After years of dashing from one festive soiree to the next, Ciara Sheppard makes the case for embracing a year off…
In any ordinary year, the arrival of November would only mean one thing – the imminent arrival of the festive juggernaut we know as “party season”.
You remember party season, right?
Prosecco bottles softly clinking on the winter air, Mariah Carey warbling softly in the background, your social calendar filling at truly alarming speed…
From the Friends Christmas Dinner to the daily pleas from colleagues for an impromptu drink “because it’s Christmas”, the run-up to 25 December is usually a whirlwind of social activity.
But this year, things are set to look different, with nobody sure of what they’ll be allowed to do by the time the decorations are up.
One thing we can be fairly sure of though – piling into a heaving pub for a festive sing-song is probably off the agenda this time around.
You could be forgiven then for thinking that this year might be a bit of a let-down, but I have a small confession to make.
Lean in close now.
I’m actually quite excited to have a year off.
Usually around this time of year, I’d be taking pre-emptively early nights and trying to cram in as much telly as possible, resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t be getting a moment to myself for the next few weeks.
This year, however, I feel a kind of serene calm.
Let’s get something clear first: going out is great.
There’s nothing that fills my heart more than being round the table of a lively pub with all my mates, even more so when we’re basking in the warm glow of a twinkling Christmas tree.
But while the component parts (friends, alcohol, festive cheer) are undoubtedly fun, I’d ask you to consider this: how much of party season do you really and truly enjoy?
Because in my experience, what starts off as novel and exciting soon begins to become a never-ending conveyer-belt of social engagements, when often, I’d much rather be at home.
There’s the work Christmas party, obviously, which last year I spent discussing my Christmas break plans in tedious detail with a colleague who didn’t know my name.
But there’s also all those countless annual catchups with old friends, former uni roommates and virtual strangers you once met travelling, that – despite having had the entire year to arrange a meet up – simply must happen before Christmas, lest your friendship expire at the sound of the New Year chimes.
By the second week in December, I’m usually craving the opportunity to put my feet up, so you’ll understand why this year I’m ready to embrace spending the party season indoors.
I can’t wait to spend nights in with my close-knit support bubble, playing stupid Christmas games and actually having proper conversations, instead of making small talk with strangers in chilly queues.
As I’ll be playing barman, mulled wine (truly overrated) will be banned in favour of a superior hot toddy – the Hot Pink, a delicious twist on a G&T packed with berry flavour and festive spices
Basically, you mix Gordon’s Premium Pink Distilled Gin with raspberry cordial, top it up with boiling water, then garnish with raspberries, star anise and cinnamon.
Then I’ll probably offer a classic Gin Fizz* as an alternative– mixed with Gordon’s London Dry Gin and elderflower cordial, it’s a great option when you want something that tastes refreshing rather than warming.
Best of all, no one will be demanding I cough up eight quid after each drink, while the wait at the bar will only last as long as it takes me to make them.
Now tell me that isn’t a significant upgrade?
In years gone by, choosing to stay in during December would come with a side order of FOMO.
It was easy to feel like the least fun person in the world when your Instagram feed was flooded with photos of sequinned party dresses and hashtags of #tistheseason.
This year, exactly no one will be going out so I’m ready to fully embrace being a hermit without any of the guilt factor.
Think about it: when will we ever get a legitimate excuse to spend the entirety of Christmas indoors in our tracksuit bottoms again?
And if I do get itchy feet at any point this Christmas, I’ll rest easy knowing the bustling bars and sticky dancefloors will be there waiting for me when this mess passes, and go back to putting my feet up, drink in hand.
Whoever you’ll be celebrating with, Gordon’s Gin is the perfect drink to add some sparkle to your festive season.
Want to make a Hot Pink for yourself? Just add 50ml Gordon’s Premium Pink Distilled Gin and 25ml raspberry cordial to a heat-proof Copa glass and top with 125ml boiling water. Garnish with 2 raspberries, a star anise and a cinnamon stick and serve. Contains 1.9 units of alcohol.
*Gordon’s Gin Fizz contains 2.2 units of alcohol.