I absolutely LOVE Christmas; I always have and always will. In fact I enjoy it so much that it is no trouble at all having everyone to my house and I have been lucky enough to be the host for the last three years. My siblings and their families are always appreciative of the ridiculously complicated meal we eat, but I assure them it really is a pleasure. But Christmas and the numerous spin off reasons to celebrate, motivate and renovate may cause you to hyperventilate...with stress due to the sheer volume of 'stuff' that needs to be done.
It just occurred to me. Did I have the same moan at about this time last year? I probably did, because between September and the last working day before the holidays we all seem to double our workload. For us in the fashion industry, we have to condense three months of work into two in order to give our teams time off over the festive season. We go straight from Halloween to Winter Sale preparations which launches on Boxing Day and on into the early Spring Collections which need to be ready to go in January. From a sales, operations and HR point of view we are extra busy in stores with Christmas present shoppers and party dress sales. Plus we are often hampered by poor weather making journeys to work a nightmare and sometimes bouts of flu amongst the teams. In our Distribution Centre the new spring stock is already being delivered in, with containers of clothing arriving from our factories to add to the workload. Thousands of pieces need to be checked, counted and put away ready for the New Year.
On the kids' front, there are the extra school events and if you are lucky, an adorable nativity play to attend. More parties often with fancy dress costumes needed last minute and the inevitable baking for the Christmas fair stalls. Thankfully for me I'm through the participation stage when it comes to school, and I'm not on the PTA (never have been and probably never will be now). Something had to give.
I'm quite proud of my Christmas shopping tactics. Basically I don't do it. I can't see why anyone would head for the shops when they are full. Instead I buy presents all year round from lovely independents I might visit on trips around the world and I stash them ready for the great day. It's a good plan but I always seem to forget what I have bought, so when the bootie is brought out and displayed on my bed ready for a massive wrap fest, I'm slightly confused about what is for whom. There is generally plenty to go round even if the choices are a little odd. I was mortified last year when I gave one of my brothers some extremely expensive soap in a box from the delicious Sabon in NYC. He unwrapped it on the day, opened the box and found that....instead of the 'Trio of Soaps', as listed on the packaging, there were only two. I then remembered we had run out some time in the summer and I'd raided the present drawer. Oh dear. Note to self: Do not give same brother posh soaps this year.
On top of the presents, food planning and preparation, work and kids there is also for some reason a flurry of excitement from journalists and PR events. Why are all the award ceremonies at this time of year? This week has been especially busy with numerous interview and requests for me to blog. I've just bashed out a Q and A session for My Baba, enjoyed a rant for The Telegraph's Soapbox column and written a speech for the Rockstar Mentoring Group Entrepreneur event on 7th December in London - there are still spaces available apparently.
I really much prefer to be at home eating supper with the boys, but this week I've had a whirlwind of pre-Christmas excitement; starting with the theatre - The Young Vic to see the Scottsboro Boys, which is really harrowing but an amazing production. Last night was a round table discussion with the Secretary of State for Wales, David Jones MP, in a State Room at Lancaster House which was built for the Duke of York and Albany, the second son of King George III. The great and the good of Welsh business had a grand discussion on what we need from the Government. I made a few requests such as a container ship port and for a speed up on the M4 extension which I will take full credit for in the unlikely event they are ever delivered. Tonight is yet another glam get together as we launch the first round of judging for the next Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of 2014. I'm not showing off and I am having a lovely time but I just wish everything did not happen in the run up to Christmas - I'll be very sad and bored in Jan and Feb.
P.S. As a Veuve Clicquot judge I must suggest 3 candidates for the Business Woman Award nominations and one New Generation Award nomination to the panel. Please could you let me know of any unsung heroes from British business or possibly some well-known ones who may have escaped the notice of us judges in the past few years. The entry criteria needed for the main award are that the business must turn over more than £4M and be profitable (or not for profit). For the New Gen Award, the nominees need to be under the age of 30. The PR generated from winning this award is generally incredible, or at least it was in my case when I won in 2010.