Christmas 2023: Giving, Coping and Hoping

Yes, it’s coming so quickly, Christmas 2023. That couple of days of the year that are the best of times and the worst of times. For some people they have only the one end of the scale, for the rest of us it’s a mixed event, charged with historic drama and hopefulness. If you are feeling lost, alone, overwhelmed or depressed then please jump to the end of this post for some simple and easy coping mechanisms.

Here’s a page with many worldwide HELPLINES. Please call them, they’re waiting for you.

Also, I know that many of our readers are not celebrating this particular holiday. Whatever you do or whoever you worship I hope the season treats you kindly.

Fragrant Christmas 2023 Gift Ideas

Fragrant Christmas 2023 Gift Ideas

Here are a few things you can hopefully order online and have arrive, wrapped and ready in time for Christmas 2023.

Christmas 2023

Hey Jude by Aftelier Perfumes is the newest release from Mandy Aftel. It’s created around the David Austen rose Jude the Obscure and is a beautiful rendering of rose that will capture your gift recipients heart and soul. It comes in different strengths, sizes and even in solid perfumes.

Christmas 2023

Thyina by Neela Vermeire Creations (pronounced Theena) is a lightly spiced aromatic amber perfume with lovely resins and lavender. The new bottle shape will sit equally well with the guys and girls, as will the fragrance. It’s parfum concentration so will wear close but remain richly fragrant all day into evening.

Nesti Dante

Nesti Dante Romantica soap set comes with six beautifully wrapped floral scent infused soaps that can easily be broken up and added to other things, or given on their own. A few years ago a commenter said a lavish soap and a pack of chewing gum is a good gift. I’ve loved and used that idea often since.

Suite 302 Victoria Beckham Beauty Christmas 2023

Suite 302 Victoria Beckham Beauty. No, I haven’t smelled it yet but that gorgeous metal case looks like it should be full of illegal booze and apparently it’s a very decent tobacco fragrance with a cherry top. OK, take my money. There are three in the new range but this one is calling to me hard.

Aimez Moi Comme Je Suis Caron

Caron Aimez Moi Comme Je Suis is a nutty woodsy thing that is unbelievably comfortable to wear and has a really delicious sweet tobacco dry down. I’m unsure why it doesn’t get the raves all over the place. The bottle also feels lavishly simple and hefty in my hands, the metal strip a very nice additive.

Hermès Casaque Love Story muffler Christmas 2023

Hermès Casaque Love Story muffler made in 100% cashmere in Great Britain. 30 x 140 cm. It is a thing of great beauty and you need to feel it to believe how gorgeous it is, PLUS it comes in the fabulous orange Hermés box. It’s pricey but not as expensive as one of their 90cm silk scarves. Not fragrant but super desirable.

Goyard paris Artois PM Bag

Goyard Paris Artois PM Bag. The tote to end all yearnings. Comes in 11 colours and will make even the hardest of hearts swoon. There’s something so finished about Goyard. Also not fragrant but it might go well with your new Hermès Casque Muffler. It will definitely bring a new dimension to your shopping sprees.

If You’re Struggling

For those who feel completely alone, cut off and adrift from the rest of humanity. I’m hugging you right now. Please take time now to organise SOMETHING for this holiday. It’s relentless and can push us over the edge.
Have something nice or special to eat, doesn’t need to be expensive, something you like.
Maybe, if you have the funds or want to be involved, go have a meal out. Yes, you’ll be solo but you’ll be enveloped.

If solitude is your favourite thing then maybe a ramble around your neighbourhood? I find walking a really good way to beat off the blues, doesn’t have to be far to change my perspective and mood. The weather, the nature, the blood pounding and rhythm of my steps all combine to elevate my mood. Nearby we have a few parks, there’s nearly always some kind of life going on. People watching is nice too if you’re comfortable and sip a cuppa. Take some photos, just with your phone, enjoy the fun of seeing things in a new way and then spend some time cropping and lighting them. Give yourself a little challenge, photograph four yellow cars, six dogs, one person with food or two people on bikes. Be connected even in solitude.

Have a plan. The best way to cope with anything is to have a plan. Make sure there are a couple of plans in case one gets derailed. Best to keep plans small and achievable, seriously, have a few.

The crushing overload of forced intimacy and aspirational Christmas spirit is a lot to handle, even for the strongest of us.

Also, say NO. If seeing your family, friends, anything is not what you want to do. Say NO. You don’t need to explain, just say no. Write an email if they are bullying you. “I will not be coming for Christmas. Hope it’s everything you want it to be. See you in the new year.”

Again: Here’s a page with many worldwide HELPLINES.

Please call them, they’re waiting for you.


