Have Yourself a Merry Retro Christmas

I love Christmas and the first few I remember are full of 1970s glitz and charm. My favourite Christmases were hosted by my grandparents at their home in California where friends and family would gather for little get-togethers and chat over cocktails. There would be beautiful winter flowers on the tables, dips and nibbles to suit everyone’s taste, and drinks and laughter would flow in equal measure. My cousins and I– all in matching Christmas dresses made by my grandmother– would watch the adults in awe and every year I fondly look back on these early memories as I arrange my own gatherings for friends and family. 

But it’s not just these happy family moments that I think back to when it comes to Christmas hosting, I also think back to the most iconic hostess of them all: Margo Leadbetter from The Good Life. Margo’s home oozed quintessential middle-class style and she could entertain like a pro with never a hair out of place. To me, she perfectly sums up retro style and this year, I’ll be calling on her entertaining powers as I stock my bar and invite friends and family to congregate in my own home. So how does one entertain like Margo? Here are some of my favourite modern products for bringing a fantastic retro vibe to your Christmas cocktail parties.

A great home with fabulous furniture was key for Margo, so what better way to start your own entertaining set-up than with this fantastic Puccini Cocktail Cabinet from John Lewis! It has a stunning wood veneered front and brushed brass handles and bases that give it an Art Deco feel that I absolutely love. Though it’s compact, it’s also quite spacious and has room for everything a sophisticated party host would require. I especially like the drawers, which are perfect for stashing your Cocktail napkins and paper umbrellas.

Now that you have the cabinet, you just need to make sure you have the skills to make a super cocktail. Brush up on your bar skills with Good Things to Drink, available from Anthropologie. This book includes recipes to tempt just about everyone as well as a list of all the essentials you’ll require to make the concoctions. The essentials that are high on my personal Christmas wish list include Tom Dixon’s Plum barware collection, which includes a beautiful Glass Copper Ice Bucket, Copper Tongs, and matching Copper Cocktail Shaker, which are all available from Amara. For cocktails that require being stirred and not shaken, these Fir Sprig Drink Stirrers from Anthropolgie will certainly do the trick (and will look spectacular peeking out the top of a stocking).

Next –and perhaps most importantly– you need to stock your bar with liquor. Spirit bottles have evolved to be objects that are proudly displayed and I’m always drawn to ones that look like they could have been brewed in a very stylish chemistry lab. Selfridges Stocks some true beauties with Hibiki Japanese Whiskey, Edinburgh Gins Rhubard and Ginger Liqueur (which I like to think is oh-so Margo!), Duppy Share Caribbean Rum, Monkey 47 Gin. Don’t bring the style down with plain old tonic bottles! Instead, hunt out original soda syphons on eBay or antique fairs. These bring shape and colour and a whole heap of fun!

Margo never would’ve tolerated just any old glassware for her guests! Like us, she’d want to sip out of something fancy and I’m sure the Cabello Ribbed Tumblers from Habitat would be perfect for gin & tonics with ice and a slice or, as her husband, Jerry, would prefer, a whiskey straight up. More of a bubbly person? These Smoke Champagne Flutes from Dwell might be just the thing to raise a toast to Margo’s terrific hospitality. Cheers!

Now all that's left to do is to pop a few olives in a bowl and some cheese and pineapple hedgehogs on a plate and you're ready to entertain like a 70s pro. Now go make Margo proud!!!

Smartstyle would like to remind everyone to please drink responsibly this Christmas.