Alexa Chung: 'When did Christmas stop being exciting and start being a chore?'

Girl About Town
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The Independent Online

I must have cut a lonely figure, grappling with a huge Christmas tree up a windy, cobbled street – a street brimming with happy couples and mobile-phone advert friends. My arms dwarfed by a pine giant in a net.

To make matters worse, I was wearing a camel-coloured coat. If I'd have thought it through, I'd have donned the Barbour for this festive task. As it was, having been abandoned by a friend who had promised to help me fetch The Tree, defiance had forced me towards the rainy market in a hurry, and the camel was baring the brunt of this rookie mistake. Thirty pounds and a steely glare later (I had to beat off stiff competition for my find), I was smugly dragging the piny bastard around Shoreditch in search of my front door.

It now stands embarrassed in the corner of the room, drowning in scientifically tied bows and carefully arranged fairy lights, which continue to wink at me long into the night. I realise now that I have unintentionally turned my innocent Christmas tree – the first I've ever bought – into a "fashion tree".

It wasn't meant to be this way. I searched high and low for multi-coloured baubles because I wanted a tacky, scrappy tree but no, impatience gripped me before I had a chance to find them. Suddenly I found myself in John Lewis's haberdashery section, picking out VV Rouleaux ribbons in various hues, as if that's what I do every year.

This, however, is the first year I've had the inclination to decorate my home in keeping with tradition. My previous miserly stance toward decoration was that everything I put up I would at some point have to take down and, frankly, that would be too much effort. I wonder when it got to that? As a child I used to virtually hyperventilate at the prospect of picking up the tree from the local garden centre with my dad and taking it home to drench it in baubles. It was beyond exciting.

And at school when we used to fashion shoddy-looking paper-chains from faded coloured sugar paper, it seemed not only to be an extremely important task, but also the highlight of the academic calendar. Will there be snow, won't there be snow? Will Father Christmas/Dad eat the mince pie we left out?

This year I'm trying to rediscover that fervour I once had for the festive period. I started by watching Home Alone – which was just as amazing as I remembered – I've bought rings made of holly, too many branches of mistletoe and I've even tried to stand around sipping mulled wine and hot cider, both of which tasted entirely unreasonable.

I'm supposed to be attending a karaoke party later this week with a Christmas fancy-dress theme. Why is it that, according to the internet, the standard go-to costume for any woman attending a fancy-dress party at this time of year is sexy Santa?

Santa isn't meant to be sexy and Santa isn't meant to climb down chimneys in a bra and panties. It angers me. It provides yet another opportunity for girls to ignore themes and just dress slutty. Since when did wearing suspenders count as a costume? I want to go as a Christmas cracker (no pun intended).

Maybe the issue I have is that there is only a certain amount of Christmas cheer I can muster every year, and most of that is used up on bellowing "Merry Christmas!!!" at cameras weeks and weeks before the actual event. It means I'm over it by Christmas Eve. There is one saving grace, however, one activity that always fills me with cheer: shopping.

Yesterday I popped in to central London to track down a variety of gifts for a variety of family members. I managed to buy four in total, one for my sister, one for my brother and two for myself. Although this is an appalling result, it's a trap I always fall into.

I have an issue with purchasing things, I can't peruse items for other people without spying something for myself. Often I'll try and safeguard myself from this fact by sticking solely to shops or departments I know I have no interest in: kitchenware, menswear, gardening tools.

Even then though, even when I'm knee-deep in other people's interests, I am quite capable of convincing myself I need a hand trowel. This has to stop. Perhaps I'll do the rest of my Christmas shopping over the internet because then if I can't actually pick the items up and bond with them, I won't want them. First stop: