I swapped my weekend days this weekend, so I sat having my Magazine Moment, usually every Sunday morning, on Saturday. It’s mid-October, which as anyone will tell you is the start of getting ready for Christmas. Yes, it is really. From now on I buy a small thing every week to put away for meals over Christmas, really start buying gifts and storing them (different place every year from prying eyes) rather than idly picking up stockingfillers on my summer travels and I get my planner out to write in all the events and get togethers that make Christmas….. oh. Oh. Of course. Not this year. This year my December diary is going to look decidedly bare, and friends, if I meet any, will be visualised, not visual.
But the dreaded season will be happening whether we like it or not, and for anyone who runs a home, lives in a house with other people or just loves Christmas it’s still a good idea to start looking and assembling the bones of your Christmas now to build on later.
I’m a sucker for magazines. Hey, I run a regular Magazine Monday post on my blog precisely because I am a magazine addict. And I’m even worse at Christmas, when I buy the extra magazines I don’t usually get as long as their covers appeal to me and I like the look. Christmas specials are one of my favourites, I must admit, so today I’m doing you a three for the price of one. I know that different people want different things from a magazine and, especially this year when counting the pennies could make the difference between one paypacket lasting the month while the next fades mid-time period, knowing whether a magazine has what you need to keep you happy and give you the inspiration at a price you can afford can save you significantly.
The three magazines I chose to compare are Homestyle Christmas, £3.99; Your Home Christmas Made Easy £3.99 and Ideal Home’s Complete Guide to Christmas £4.99. They’re all available currently in UK supermarkets.
All three have the same or similar constituent elements: advice on planning ahead for Christmas, some present ideas, decorating hints and tips and cookery sections that, as well as the obvious advice on cooking for Christmas Day dinner, include either Christmas Eve, Boxing Day or New Year’s Eve cooking. No one magazine includes all three, since each chooses their own area of interest. They all have a good range of baking recipes and ideas.
Looked at from a practical and hygge point of view, which is to say not overly extravagant, focused on home and homemade and with an emphasis on cosy and comfortable, each magazine has a few pages that focus on scandinavian style, especially red and white Christmas decorations, while they all have real life articles looking at real homes, and these are usually cosy and welcoming.
Homestyle Christmas is bright and cheerful, divided into decorating, shopping, festive ideas, food and craft. It’s wide ranging in its appeal, with pages on decorating with pastels, enchanted woodland and a tutorial on making a wreath. There are pages of shopping advice on presents and home decor, as well as colourful and easy crafts.
Kitchen-wise, the focus is on Christmas Day but there is advice on using leftovers and party food to feed a crowd. The food is not pretentious, and looks doable on a budget.
My favourite article is the Go Green at Christmas article, with eight simple actions to help celebrate in an ecologically aware way.
Your Home: Christmas Made Easy is my favourite cover of the three: I like the white, gold and red scheme, and a log burner is always a draw for me. It also has a nice frontispiece, and a lot of the illustrations throughout have the same natural/nature/red/white appeal.
Divided into Decorating, Create it Yourself, Festive Fun, Food and Drink and a miscellaneous section called Don’t Miss out! it’s an easy to navigate magazine.
I’m struck most by the easy but cosy crafts they feature. The hand lettered advent calendar, tied to a branch and the felted cuddly bear both appeal to my creative side. None of the crafts look too hard, and some are very family friendly, so worth bearing in mind on a wet December Sunday in Lockdown.
Gift ideas also include edible presents, in the form of biscuits from around the world. I’m keen to make the Italian Cantucci, as I gifted some with a bottle of vin santo as a thank you to a colleague recently and found myself dreaming of nibbling them beside a log burner in the depths of winter myself…. and the other baking highlights of the magazine are a variety of mince pies, including rather cute heart shaped ones, and a snowman cake designed by Kim Joy of Bake Off fame.
It’s less sell-sell-sell than Homestyle, and I find that suits me more. Ideas for decorations, gifts etc are presented as part of integrated articles, rather than pages of displays. There’s also a lovely article on making magical moments with children that, truthfully, would work for any age really, while the beautifully illustrated Get Ahead of the Game last page article has ideas to help you manage next year better. I love having a Christmas Debrief to see what went well/ what needed improvement, so this article was written for me!
Ideal Home’s Complete Guide to Christmas this year is very stylish, with a purple wreath as centre stage. It’s a classy magazine all through, with glossy paper rather than the eco-aware matt paper of the other two.
Divided into Living, Style, Making, Tips and Recipes, the magazine features a lovely house in the country that I could happily live in, and a wide range of decorating styles. I love the snowy woodland retreat and the eclectic opulence but the whole magazine is filled with a wide range of ideas for things to make, ways to decorate, food to cook.
