles sometimes look quite twee or overly glittered, they’re just a bit too much, but these are mesmerising. It’s kind of like making your Christmas tree into a really chic chandelier, it’s something about reflecting the light.’

Light Up

‘Ultimately the reason Christmas exists it to break the tedium or monotony of a very dark winter so illumination and cosiness is key. I always light fires, I always have candles everywhere, I have fairy lights in my trees. It’s just that thing of making it beautiful in a twinkly, wintery way. I really like scents as well, beautiful candles and burning incense – it always reminds me of the three wise men, frankincense and myrrh, that churchy smell! If my house is very well lit and smells like a church it’s Christmas.’

Keep It Real

‘I want to be comfortable. I want a big, cosy couch that might not photograph as well but I do want to be comfortable. I want a fire, even though it might create dust and soot. I don’t think it’s about appearances, I’m not precious. You can’t be – we’re living, breathing real people and sometimes candles burn flowers and you get a bit of soot on a white dress, but there’s no joy without some form of sacrifice. So I don’t think it’s good to be too precious at all. It’s kind of like a battle scar, a war story.'


'I did a dinner recently and we made the most elaborate, embroidered beautiful napkins and the host really enjoyed his red wine… We had them laundered and were sending them back to the client and there was red wine all over them. We were like ‘oh my god that is really cool because it looks like a good time’ and he actually decided to get one framed. Another thing I love is when I wear red lipstick and you get it on your napkin, I mean, you want to have a good time, what’s the point in a dress that’s not lived in or a pair of shoes that aren’t lived in, or even a tablecloth or napkins. Nobody wants to live in a museum. Wear it, enjoy it, live it.’

Soho House 76 Dean Street

Our members' club is spread across four floors of this Grade II listed Georgian townhouse, with a screening room and roof terrace.