Ah tis the season for Starbucks Nut Lattes, Michael Buble and festive ornaments. Christmas is my favourite time of year. I know a lot of people say that but I’ve managed to escape my family’s bah-humbug tendencies and count down the days until yule tide joy as soon as the pumpkins are stowed away. Sparkling party wear, cheese boards, mulled wine, carols, cheese boards, again. Oh the Christmas traditions are all just so good!
But warming beverages and cosy knitwear aside, what makes the festivities so darn magical is the Christmas traditions we adopt year after year. Whether this is decorating the tree at your parents house like your 9-year-old self, that first sip of a cinnamon hot chocolate on a crisp December morning or watching The Grinch with your besties, Christmas traditions are what officially get you in the mood for the festive season and reawaken that familiar nostalgia.
From the ages of 5-12 years old, Christmas traditions were taken very seriously in our house. By me at least. Decorating the tree together, binge-watching Little Women and The Muppet’s Christmas Carol (in no particular order) and attaching the Christmas cards to the coving in true 80’s style. But as you get older, parents divorce and you all fly the nest, new Christmas traditions become all the more important.
While we all still watch those old films separately and text each other while they play, there are new rituals to adopt to give you that fuzzy feeling and this year is no exception. As our first Christmas as a married couple, I thought I’d share a few of Toff and I’s festive traditions that have naturally formed over the last few years and now act as the benchmarks to feel all Christmassy.
While I feel very strongly about the Cocoa Cola advert being aired too early, I find myself rolling my eyes at those reciting the 12 days of Christmas when I tell them I’ve put my tree up in the first weekend of December. It’s true, it is personal preference, but for me, December 1st officially marks the day where it’s acceptable to talk, think and sing about Christmas. It also means that the first weekend of the month is kept free to choose our tree!
Possibly the most exciting start of the festivities, Toff and I have always bought our tree from the same place and know exactly what we want. A Nordic spruce with a fragrant Christmas tree smell (you know the one) with soft, dark green needles. We listen to Christmas songs in the car, crack open the mulled wine in front of the fire in the evening and decorate it together, swearing at the tangled lights and reminding ourselves to organise the decorations properly this year (never happens.).
Every year we buy another ornament or decoration for the house and are hopeful that we’ll have a full set by the time we’re 55! Our house is very cosy with beams, an open fire and low ceilings which is perfect for this time of year to hibernate and watch Elf on a loop.
For three consecutive years Toff and I travelled a lot. I mean, a lot. I was writing a lot of travel content which took us all over the world at least a couple of times a month. Every month. So, part of our Christmas tradition was to go away somewhere hot in November (see where, HERE), Christmas at home and skiing in January. It was utter heaven. But, as I’m writing less travel these days and the logistics became tricky with the house, we’ve done that less and less which I’m not mad about at all as I’ve become one hell of a homebody.
But there is one tradition that we’ve kept and I think it’ll be here to stay. A couple of weeks before Christmas we head to the Cotswolds for a weekend away holed up in a cosy pub hotel and take a bit of time for us. We go for long walks in the countryside, lazy lunches and much-needed lie-ins to re-boot and relax before the festivities begin.
The Cotswolds is one of my favourite places and puts me in such as festive mood. The breath-taking views, twinkling fairy lights in the postcard villages — it really captures the mood of the season and sets the scene for some last minute Christmas shopping.
Admittedly, my Christmas decorations leave a lot to be desired and I really need to up my game (I never know if you should decorate EVERY room!). But if there’s one thing I stand firm on, it’s creating a really cosy atmosphere in my house. This always starts with the right candles. I find that candles can instantly change a persons mood and I’m obsessed with having them all over the house.
I have a different collection for every season — I know, I’m a geek, let’s not dwell on that — but Christmas is by far my favourite (you can see which ones I use HERE). My favourite brands are Neom, Elemis and Jo Malone and I tend to pick scents that are familiar with the festive season such as orange, cinnamon, nutmeg and frankincense. Without being too overpowering, they give the air this warm, spicy fragrance that everyone always comments on when they walk through the front door.
With two sets of divorced parents, Christmas Day is always different every year but Toff and I have a couple of traditions that are just for us. We do stockings before breakfast, light the fire, put Classic FM or some sort of festive Spotify playlist on, make tea and get stuck into the presents. We generally have a lazy morning before slowly getting ready and packing up the gifts for the day.
The rest of the day is spent with family, eating far too much cheese (again, I know, I really do love it!) and sausage rolls before dipping in and out of trash TV and napping after lunch. We usually escape the mayhem early evening and head home armed with leftovers for a cosy night in clad in pyjamas, fluffy slippers and sipping a Baileys (for me) and Whiskey (for him) before falling asleep in a full and happy haze.
While we build our Christmas traditions with every year that goes by, one thing that’s always a staple is scheduling some serious down-time and this year that will be taking priority over everything else. This will be my second Christmas being self employed and usually stop work a week before Christmas and spend that time doing admin, replying to emails and deleting anything on my desktop that I don’t need. Yep, I am a massive desktop hoarder.
As someone who has an aversion to chilling out, Christmas is the one time of year where I let myself off the hook. Unlike a summer holiday, where the rest of the world keeps turning, it’s the one time of year where everyone downs tools and switches off. So there’s no FOMO, no missed opportunities or work guilt and we can all unapologetically get back to basics and enjoy our time with those closest to us.
What’s great about this time of year is that every Christmas gives us the chance to make new traditions, new habits and unforgettable rituals as well as recreate the old ones. What are your Christmas traditions? Let me know and maybe I’ll add them to my list!
Boots and bag gifted by LK Bennett
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