The makes pages include edible gifts, cards and handmade decorations while the recipes pages feature plenty of advice on ready made food in the shops as well as pages filled with tasty meals and a delicious looking stollen wreath that *could* be my experiment of choice at the start of December.
The Recipe pages are pretty comprehensive to take you through the week, from prepare ahead Christmas Eve suppers to Boxing Day and on through leftovers to a canapes and cocktails New Year’s Eve. If you’re a good cook, this is the one I’d pick.
There are pages filled with shopping ideas, and the magazine is stylish and full of inspiration, with plenty to keep a keen Christmas fan happy.
I think the different magazines will appeal to different people. If you’re a crafter, then Your Home is the one to go for. Cooks, like I say, will appreciate the breadth of recipes in Ideal Home. Home Style has a greater focus on influencers or the trendier side of Christmas. Traditionalists will like Ideal Home, nordic style lovers prefer Your Home. Families might find the crafts in Home Style easier to adapt. Ultimately, as in anything Christmas, it may be a case of finding, flicking and deciding on the feel of the book itself.
That said, if you told me now I could only have one, I’d probably go for Your Home: Christmas Made Easy. I think, for me, it has the edge on a cosy, comfy style. I also like that the pushing of products wasn’t in your face, but as part of scenes to inspire, and that the crafts were slightly more complex. I also think many of the ideas are perfectly capable of being achieved without spending too much, and also that the trends they featured are long-lasting ones, meaning you could set your intention for the next few years to collect woodland creatures, or red and white home accessories to use, knowing you can have the same/similar with tweaks next year.
If you’d like to support me….
I don’t monetise my blog. I don’t run adverts, take sponsorship for writing posts or use affiliate links. I want everything I do on this blog and in my hygge life outside to be truthful. If I promote a book it’s because I’ve read it and like it, if I point out an item it’s because it’s impressed me on its own merits and not because the publicist has talked me into it. It does mean I don’t run giveaways and I’m not chasing followers, but the drawback is that I need to find a way to support myself.
That’s why I write books. My thoughts are that if I ask you to buy a book not only does it support me, and let me keep writing as an independent writer, but you get something back for your bucks. I’ve written several books, some on Hygge, some on Christmas. If you like what you read here, or in the Hygge Nook, and you’d like to support a struggling writer, would you please consider buying a book? E-books give you the best value, since for 2 or 3 pounds you get the whole content of the book without paying the extra for paper production, but I’d be a pretty poor writer if I didn’t appreciate the beauty of a real book in the hand. If you buy even just one book, it all adds up in the end to support me, and I’d be so grateful.
My latest book, Celebrating a Contagious Christmas, is available on Amazon now as an ebook and, by popular demand, a paperback. It’s about the adjustments we’ll have to make to our usual Christmas celebrations if we’re in Lockdown come December, how illness or employment may make a difference and how we have to spread hope, not germs, in an attempt to keep the world on an even keel.
Cosy Happy Hygge is available as an ebook or a paperback on Amazon now. It’s about using rhythm and ritual to make your life a gentler, kinder place. Writing it has been an important part of my mental health recovery.
My first three books are hygge related, 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way was my first book, and is available in Paperback and Kindle version. It’s a simple look at ways to feel more hyggely in life and at home even though we’re not Danish and don’t have it in our DNA. Although it was inspired by the blog, it’s completely original work and not collected blogposts. It will probably be updated and an improved second edition coming in Spring 2021.
Happier is my fourth book. It’s about how I boost my own happiness levels. It’s full of hints, tips and ideas for you to use and adapt to suit your own situation. It is available in ebook and paperback version from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
I have three Christmas books,
Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas was released in September 2017 and is available again in paperback and ebook version. It looks at keeping the Christmas season warm and cosy, with ideas for activities and routines to keep Christmas happy.
A (Hygge) Christmas Carol is my look at Dickens’ immortal classic and the many lessons we still learn from it today. It contains the full text of the book as well as hyggely thoughts on the story.
Enjoying a Self Care Christmas is only available in e-book version. It’s about keeping Christmas simple enough and healthy enough to keep you sane in the process. I’m hoping to do a series of Self Care through the year books.
If you already have my books, or just want to support me as an independent writer, you can always just send me the price of a cup of coffee as a friend, to paypal.me/HyggeJem . I tend to use a lot (all) of my spare cash on books that I review for the website, so every penny donated goes towards building my happy hygge life.
If you buy any of the books or some of the items through the links on this page, I get a couple of extra pence per copy, as an Amazon Affiliate, in Amazon vouchers which go towards buying more books to review for the blog. I’d really love it if you’d support me monetarily, but I quite understand that cash is tight for many people, and I just love having your support via reading and commenting as well.
Truthfully, I’ll probably never make a living as a writer, but I do make a little extra income that gets ploughed back into books and magazines. One obsession feeds the other.