Noel, noel, god rest ye merry gentlemen... and women,
I've got another Christmas tagged post for you today, also entitled 'The Christmas Tag', yet it's different to the one I had a crack at the other week. Just something light-hearted, and festive for a rainy Tuesday morning.
I saw this tag on another blog last week, and bookmarked it so I could grab the link to credit back when I had time to write this post. Of course, now I'm here, I can't find the post anywhere and have absolutely no idea where I read it. So if anybody knows where it originated, please let me know! The Christmas Tag idea isn't my own creation, although the photo below is.
Now, let's talk Christmas!
What time of year do you start your Christmas shopping?
I usually begin my Christmas shopping around September or early October, but this year I began in the new year and picked up things as I saw them! It's actually been a relief to have some presents stashed away for both birthdays and Christmas this year. I like to be able to spread the cost of Christmas, and also to have everything bought by December so I can relax and enjoy the festivities.
Do you have any festive recipes for food or drink you limit solely to the Christmas season to share?
Yes, we have a few recipes that are only made once a year for a special treat, mostly because they can be quite expensive to make, and quite lavish. I've been making a Blackberry and Apple Trifle each Christmas Eve for seven or eight years, which is delicious, if I do say so myself! I would eat it all year round if it wasn't for the cost and the calories! I've also been making a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake for the last few years, but I'm considering making something different this year instead, for a change.
Tell me how Christmas goes down in your home
My mother wakes my younger sister and I by 7am, (I'm still stuck living at home for the time being), and we go downstairs and open presents from our parents all together in our pyjamas with some Christmas music on. I then give my Mum her birthday presents, since it's also her birthday, and we then usually exchange gifts with each other. The turkey goes in the oven, some breakfast gets cooked (cue me feeling nauseated by the smell of bacon), and we can laze around for an hour or two. At least one of us usually goes back to bed for an hour or two! I usually lounge on the sofa, watching a Christmas movie, checking out the gifts I've been given. We go and get dressed by 11am. Dad goes to mass. Mum starts cooking. I work my magic on the dinner table. My older sister and brother-in-law arrive by midday and we exchange presents together. We all sit down for Christmas dinner around 1-2pm, and always end up laughing until our sides hurt. Stuffed, we waddle in to the living room and recover from all the delicious food in front of the TV. We'll have a drink or two and often break out the board games. When my sister and brother in law go home late afternoon, to enjoy Christmas evening together, we tend to get back in our PJs, and give each other some peace for a while. We have a really chilled evening with a few drinks, some festive TV, turkey sandwiches, a few nibbles, and perhaps another board game or two. It's only our immediate family on Christmas Day, so we're able to keep it lovely and casual, while still enjoying the festivities together in our own way. This year, I think I'll be spending the evening with my sister and brother-in-law and a glass or two.
Do you have any Christmas traditions?
My Auntie hosts a family get together every year, on Christmas Eve, although she's recently started hosting it a few days earlier to take the pressure off.
If it's on a Christmas Eve, we leave home around 1-2pm and on the hour and a half drive we listen to Christmas tunes, and soak up the festive atmosphere around us as we drive through country towns. Then we spend the rest of the afternoon and early evening at my Auntie's, which is always filled with my extended family on my Dad's side; family friends, neighbours, and a handful of people I never can place. Imagine thirty people or so squeezed in to a three bedroomed-semi! The house is decked out; she lays out a buffet; and we basically just spend the hours chatting, catching up, watching something festive with a few drinks, and grazing. Very casual, but really festive. People come and go, sparing what time they have, and as my family is catholic, some of them head off to mass for a while. Then we'll head home around 7 or 8pm, put the Christmas songs on again, and watch out for Christmas lights as we head home, feeling extremely festive, and excited for Christmas which by then is just hours away. Now it's usually held a couple of days earlier, I miss that excited Christmas Eve feeling we'd get from the visit, but it's still a lovely tradition, we go to every year just the same.
Do you have a favourite festive coffee?
Well, I've never drank a drop of coffee, so I haven't got one! My festive hot beverage treat is usually just a Costa hot chocolate. I had a hazelnut hot chocolate once, though, and it was just as delicious.
Do you have a favourite Christmas song?
