2019 was indeed a year to remember. Our team have had so many adventures in the past twelve months. From personal growth to wild European months-long sojourns, a move to our luxe new corporate HQ at the Paris end of town to expanding our team of writers and running more workshops, more often – it’s been our most important year yet as an organisation. And what better a place to celebrate this growing and learning than with a sugar-fulled photoshoot morning at Sugar Republic’s made-for-Instagram Christmasland? 

From Georgia, Mabelle, Janice and myself to our family, friends and clients: thank you for your support thoughout 2019. We hope you enjoy our Top Five curated Christmas listicles … featuring the best of Southside, big family Christmas activities, gorgeous gigs and farshun to die for.

Merry Christmas! xxox Iolanthe

Iolanthe On The Southside

In 2019, I surprisingly became a resident of Melbourne’s southside. After many years of declaring the south ‘nice for a visit, but not a place I plan to live’ – I’ve enjoyed a substantial Bayside seachange. Ultimately, the gritty, diverse north will always be the place I call home … but for now, a change is a good as a holiday. And guess what? The southside is positively delightful. From Carlisle to Inkerman, Neighbours cafe to the Garage Wine Room … I’m a convert.

Iolanthe’s Southside Top Five:

After The Tears

Cosy, sandstone-yellow toned and softly glowing courtesy of pillar candles, After The Tears  is a superb, eccentric traditional Russian restaurant that does a fine line in schnitzels, slaws, blintzes, hot apple tea, vodkas and delicious cocktails. Located just near the Elsternwick Classic (more on that later), After The Tears is warm and welcoming. I particularly enjoy the modern Russian prints; whilst I’ve not yet been to St Petersburg, this venue surely puts me in the mood to go.

Aspendale Beach

Elwood, Brighton Beach and Half Moon Bay are all lovely places to throw down your towel on the sand after work. But if you want a clean, quiet beach that’s not too choppy, nor overpopulated – I recommend driving the extra 10 minutes to Aspendale. I had a beautiful swim there in early November – the water was warm(ish!) and jade green. The views of the city in the distance were sparkling, and the bathrooms were OK too. Recommended.

Laird’s Pharmacy

Laird’s Pharmacy is owned and run by Pharmacist and Chinese Medicine practitioner Dr Elizabeth Foo. Located in Tennyson Street, Elwood, Laird’s Pharmacy is a thing of local legend. Dr Foo takes a keen interest in your medical concern, and suggests holistic ways to support your health. She and her staff are chatty, welcoming and verily like characters from Doc Martin. The best place to pick up your prescription, par none.

Elsternwick Classic

Like a hybrid of Cinema Nova and The Astor, the Classic is a wonderful small-ish cinema that has both art house and commercial movies on offer. What’s more, there’s comfy booths to snuggle in before your session time – and a substantial bar with snacks and dranks. I recommend getting the Movie Club card for discounted movies on the regular. It’s also directly opposite Etto and Elsternwick Station – perfect for a cheeky pasta on your train ride home pre-movie.

I Love Nails

I enjoy having beautifully shaped and manicured hands. I thought I knew a good manicure on Lygon Street … but boy, was I wrong! I Love Nails on Glen Eira Road are swift (I had a mani-pedi in the with shellac and SNS in 90 minutes flat), gentle (no cutting, here) and I was offered numerous cups of tea. I’m currently enjoying extremely pointy retro nails, and they do an extraordinarily good job.

Georgia’s Big Family Christmas

Blessed with big family energy on both sides, I am lucky enough to have one Oma, one Nana, two parents, four siblings, twenty-eight first cousins and eighteen uncles and aunties – often, I’ll see all of them over two days at Christmas. Here are five activities to keep a family of these proportions happy, healthy and hydrated over the festive days.

GC X Top Five Xmas Activities For Big Families

Activity One – Catch Up

My Dutch heritage means that Christmas celebrations begin on Christmas Eve and extend over two days. To begin, we gather at 6PM for the first big family activity: Catching Up. Unlike the European tradition of celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve, Catching Up is a universal activity and very easy to do. Simply kiss all family members on the cheek, let them know how you are, where you’re living now and if you’ve got a boyfriend yet – done! Catching Up will also be repeated on Christmas day at Nana’s. Though it might sound tedious, extending Christmas over two days is not only good for additional Catching Up it’s also great for the economy. Highly recommend!

Activity Two – Eat

There’s nothing that bonds a big family like Christmas food. Laughing with your cousins through mouthfuls of cherries, nodding with your aunty as you reach for the last two prawns, yelling at your brother to use a knife and fork. Such fun! Don’t stop at dinner either, make an occasion out of Christmas Eve dessert, breakfast on Christmas day, lunch and dinner again Christmas night if you can!

Activity Three – Swim

Castricums have long believed that bodies of water have healing powers. Just like diving into the ocean cures a hangover* and floating down the river cures heatstroke*, jumping into a pool cures Christmas lunch lethargy*. Once Santa’s been, lazy mornings have been enjoyed and you somehow made room for lunch, gathering your big family and heading to your nearest pool, river, beach or swimming hole is the way to spend Christmas afternoon. When we’re splashing around with our younger cousins, handstand competitions, Marco Polo and can-you-hear-what-I’m-saying-underwater challenges still go down a treat. If you’ve any energy left, give those a try.

*Not facts

Activity Four – Play.

