It occurs to me that there are two types of people in the world. People who deck the halls with boughs of holly come December, and people who play Christmas carols all year 'round.
I am most definitely the latter.
When it comes to Christmas, I can literally never get enough, but I feel a little (tiny bit) guilty listening to carols in the first quarter of the year, so I'm not quite as 'loud and proud'. In March, I don't blare Jingle Bells at school pick up, for example, with the sunroof open and the windows down - even though it's tempting. But guys, it's SEPTEMBER. We are officially on the downhill run to Christmas which makes every little bit of festivity completely legit from here on in.
So herewith my list of the best ways to get into the Christmas spirit over the next 111 days.
1. Christmas Carols. Even the most hardcore grinch can't help but feel all festive and gooey when Christmas carols are afoot. My favourite? Diana Krall.
2. Soak your Christmas fruits ready for the cake and fruit mince pies. Buy premium Australian fruit and rum and breathe in all those spices.
3. Make a list of Christmas gifts. Being organised cuts down last-minute panic and it's so much fun to start planning! If you want to arrange bespoke gifts (custom, matching t-shirts? Hanna Andersson PJs for the fam bam? We have these ones...) now's the time to order and make sure they arrive in time.
4. Festive Reads. October is when Christmas books start to be released but if you can't wait another month, never fear. Last year's Christmas books are already out there just waiting to be enjoyed. Hurrah!
5. Get yourself a truly great Christmas candle and burn it, baby! I love this one.
6. Plan your Christmas day menu. If you're not hosting, work out what you can make to take wherever you're going. Or just to eat on your own while you watch CHRISTMAS MOVIES (point 16).
7. Grab whichever small person you can get your hands on and COVER THEM in green and red for as long as possible. (Not literally cover. They need to breathe, obviously. But give them all the festive. They're too young to object. Besides, they'll love it. Really, I promise.) This works for pets too.
8. Every year, in early December, I have a Succulent Wreath Making day for a group of girlfriends. There's prosecco and (naturally) Christmas carols and we spend a few hours around a table making wreaths. It's a lot of fun and I can't imagine a year without it.
9. We also do gingerbread houses every year! The first time it was a bit intimidating but now we have it down to a fine art. Persist! It's so much fun and they make great gifts.
These are teeny, tiny gingerbread houses which you can make with the leftover cookie dough. These ones fit tea light candles and when they're burning they smell divine. Just make sure they're not too small or they'll catch fire and turn your bread into toast ;)
10. More on point 7. Little people are great victims errr models for hand-made outfits! I used to make overalls for my kids - shopping for the Christmas fabrics was always a highlight. FYI the seasonal fabrics usually start to get released in September so that further validates my early-Christmas fever.
11. Paperboat Press! This is one of my most treasured traditions. The gorgeous, artisanal store in Queensland makes the most beautiful ceramics, including gorgeous custom Christmas stars (and even doggy bones - I'm looking at you, Rachel Dr Love Bailey!).
12. Okay. I'll willingly admit this next one might be a bit OTT but now that I've started the tradition I can't stop! We have a cutout picture board and each year the kids and I paint something new on it. Then we make (errr invite) all the family to pose for piccies. Pro tip, we re-use the board for Easter so it's really the gift that keeps on giving. Always add the year so you can montage the pics for later enjoyment. ;)
13. Paint all your stemware, all your ceramics! Okay, not *all*. But this is so much fun. Ceramic paints are available at any good craft store and you can decorate them however you want, set them in the oven and enjoy. In my experience, the paint doesn't last long so you'll more than likely get your glasses back eventually (but why would you want boring transparency when you can have the pleasure of drinking through a wreath-decorated glass all year 'round?).
14. Bake, bake, bake! This one's best saved until the week before Christmas. ;) Pudding. Cake. Fruit mince pies. Custard. All the things! Ideally in a Christmas themed apron.
15. And the big one. The tree. I used to put the tree up at the end of September (don't knock it until you've tried it - it's way too much effort for just a few weeks). But over the years we've acquired new family members and one of them has his birthday on the 31st of October so we wait until his birthday's been and gone before putting up the tree. But every year on November 1 it is officially tree day in our family! If you're one of those people who waits until the week before to get decorating, allow me to challenge you to try it my way this year. I really don't think you'll regret it.
16. Christmas movies!! There are so many amazing ones to enjoy but my top four, the movies I can't miss or it doesn't feel like Christmas, are: Die Hard (the first one). Love Actually. Arthur Christmas and Home Alone.
What about you? Tell me you're a Christmas-a-holic like I am? How do you celebrate the season? What are your favourite traditions!?
This is Clare Connelly signing off and wishing you a very Merry Christmas (for the first, but definitely not last, time for 2019!). xx