I'm not sure I have one particular favourite; I have many, which I'm going to dedicate a post to before Christmas. I love I Believe in Father Christmas by Greg Lake; A Spaceman Came Travelling by Chris de Burgh; All Alone on Christmas by Darlene Love; Fairytale of New York by The Pogues; Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney; Merry Christmas Everyone by Shakin Stevens, It's Only Christmas by Ronan Keating... to name but a few!
What do you do on Christmas Eve?
Well, as I said above, we always used to go to my Auntie's on Christmas Eve, and since she's now started holding it a day or two earlier, we're a bit unsure of what to do with ourselves! I spend the morning making a trifle and baking a cheesecake, and popping down to the supermarket for the last groceries we need. I've been known to spend a few hours at my sister's, too. I tie up any loose ends, and usually find myself wrapping last minute gifts my Dad has bought my Mum... lazy bugger! In the afternoon, I'm usually found baking nibbles with my Mum for a buffet tea, and getting the house perfect for the big day. We watch Christmas films, and that sort of thing. Sometimes we go off to an evening or midnight mass. By bedtime I'll be curled up with a festive book.
What's your Christmas wrapping strategy? Do you have a strategy?
I LOVE wrapping presents, and I usually turn my bed in to a wrapping station! I can't say I'm perfect at it, but I get top marks for effort! I spend hours on them; and this year took five sittings to get them done. I love to use gorgeous paper (this year it's Cath Kidston), and then embellish them with ribbon. I'll often add in bows, and a finishing touch, too. In the past I've used snowflake decorations, stars, and jingle bells from Paperchase. I try to make them look as special as possible.
What's your dream gift this year?
This year I actually don't have my heart set on anything in particular! I'm quite content with what I already have. If we're talking a proper fantasy gift, I'd be happy to unwrap a miracle recovery for my back injuries. Or some beautiful dresses, or concert tickets. I'm easily pleased.
Describe your Christmas tree. How tall? Real or artificial? How is it decorated?
Our family Christmas tree is a green 6ft artificial tree, with fake pine cones and berries attached to many of the branches. It's decorated with multi-coloured fairy lights which have lots of different settings; they can be still, twinkling, or going mental, if we so desire- and much more. We don't have a colour-scheme; we're not that fancy in our home. Our decorations have been collected over the years and hold lots of sentimental value. There are decorations from mine and my sisters' childhoods, my mum's childhood; some from when my parents first got together; and even some that belonged to my Nana. To some it may look tacky, but I love it. It holds so many memories, like a decorative over-sized scrapbook, which we add to every year.
I've also got a little 2ft Christmas tree in my bedroom, so I can have a bit of festive cheer while stuck in bed. It's the first real tree I've had in my house since I was eleven! It's potted in a silver enamel pot, so if I don't kill it by the end of the month, I should be able to plant it in the garden in the new year. It came with a few little red and white baubles on twine, a little grey felt house decoration, and a red bow on the top adorned with the words 'let it snow'. It's very scandi-chic, which is a style I love. I added some cheap white fairy lights, a couple of decorations I bought from Rockefeller Centre in NYC, red snowflakes, and a crystal snowman angel to jazz it up a little!
Do you decorate just the tree or other areas of your house e.g. windows, banisters?
I always decorate the mantel and fireplace with fir branches, pine cones, holly branches, and woodland animals (sadly not real ones!), and dot vases filled with baubles around downstairs. We have a few decorations like large snow globes and figurines dotted about, tinsel over pictures, card holders hung up, and a wreath on the door. I wish we had a banister to wrap garlands around, but unfortunately ours is made of brick. If I had my way, our home would be lit up outside like the Blackpool Illuminations, but my parents just stick to a couple of candle arch lights on the living room and kitchen windowsills. If I had full reign over the house I'd decorate each room. I'm a Christmas geek, and still have the visual merchandiser in me itching to make everything pretty! I've settled for the above, and decorating my boudoir with fairy lights.
What do you wear to Christmas parties and what do you wear on Christmas day?
At Christmas parties, you'll almost always find me wearing a beautiful dress with tights, my best jewellery, and some glitter on my nails, and this is true for Christmas Day, too. I love to dress up on Christmas Day, even though I only spend it with immediate family, although I'll be in my PJs until around 11am and back in them by 6pm! And at some point I'll probably be wearing a Christmas jumper!
How do you celebrate Christmas in your house?
How do you celebrate Christmas in your house?