The All-Year-Round Christmas Handbook by Tiffany Wood is a strange choice for a September book, perhaps… but Tiffany is a great believer, as I am, in planning and preparing ahead for Christmas, having it all wrapped up shopping and sourcing-wise by the end of November so that December itself is a month of enjoyment and that the organising of Christmas can be spread over the year so that it doesn’t become this Big Thing waiting for us and subsuming our whole world in December.
The book is organised into chapters that act as a countdown to Christmas, from 325 days to Christmas, through September and October to Mid-December, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and ending with Week of New Year and January. It’s a whole year of advice on making Christmas a happy, family-focused time.
Tiffany has written and more crucially illustrated a Christmas planning book in exactly the way that I, if I were able to illustrate, would want to do it. The illustrations make this book, they really do, with most pages being either full colour illustrations, collections of recipes or ideas or most usefully pages of blank planning sheets.
The book is obviously designed to be written in, used, loved and dragged out year after year. It’s almost too lovely to write in, though, plus also I have a ringbound Christmas planner so it’s just as well that the planner pages are available for download from the publishers. With weekly planning sheets, gift giving log, Christmas card address lists, menu plans and more, the downloads could easily be an annual way to cheer up your Christmas planning.
Tiffany places a great emphasis on the hygge in Christmas: she says quite rightly that “The true challenge of organising Christmas is knowing what really matters, and slowing down so that hygge doesn’t pass us by.” Hygge makes us focus on relationships, being a member of a close group and on living simply.
There’s an emphasis on small groups rather than massive parties, on making gifts that show your love in their thoughtfulness and on using the world around you, all of Nature’s bounties, to create decorations and gifts that will enhance your life without adding to the environmental issues of the world.
For many Mrs Christmas, so much of this book will be things they do or have done or know to be useful. It’s a sensible book, not a pie-in-the-sky fantasy. I like how grounded it is, that it’s not about eating raisins by candlelight or performing sun salutations at dawn on the Solstice (although, if that’s your jam, schedule them in and enjoy) but rather more like a gentle reminder that, whatever the big corporations and companies feel about it, at its heart Christmas is about families big and small. I did really love the idea of a communal advent calendar, though… four wrapped gifts, swapped about between a group of friends and opened on Advent Sundays.
If I have any criticism of the book, it is mostly that at 8 by 10 inches and a good, solid hardback with good quality thick paper it is a tad too heavy to slip into a handbag and use as a Christmas planner proper, an issue exacerbated by the fact that you’d either have to use pencil and erase the writing every year or be prepared for this to be a one-year only book. Get back to the publisher, I say, and download the pdfs.
Who would I recommend this book for? Well, if you’re a Mother Christmas to a family of children of any age then the book is ideal for giving you inspiration and a gentle reminder of the need to hygge rather than work yourself into the ground. The sheer practicality of it (this is the week to make the pudding, this week I clean the house, this week we wrap all the last-minute gifts) makes it a useful aide-memoire. I found so many of the lists matched my personal lists (yes, I do really start getting ready for Christmas by mid-September and have shopping done by 1st December). It’s not rocket science, but it is great to have a practical step-by-step guide so beautifully presented.
I enjoyed reading Tiffany’s personal stories, her explanations of what her family do when and why. It’s written in a chatty, friendly style, with lots of I do and We enjoy sentences. Advice from other Mrs Christmases is dropped in, and the whole book is a little escapist pause in planning. If you did no more than read it, it’s a happy hour with a mug and a bar of chocolate. Actually take the time, jot down some of the ideas you get from it and put Christmas planning in place year round, and you could be on for your most hyggely Christmas yet.
Tiffany has a website, Mrs Christmas’ Workshop, which is as beautifully illustrated as the book. I’m reading my way through the blog section in my quiet pauses at work. She’s also on Instagram as @attiffany.s. And, having seen her, she’s definitely the sort of lady I’d love to meet up with for coffee and a cake one day! She looks a happy, friendly sort of lady but then. as a fellow Mrs Christmas, she should be. Tiffany, if you read this, I love the book, I really do!
Ready to start thinking ahead for your own hygge Christmas?
I have a couple of Christmas books that you may well find useful if, like me, you’re planning a small, home-focused Christmas this year.
Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas is about ways to celebrate Christmas in the most hyggely way: that’s keeping it very small-group focused and about keeping it simple.It’s available in ebook and paperback form from Amazon.
Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas is about building in pauses into an ordinary Christmas or setting up Christmas to suit yourself and take care of your happiness as well. A lot of the ideas in it are completely useful in a Coronavirus Christmas. It’s only available as an ebook, but that means it’s cheaper. It also has a self-care advent calendar list that is very focused on boosting love and mood over the season.
Truthfully, there’s usually always a chapter on Christmas in all my hygge books: it’s peak hygge season, why would there not be? So, if you’re loaded and like my writing, feel free to support me in every way possible.
You can find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or find my books at Amazon. Details of all of them are available on the If You’d Like to Support Me page. Apart from that, I have to declare that I bought any books mentioned on this page myself, because if I recommend a book or a buy it’s because I’ve bought it, like it and think you’d like it too. I do make a couple of pence if you click through and buy from the links on my pages, because I am an Amazon Affiliate.