If style apologists have learned anything in 2015 it is that if it didn’t happen on Instagram, then it didn’t happen at all. Consequently, if you fail to translate your Christmas preparations through a Lark filter, then you may as well turn off the fairy lights and recycle your wrapping paper right now. You will have failed. Welcome to your style guide to the season, with any unphotogenic joy ruthlessly cropped out.
Insta-prep: it’s literally everything
The whole point of Instagram is that preparation – and the documentation of preparation – is everything. Literally everything. Actually enjoying the doing of something has become irrelevant. If it doesn’t look good in a grid shape, don’t do it. This Christmas, the look is unequivocally handmade and crafty, but in a Kinfolk-inspired, disciplined and wholesome way. #Botchedjob will not do. Lol is for losers. Start with the colour scheme. Red, gold and green is too clashing (unless your Christmas is black and white Insta-ed in which case: go ahead, fine). Instead, the dream colourway is real-fir green, undyed white and pine-cone brown. Bit of restrained gold. The odd pop of red is permissible, but that’s where it ends. Strings of popcorn are winning the war over tinsel this year. (Yes, people are actually popping corn then threading it on to actual fishing wire in a bid for superiority over those who have bought tinsel from Tesco). Colourful paperchains have lost out to posts of real fir-tree garlands draped over doorways and atop mantlepieces, complete with roaring fire and gilt mirrors. Come the 24th, you will need to add a handful of subtly mismatched stockings, Von Trapp-style, above the fireplace.
The gingerbread house is the new door wreath
Last year, you will recall that Instagram went crazy for a chunky, natural but highly mannered door wreath. You should still do that, but know that the likes this year are coming from a homemade gingerbread house. Look up Kourtney Kardashian’s feed for how not to do it. It should be less Hollywood double-fronted stucco mansion, more Maine-meets-Bavarian cabin. Physical Christmas cards aren’t a thing this year. The way to do it is to post a picture of one homemade card created by your children using potato prints or similar. Maximum social media cut-through, without using a single stamp. Presents, sorry gifts, should be wrapped in plain paper with some natural whimsy attached – seasonal foliage for the purists, pom-poms for the more fashiony wrapper. Forget twine at your peril. The rise of the #adventcalendar is the important December trend to know about. It should be homemade and innovative, eg 24 toile bags containing home-baked angel biscuits or a series of festive images along the lines of Busy Phillip’s elves tableau. It’s a fine line between charm and irritation, but if you’ve read this far you’ll know how addictive the hate-scroll can be.
The Christmas tree post: arty, conceptual and restrained
The tree you Instagram in public should be arty and conceptual. In London, Damien Hirst’s pill-bottle baubles outside the Connaught Hotel or Disney’s cuddly teddy tree at St Pancras station are IG bankers. The tree you post from your house should incorporate all the crafty and homespun elements outlined above. Of course, if you really want to bleed the instantaneity out of the whole shebang and garner extra IG mileage, post pictures of your children wearing matching pyjamas decorating the tree, editing out their naive proportional mistakes and using the noir filter.
Your social life: six parts candlelit joy, one part composed debauchery
The runup to Christmas offers a unique Instagram opportunity: the ability to showcase a cosy home existence while also demonstrating the ceaseless merriment of your still-banging social life.
For the optimum balance, pictures of nights out should be peppered throughout the month with discipline. Remember, the kind of fun that works on Instagram is subtle and controlled – hair remains in place, drinking is moderate, there are absolutely no photographs of the bus home or the end-of-night kebab. Your life is fabulous, yes, but absolutely not “U OK Hon?” reckless – think six parts candlelit joy to one part subtle and intriguing suggestion of entirely composed debauchery.
#toiletselfie is the new #squadgoals
Festive activities are a must – but ice skating is over. It’s hard enough to get a decent selfie with your feet firmly on the ground, let alone whizzing around under floodlights. Instead, carol singing offers a wholesome take on #squadgoals and the possibility for video footage. Additional humblebrag points if you are a terrible singer, but post the evidence anyway. What’s actually important, let’s face it, is how you look, and the face shape created by singing the opening bars of Oh Come All Ye Faithful is as effective as a fish gape for creating cheekbones.
The work Christmas party is crucial. For many social media pros, this is the only time that actually having a job will be alluded to all year. The key takeaway for your followers should be just how much you love your colleagues. Last year’s Insta-hit – an #aboutlastnight morning-after photograph featuring attractive, squiffy-looking revellers, their limbs scattered around the frame in the manner of the front-row crowd at a Saint Laurent show – has been usurped by the more “real” boisterous #toiletselfie. As in, we just bumped into each other. In a loo! Ha ha ha! You couldn’t make it up.
The dinner party: sloe gin, name tags and napkins
Clearly, there is no point hosting a party yourself unless it is a social media sensation. In its earnest guide to ensuring yours delivers on this front, US Vogue recommends orchestrating a moment of surprise: “Maybe a second-line band escorts your guests from cocktails to dinner, or a troupe of kids from the local dance studio arrives to get everyone moving on the dance floor,” it urges. It really is that easy.
If your bash is a dinner party, remember that the table decorations provide mileage. Candles are essential – the 2015 ideal is more monastery than ground-floor department store: long, tapered and skinny. Each place should be marked with a hessian napkin, overlaid with a sprig of deep purple berries: festive but less predictable than holly. Name tags are always huge on Instagram, giving guests an opportunity to post yet another photograph about themselves. The drink to favour is sloe gin – clarify that you have been casually fermenting it at home for months – while food should include a sprout tree (this year’s most Instagrammable vegetable) and uncut gourds inexplicably scattered all over the table.
The look: wholesome, faux casual, post-naff
What to wear? In a fashion occurrence that feels about as expected as Leicester being top of the league, Christmas jumpers are acceptable again, three or four years after they reached peak naff. You can thank the perennially chic Sofia Coppola who recently wore one on the red carpet, styled down with jeans and artfully messy hair. Indeed, faux-casual is the way to go all season: Christmas Day means pyjamas, but absolutely not the ones you wear in bed (the alpha choice is a silky top by Olivia von Halle or Three Graces London – very new-era Gucci). Your look for the wholesome Boxing Day walk is crucial, too – think of it as the epilogue to your festive Instagram narrative. Try Sorrel snow boots, a Uniqlo padded jacket and beanie with hair poking out to soften and halo the face. Accessorise with a dog and some children – your own or borrowed – which are as essential to this final outing as 4G.