Local experts in south east London share their insider tips on how to have a fun, fabulous stress-free Christmas…
Rosie Dugard of dugardanddaughters.com, Herne Hill
What qualities should you look for when buying your turkey?
A free-range bronze turkey from a reputable farm. You want it to have been slow-grown, fed an additive-free diet, dry-plucked and hung, as this all adds to the rich flavours. It will cost more than a frozen or non free-range bird, but it’s worth it when it comes to the eating! Our turkeys come from Nick & Jacob at Fosse Meadows Farm, we work with them week in week out as we stock their free-range chickens, so we have a great relationship and know their free-range birds are top quality in terms of taste and welfare.
What size turkey should you buy?
This can be tricky! Appetites vary and some festive feasters want leftovers for late-night turkey sandwiches, whereas others are happy to finish the bird in one go… but a reasonable guide for whole turkeys is 500g per person, which should leave some tasty leftovers.
What’s your top turkey cooking tip?
Keep a Christmas dinner diary. Write up your bird weight, cooking times, side dishes, party size and make notes after the meal. It’s a long-term project but it does start to pay off.
What’s your top tip for a fun, fabulous, stress-free Christmas?
Bucks Fizz for breakfast always works in our house!
Marisa Leaf of hubbub.co.uk, which delivers from small shops to your door
What’s the idea behind Hubbub?
Hubbub brings the best small shops, market stalls and producers together in one simple delivery. We make it easy for people to enjoy the best food in their area and help small shops challenge the dominance of the supermarkets.
Why does it beat supermarket shopping?
Behind the 100-plus independent shops, producers and market stalls that we work with are people who truly know food. Everything is made, sourced and sold with care and expertise, whether they’re the only shop selling a particular cheese, or have spent years honing their mince pie-making skills. It’s a world away from the bland products chosen for shelf life and volume in the supermarkets. Plus, you can buy all your Christmas food from the comfort of your home and have it delivered in a convenient one-hour slot, right up to Christmas Eve.
Who are some of your most popular local producers?
Our customers are huge fans of Lordship Lane’s shops – we work with Franklins Farm Shop, Burro e Salvia Pastificio and Moxon’s Fishmonger. Nearby, there’s beer and hot sauce haven Hop Burns & Black and Herne Hill’s treasure trove, Mimosa. We also deliver from some of Borough Market’s best loved producers including Ginger Pig butchers, Cannon & Cannon charcutiers and Ted’s Veg.
Katharine MacLaverty of rigbyandmac.com, with three stores in Dulwich
Do you prefer online shopping or getting out to the shops?
I like a combination of both. If I have very exact ideas about what I want then I’ll usually buy it online from the comfort of my sofa with a glass of wine. But I like to go to interesting shops and browse for gifts that the recipient isn’t expecting. I only shop locally as I much prefer the experience and it gets me in the mood for festivities. Online shopping is convenient but it can’t replicate the feeling of coming through the doors laden with gifts, rolls of wrapping paper and mince pies.
What lovely gifting brands have you discovered as buyer for rigbyandmac.com?
We absolutely love the new ceramics from Danish brand Broste. They make beautiful gifts and their tableware is gorgeous if you’re planning to use Christmas entertaining as an excuse to buy something new!
What’s your tip for a fun, stress-free Christmas?
I like to plan a trip to the local shops and markets with a couple of girl friends including lots of coffee and cake. I always go to our Christmas shopping evenings too, which definitely make me feel more Christmassy. Oh and get the mulled wine in!
Lawrence Roullier White of roullierwhite.com, East Dulwich
Where do you start when buying a fragrance for somebody else?
Work out what they like to wear. Ask what they’re wearing that day, then you can start to talk in more general terms about the sort of smells they like or don’t like. Next, ask an expert – people who know perfumes will be able to point out the scents that strike a chord based on the recipient’s likes and dislikes.
If people are really stuck, what all-time classics you would recommend?
