How to pack for Christmas

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I’m in my mid-twenties, and like many people my age, I live in a different place to where I grew up. The nice thing about Christmas, besides the constant excuse for beers and general over-indulgence, is the opportunity to spend some time back at home, catching up with family and friends from home that you don’t see all too often.

Each year, I hastily pack a bag and head up North for between a week and ten days, and it’s not long into the trip back home that I soon realise I haven’t quite thought through my temporary wardrobe. Whether it’s talk of a Christmas day walk or a trip to a restaurant smarter than you had anticipated, when you’re limited by how much gear you can fit into your bag, it’s easy to get caught out. By the time new year’s Eve rolls around, not only are my jeans getting a little tight from all da fooood, but I’ve also pretty much exhausted every outfit possible.

This year, I’m determined to overcome this, and it made perfect sense to cover my thinking and workings out, in hope of helping out others who might also find themselves in the same boat as me. Packing for a trip home should be light enough to fit into a medium sized bag, while not so compact that you’ll be struggling for options. Think crewnecks that provide plenty of options, a decent coat for the elements, and boots that’ll see you right wherever you wind up during the festive period. Dressing equally for the elements as you are for a few days in front of the fire (interspersed with a few catch up trips to the pub), you have to take plenty of durable pieces to see you right for all occasions.

A decent coat


Let’s start simple. This one is pretty obvious, as December in the U.K. is far from t-shirt territory. You need a trusty outer layer to see you through every Winter, and you’d be wise to opt for something in a neutral colour such as black or navy, in a style that you’ll be happy to wear next year and the one after that. A good coat can last you a lifetime, so–even though the initial investment can be off-putting–it’s worth putting some thought in and saving up a little bit of budget for something that’ll keep you really warm and looking great.

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Boots

Whether it’s for walking the dog, heading out for beers or visiting family, a good pair of boots is a nice statement while forever functional. I’m a big fan of suede shoes, but the wet weather can leave you with permanent damage. I know that whatever I throw at my Red Wings, I can always get them back to their best, and the classic, semi-smart look is perfect with a nice oxford shirt and jumper. A must-pack at Christmas. A smart move is to travel home in them, to help lighten your bag and save a little space.

 

Oxford Shirt

A button down Oxford shirt is probably the most versatile shirt of them all. Worn open with a striped tee or simply dressed on its own with a nice pair of relaxed trousers, the Oxford shirt a piece that will help to keep your options open. We’re tight on space when packing for Christmas, so we want items that are going to work for us, and won’t stand out if worn two or three times in different ways. Uniqlo do amazing Oxfords for 15 quid or so, they’re so reliable that I’ve accumulated five or six, some of which are still going strong after three years.

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Stripes

T-shirts are a staple, but as mentioned above, we want pieces that are going to work for us and provide a variety of options. Striped tees have enough going on that you won’t feel boring, can be teamed with shirts and also look ace under an open coat. Armor Lux do really nice, thick and inexpensive long sleeve striped tees that act as a great base for only forty quid. This yellow and off-white number has been my buy of the season, it’s great.

 

Statement layer

I’m a huge fan of overshirts and the Overdiluted look is all about clever, minimal layering, so a statement layer–something that’s heavier than a shirt but not quite a coat–is a versatile piece that brings something a little different to the table. You want your Xmas suitcase to have lots of options, but equally, you don’t want it to be too plain, so a layer such as this faux-suede zip shirt will help me get in some bolder looks while ensuring I’m not packing something I’ll only wear when I’m in the mood.

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Accent trousers

Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve are often fairly formal occasions, so ensure you’ve packed a pair of smarter trousers to ensure you’re never left feeling underdressed this Christmas. Hold on a second, though; smarter doesn’t have to mean any less interesting. Something in an off kilter colour or with a nice texture will bring a nice touch to things while ensuring you’re not standing out for not making the effort.

(Compact) fitness gear

Certainly not an essential, but–if like me–you’re into keeping fit, it’s important to think compact when packing gear to run or head to the gym in. Try to take trainers you can wear for other times–such as Nike Sock Darts or Flyknits–so you’re fully utilising every pair of shoes you pack… after all, they’ll be taking up a lot of valuable space in your bag, so taking too many is going to mean you’re leaving behind stuff you really need.

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Don’t take too many shoes!

I’m guilty of packing too many shoes and not getting wear out of them, so this year I’m really limiting myself. A pair of boots for most of the time, worn with heavy denim and a coat. A pair of trainers for fitness and for when I fancy a change from bulky Red Wings, and a pair of minimal Whistles sneakers for smarter occasions. 

No, they’ll never be quite as smart as a Derby or Oxford shoe, but if I’m only going to get one pair of out of them in ten days, they’re not essential enough to make the cut. I would, however, be packing brogues if I wore them more, but I only go for them when we’re looking at really formal occasions, however I’m aware (and slightly jealous) that many people can work them wonderfully on the day-to-day with jeans.

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