December’s posts this year all share the theme of Mindful Christmas. There’ll be short posts each day encouraging us to pause and look at our celebrations in a more measured, mindful way. Every day has a concept heavily tied in to Christmas, and the plan is to look at them individually, examine what role they play in our own Christmas and, if we decide we don’t have enough of the secret ingredient, what we can do to have more of them. You’ll see what I mean as the month goes on.
Each day also includes a suggested film for the day and a mindful action, something small, fast and designed to give you the opportunity to pause and enjoy the season in its mad run down to The Day Itself. These are the films and ideas written in my advent calendar box, so I’ll be watching and acting alongside.
Today’s word is Creativity.
Now, I know I could go on about all the ways you can be creative at Christmas… the presents, the cards, decorations, creative excursions that feed the soul and more besides. Read any home magazine at this time of year and you will be given a thousand ideas for creative wreaths, creative puddings and creative uses for bubble plastic. And, yes, creativity like this is a valuable part of Christmas. Creativity is good for the soul, it helps people live a longer life (really) and lets them get more out of life. It’s good for calming overwrought minds, and gives a safe space to meet people without having to talk. There is no place as silent as a painting class, when everyone is concentrating and nobody needs idle chatter.
Creativity, in short, is a gift. If you have it, use it.
But competitive creativity is a block on your brain. If you are trying to create a perfect Christmas in order to show your mother/sister/sister in law/ that neighbour across the street who sniffs every time she passes your house that you ARE a creative person and that you CAN do the biggest, best, most creative Christmas ever…. then you’re on a losing streak. And you’ve missed the point of being creative.
Creating doesn’t need to be a public display. It shouldn’t rely on you being able to show your products to anyone. Indeed, creativity doesn’t need a final product at all. The true benefit of creativity is not in having made something, it’s in having created at all. The process, in other words, is the positive. It took me years to learn this.
I used to do full-blown homemade Christmases. I would make 100 cards, print wrapping paper, make painted gift boxes or toys or scarves as presents. I learned new crafts especially to use them at Christmas. I was your basic Craft Goddess. I had the time and the wherewithall to do it all. And I enjoyed it. Fast forward 30 years, and I no longer have the time or the spare cash or the inclination to cut and stick 100 felt cards together, knit a wreath for the window, paint boxes to gift or put time into presents that may/may not be appreciated. I still want and need to be creative at Christmas, but I need to do it a different way.
My time now is put less into short term, one year activities and more into finding flow activities. I still enjoy one-off crafts, or making decorations and presents that catch my eye during the year. I made my Robin Stockings this year, and they proudly grace my mantelpiece, but the true creativity to me was in assembling the display around them, collecting the items in my house that would add the finishing flourish, adapting decorations I had already or using the supplies already in my house to make little robins in felt and felting and decorate my mantelpiece in a way to make me smile every time I look at it. I’ll probably use exactly the same things in the same place next year, or I may be inspired by a different project mid-year to create a new mantelscape.
And my long-term flow craft projects keep me going through Christmas and into the new year. I have a large (very) blue crochet blanket on the go for my bed at home, an embroidery kit that I’m slowly working my way through and a sketchbook that I try to paint or draw in every couple of weeks. And I write. This blog, my planned book and my journal keep me focused on creating in a different way. Certainly writing my books becomes a flow activity that I can spend hours doing without noticing. Whether it’s Christmas or not, keeping that sanity-creating flow matters.
That means creating time to be creative. Carving space out of a full schedule to say ‘Now I am free to…’ and taking that time for yourself. Give yourself an hour to knit or paint or crochet, take it guilt-free and feel your health benefit from the relaxing. Be creative in finding space: create with your family, if you need to. Have a family clay shaping session, make a salt-dough advent wreath or centrepiece. Get out into the park or garden and create stone stacks or leaf designs together. What you do is less important than that you do it.
And never forget that baking, the alchemical process of taking flour, water and fat to create cakes, cookies, bread, buns or anything else, is about the most flowy flow activity you can do. Gift yourself the time, enjoy the touch of the dough, the scent of the spices, the crackle of the crust, the look of the iced biscuits. Put your finished products on a plate, however they look, and announce to the World in general, but especially to yourself: I am an artist, and I create my best life.
All the quotes this month share the same background, even if the headers are all different. Thanks go to Caley Dimmock on Unsplash for a very seasonal background ideal for all quotes, large and small. And today’s header is by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash. I chose it because the idea of grabbing a herbal tea in the midst of all the Christmas baking we put ourselves through is an idea I thoroughly approve of. Never get so busy baking that you can’t grab 10 minutes for a cuppa. Which reminds me: I must find and print off my Christmas Eve/ Christmas Day Food Prep Planner. Organised chaos is not chaos.
Today’s Film:Home Alone. Kevin gets creative in defeating the burglars is a tenous link, but a link none the less, but this is a film that needs no excuse really. It’s just a humdinger of a Christmas movie and one I’m happy to watch every year.
Today’s Mindful Action: Create. Make something, even if it’s only a list of crafts you quite fancy having a go of. Gift yourself an hour for your flow activity today or tomorrow. Spend some time making. Or get into the kitchen and make a plate of cookies. Enjoy the process, and enjoy the calm.
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’s filled with advice on a daily, weekly and annual basis to help you set up rituals and rhythms that boost happiness and work for you.
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.
Of course Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas is an essential read at this time of year. 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.
A (Hygge) Christmas Carol is my personal look at Dicken’s Immortal Classic through the eyes of a Christmas obsessive and hygge lover. It includes the full text of the book, as well as my short essays on why A Christmas Carol is a book full of hygge. I have no idea why, but Kindle version and paperback are on different pages.
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.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well, and links to all the articles in this series are on the blogpost: Mindful Christmas 2021.