Andy Williams told us how, “there’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting and caroling out in the snow,”
But, what other things can you get up to this winter to get that festive feeling? Read on to find out!
It’s finally here – December. It’s the month when we can feel shamelessly festive, get in the Christmas spirit and hang those sparkling fairy lights with pride. After-all, as Williams famously sang, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” This year I really want to focus in on the little things that make Christmas great; the warm fuzzies if you will. I want to make the most of times with friends and family and savour the moments on my own. In other words, I want to find a little but of hygge in my Christmas. So, with that in mind here’s my list of twelve things to-do during the festive season to get you in the holiday mood.
1. Put Up a Christmas Tree and Decorate Your Home
Putting up the Christmas tree is one of my favourite things to do this time of year. I love how pretty everything looks in my living room and I always think the room looks bare when it’s gone. It’s nice to see my home filled with sparkles and glow that add a little bit of magic to my day when I get home from work. To really get the festive feeling I like to light a few festive candles around the place and create a full sensory festive feeling – Yankee Candle, Woodwick and The White Company candles do some of my favourite festive scents.
However, it’s the actual process of putting up the tree that I love the most. Every year I pick a date in my diary that I will the tree up in our home. My husband and I always like to make a night of doing this. We pop on some Christmas tunes, rock our festive jumpers, make some savoury nibbles and literally rock around the Christmas tree. It’s a night full of simple things but. it never fails to get me in the festive spirit.
2. Make a Day of Christmas Shopping
It’s so easy to let Christmas shopping become a stressful experience – we get caught up in the crowds, we overspend, we impulse buy. But, it doesn’t have to be this way! If you take time to plan ahead Christmas shopping can actually be very enjoyable. Planning can come in many forms. It could be something as simple as saving away Christmas cash every month throughout the year or, writing a list of what you want to buy and who it is for. I also like to plan out the shops I will be heading to and why. Whilst I love to browse round the stores, when places are busy I find it best to avoid aimless wandering – it becomes far too intense for me.
I also like to make a day of my Christmas shopping. I head out with my friends or family, have a nice lunch, people watch and enjoy each the good company I’m in. In the past I’ve even been known to start the day with a little spa treatment to help me feel rested for the day ahead. Including more activities in the day means it becomes about so much more than just buying things. It stops being materialistic and starts being a memory.
3. Snuggle Up with a Christmas Movie
Most people love a Christmas movie. And, one of my favourite things to do at this time of year is to spend the day on the couch, wrapped in a blanket and watch Christmas films. There are so many great films out there that picking a favourite is near impossible but ‘Elf,’ ‘Miracle on 24th Street’ and the ‘Home Alone’ films are certainly up there. I pop the kettle on and add a cup of tea or festive coffee to my routine, snuggle in and enjoy. Once the Christmas decorations are up in the house this becomes even more of a festive treat.
4. Send Out Christmas Cards
Sending out Christmas cards has recently become something people don’t look forward to at Christmas time. I can understand why people feel like this. After all, buying bundles of cards can be expensive, writing them is time consuming and the never ending list of who to send them to can be overwhelming. (There’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve missed someone out: “Did I send Alice in the office one already?” – the horror!) I once felt the same way. However, I’m glad to say I haven’t quite stooped to the mass Christmas E-Card year but, I suppose never-say-never.
However, for now I see writing Christmas cards as a moment to feel really festive and to think about the people who are important in my life.
I love to pop on the Christmas music, have some nibbles (well out the way of the cards of course) and as I write I find myself thinking about the recipient of my card and the memories we’ve shared together. A once laborious process is now one that really makes me think about what I’m thankful for.
There are so many stores nowadays that offer great deals too if budget is an issue e.g. both Tesco and Marks & Spencer do a great three for two offer on greetings cards. A lot of the cards nowadays also have charity links so the purchases you make support charity causes. There are ways to reduce the time it takes too. Instead of writing a card to everyone in your work place why not pen one, thoughtful card to all your colleagues and place it in the staff-room? In my workplace, we now buy one large card, place it in the staff room and have everyone sign their name. This may seem a little impersonal but, as we sign we all pop the money we would have spent on cards for our workmates into a charity box and put it to a good cause.