There are several men’s scents that I’ve never known any man – or woman – not to like; Eight and Bob, Mediterraneo by Carthusia, Fougere Royale by Houbigant and Number 14 by Gruhme all spring to mind. For women, Aedes de Venustas’ signature scent always delights and it is impeccably presented. Everyone loves rose scents at the moment – Rosamunda by Laboratorio Olfattivo has a divine steely note, Rosier by Nancy Meiland is gorgeous and Black Jade by Lubin is just a joy. Part of the pleasure of giving perfume as a gift is that people love to try something new. Ask for a sample phial too so that the recipient can try it without opening the box.
What’s your top tip for a fun, fabulous, stress-free Christmas?
Shop locally! It’s much more fun, more money circulates locally and you’ll be doing your bit for the area you love!
Sam Lyle of pinesandneedles.com, which offers a tree-decoration service
Why is tree provenance important?
We prefer Ambrolauri Nordman Fir seeds from Georgia as we have found them to grow into the fullest, most evenly shaped trees.
Tell us about your services…
We have many tiers to our services, from delivery to a full tree-decoration service. We’ll install and decorate your tree while you sit back, relax and watch the creation of your perfect Christmas theme, from our Scandi-inspired Nordic Enchantment Collection to our Jewelled Opulence Collection full of luxurious textures. Plus, we have a unique inner London delivery service – who doesn’t love a knowledgeable man in a kilt and Santa hat?
What are your top tree-decorating tips?
Make sure the tree is in a very secure stand, preferably water holding, as it will keep the tree fresh for longer. Test the lights before putting them on the tree and then decorate colour by colour to ensure you get an even spread.
What happens once Christmas is over?
They’re chipped, recycled and go back into the circle of life! All the trees we cut down are replaced with new seedlings – in fact we plant far more than we cut.
Manish Utton-Mishra of goodtaste-fd.co.uk, Crystal Palace
If you could only have three bottles of wine over Christmas, what would you recommend?
You just have to start with a good fizz, whether it’s a Cava, Prosecco, Champagne, English Sparkling, Crémant or any of the other numerous types of sparkling wines. Follow that with a nicely oaked Chardonnay for the turkey or chicken, then serve a good late bottle vintage port or an aged tawny port with the cheese course.
If people prefer beer with their Christmas dinner, what goes well with turkey?
You can’t go wrong with a good Belgian Trippel Ale, Blonde or a Dubbel. They come in attractive looking 750ml bottles so they look great on the table. And, more importantly, they’re amazing all-rounders with Christmas fare. Also, on the whole, they will satisfy wine lovers who might sneer at beer!
Sticking with beer, what would stand up to a good Stilton?
As a general rule always try and pair stronger flavoured foods with a similarly punchy drink. I always have a big stout with my big blue cheeses, but my colleague favours big IPAs with them. Go for the Imperial ones, such as Magic Rock Brewery’s Bearded Lady, or Lervig’s and Evil Twin’s collaboration, Big ASS Money Stout. The former is a mere 10.5%, the latter a beast of a stout at 17.5%!
Julia Salisbury of neroli-skincare.co.uk, Honor Oak
What treatment would you recommend for stressed Christmas elves?
A luxury foot treatment soothes the soul and soles! A treatment like neroli’s Tropical Paradise Pedicure (65 minutes, £50) affords you guilt-free me time, relaxes the muscles and tendons, nourishes and heals dry skin and leaves you ready for the dance floor.
If there’s only time for one beauty treat, what would you recommend?
My treat to myself every Christmas is a course of three professional facials. I plan them in at two-weekly intervals starting mid-November to help my skin remain calm and blemish-free no matter how many late nights and rum cocktails come my way! My favourite is our Advanced Prescriptive Facial (50 minutes, £68), which uses advanced technology to leave skin looking plump, smooth and radiant from your first treatment, so it’s perfect when time or finances permit just the one treat.
What’s your stress-free Christmas tip?
Starting early is my sanity saviour. At home I have the tree and decorations up, the presents wrapped, cards posted and Ocado delivery booked by 1 December. December is one of our busiest months at neroli, so planning and organisation leaves me able to calmly deal with the insane moments that present themselves as we get closer to Christmas.