I’m going to fast forward through a few events and deliver us to Nana’s house on Christmas night now. On Mum’s side, we’re the oldest of the cousins so this where planned activities occur. While the adults do the Catching Up I mentioned earlier, the cousins usually head to the school oval across the road and play a traditional game of Sardines.

Sardines: The opposite of hide and seek. One cousin hides and all remaining cousins close their eyes and count to 100 or sing a song (we enjoy What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction). Once the counting or the song is complete, all remaining cousins split up to find the original cousin who went to hide. Once you find the hidden cousin, you squish into the hiding place with them and wait until all other cousins find you and squish in too. The last one there is the loser and hides next round.

Activity Five – Bed

Just as it sounds. If you’re not driving, enjoy a nap in the car on the way home. Once arrived, teeth and bed. Merry Christmas!

Mabelle’s Top 5 Live Music Shows of 2019

When I’m not at the Ruby Assembly HQ creating content for our wonderful clients – and posing in giant Christmas snowballs – you’ll most likely find me immersed in the world of music. This year in particular, I’ve decided to turn my passion for music up a notch, dabbling in artist management, event curation and music marketing. I’ve been lucky to work alongside a range of incredibly talented local and international artists, and attend some amazing shows! Here are my favourite live performances of 2019:

Lauryn Hill, supported by Nas and Sampa The Great | Sidney Myer Music Bowl

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is an all-time favourite album of mine, to see her perform it live for the 20th Anniversary Tour was a dream! Despite being expected to turn up late (or not at all) and sound complications, Ms. Hill arrived in style and put on a solid show. Supports from Melbourne’s own rising star, Sampa The Great and New York rap legend, Nas took the audience on a journey in celebration of hip-hop at it’s very essence.

J.I.D | Max Watts Melbourne

East Atlanta rapper and a leading asset in J. Cole’s Dreamville collective, J.I.D brought a high energy, consistent show to a sold-out Max Watts. From the moment the first beat dropped, the crowd was engaged and rapped along, bar-for-bar, to countless hits off his recent album DiCaprio 2.

St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Masego and Smino highlights

Having attended Laneway Festival for the past few years (arguably my favourite music festival in Aus) 2019 did not disappoint! My stand-out acts on this year’s line-up were Masego, Smino and Denzel Curry. All three respectively brought the same elevated energy from start to finish, delivered in completely unique ways. A special mention to Masego’s saxophone solo.

Teyana Taylor | The Forum

There’s no doubt about it, G.O.O.D Music’s leading lady Teyana Taylor is an all-round performer! Flawless, smooth vocals coupled with stellar choreography and insane outfits.

Kaiit, supported by ThatKidMaz | The Foundry, Brisbane

In August, I had the opportunity to fly out to Brisbane and attend Kaiit’s Miss Shiney tour – supported by extremely talented rapper to watch, ThatKidMaz. Kaiit radiates confidence, style and grace in all that she does, and this gig proved no different. Accompanied by her amazing live band, every aspect of the show was captivating and pristine… can we talk about her vocal range though??!

Janice on Australian Designers to Watch

Janice’s Top 5 Australian Fashion Designers

Australia doesn’t fall short when it comes to fashion – our ready-to-wear designs are getting more progressive and iconic. Did you know that leopard print slip skirt everyone’s wearing comes from Australian label Realisation Par? I certainly prefer to shop local, and will favour a brand for their unique aesthetic and mindful production processes. I consciously avoid fast fashion – mainly because they simply don’t last long, and my small Brunswick bedroom can only hold so much! But these are some of my favourite Australian designers, who will definitely be offering enticing sales leading up to Christmas.


It’s the Melbournian wardrobe staple! Perfect for busy but bold bees who don’t have time to experiment with style – Gorman brings the creativity to you! Originally a one-woman operation started by Lisa Gorman, the brand is now known for its collaborations with contemporary local artists and institutions such as the Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency, which is one of the first instances of Indigenous art celebrated by fashion. Love the print but you only wear dresses? That’s fine, Gorman produces all their prints on each staple item: dresses, skirts (of different lengths of course), jeans, wide-leg pants, t-shirts and tanks!


SABA has been around since 1965 but it’s a recent discovery for me. Is maturing when you trade in the ripped jeans for some tailored pants? SABA’s range has a nice gradient of casual to corporate, whilst still oozing youthful girlboss vibes.

sass & bide

My latest purchase was a denim jacket from sass & bide. I already own two, and I could’ve gotten a cheaper one anywhere else but this one had a navy and red panel design on the back. It’s the little details that get me every time! Since 1999 this designer brand has been walking the fine line between edgy cult fashion and sparkly sophistication – the perfect combination!

Scanlan Theodore

It’s on the luxury side but the colours and prints in their window displays always catch my eye. When you want to feel bold and determined, this is the brand for you. Secret tip – their outlet store in Melbourne Central is full of gorgeous one-off samples and discontinued lines, but at very reasonable prices. I may have purchased some floral skirts that are just waiting for the right occasion…

Viktoria & Woods

In 2004, Margie Woods launched this gorgeous label promoting effortless, read-to-wear style. I am amazed at the new colours they produce each season, and the best part is they can all be paired with your previous purchases. Extra points for timeless design! Viktoria & Woods is also proudly Australian made and accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia, meaning their manufacturing processes are completely transparent and respect sustainable practices.

Photographer: Breeana Dunbar

Location: Christmasland by Sugar Republic, Collingwood