Christmas Dining 2006

All the best offers, Christmas parties and more for 2006

Where to Christmas shop and lunch

Christmas shopping can be an extremely stressful experience. We all start out with the ultimate shopping trip in mind and sadly the reality never seems to match up.

In Hollywood movies, the heroine glides from gorgeous shop to gorgeous shop buying lovely and suitable items that the lucky recipient will treasure forever.

Maybe Hollywood heroines simply don’t have picky boyfriends who already have everything that they need, difficult maiden aunts who are supercilious about any gift and kid brothers who change from Chav to Emo to Goth at a moment’s notice with no predictability at all.

Given that Christmas shopping can be so stressful, the only way to get through it is to build in a lovely lunch where you can put your feet up, take a deep breath and have a much needed glass of Chardonnay.

Shopping and lunch...

If you’re heading for Bond Street and its environs, stop off at sketch in Conduit Street for lunch. The Glade is only is their lunchtime only dining area and serves fabulous inventive food in a glamorous setting. Or if you are pounding the pavement along uber trendy Marylebone High Street pop into Caffe Caldesi which has a warm welcoming atmosphere in Tuscan style setting.

For those Knightsbridge and Sloane Square shoppers one of the best kept secrets in the sleek and stylish Mju restaurant within the Millennium Hotel half way up Sloane Street. It serves fabulous Asian influenced food which will give you added umpf for the afternoon.

Covent Garden is awash with restaurants so the world’s your lobster, but if you want to make it special book Christopher's in Wellington Street – very Sex and the City or Café des Amis in Hanover Place for trad French at reasonable prices. Christmas party survival guide

There are various ways that you can play the office party – remain sober and dignified or get blind drunk and deny all knowledge of your behaviour afterwards.

The first option allows you to take the moral high ground and feel incredibly superior to your colleagues, as well as being one of the few people who have clear memories of what everyone else got up to.

In addition, if you’re really smart, you can use this as leverage for the next twelve months. The getting plastered option is probably a whole lot more fun – and some may feel that it’s the only way to get through the office Christmas party. The problem is this route can backfire horribly. You have been warned.

The third option is possibly the smartest of all…pretend to pile into the sherbet but in reality remain stone cold sober. That way, you can get away with behaving outrageously (but not embarrassingly so), snogging whoever takes your fancy and at least remembering about it the following morning (providing you want to).

However, whichever route you take, there are some cardinal rules that are probably worth bearing in mind – at least if you value your job and your career prospects.

•Try to keep all your clothing intact. Apart from anything else, it’s tricky to get cabbies to take you home if you have lost your shoes/skirt/shirt.

•Talk to your boss – or any member of staff that you want to impress - early on in the evening before the alcohol has had time to kick in. If you’re serious about your job, you can use this informal occasion to stun them with your wit and wisdom. If you leave it till too late on you may well be unaware that you are talking total b******s.

•Do not launch yourself onto the newest member of staff – you do not know enough about them and they could turn out to be the latest office bore or lothario. You need to do your homework first as you don’t want to spend the whole evening hearing about their latest failed relationship or looking at the pictures of their children in their wallet.

There are people who believe that no office Christmas party is a success unless someone has thrown up, or someone has gone home with someone they shouldn’t. Just make sure that none of these is you – it’s much more fun to gossip than be gossiped about. Shared Christmas parties – yule love them

The office Christmas party is like Marmite. Some people love ’em and some don’t. However, one thing the office party is every year is inescapable.

Let’s set the scene - Derek from sales in the stationery cupboard with Deirdre from HR; the general madcap-over-the-top-orgyness of it all.

Now picture the morning after the night before - the collective sore heads and same post-party faces avoiding eye contact.

However, it just doesn’t have to be that way. There is another solution – the shared office party.

Book yourself and your colleagues into a big venue where there are lots of other small companies celebrating at the same time and do it together in style. And on the bright side, other people’s co-workers are bound to be better looking, more amusing, better paid and well, just better.

Author: Michelle Smith of

- See All In London's Restaurant Section

- See All In London's Restaurant Special Offers section.

- See All In London's Club & Bar Section

- See forthcoming club nights and parties featured in All In London's Club Night Guide

- Planning a night out? Try All In London's Night Out Generator