Toys and clothes for little ones have a cute retro feel, and it's traditional all the way when it comes to Christmas decorations
The John Lewis press show was bound to be big, but it was so huge that we needed a map to get around! Set out like a coloured tube map, our first stop was the Fashion Salon where we watched the fashion show hosted by model Jasmine Guinness. The bias-cut, full length cocktail dresses (very reminiscent of a certain Royal bridesmaid) were perfect if you've got a full-on glamour Christmas party to go to, but our top pick was the Betty Jackson LLD (that's Little Lace Dress) with 3/4 sleeves - although at £159 you'll have be extra good for the rest of the year.
We left the fash-pack behind and headed to the Kindergarten section to check out the toys and caught up with head toy buyer Elaine, who has the enviable job of shaping toy trends and choosing what your little one might be unwrapping on Christmas Day. Lots of toy retailers have been predicting big things from their techy toys, but we loved the pared-down, retro-style of the Radio Flyer little red roadster, £99.95, and the Brit Pop scooter, £109.95, teamed with a cute Kiddimoto helmet, £24.95. The puppet theatre, £59.95, with politically-correct 'Storytelling puppets' (or Punch and Judy to most mums!), £18.50, was also a nice nod to old-fashioned fun.
Classic Lego gets a modern twist for older kids (or dads who haven't quite grown-up) as a Boombox, £49.95, digital camera and USB. Scalectrix is also brought bang up-to-date as a London 2012 cycling velodrome set, and modern tots will love the ever-popular Micro Scooters in neon colours that are exclusive to John Lewis.
It was then time for clothes - and shoes, of course! We made a beeline for the Tiffany-esque little blue boxes of My 1st Years personalised high-top trainers and sheepskin booties. At £20 and £30 a pop respectively, they're perhaps a treat that grandma won't be able to resist splashing out on, rather than a practical purchase for mum. Drop some hints about the designer babywear and kidswear from Celia Birtwell too while you're at it - the bright designs are another exclusive to John Lewis, with bodysuits from £12 and romper suits from £14. The farmyard-themed John Lewis own brand baby clothes were sweet too, with woolly textures on the sheep scoring extra points for cuteness. For little girls, Christmas partywear is bright and colourful, with lots of embellished detailing, and hits the right note with not-too-grown-up styles.
Dodging a Dalek (the ride-in toy is a hefty £200 but was a hit with one lucky tot), we then headed through men's fashion to the Gift Gallery, which again had a retro lean, with Beano and James Bond framed posters, £150, for dad and we spied some delicate tea cups and saucers, £8, that went right to the top of our wishlist. This section was pretty light, so we continued on to the Christmas Gallery to start dreaming of trimming our tree. Our favourite theme was 'Christmas Revisited', a traditional look with a handmade feel (think pom-poms, wool baubles and heart-shaped photo frame decorations). Little ones love the excitement of the countdown to Christmas, so our top pick when it comes to decorations is the wooden townhouse Advent calendar. Again, it's pricey at £45 but it's worth the investment if you want an instant family tradition piece.
Roll on December 25th... we can't wait!
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