It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and I am grumpy. The perfume shop, which is blasting out this tune on Gibraltar’s busy main street today, is dead to me anyway, since they sold me an expensive bottle of foundation in the wrong color and then refused to exchange it. A place where cruise ship passengers pass through in their thousands every day is not big on customer service, as I probably should have known, but didn’t
Today the main street is incredibly packed. It’s still three weeks to go till Christmas but that doesn’t stop people shopping. It also doesn’t mean that they are going about it in a relaxed manner.
For once I hate shopping. Very unlike me, I know. But being repeatedly elbowed in the face in British Home Stores while trying to get to a set of little wooden figurines displaying the nativity scene (I know, I’m not sure why I wanted them either) has my blood boiling. While I’m still considering whether to slap the big bottomed middle aged lady that got in front of me with a fake mistletoe arrangement, bespoke mistletoe has been snapped up by another desperate housewife. Defeated by big bottoms. Sometimes you just have to know when you’re beaten.
I love Christmas for the tree, the decorations, even the bad music. I love it for seeing family, for overeating and for having an excuse to put reindeer antlers on your cats (available for £4 each in Accessorize).
I hate Christmas for the shitty presents both given and received, for the blind rush of senseless spending and for the awful Christmas parties. I am dreading the inevitable renditions of our office talent on the karaoke machine. Dear so and so, if you read this, I’m really only jealous. Wink, wink. My fiancée R however could tell you a tale or two about what it is like to really loathe a Christmas party. Every single year, the invitation to join my company bash is extended to gentlemen in dinner suits. Every single year, R pitches up in his grey three piece number from Next, mind you, without a tie. Without meaning to be disrespectful, none of us feels in any way inclined to buy a dinner suit for a small fortune, an item of clothing so useless to R you might as well flush the money down the toilet. So far he’s never been refused entry and if the day ever comes we’ll just sit on a bench in the marina drinking some cheap Gibraltarian booze straight from the bottle. When it comes down to it I’m really not that posh.
Me on the other hand, I really enjoy shopping for party dresses. Oh hang on a minute – no I don’t. The other morning I overheard the girls in the office talking about which dress they were going to wear for the Christmas party, and just about managed to stifle a yawn. The sparkle, the sequins, the endless embellishments bore the (shiny) hell out of me. Glitter and sequins almost always look tacky, the dress you spent a fortune on will look dated before the party is over. I refuse to splash out on an item of clothing that I get to wear once a year, and that’s that. So a couple of years back, I snatched up a nice little black chiffon number in Monsoon for an apple and an egg (old German saying), and a fake fur wrap in Aftershock for equally little money. Et voila, I proudly present my Christmas party outfit. Yup, I’ve worn it three years in a row. Yup, I’ll wear it again this year. And you know what – because I only wear this dress once a year, nobody will notice. Now that’s clever.
Up next: my top tips on smart party shopping.