Thinking of you all with love, and hope your Christmas 2023 is a safe and pleasant one

Portia xx

  • Brigitte says:

    Lovely post, P! Happy Holidays! For the past few years I have made a large donation to Animal Care Sanctuary, a stand alone animal shelter in Pennsylvania that does extraordinary work not just in sheltering/caring for animals but pre-vet internships (the only shelter in the country that does this), take a dog for the weekend and other extraordinary things. This is the shelter where my daughter adopted our first furry grand baby from. The yearly donation on Giving Tuesday is in place of gifts for friends and family, all of whom are animal lovers. And some of my friends also make donations there now as my holiday present which truly warms my heart.

  • Maya says:

    Oh you got me with the muffler. I love the feel of cashmere on skin. I would like to try the new NVC Fragments but they do not seem available at the usual places yet.
    I have nothing to add to what everyone has already said about your If You’re Struggling, except to thank you for writing it.

  • Kathleen says:

    You are such a kind and loving soul Portia! I acknowledge your thoughtfulness; you make the world a more beautiful place. xoxo

  • VerbenaLuvvr says:

    Such a warm and thoughtful post! I am coveting that bag! 🙂 So many struggle in the holiday season, sometimes it is loneliest being surrounded by happiness and cheer but not feeling it inside. We will be working and staying home as we have no close family. My kids will be performing music (choir, piano, violin) at area churches and being part of that gives me peace and a feeling of community. Also we volunteer more during the holiday season to keep busy and the focus not on ones self. Best Wishes to all for a happy and healthy holiday season and a wonderful new year!

  • Mandy Aftel says:

    It just makes me so happy to see this!
    Thank you so very much! And, what an amazing post you wrote about how difficult the holidays can be.
    Your post was filled with so much warmth, wisdom and goodness. The things we need so much more of in this world

    • Portia says:

      Hey Mandy
      Congratulations on Hey Jude. It’s a gorgeous winner.
      Hope this holiday season is full of stuff you love.
      Portia xxx

  • Tom says:

    What a lovely post Portia. I know the holidays can be stressful for people. For many years I spent it with my BFF and her fam, who included my godchild. Now BFF lives in NYC as does the kid. So I do feel a little nostalgic for the 7am on Xmas morn asking me to drive over to Pasadena from Beverly Hills, STAT because the kid won’t open presents without me, I really do enjoy just being alone as well. A top down drive through Topanga with Talking Heads on the stereo when there’s no traffic is Xmas perfection for me.

    I never even have heard about that Caron- will need to investigate, and I have the VB samples coming.

    Happy, safe, and fulfilling holidays to all of you, however you choose to mark them!

  • Filomena says:

    I celebrate Christmas but dread it every year. The good part is being with my grandkids and grown adult sons. However, the bad part is that my daughter-in-laws father and his wife buy hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of very expensive gifts for my granddaughter and grandson, which I have distasteful and unnecessary, especially now that my granddaughter is in college and my grandson is in middle school. It makes the rest of us (namely me) feel bad because I am on a strict budget and cannot afford to buy anything that is unnecessary as I have no longer have a job and have to watch every penny. Plus my grandkids already have more of everything that they need and I find it overbearing to sit there and watch them open all those packages. It is so over the top, especially now when so many people in the world have nothing. I just grin and bare it and look forward to the day being over for yet another year. As for New Years Eve, I am perfectly content watching the ball drop from Times Square while sipping a glass of prosecco all my myself.

    • alityke says:

      I understand completely. It was only whilst in the final year of her life mum admitted that the huge bags filled with presents she gifted everyone was done for herself not for the recipients. It made her feel bountiful even though the gifts were inappropriate (3lb of milk chocolates for a diabetic with high cholesterol?)
      Maybe your DiLs parents are the same?
      Enjoy your Prosecco on NYE in good health

    • Portia says:

      Good luck Filomena,
      Don’t sweat it. You’re the favourite. I can already tell
      Portia xx

  • Dina C. says:

    Lovely, helpful post, Portia. I appreciate the care and compassion that went into this. Thank you for your wisdom and practical tips.

    • Portia says:

      Hugs and hugs DinaC
      Hope your silly season is whatever you wish
      Portia xx

      • Dina C. says:

        Thanks Portia. My Christmas will be spent singing in church choir all throughout the Advent season, with a double portion on the 24th since it falls on a Sunday. We’ll have Christmas here at home with our adult children and my daughter’s boyfriend, and the granddog. Very cozy and traditional.

  • March says:

    Oh honey, what a lovely post. We went HARD for Christmas when the kids were younger — Christmas was my mother’s favorite holiday so it’s always a bit fraught emotionally for me, both happy and a bit melancholy. I’m traveling (fingers crossed) to Maine this year to spend it with them — dreading the flights but looking forward to the time with them. We’re all introverts so it’s perfectly fine for someone to call out, “okay, time for a break!” and we all scuttle off to our respective hidey holes lol. Having them host, do the tree etc. is a nice change for me, honestly.

