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Christmas in July: Experts for your festive features

Christmas in July on the Journalist Enquiry Service

It may only be July, but the need to get features filed and deadlines met for Christmas copy is nigh.

If you’re looking for experts to give comments on festive food and drink, party planning, or Christmas events then the selection of experts below are here to help you. You can connect with them via the ResponseSource Journalist Enquiry Service.

Send a request quickly and easily via the form here.

Food & drink

Nicola Lando, CEO of the Sous Chef

Expertise: For ten years, Nicola has built – an emporium of exciting ingredients and kitchenalia used by professional chefs, food journalists, and anyone who loves to cook and eat. It’s an award-winning family business, with a focus on conscious sourcing and sustainability. With every parcel shipped, something amazing happens in the world – Sous Chef gives to charities that deliver impact around UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Speak to Nicola about: The food trends that won’t have been covered elsewhere, and ask her which ingredients or kitchen tools are going to be huge in 2024 and what you should buy now. She tastes ingredients from around the world, works closely with artisans, uses the tools that chefs rave about, and travels to seek the next biggest flavour. She can also provide comment and expertise on family businesses, food and homewares ecommerce, international food production and sourcing, and homewares and interiors trends

Nicola’s hopes for Christmas this year: ‘For the war to end in Ukraine! At a more local level, consumers are becoming more conscious in their consumption – moving towards brands that align with their values. And I hope that continues. Although any individual purchase may not seem large, for smaller businesses it can mean a great deal.’ 

Jessica Summer, founder of Mouse & Grape

Expertise: Mouse & Grape is a luxury online cheese and wine business that specialises in paired hampers, and corporate and private tasting events. Jessica has worked in wine retail, passed Academy of Cheese Level 2 and the Level 3 WSET Award (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) with merit. She was shortlisted as one of Harpers 30 under 30 2023 and was a finalist at the Young Cheesemonger of the Year competition 2022, growing her business with support from The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme.

Speak to Jessica about: Wine and food/cheese pairing; creating a cheeseboard; how to host Christmas parties (at home/at work); how to shop local. and plenty more.

Jessica’s hopes for Christmas this year: ‘Personally, spending quality time with family and friends, because Christmas is such a busy time of year for a cheese and wine expert that I can be working around the clock to get my customers their cheese and wine. I want to remember to take time to enjoy the festivities and be present with those I love. Professionally, hoping to triple my hamper sales compared to last year. Plus, sharing as much knowledge and joy for cheese and wine as possible, showcasing those small independent cheesemakers, winemakers and small businesses like my own.’

Jason Hockman, head of commercial at Master of Malt

Expertise: Master of Malt is a multi-award-winning e-commerce platform set on shortening the distance to amazing drinks. Whisky evangelists since the 80s, the team now offer over 15,000 in-stock lines (featuring over 4,000 whiskies, more than 3,000 gins and 1,500 rums, 700+ vodkas and over 400 wines, plus hundreds of brandies, Tequilas, bitters, liqueurs and more). The festive period can make up a substantial amount of their yearly revenue – during December 2022 alone, they shipped over 247k bottles by Christmas.

Speak to Jason about: At home drinking trends, spirits that he predicts to be popular, as well as consumer drinking behaviour. 

Jason’s hopes for Christmas this year: ‘To see that we empower and inspire customers to create bar worthy cocktails at home. For them to be able to create their own serves, as well as discover spirits that they had never even heard of. We are seeing that people might be drinking less, but they are drinking better and trading up with their liquids.’

Horticulture and gardening

Marcus Eyles, horticultural director at Dobbies

Expertise: Marcus has worked in the industry since he was 17. He studied Landscape Construction at Merrist Wood College, near Guildford, where he designed the Gold Medal-winning garden that year. He has experience in store management, plant buying as well as running his own chain of centres. Marcus joined Dobbies over six years ago, directing the horticultural team across the UK, and last year, spearheaded the project that won the RHS Sustainable Garden Product of the Year Award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Speak to Marcus about: All things horticulture and gardening, real Christmas trees, winter planting and herbs to grow for Christmas.

Christmas party planning

Elle Roberts-Nissen, head of events at Conscious Communications

Expertise: Elle heads up Conscious Communications’ events department following over ten + years in the hospitality industry in both the UK and Australia and can provide expert comment on all elements of Christmas party planning and delivery. Elle focuses on offering a bespoke event planning and management service that delivers once in a lifetime events and unforgettable experiences up and down the country, including corporate and private Christmas parties. 

Speak to Elle about: Upcoming Christmas party trends and advice on how to plan the ultimate Christmas party.

Elle’s hopes for Christmas this year: With so many Christmas party options – from private to shared parties – it can be difficult to know where to start. Elle predicts there will be more focus on sustainability with more locally sourced, seasonal produce. Immersive and royal themed Christmas parties. Plus more personalisation. 

Christmas event management

Chris Tarren, director of Winter Glow

Expertise: Winter Glow is a festive event in the West Midlands, offering ice skating, an illuminated light trail, personalised Santa experiences, a Christmas market, a food hall, and a fairground. It is the largest event of its kind in the Midlands.  

Speak to Chris about: Capturing the magic of Christmas, how the late school holidays might impact the festive trading season, date night ideas of the festive season, identifying quality Santa experiences, and managing an event during a busy festive period.

Chris’ hopes for Christmas this year: ‘On a professional level, I would say that my greatest hope for this Christmas is that the economy recovers to the point where live events become a more viable option for families visiting and businesses alike. Our industry took a huge hit over the pandemic and it’s been a tough few years for those of us who were able and lucky enough to survive it. I would love Winter Glow to have a really successful year so that we can reinvest for 2024 and make it even better than the incredible event we’ve got planned for this year. On a personal level, I just hope to have a happy and healthy Christmas with my family and hope that everyone else does too. I think we all deserve it after the last few years.’

On the Journalist Enquiry Service you can reach thousands of expert sources in all sectors; this is just a snapshot of the calibre of experts ready to talk about Christmas or their specific areas of expertise that you can connect with.

If you want to interview one of these individuals specifically, drop a line to and we’ll connect you. Otherwise, head to to reach these and many more people who can help you with your story.

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