5. Splash Out on a Festive Candle
I mentioned this earlier on in point one but this is a really simple way to add some festive cheer to your home. I love candles in the home all year round but festive candles are amongst my favourite. Not only do they add a sense of cosiness to any room, the smells are amazing – cookies, cinnamon, cedar-wood. Delicious! You can pick up festive candles from as little as a few pounds of shell out a little more one one from somewhere like The White Company. Their candles are amazing and always look so elegant. However, the Woodwick candles are perhaps my favourite because of the beautiful, crackling sound they make when you light them. On the more high-end scale you have companies like Jo Malone London who have some beautiful fragrances but if your pocket is a concern consider seeking out the Aldi Jo Malone dupes – they are amazing!
6. Get Crafty with Wreath Making or Pottery Painting
This year I’ve been trying really hard to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. I’ve tried new make-up products, spa treatments and even went along to new classes. And, I don’t want that to stop this winter. So, along with some friends, I’ve signed up for a few festive classes: wreath making and pottery painting. I actually can’t wait to get stuck in, learn something new and maybe meet some new people. With the dark nights and mornings drawing in it’s nice to get out there, do something, meet new people and learn a new skill. If I do well at the wreath making I think it will be lovely to have a really personal wreath in the home this season.
7. Rock a Christmas Knit
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to get into the festive spirit – wear a Christmas jumper. There was a time (not too long ago) where wearing a Christmas jumper would have been a major fashion faux pas; a big no-no. However, this classic crimbo number has seen total revival in recent years and it’s seems Christmas isn’t Christmas without one. You can pick them up in almost any store from Primark to New Look to M&S to Topshop. Even the high-end brands like Karen Millen can be seen to add some Christmas charm to their knitwear (albeit in a more sophisticated manner) if you head over to their website. Picking out my Christmas jumper for the year is a personal highlight and knowing it’s reserved for this time of year means I can’t help but feel festive in it. Why not get your friends or workmates involved in the jumper joy and take part in the Save the Children Christmas Jumper Day on 15th December. It’s a great chance to wear some holiday fashion and give back through charity as well.
8. Take Part in a Secret Santa
Gift giving is a big part of Christmas and whilst I want to try and avoid letting it take over this year it is still something that can spark a lot of joy. I love giving people gifts and seeing their reactions. But, I like them to be well-planned out and considerate. I hate how Christmas panic can make us buy the first random thing we see and hope for the best – simply because we, “need to get them something.” You might not want to over-spend this year so organising or taking part in a ‘Secret Santa’ is a great way to still have the thrill of buying a thoughtful gift for someone without the excess expensive. “Secret Santas” can be done with family, friends or workmates and offer up the chance for sentiment, comedy and/or thoughtfulness. It can often mean you are only buy one or two well-considered presents. Everyone gets a gift and gets to experience the joy and fun of the gift exchange.
There are various ways to organise a “Secret Santa”. You can keep it old school and have everyone draw names from a hat or you can try the digital way. There are quite a few apps on the market to make the process fuss free and that allow you (the organiser) to remain oblivious to who has who. This year I’ve used the Secret Santa Iphone App by to plan a gift exchange with all my cousins in the family. It’s already been a great talking point and we are having great fun teasing each other about possible gifts.
9. Create a Christmas Playlist
So simple, yet so effective. Does anything get you in the festive mood than Christmas songs? Whilst I’m not a fan of these jingly tunes blaring out of every store speaker in early November, I do love the nostalgia feeling these songs bring. There is something comforting about hearing them again after a long while – like old friends arriving back after a trip away. Don’t get me wrong there a few that drive me mad – I love this time of year but no, I don’t “Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday.” So, knowing this I keep my playlist full of my favourite festive numbers: “Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree,’ ‘Driving Home for Christmas,’ ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,’ to name but a few.
