On the first day of Christmas, someone will say to me, “I just don’t feel Christmassyyy”.
I hope you sang that, if not, restart because my effort / outright cringeyness is not being wasted. We’ve all experienced it: Christmas is edging closer but you’re just not feeling Christmassy yet. The more you stress about it, the worse it gets, so how about relaxing and trying out some of these ways to feel a little more festive.
1. Remove the stress: I’ll start with what I believe to be the most important, and the reason why Christmas turns into a chore for some of us. Instead of panicking about selecting the perfect gift, or serving up the fluffiest roast potatoes, just relax and think about the good times you’ll have. Nothing is perfect and sometimes slip-ups create the best memories – to a certain extent – I’m not promising your family will be laughing around the fire if you announce you’ve smouldered the turkey.
2. Plan the big day: It’s true that sometimes the run up to Christmas can be more exciting than the day itself, which could be what leaves some of us feeling a little less enthusiastic than we’d like. Planning a few activities can be a great way to make you look forward to the day though, like writing a family Christmas quiz or selecting your outfit.
3. Revisit your childhood: Everyone remembers the excitement of Christmas as a child. Whilst it might not be quite the same upon realising that your gifts don’t arrive on the back of a sleigh, it doesn’t mean that all magic is lost. Buy yourself some new pyjamas, go for walks in woolly accessories and – for the British – browse the Argos catalogue and imagine what you would have chosen!
4. Get personal: Adding your own personal touch to your card and gifts at Christmas will leave you with a feeling of achievement as you admire your unique offerings. Being creative allows you to really think about the aspects of Christmas that your family and friends love the most as you assemble their gifts, knowing they’re going to be smiling on Christmas morning. Pictured is a table centrepiece that I made a couple of years ago for my mum.
5. Christmasise* your commute: Listening to Christmas songs all day every day can make you never want to hear them again, but adding a couple into your regular playlist will jazz up your journey and remind you of the cheerier times to come. Personal favourite: Chris Rea – Driving home for Christmas.
6. Surround yourself in scents: This does not have to be expensive as there are some very cheap Christmas candles available in most supermarkets. If you want to treat yourself, Yankee and Bath & Body Works have some beautiful fragrances. Think long term (well, around a month) when choosing your candle though. I can assure you that a chocolate orange aroma soon goes from heavenly to sickly sweet when it’s clinging to your bedroom for weeks. Try opting for lighter notes such as spiced apple or amber wood instead.
7. Christmas TV programmes: In the run up to Christmas, Jamie Oliver’s cooking programmes really make me feel festive. The way he involves his family and gets passionate about the food is warming to watch, and also allows you to gather some tips! It seems that all families have their own opinion on what to watch on Christmas Day. Some fall silent for the Queen’s speech, whereas we’ve always been more keep to gather for the Christmas episode of Coronation Street (perhaps not so patriotic, but surely it’s a homage to our Mancunian roots).
8. Decorate your personal spaces: It’s nice to have a Christmas tree in the living room, but if you spend the majority of your time in your bedroom then you could be left feeling underwhelmed towards Christmas. Don’t allow yourself to be closed off from the atmosphere; add a small Christmas tree to your bedroom, invest in some Christmas cushions or hang some baubles from your shelves for a cosy Christmas environment. (More ideas here)
9. Lights: More specifically, there’s something magically soothing about watching fairy lights twinkle out of the corner of your eye. Admittedly, this is hit and miss if you have the kind of lights that freely change setting and go from a tranquil twinkle to an LED strobe mode in a matter of seconds, but either will lift the winter dullness.
10. Visit your nearest Christmas markets: Christmas markets are something that I genuinely feel you can enjoy without spending a penny. Whether it’s browsing the handmade gifts on the stalls, or breathing in the smell of spiced mulled wine, they really are a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. Of course, indulging in the flavours of a warming drink or a sugar dusted waffle could trigger some Christmas memories too, if that’s what makes you feel festive.
11. Festiveise** your food: For me, nothing says Christmas more than ginger, orange and cranberries. Transforming your daily porridge by adding a handful of cranberries, some crushed pecans and stirring in some ginger will make you feel like you’re spooning Christmas straight into your stomach. Other ideas include baked pears with cinnamon and homemade gingerbread. I personally love it when the sprouts appear on the Sunday dinners, like a small taste of what’s to come, but then again this could be others’ worst nightmare!
12. Watch Christmas films: I’m not usually one to sit down and watch films, but I find them a great way to feel more festive. Even more strangely, I find myself enjoying musicals at this time of year because they’re so easy to watch. My all-time favourite Christmas film is Elf, and I think I could recite the script without actually having to play the DVD by now! It’s light-hearted, funny and musical and definitely leaves you with a smile.
Ultimately, I think the true feeling of festivity comes when you allow yourself to relax, do the things you enjoy and be around people that you love. There’s no need to overthink gifts or to stress about small details, because Christmas is an overall period of cheeriness and magic.
*A word that I felt needed inventing whilst struggling to find a shorter verb form of ‘to make Christmassy’.
**There just aren’t enough verbs for this time of year.