Charlotte Wood, Founder of Polar Post

She’s the pen behind Polar Post, the company that sends and receives thousands of letters to Father Christmas every December. We speak to Charlotte about precious Christmas decorations, family traditions, and what it takes to answer all those letters:

Where’s home? 

Home is Pimlico, in a little dolls-like house. There’s a faded gentility to Pimlico that I love, and an incredibly strong sense of community, which if I’m honest I didn’t expect to find in London, and has been invaluable especially since I had children.

When do you buy and decorate your tree?

I’m actually quite restrained, believe it or not, when it comes to getting the tree. We usually wait until the middle of December and then go to New Covent Garden Market and pick one. I do get totally carried away with size however, despite my husband’s best efforts to restrain me. Normally we loose half the living room to it…

What is your favourite Christmas decoration and why? 

That’s a tough one! My bauble collection is my pride and joy, but I’d probably go with this ship bauble. It was love at first sight. In fact I used it as a cake topper at our wedding. We got married in Devon overlooking the River Dart so it seemed appropriate. Baubles definitely aren’t just for Christmas in my book.

What gave you the idea to set up Polar Post?

The idea had always been at the back of my mind, we grew up looking forward to our letter every bit as much as our stockings on Christmas morning. Presents are presents, but presents with a letter from the big man, that is magic. When my daughter Rose was born I looked around for a letter to send to her, but everything felt a little cartoony. Father Christmas is most definitely a man of distinction so it makes sense to me that he’d be a stationery connoisseur.

What does the workshop look like?

Pride of place is given to the film poster that my husband gave me one Christmas of It’s A Wonderful Life, and our office mascot is Comet, a beautiful papier-mâché reindeer from edit58. As you can imagine there are always mince pies and coffee in plentiful supply.

How many letters does Father Christmas receive and send out every year?

The elves have definitely been busy this year! We will have sent out about 2,500 letters from Father Christmas by the end of December.

Have there been any special stand-out requests to Santa? 

So many! Father Christmas has been asked for everything from a humble satsuma to a real life shark! We’ve been asked to reveal the gender of babies, explain why Santa can’t bring a dog, the list goes on… what has surprised me the most however, is how emotive these letters often are. When a child has had a tough year, somehow Father Christmas has the ability to comfort in a way that few others can. Being a part of that is incredibly special.

What’s your favourite Christmas tradition?

It’s something that my mum has done since I can remember. She will light a candle in the window as it starts to get dark on Christmas Eve. It’s supposed to be for Mary. Whether you are religious or not, that to me is the essence of Christmas, letting people know that they are not alone, shining a light in the dark.

What are your favourite festive spots in London?

London at Christmas turns us all into children. I love seeing London in all her finery, the grandness of the old department stores like Fortnums and Liberty, a cheeky Christmas cocktail at Claridges to gawp at the Christmas Tree, The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House.

To be honest though I don’t actually get out much in the build up to Christmas anymore as it’s our busiest time, but my husband always takes me for a celebratory breakfast at Colbert once that final letter has been posted!

What does Christmas morning look like for you? 

We always spend Christmas with my parents in Gloucestershire. This year will be my baby, George’s, first Christmas so it’s going to be great fun watching him taking it all in, and my daughter Rose is four, so the magic is being well and truly observed. But Christmas morning for me is always my dad charging around like a child. His enthusiasm for Christmas never dims. I really hope I inherit that from him because it’s a wonderful thing.

Do you believe in Father Christmas?

From the bottom of my heart.

The deadline for personalised orders is 7th December, and the shop for non-personalised items remains open until 10 December.

Charlotte Wood, Founder of Polar Post
— Daisy Allsup
5th December 2018