Every London department store has its own USP at Christmas, and they are all equally brilliant, but I have always had a soft spot for Selfridges at Christmas, thanks to its legendary Christmas grotto of yore.
Every winter my mother would drive up to London from Kent where we grew up for a triple whammy Selfridges experience: to check out their always wonderful Christmas windows, to visit the themed grotto, and to meet Father Christmas. The Selfridges Grotto was phenomenal – they’d pick a theme each year, maybe The Wind in the Willows, or Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and create an entire series of animatronic tableaux. You’d enter into the dark to be met with an enchanted story book world,and, at the very end, Father Christmas would be waiting to hear your Christmas wishes.
These days Father Christmas and his attendant elf roam throughout the store instead, daily, until 3pm on Christmas Eve, and everyone can experience the wonder of Christmas through the, often very funny, brilliance of the Selfridges VM team. I’m quite fond of the hipster Santa lurking in Menswear.
I went in last week to have a tour of the personalisation offer at Selfridges this Christmas with my friend Charlotte. We started off with Champagne – inevitably, although not in a glass, at their stand on the lower ground floor.
The idea is that you can enter in a location or a postcode, and the Veuve Clicquot app will calculate the distance to Reims. They will then hand block the place on to a magnetic arrow which slides into the VC gift pack. It’s a lovely idea for a special occasion – maybe the location of a wedding or a Christening or a first date?
I live in Camden in London, so that seemed an appropriate place for my arrow (which is now living on my fridge).
Then it was up to the 4th floor, which is currently home to all things Christmas.
Pausing only to mull over whether I really need a life-size animatronic reindeer that sings Christmas carols, or a super squishy polar bear to use as a pillow,
we headed over to check out the rest of the customisation offer. I first checked out these signs back in July when Selfridges held their always spectacular press preview (also known as Christmas in July), and I now have my very own Lettice Lane sign on my kitchen wall.
Then it was over to the personalised while-you-wait wrapping paper and card station.
I love the wrapping paper – there’s a big book of designs to choose from, but you can also get stockings and cards. If I were over from America then I’d be bee-lining to the London bus designs.
Need a Christmas sack or stocking? There’s a counter for that too. Including two designs for your furry friends. (Prices start from £8.)
I was very taken by the personalised baubles, with pretty stars inside, and a name engraved on the outside. The same counter can also do crackers, with a choice of good gifts inside, and other tree ornaments too.
Littlesmith will stamp the initial, name, date or word of your choice on a variety of bars, beads and pendants, and have two counters at Selfridges – one on the lower ground and one upstairs on the 4th.
I think it will come as no surprise to see the words that I chose:
Here are some of the other designs that people have made: