December is upon us, which means that Christmas is just around the corner. The festive season can be filled with lots of stresses and strains; jam-packed calendars full of Christmas parties, trips to visit relatives across the country, hours in the shops buying presents, tricky maneuvers around Tesco looking for pigs in blankets and fairy lights tied in knots. As the countdown to Christmas begins, it’s important to plan time to both have fun and relax alongside all the Christmas festivities.
As a lover of baking, making and creating, December is the perfect time for me to spend some time in the kitchen making festive goodies and presents to giveaway as well as DIY-ing some decorations, spending way too many hours on precision gift-wrapping, and going OTT on fairy lights – but Christmas isn’t Christmas without a bit of sparkle!
I’m going to attempt to blog my way through December sharing the recipes, gift ideas, decorations for the home, DIY wreaths, wrapping, Christmas cocktails, canapes and more, but we’ll first start with a list of things to enjoy with your loved ones this Christmastime.
25 things to do this December:
- Get a real tree and decorate the house. You can’t beat the smell or character of having a real Christmas tree at home. Our trip to the Christmas tree farm has become something of a family tradition and so this year on the 10th, we’ll be on the hunt for another perfect tree, before spending the whole afternoon adorning with baubles, hanging mistletoe, listening to Buble and enjoying some festive cheer.
- Start a new Christmas tradition with your family and friends. 2 years into married life Pete and I already have a few emerging traditions that we’ve adopted as our own way to do Christmas. There’s something special about the familiarity of doing something you love with the people you love each and every year.
- Dance around the house to Christmas songs. I’m currently in the process of re-vamping last year’s Heslop Christmas playlist.
- Make a wreath for your front door. Last year I went slightly abstract and ditched the traditional Christmas reds for pink! This year I’m thinking of going back to basics and making a simplistic Scandinavian inspired wreath in greens and white. Look out for the DIY post and tutorial!
- Kiss under the mistletoe. Cheesy as it is, it has to be done!
- Visit a Christmas market. I love the Winchester and Manchester Christmas markets and am all for supporting local or independent businesses in the run up to Christmas. You can usually find a wealth of unusual presents and decorations. Christmas markets are a fun day out – accompany them with a glass of mulled wine or a skate on the ice rink! This year we might be visiting the Bath Christmas markets!
- Make some homemade sweet treats. Whether it’s chocolates to giveaway as presents, mince pies, gingerbread biscuits, Christmas cake or yule log, it can be fun and festive to get your bake on!
- Practice your calligraphy. Handwritten Christmas cards, present tags, Christmas menus, place cards and invitations. Go the extra length to personalise your Christmas stationery with your best fancy handwriting.
- Watch your favourite Christmas movie – Mine is Elf! You may have seen last year that I shared some of my favourite Christmas movies. It’s a great time of year to snuggle up with a blanket, fire lit and hot chocolate in hand and enjoy the laughter and happiness from the classic Christmas films.
- Make a luxury hot chocolate with your favourite toppings. Marshmallows, crushed up candy canes, an alcoholic tipple, whipped cream, flavoured syrups or an assortment of sprinkles – go on, treat yourself!
- Sing at a carol service at your local church. For me, Christmas isn’t Christmas without the traditional carols and going along to church. Anyone in Southampton looking for a place to go? New Community Church have their Christmas service on the 18th Dec, 5:30pm at Central Hall.
- Glorious Giftwrapping. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to the wrapping of presents! I love making giftwrap personal and pretty. Make your giftwrap extra special this year with DIY gift tags and glittery embellishments.
- Write a list of everything you’re thankful for this year. Thanksgiving has been and gone, but it’s not too late to be thankful. Gratitude is found to make people feel happier. Write down the people, places, memories, days and special occasions that you have appreciated this year to see how fortunate you are. Keep track throughout the year by making your own thankful jar and adding pieces of paper as you go to open next Thanksgiving.
- Add some glow by covering the house in fairy lights and candles. Embrace ‘hygge‘. Splurge on fancy scented candles and enjoy bringing warmth into your home. Spread the festive cheer to your neighbours by hanging up lights outside your house, or keeping the curtains open for passers by to admire your tree! This year we’re giving our balcony a bit of extra sparkle with it’s own tree and glowing lights!
- Take a family portrait… (with silly Christmas props) Make Christmas 2016 one you’ll always remember and capture some snapshots to look back on!
- Make some homemade gifts. Gifts don’t have to be extravagent purchases from department stores. Sometimes a homemade gift is that bit more special knowing that thought, care and time have gone into the present. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably got 100s of inspirational pins on Pinterest!
- Send Christmas cards. In a digital age there’s still something special about the sending and receiving of a Christmas card, especially when it’s filled with love and a thoughtful personal message.
- Snuggle up by the fire and read The Night Before Christmas. A classic that should never be forgotten.
- Dress the Christmas table. Festive napkins, floral arrangements, candles, place cards and sparkly table runners. Make your guests feel warm and welcome as they see your perfect spread beautifully laid out and presented.
- Put down the smart phone and be present. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest will still be there tomorrow, but your friends and family might not be. Spend time being present. Laughing, singing, joking, reminiscing and having fun with those you’re spending the holidays with.
- Bake gingerbread cookies or a gingerbread house. Another emerging tradition that I’ve grown to add to the December to-do list each year is to construct a gingerbread house, covered in sweets and dusted with snow (or icing sugar). There are so many gingerbread house ideas on Pinterest to admire, albeit mine always end up looking somewhat more ‘rustic’.
- Whip up some Christmas cocktails. Invite friends over for fun and games and make some Christmas inspired cocktails to impress. There’s loads of inspiration over on Pinterest from how to make Christmassy ice cubes, to what concoctions you can shake up.
- Make a Christmas Eve box. Christmas pyjamas, a snuggly blanket, a box of chocolates or cookies, a bottle of your favourite wine, candles and your favourite Christmas film to enjoy as you wait for Santa!
- Appreciate and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.“Jesus is the reason for the season.” Somewhere beneath the tinsel, behind the presents and in the midst of the wonder of Christmas is the true Christmas story; about a baby who came to rescue the world.
- Tell someone you love them! It’s not just a cheesy concept told to us by Hugh Grant in love actually… Christmas is the time to acknowledge your nearest and dearest and tell them that you love them.
What traditions do you share with your family each December? Leave a comment below!