Dylan Jones: 'There are two important choices at Christmas: where you pray and where you celebrate'

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The Independent Online

Having lived in London for more than 30 years, I have spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to celebrate Christmas. In the past the process of celebration usually began in earnest, peaked rather too soon, and was then followed by a period of protracted calm. The traditional manifestation of this was a week of savage Christmas parties – cheap wine, generic food, the rather rash expression of irrational and immediately forsaken crushes (otherwise known as the ill-timed office lunge) – before the descent into 10 days of hangovers and somewhat enforced reflection.

However there are two important choices at Christmas: where you pray and where you celebrate. And for the past few years – having grown up considerably – my choices have always been the same.

St Bride's Church in Fleet Street is simply the most elegant place to embrace the traditional ceremonies of the season, and there is no better celebration than the annual carol service organised by the Publicity Club of London on behalf of the communications industry. It's where the last vestiges of the newspaper business meets itself for a spot of uncharacteristic humility. Plus St Bride's choir is one of the capital's hidden treasures, and, as they've started to diversify into CDs, you can now experience them in the confines of your personal chapel (the one squeezed into the Bermuda Triangle between the fridge, the sofa and the iPod dock).

And my favourite place to unwind and decompress after a hard evening praying is the Chelsea Arts Club, the most singular and charming members club in the country. It is more than ironic that in an age when everyone and their mutha is opening members clubs in the hope of generating genuine contemporary "buzz", the one thing none of them can buy is atmosphere – because that's the one thing that doesn't come in a bottle, but is created, layer by layer, incident by incident, memory by memory, clinch by clinch over time.

And if I could have my time again I would have celebrated every Christmas here for the past 30 years. After a quick prayer at St Bride's, of course.

Eyes down!

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'