‘Twas the week before Christmas!

The festivities are in full swing! It really feels like Christmas in London now with carollers singing from house-to-house, ugly Christmas sweaters proudly worn, and the houses across the city decorated with festive lights and wreaths.

This morning the tube was quieter than usual as many people have either headed to the countryside, out of the country or are just enjoying time at home preparing for the celebrations.

In case you’re in need of any last-minute recipes, here are a few of my favourite Christmas recipes from over the years:

For those celebrating in a warmer climate, here are some salad ideas:

Thought I’d also share a few snaps of the Christmas decorations around London.

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Christmas Minions taking over!


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Festive entrance in Notting Hill


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This year’s Regent Street display!

Earlier this month it was my birthday! Thanks to my sister and friends for making the London celebrations such memorable ones! On the Saturday evening we went to Obica – a mozzarella bar in South Kensington. I’ve dined there before, as well as their restaurant in Florence, and they never disappoint! They do amazing burrata and antipasti boards which were in abundance – I think we ordered 6 for 12 of us, along with pizzas and salads (and some vino)! They were also very accommodating for such a large group – we didn’t have to have a set menu or put down a deposit, which is rare in London and always good to be aware of.

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All the burrata!

A few of us then headed to Piano Bar, fairly self-explanatory, but it’s a bar where a live pianist plays all the old school classics. It feels like you’re in someone’s lounge room with 100 close friends singing along – except we didn’t know 95 of them!

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Gluten- and dairy-free birthday cake!

On the Sunday morning, my actual birthday, my sister treated me to breakfast at The Ivy in Chelsea. A place you have to go to, even to see how they seasonally decorate as it really is stunning. During spring there was a gorgeous floral wall taking over the exterior and in winter they haven’t disappointed either with a festive display.

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Birthday breakfast at The Ivy with my sister


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This is The Ivy in Spring!

We also hosted a Christmas lunch in the afternoon to celebrate what a year it’s been with some close friends! There was mulled wine, a glazed ham and for a bit of fun we played ‘Stealing Santa’ – a fun-version of ‘Secret Santa’.

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Just the start of the Christmas feast!

And it wouldn’t be Christmas without some homemade gingerbread men!

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Gluten- and dairy-free gingerbread men

This year, Christmas will be spent in England with my sister and some close friends. We’re heading to York so are taking the train Saturday morning and will wander through the cobblestone streets, explore the local Christmas markets and enjoy some time relaxing by the fire for a few days.

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Continuing with the gingerbread theme, I’ve made some gingerbread granola bars for the train trip to York

Family is everything to me so not spending the holidays together for the first time will be difficult. It’s one of the downsides of living an expat life. You often can’t go home for every celebration – especially since it’s over a 24 hour flight away. But thanks to Facetime, we will be able to celebrate together in some small way – just not by the beach, like last year!

On that note, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic New Year – celebrating with your loved ones!

Happy and safe holidays,

Emma Lauren

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