10. Visit a Coffee Shop
I love drinking coffee at the best of times but nothing gets me more excited for the Christmas season than when the festive coffees appear on menus – gingerbread or toffee nut lattes, millionaire shortbread or fudge hot chocolates; yes please! . The annual red take-away cup from Starbucks or the decorative Costa cups have become staples of the snowfall season (and a bit of an Instagram “must-do” at this time of year). And, there is no nicer feeling than enjoying one of these whilst meandering through a Christmas Market or even on your way to work. However, spending sometime in the actually coffee shop also adds to your festive feeling. The ambience is everything here – cosy chairs and cushions to lounge on, low lighting, seasonal songs through the speakers and the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg floating through the air. The cakes and pastries also get their on festive flair through decorative stencils or characters shaping – the Costa ‘Mini Rudolph Chocolate Cake’ is so cute!
But, if the Instagram trends are too much for you and you like to keep the festive feeling muted there are tons of places (independent and franchise) that cater for you.” Only today Tinderbox, Glasgow posted the a cute photograph on their Instagram promoting their simplistic approach to crimbo caffeine. They wrote: “No red cups…no festive music but we do have MINCE PIES” In the accompanying caption they put: “We love to make Tinderbox a “festive free” zone for you as we know it can be overwhelming. But we can’t resist these bad boys.” Many places also now offer non-caffeinated or cold drinks with a festive flair like the Starbucks “Cold Brew with Oranges and Cranberries.” So, no matter what your festive vibe or style is there is a coffee shop out there for you somewhere.
11. Visit a Christmas Market
Visiting a Christmas Market is another activity that seems to be experiencing a total resurgence and worthy of an Instagram story or snap! Everyday I am hearing about people planning their days out to the Christmas Market. In Scotland, the Edinburgh and Glasgow Christmas Markets are the two everyone makes big plans to visit. There is music, stalls, great food and even some fairground shows. People love bundling up in their winter wear and heading to the stalls for a pint of warm cider or a carton of cinnamon churros. It quite often a great opportunity to find Christmas gifts that are a little more unusual or personal – many stalls are independent companies selling unique or handmade products. However, there are always Christmas fayres and fetes happening in smaller communities and if you are looking for something more adventurous places like Prague, Lisbon and Hungary have some of the best Christmas Markets in the world. More and more people are now taking long-weekend trips to Europe at this time of year to experience these famous shoppers!
12. Head to a Pantomime or Show
Pantomime is a type of musical, stage comedy that is pretty unique to Britain and is synonymous with Christmas time. Many of us will have great childhood memories of going to see pantomime performances with family and friends or as part of an annual school trip. There’s nothing quite like piling into the theatre, seeing all the colourful costumes and shouting out the classic lines, “He’s behind you…Oh yes he is!” with a cavalry of strangers. Many theatres around the UK put on pantomime performances with some even enlisting celebrities to take on roles. But, you don’t have to head into the city or spend loads of money to be part of the panto fun. Many local theatre groups get together to put on shows for small costs of even for free. Closer to Christmas Day some of the larger scale ones even televise their productions.
But, if pantomime isn’t really your style there are many other shows on at this time of year that can be just as festive. The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall for example puts on a variety of Christmas themed productions from choir recitals to orchestra performances. This year Katherine Jenkins is presenting, “Christmas with Katherine” there and the the annual Yuletide Music Concert (featuring ‘The Snowman’) is also very popular. Similar shows can be found all over the UK. One of my favourite things to do this time of year is also to visit the ballet – it always makes me feel festive and in the past I’ve seen productions of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker.
I hope this is has given you some ideas of how to add a little festive feeling to your life this Christmas. What kind of things do you like to do at this time of year? Let me know on twitter or Instagram: @theprettypoetic