The Ber months are my favourite. I love this time of year, with autumn and winter bookending Christmas in a festival of good times, good friends and good memories for the future. I love living in the moment, of course… but that doesn’t mean I don’t spend a fair amount of time getting things ready for Chrstmas.
The preparation for Christmas, to me, has always been as big and enjoyable a time as the feast itself. When I was younger, the time spent shopping for presents, planning events and getting my small corner of the house ready was time well spent. Crafting decorations, planning meals or saving up to be able to afford the present I knew would make my Mum smile or my Nan nod appreciatively. And enjoying the sights and sounds of Christmas through the early Christmas magazines (that started coming out in mid November back then in the 1980s) and through the taped version of A Christmas Carol that I had and listened to so much I think the tape wore thin eventually. (Imagine my joy when I found it again on Audible: it’s 57 minutes long, has sound effects and is shortened enough to be good to listen to with children from about 9 or 10: I listen to it on my commute now)
Nowadays, I can indulge my inner Christmas Fairy as soon as I like and as often as I care to. My favourite films are either on DVD in the cupboard or on Amazon and Netflix and it’s not unknown for me to slip on The Muppets Christmas Carol or The Holiday even in August and especially when I’m writing a Christmas book. I’m taking a year off writing this year, so no new book for Christmas, sadly.
And, of course, once November hits it is full steam ahead on the prep. I usually plan to have all my present shopping and a fair amount of food shopping done by 1st December so the month is mine to do with as I wish. Sorting out dates for the diary, booking events and finding small but interesting things to do takes some time and then there’s whatever crafting I decide to do. In the past I’ve painted boxes as gifts for family and friends, but that’s not happening this year. Instead, I’ve been concentrating on some revamped Christmas decorations.
Followers on Instagram will have seen the hooky rug Robin stocking I’ve been making. I bought a set of two from Hooked by Design at the Yarndale festival in September, and now is my chance to finish them. Making the fronts is a nicely repetitive process, hook through, yarn over, hook out, but it can be quite hard on the wrists, so not something to do for absolute hours at a time. I finished the first one last weekend and started the second almost straight away. A bad cold and wristache has stopped me for the past two days, but today I am feeling so much better and may well just get on with it as I watch TV and cough hard.
The plan is to put one at either end of my mantelpiece, with felt robins and felted robin decorations hidden among red votive candle holders and fresh branches of pine or laurel. I like making my mantelpiece look totally seasonal, and the kits and equipment are all something I had tucked at the back of my craft cupboards waiting for a reason to make them.
And preparation for Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without the posts over at Beyond The Christmas Chronicles. We started this Facebook group in 2017… 2018? as a way to share thoughts, recipes and more connected to Nigel Slater’s excellent book, The Christmas Chronicles. It runs as a sort of advent calendar and diary from 1st November through to 2nd February and the official end of the Christmas season. Nigel writes about his trips to Christmas markets in Germany and Austria, about how his garden changes in the winter, about his food preparation and readiness for Christmas. I sometimes wonder how sensible it is to read the same book year after year and then get together in a group to discuss it, but so far it’s been 3 or 4 years, and the posts are a brilliant blend of familiarity (apricot liqueur on 1st November) and originality, with the members sharing their own familiar Christmas recipes and rituals.
Finally, my newest Christmas preparation this year has been getting my Advent Box ready to use. I wrote about the mad inspiration for the box in my September Small Things series. Since then, I’ve been quietly squirreling away, picking up the box, some stickers and the notebook. I bought some beautiful gnome cards from Etsy and spent a few hours whiling away the time sorting out journal prompts, quotations and ideas for them.
I intend printing out the journalling prompts on separate paper, but the word for the day and quotation will be written inside the card itself. I’m also going to add a film to watch every day and a mindful action for the day… just something easy or quick, like a short candle meditation, sending a letter to an old friend or finding a new screensaver.
The envelopes are ready and waiting now, 1 to 24. I need to think how to do my Romjul questions, but I’m thinking they might work well as a short booklet just left inside the box. And the envelopes are big enough to just squeeze a teabag in as well. I bought the Pukka Festive Tea selection of 30 seasonal flavours, so that’s one a day for the whole of December, except Christmas Day.
I’m writing in the cards now, slowly, and will have the journal prompts ready as a pdf later this month. If you wanted to join in or do something similar, let me know and I’ll make them available as a download on the site. I do, however, intend to use the same daily words as the themes for my Mindful Christmas series, which I’ll be putting out every day from 1st December, so you could just wait and join in daily then. I’ve started writing them already, and it’s interesting which words have me resisiting the next move and which ones I can’t wait to write about.
Today’s header is by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash. I chose it because I liked the colours. Red and white are just so Christmas for me. I also liked the thought that, with a little fiddling, I could do something like that for my mantelpiece next year. What do you reckon? Felt decorations and jingle bells? Sometimes pictures are just so inspiring.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. It has daily, weekly and monthly ideas for ways to craft a life that supports you in living happier.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.
And how to Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas? Christmas is about the small things in life, much as hygge is, and establishing what you want from Christmas and then being able to say no to the excess is important. The book has hints and tips that hopefully will help you enjoy what is, too often, a frantic season.
Available as just an ebook, and a short, sharp read, is Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas: Easy Ways to keep the Joy of Christmas, and your Sanity, intact. It’s an easy read, with ideas and hints to keep you sane through the season. The self-care advent calendar is one I’ve followed for a few years now, and it really is a small daily dose of calm in a manic month.
And on the basis that we may well find ourselves in Lockdowns or unable to enjoy an absolutely normal Christmas under Covid regulations if numbers spike, why not read and plan alternatives? Celebrating a Contagious Christmas was written in response to the pandemic last year, and will need updating soon, but it is about celebrating whatever the situation, and does have good advice on stocking up an emergency cupboard, celebrating when travelling to relatives is impossible and putting the heart of Christmas back into the heart of the celebrations.
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
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