    • Portia says:

      This will be year 2 of Maine, won’t it March.
      It will be so much more chill this year.
      Hope it’s excellent for you all
      Portia xx

      • March says:

        They now live in a house big enough for us all to stay in, woohoo! (Ava and I stayed in an AirBnb which wasn’t … great.) And they have a puppy so it’ll be chaos, I’m looking forward to it. <3

  • Tara C says:

    We don’t celebrate Christmas and fortunately there’s no family stress (3 of 4 parents are gone). I plan to have a nice quiet time at home alone with husband & dog. I’ll visit my dad in January when the rush is over. Thank you for being kind to those for whom this season is difficult or who are just going through a hard time.

  • MMKinPA says:

    Thank you for this lovely post. We celebrate Christmas, but I often feel overwhelmed by the gift giving and extra family time – the curse of the introvert. If it were up to me, the only gifts would be for my son (who, tbh is an adult now at almost 20 at university and mostly wants clothes/shoes which I would probably buy anyway). My father in law is 95, it feels weird to get a gift from him even if my husband arranged for it. I’m trying to downsize my life. I’d rather we all go out for a nice dinner (so I don’t have to cook!). Hugs to anyone who struggles this time of year.

  • Claudia says:

    Love you, Portia. Thank you

  • rosarita says:

    Oh Portia, thanks for this caring and loving post. The holidays are so hard for so many and it’s definitely relentless. I’m not a fan of New Year’s eve either, with the pressure of having a good time or else.

    • Portia says:

      Oh Rosarita!
      NYE is another very tough time. For a few years we had Anti NYE at the club. Early trivia, some music and all at regular weekly prices. It was fabulous
      Portia xx

  • JilkS says:

    Portia, thank you so much for this lovely post. Christmas time is always hard for me and my family because we are Jewish. Many people assume we celebrate Christmas, and wish us a Merry Xmas. It is especially difficult this year.
    Hanukkah is not a big Jewish holiday, and will be over by mid-December. I’m not envious of those celebrating Christmas, but I wish others would stop assuming that everyone celebrates that holiday.
    I am looking forward to some December movies, and beautiful holiday perfume sets, but I breathe a sigh of relief in January.
    Your advice is spot on, and I love reading your posts, Portia!

    • Portia says:

      Happy Hanukkah,
      I’m sorry all the Xmas hullabaloo gets you down. Good luck getting some good packs though. I hope there’s something that really fits your taste.
      Portia xx

  • MzChrz says:

    Oh Portia-how I adore you, even though I rarely post. Thank you for talking about the elephants in the holiday room-depression, isolation, sadness and so on. 2 things get me mostly emotionally unscathed through this time of year-my light box for SAD and doing small, anonymous kindnesses for folx. I’ve also found it’s okay to give in to having a bit of a sentimental holiday weep every now and then-clears out the dust.

    • Portia says:

      Thanks MzChrz.
      Oh yes, a big fat cry is always cathartic. I love those stupid Xmas RomComs and cry happy bucketloads in all of them
      Portia xx

  • alityke says:

    Dear Portia such a thoughtful & beautifully written piece. Last Christmas was a bust for us. DH had just been discharged post chemo & felt like poop. I cooked his favourite meal & he had asked the sons to do Xmas festivities with us either before of after in line with his chemo cycles. I still didn’t do a “Christmas dinner” but cooked Indian food for one & ordered in good Chinese for the other. I went to visit mum on Boxing Day.
    This year, no mum.

  • cinnamon says:

    Lovely post, Portia. This year’s hols are going to be low key. I am thoroughly sick of Black Friday and have mostly refused to think hols food etc before 1 December. I am looking forward to the cooking & eating (no turkey this year — simpler, saner food), candle lighting from the 8th, bagels, CC & lox on Xmas AM — getting as much gift buying done and/or sent by mid second week in December. I contribute monthly to the local food bank, and give more in December. I am very with you on how beautiful Suite 302 is and walking when you need to help chase the blues away.

    • Portia says:

      Your low key Xmas sounds wonderful Cinnamon.
      Having done nearly 30,000 steps today I’m feeling beat and contented.
      Portia xx

  • Musette says:

    Portia, what a lovely and thoughtful list, so full of caring. Christmas IS relentless, innit? I’m fortunate to have friends and family who care enough to contact me/gift me with goodies/come eat a meal – but they also understand that it’s an overwhelming time (probably for everyone). Your support of people who need to step back from the hullabaloo is really lovely.

    And that Beckham… (grinding of the teeth). Tobacco and cherry? Oh, my snakes!