Iona’s December Hot List

The festive season is upon us! If like me, you’re yet to be overcome with the spirit of Christmas, be kind to yourself, there is a lot going on in the world right now along with it being an overwhelming time of year for many. It turns out a mulled wine in the cold and seeing Sloane Square sparkle with Christmas lights helped, and lately I’ve been searching Christmas Tablescapes and deciding who makes the Christmas card list. Before the Christmas limbo hits between the Big Day and New Year’s eve, when you’ve lost all sense of time and wonder who ate the last quality street (it was you), here is your usual round up of what’s on; where to go and what to do in London, what to watch, reading material which will make brilliant gifts, my two pence on gift giving and our last order dates so you aren’t caught by surprise.


I’m throwing myself into Christmas this year with every carol concert I can get to. Starting with the lovely service followed by mince pies and mulled wine at St Peter’s in Notting Hill on the 10th December, where everyone is welcome. On a larger scale, The Royal Albert Hall has a month of festivities – from Home Alone in concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to Carols at The Royal Albert Hall – expect some audience members to come dressed in Christmas lights! Sadlers Wells is home to the magical stage adaption of The Snowman running until the 30th December – it’s the perfect performance for the whole family when you might want something calmer than a panto. For a truly magical performance, head to The Royal Opera House for the Nutcracker, you might just get lucky with finding the last few tickets.

If you only have a spot of free time to get festive, be sure to stroll around a Christmas market. One of my favourites last year was along Southbank, with carols, mulled wine and fake snow, all whilst looking out across the river at the city of London. If you’re brave enough to face the crowds, there is a huge Christmas market within Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park – be sure to book tickets in advance for easy access. Trafalgar Square also has a sweet Christmas market lit up by the famous tree which is a gift from Norway each year since 1947. The lights switch-on is happening on the 7th December – expect carols and hot chocolate.


Not so much a dining recommendation but a festive pint recommendation – a visit to The Churchill Arms is a must. For the last 10 years I’ve been every December to see the pub adorned with lit up Christmas trees and enjoy my drink outside in the cold under the sparkling lights. Don’t miss it if you’re in West London as it’s turning dark!

Stay tuned – Whyte Rushen, the popular chef who has a loyal fan base selling out supper clubs is settling down with a permanent spot in Hackney. Location is yet to be announced by the team but they are planning to open in December. This is bound to be a sell-out hot spot for foodies and will be worth adding to your list for the new year if you don’t manage to catch it in December!


December is the perfect time to hibernate and work through the reading list that you made as a resolution at the beginning of 2023. It’s also a lovely time for short stories and essays that you can dip in and out of, sat by a crackling fire with a glass of wine. For this, I recommend ‘Lunch with the FT, A Second Helping’ which makes a wonderful gift and fireside accompaniment. This is the second book of the incredibly popular Financial Times column with 50 new interviews all following the same formula – a conversation-cum-interview over an agreeable lunch, with the location chosen by the guest.

I also think Christmas is the perfect time for poetry. I don’t know many people who buy poetry books for themselves yet the ones we are given seem to mean huge amounts to us. Mary Oliver’s Devotions is the collection I gift friends the most because it’s a broad collection of her work and I know there will be something in there they can relate to or just enjoy. For a stocking filler option I love The Poetry Pharmacy: Tried-and-True Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind and Soul. Pocket sized collection for all, reminding us that our feelings are universal in one way or another.


For a family crowd pleaser, Wonka hits cinema’s on the 8th December and acts as the story prequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Timothee Chalamet who plays the lead said “In a time and climate of intense political rhetoric, when there’s so much bad news all the time, this is hopefully going to be a piece of chocolate.” I’m definitely up for that.

And if  the Ferrari you were hoping for was not under your Christmas tree, be sure to watch the biopic Ferrari in cinemas on the 29th December for high speed and high drama. This has been one of the most hotly anticipated films of the year, looking at automobile mogul Enzo Ferrari’s life in 1957. With a star studded cast, this will be sure to shake you out of that Christmas haze and get ready to speed into the new year.

Gift giving – a thought…

I’m very aware of the commercialism around Christmas time (believe me, I realise the irony of this coming from a marketing professional) where volume has somewhat replaced sentiments when it comes to gifting. I’m a huge believer in ‘it’s the thought that counts’, be that passing on a great read you’ve just finished to give it a new life, or some heartfelt words in a beautiful card. My Christmas cards this year come with donations and are from the brilliant Scribble & Daub. Donations, no matter how big or small, are gratefully received by charities and will mean something to those you’ve donated for.

Little things  that come with a lot of thought mean a lot, such as a personalised key ring to replace the corporate plastic piece a loved one has been using out of convenience since that 2013 conference. In a time when we are all trying to be more conscious consumers, we don’t ne need another bath set that will sit in a cupboard and you might recycle on to someone else. If you are able gift to this year, it makes sense for it to be something that will be cherished and used for a lifetime. We’ve received gorgeous stories from customers this year telling us the journeys their Tusting bags have been on, and it is so heart-warming.

Finally, remember that sometimes the greatest gifts is being able to squeeze a loved one that little bit tighter or to pick up the phone for a chat with someone oceans away. It really is the thought that counts.

Bag of the month:

The Silverstone Tote takes bag of the month. The versatile, totally unisex bag makes the perfect gift which will be used all year round – for years and years. I’ll be using it on my shopping trips and later filling those handy front pockets with bottles of fizz whilst still having plenty of room to carry my presents and a million layers for staying warm in that chilly old house I have to visit in the holidays!

Is it too early to wish you all a Happy Christmas?


Make sure you’re not caught out by leaving things too late (although we have gift vouchers which work perfectly in case you are) and order before our last shipping dates for in-stock items:




Please order monogrammed items at least three days before the last shipping date applicable to your location.

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