There is something magical about this season, the holidays, family traditions and counting down the days with an advent calendar. Our holiday tradition was always to bake cookies as gifts for all our friends and family members. We would make fudge, custard cookies, shortbread, crunchies whatever we felt we had energy for, but it was always very warm during December in South Africa so the oven would really heat up the kitchen on the second batch. We did this for about three years and last year we just bought cookies for everyone and did Secret Santa with the family we had over. This year we are far from the family, so we are embracing some new holiday traditions. We started walking through the streets of Manchester City that has been transformed into a big Christmas market. We put on some warm clothes and drink a little glühwein and hot chocolate.
Christmas is just around the corner, 8 days away. Does this make you feel excited or freaked out?
Children tend to count the sleeps, because its presents, play and yummy food. As adults we sometimes tend to dread it a bit, getting the perfect gift, cooking that hearty meal and all the while trying not to break the bank.
Have some soft background music on to set the mood, have fun. If you are hosting and seem freaked out with what still needs to get done. People don’t always know what to do, welcome them and ask for help or invite them to sit by you while you finish things up.
These days cooking can be made much easier, the shops sell pre marinated, prepacked Christmas lunch/dinner items that can simply be put in the oven. If you have time, of course its fun to experiment with your cooking, if you enjoy it. Don’t feel obligated to cook everything, most people will offer to bring something, accept their help. Don’t feel bad to ask them to bring a dish, but make sure you know what food or dessert they are bringing, so you don’t have doubles. Or tell them what you are preparing and they can add to that whatever they would enjoy.
Setting the Table
I love setting the table, but don’t feel bad if that is not your thing. There are so many inspirational ideas on Pinterest and you can make it your own, by adding something that is your style. An easy way to set the table is to bring something flower/plant like to the centre of the table, making sure it doesn’t take up too much space if you are serving the food from the table too. Making a runner of greenery down the middle of your table with some red Lindor balls and candles in between or getting small jars with a few flowers down the middle of the table. A cracker on a napkin is always fun, but you can also place, a rosemary twig on there. There are so many little hacks, I could keep going but just have fun.
Hitting the mall now is a little challenging, it starts with traffic, finding a park while remaining calm and then the queues. If this is your type of scene then this is your time to thrive, most people tend to avoid it. If you must get to a Mall or a shop, try to go as early as possible to avoid congestion. You can always hit the online shops in the comfort of your own home.
Think about the presents you want to buy, will they be practical, will they just be stuffed in a drawer when the new year arrives, did the person want this? Most adults have all they need and will be happy with something small, like their favourite chocolate, a home made something. If you simply want to spend more but still don’t really know on what, get them a gift card at an online retailer or at their favourite shopping centre or for the ladies a beauty shop voucher, no lady ever complains about getting a massage, haircut or polished nails.
You could also do secret Santa, with your name and a few gift ideas, that way the person can get you something in line with what you like. We did this last year and it just helped to not spend so much money on gifts when you have the whole family together. There is just something fun about unwrapping a present, even as an adult.
If possible, try buy your Christmas gifts throughout the year, when you see something a person would love, get it. That way you are not rushed to make a quick decision and the cost of everybody’s gifts aren’t all in December.
Remember what Christmas is about, celebrating the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. It’s a time for celebrating. I know there may be things that make you feel not so festive but try to forgive and forget it. Appreciate the family time, because you really can’t take people or time for granted. Celebrate the beauty in that person that bothers you, appreciate the heart behind the interesting gift, be thankful for what you have.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year