Published in the Bondi View and City News.
Whilst the weather belies it, it’s definitely December. This means there are only a ridiculously small number of shopping days until you-know-what. I mostly travel to avoid the whole issue, but if you do find yourself trapped between bah humbug and a toasted ethical pig’n’cheese sanga on Boxing Day (my favourite day of the year), I do have three options…
1) My own Christmas will be spent in the Hunter Valley this year. Some types of families function better when they’re taken out of their (power)houses and plonked right into the middle of a Christmas Lights Spectacular. It’s the Hunter Valley Gardens’ fifth year running it, and this time their acreage will be filled with well over a million Christmas lights! Idle mouths can be kept occupied with German, Turkish and sugary options from ice cream to hot nuts and fairy floss. If that doesn’t work, the boom of fireworks will drown out any skirmishes. A winery tour the next day should rinse any residual unpleasantness out of your mouth and stock you up for the New Year. At only $17.50/head it's definitely a humbug highlight; and on every night from now until the 14th January (with a break on C-Day).
2) Sometimes humbugs function better if 'perceived' ingratitude isn’t preceded by a truckload of effort. Avoid resentment by taking the whole family into Café Opera at the InterContinental Sydney. Heck - book yourself a room and get slowly sloshed over a pre-Christmas (up to 23rd December) buffet of ham, turkey, seafood and decadent desserts ($55/lunch, $65/dinner). They’re obviously more expensive on the big day ($220/lunch) but you do also get a whole beverage package to keep you all occupied.
Don’t be put off by the word ‘buffet’ either - this is one of the best I’ve seen in Sydney (Bally's Sterling Brunch in Las Vegas still wins) with a live carvery, small and frequently refreshed live cooking stations, plus all the lobster, prawns, oysters, mussels and blue swimmer crab you care to enjoy.
3) If you absolutely have to enter the city’s central shopping district, give those tortured tootsies a break and avoid shopping fatigue by checking into The Tea Room QVB. Head Chef, Shane Davey has prepared a Decadent December High Tea ($43/head), which will level up your Christmas spirit without becoming onerously thematic. Scoff seasonal scones while they lay on little sandwiches, delicate gingerbread macaroons and eggnog. If you’re in a savoury mood, he’s also offering an a la carte lunch of one to three courses ($33-$55/head) with dishes like a roast salmon fillet with cucumber and mango salad and flying fish caviar beurre blanc. Indulge - take a girlfriend; take a book; or bury your nose in your iPhone like the rest of Sydney.