Are traditions important?
We absolutely love traditions, especially when it comes to the Christmas period. They give us meaning and identity, and they nurture our sense of togetherness and belonging, but keeping up with widespread traditions, as well as the ones that we create, can be a little overwhelming. With so many choices of which traditions to follow, it can be incredibly easy to let something slip through the cracks at a time of year when time simply will not stand still.
One of the first things that comes to mind when thinking about Christmas day is all the gifts. Christmas shopping is what dominates the festive season. With just a few nifty tips, we can mitigate the majority of the seasonal stress that is associated with Christmas gifts and fulfil your gift list!
Our first tip when it comes to planning the shopping is simple, but trust us it’s important. Making a Christmas gift list (including wrapping paper and Christmas decorations) of who you have to buy for and any ideas you have about what to get will help to organise your thoughts and make keeping track of how much there is still to do much easier.
Set a Budget
A budget is one of the most useful tools when it comes to buying gifts. While we would all love to see money as no object, the reality is that we all have financial commitments, and budgeting really helps to protect our wallets from the holiday season.
Just do it
While one of the best ways to soak up the Christmas cheer is by getting out and exploring a Christmas market or frequenting your favourite shops, it can quickly become a huge source of stress when faced with long queues and crowded shopping centres. Our advice? Shop online! Not only will you avoid much of the stress of busy shops, but you can compare prices and find deals without leaving your sofa. By all means, go out and soak up the atmosphere along with a hot chocolate, but make sure you take advantage of the convenience.
Now before everyone firmly seats themselves on the sofa with a laptop and orders their presents from the farthest corners of the globe, please remember that sourcing as much as possible from local independent shops is by far the most sustainable way of sourcing your gifts, with online shopping best reserved as a contingency for when we aren’t able to source our gifts in person.
The final part of the gift shopping process. When preparing to wrap gifts for your friends and family, make sure you have the correct wrapping paper so that wrapping gifts can become less of a chore and more of an artistic endeavour. The satisfaction that can be experienced by placing well-wrapped gifts for your friends and family under the tree on Christmas Eve, is one of the best parts of the Christmas season.
Be the early bird
We know it’s easy to delay holiday shopping until the last minute, but it’s a surefire way of making it feel as though the sky is falling. Starting your shopping as early as possible is possibly the best tip we can give. There are ways of getting through your Christmas shopping without adhering to the other tips on this list, but this is the hill that we will die on. Be the early bird.
Yes, we know it can be a particularly overwhelming part of hosting Christmas, organising a festive feast that’ll impress your family and friends. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with some tips that’ll make your life easier.
Planning a Christmas dinner can be a lot of work, especially when you are serving a lot of people with differing dietary requirements. This is why it’s essential to start planning early. Create a list of the dishes you want to serve, and make sure to include some options for those who are vegan, gluten-free, or have any other dietary requirements, and make sure to keep your kitchen’s capabilities in mind too. Once you’ve got your menu sorted, you need to think about ingredients and how you’ll be sourcing them. When this has been completed, it is worth keeping your schedule in mind. Consider making some of the dishes ahead of time, like the Christmas cake, and freezing them to save time on the day.
There will be a lot to do, and not a lot of time to do it in. Do yourself a huge favour by assigning tasks to your family members and friends to help lighten the load. Ask someone to bring a dessert or a side dish, or to help with the table setting. This is not only a great way to take some of the work off your plate (pun intended), but it’s also an excellent opportunity to bond and spend time with your loved ones.
When it comes to Christmas entertainment, there’s something for everyone, from classic Christmas movies to hilarious Christmas games, entertainment is where we bring the “merry”. So grab a cup of cocoa, put on your comfiest Christmas sweater, and get ready for some jolly good times.
With the selection of Christmas films growing every year, we truly are spoiled for choice. Whether you’re watching Elf for the hundredth time, or trying something new, Christmas films are one of the cosiest ways to bring the family together for a good dose of festive film fun.
Playing games at Christmas can be some of the earliest memories that we remember as well as a failsafe way of getting the Christmas party started. They can bring each member of the family together and give everyone a chance to get to know each other in a fun way that we don’t have the opportunity for during the rest of the year. Charades, Heads Up, Articulate etc. The list is endless, with each family and each individual person having their favourites (and least favourites) that no doubt will make an appearance each year.
As the holiday cheer bubbles within us, we all love to spruce up our homes to welcome in the festivities. However, for some, this can be a daunting task.
The most iconic piece of Christmas decoration is the Christmas tree. Real tree or faux tree. Big or small. Finding and decorating the tree at Christmas is something that everyone, old or young, can be involved with. Our two simple rules for tree decoration are as follows: spacing is key, and don’t forget to top off your Christmas tree with an angel.
Next up, the Christmas lights. Fairy lights are a must-have for any festive home. Whether you string them around your tree, on your windowsill, or over your fireplace, they bring a warm and cosy glow to the room. Using Christmas lights also comes with the oh-so-predictable task of untangling! It’s all part of the dance, so just make a cup of tea, put on your favourite Christmas album, and get to work!
And finally, no Christmas decoration guide would be complete without mentioning the exterior of your home. A festive wreath on the door is a perfect way to greet your guests, and some lights around your windows add a touch of magic to your street.
Milk and Cookies
Have you ever wondered where this tradition comes from? The origin can be traced back to Norse mythology, where children would leave out treats for Odin’s eight-legged horse Sleipner. The legend goes that Odin would fly through the sky on his horse on the winter solstice, visiting households and leaving gifts in return for the treats left for Sleipner. Over time, as Christianity spread throughout Europe, Odin evolved into Santa Claus, and the tradition of leaving treats for his horse evolved into leaving cookies and milk for him and his reindeer.
Although the association with cookies and milk is most commonly associated with the US, other countries have their own versions of this tradition. For example, in Australia and the UK, mince pies and sherry are the traditional treats left out for Father Christmas. In Sweden, rice pudding is the go-to snack, while in Ireland, Guinness and cookies are the preferred offerings. In France, food for donkeys such as carrots and hay is left out, and wine serves as the beverage of choice. In Germany, children write letters to Christkind (the Christmas spirit), while in Spain, families beat a wooden log called Tio de Neldal until it “defecates” small gifts for children. Lastly, Italy has a “present witch” known as La Befana, who gets treats of sweets and wine.
Other than a means to please Father Christmas, it’s also a way for families to create cherished Christmas baking memories and carry on time-honoured traditions while serving as a reminder of the spirit of giving and caring for others during the holiday season.
In conclusion, Christmas traditions and spending time with family aren’t just cliches; they’re essential. It’s a time to bond, honour tradition, learn, and celebrate. So, while there are a lot of things that need to be done to prepare for Christmas, especially when hosting Christmas Day, please make sure to take the time to be with your loved ones this holiday season. Having an organised Christmas Eve checklist, and preparing for Christmas early, will help to achieve this, you shouldn’t let these things get in the way of enjoying this yearly treat, as it’s not the gifts or the decorations that matter, but the memories that you create with those you hold dear. Mulled wine can also help.