for Vivid Interiors

Vivid specialises in glitzy refits of London’s most stylish venues, so I’m expecting today’s attendees to provide the last word in elegant Christmas decorations. I am about to be disappointed.

“I’ve got a rubber chicken on my tree,” announces Pete. “My wife hates it.”

Family man Terry says his children decorate his tree – mainly with chocolate – and Ceri’s 10ft tree is topped with either an antique fairy her father stole while he was a night porter in a Cornwall hotel or a star she nicked from the local pub.

Lisa, meanwhile, has taken advantage of her flatmate’s job at Hugo Boss and covered her house in giant window decorations. “We were quite drunk by the end of it, and we woke up with bits of tinsel all over the house,” she says.

Ceri has a cautionary tale. “I live in Essex,” she admits. “There’s a beautiful Victorian house that has decorations up all year round and they turn them on in December. There’s an inflatable Santa stuck to the chimney, a big flashing sleigh and lights around all the drainpipes.” This meets with good-natured tutting.

“What’s all this PC stuff about Christmas decorations using 50 tonnes of carbon a year?” asks Pete.

“Killjoys!” spits Terry. “A load of old tosh!”

Building expresses concern about lit-up shops on Oxford Street. “Hamleys has got all those lights just on the building,” agrees Lisa.

But Ceri interjects: “It’s great isn’t it?” and all eco-resolve crumbles and the group enthusiastically plan a works outing to the world’s largest toy shop – Pete’s rubber chicken needs replacing.

They redeem themselves by discussing tree colour schemes. Pete’s will have tasteful gold and brown balls and Ceri will bedeck her tree with strings of pearls and red velvet ribbon. Lisa, a self-confessed “big kid”, is having none of it. “I’m fairy lights all the way,” she declares.

Ceri asks if any of the dads dress up as Father Christmas. It turns out Terry is a past master. “Don’t leave your slippers on, or they’ll guess,” he advises. “You’ve got to wear wellies.”

Like Santa Claus, Terry is a Christmas shopping purist.

“I would never buy my Christmas presents online,” he says.

Pete does. “Lazy bastard,” Terry says, shaking his head.

Pete suggests his colleague get his wife to do the shopping.

“I like to get involved,” retorts a horrified Terry.

Terry has been staking a claim to the title of King of Christmas, but when Paul turns up he puts up a pretty good fight.

Pride of place in the Mott house is given to “a Santa where you pull a thing between his legs and he does this ...” Paul jerks his arms and legs about to demonstrate.

He adds that until his two-year-old son was born, his wife was “a bit of a Scrooge”. Not any more. “She never understood, but now she’s totally into it. She chose the Santa, she decorated the tree. And she was the one with tears in her eyes when we turned on the lights and our son stood there staring.” Aww …

  • Ceri Hayzer communications manager
  • Terry Hearnon project manager
  • Lisa Boardley administration assistant
  • Pete Bury contracts manager
  • Paul Mott head of sales and marketing
  • Katie Puckett Building magazine

  • Venue: Zebrano Bar, off Carnaby Street, London W1 
  • Ambience: Swish West End bar in an afternoon lull 
  • Topic: Christmas decorations 
  • Drinks: Nine bottles of San Miguel, three bottles of Corona, three glasses of pinot grigio rosé. A disappointing lack of mulled wine