Wednesday 25 November 2009

Decking up all kinds of halls.

I’m so excited that we’re only a month away from Christmas!

I have mixed feelings about this time of year. For instance, I hate being cold... and yet I love hats (Twenty berets at last count... this is a problem.). And black tights are so much more flattering than bare legs. And while I adore the build up to Christmas, I always find the actual day a bit of a let down. It’s my inner seven year old – sadly, when you’re twenty seven, it’s just never going to be as good. My sister and I are doing our best to rectify that, though (the key seems to be LOTS of booze. And having a little person around.).

So, as the build-up to Christmas is my favourite part, I’m going to be celebrating it over the next month by bringing you a Christmas post every week! (Plus other posts, just in case you're not a fan of the festivities) First up, I present a list of my favourite things about the run up to Christmas...

Seasonal food and drink
I’m not talking mince pies or Christmas cake – I’m actually surprisingly unenthused about both these things (and, also, crème eggs. So sickly!). Oh no, I mean the seasonal specials that the big chains come out with.

Starbucks and their gingerbread lattes! (Okay, I don’t drink coffee, but if I did...) Marks and Spencer and their Christmas sandwiches line! Which, this year, has been expanded into seasonal salads, drinks, soup and cakes... WOW. And finally, my local sandwich shop, Palmers, and their Christmas Panini. Bacon, sausage, stuffing, cranberry, turkey... and hey, why not add some brie? OM NOM NOM.

It’s always been the practise in my house that the kids decorate the tree. Then, as we grew up, my dad took over. The tree was always bright and colourful, but... well, not much thought had gone into it. A couple of years ago, everyone in my house was busy and it was put to me to do the tree. Being the image obsessed, slightly OCD person that I am, I put my all into it, using only red and gold decorations, and the result was amazing. Really, everyone said so. I’ve perfected this over the last two years and have cemented my place as Head of Christmas Tree Design, and have even managed to talk my mother into spending far too much money on stunning decorations. I can’t wait to show off our tree this year.

Snow Fairy
I no longer suffer from the Lush addiction I had at uni, but I still get a thrill of excitement when they send out their Christmas brochure, just to see the exclusive seasonal products they’ve brought out. The one I go back to time and time again is this gorgeous shower gel. Yes, it’s the colour of that weird medicine you used to have as a kid (possibly amoxicillin?) and on first sniff, smells like sickening bubble gum, but give it a chance! Because when used, it smells like sweeties! And who doesn’t want to smell like sweeties all day?

I am so obsessed with Snow Fairy that I buy about five of the large bottles every December so I have enough to last me all year. I’m still using the last of my 2008 bottles.

Despite being someone who loves to shop for herself – and why the hell not? – I actually really love buying Christmas presents. That excitement of knowing you’ve got something that the recipient is going to absolutely adore, the satisfied feeling when you get in and dump it all on your bed and then gradually sort through it all... it’s just an excuse to share my favourite hobby with the people I love. These days, I do most of it online, which is
fine... but it’s never quite the same as the exhausting yet triumphant trawl through the shops. Not on Christmas Eve, though. I’m not CRAZY.

I do not understand why more people do not love wrapping presents. I love wrapping presents so much that I get called in as assistance for my sister and my friends. It’s so much fun! And, being a competitive person, there’s nothing I like more than doing something WELL, and my presents are always the prettiest under the tree.

as I blogged about last year, I don’t actually wrap presents all that well. My corners are always shabby and there are inevitably rips and creases. But because I spend that extra pound or so on ribbon and rosettes, everyone is distracted by the SHINY and fails to notice how crappy my wrapping skills really are. So, top tip #1 – spend that little extra (and it really is an extra couple of pounds, total) on ribbons and rosettes and top tip #2 – buy shiny, plain, metallic paper. It looks way more luxe than something with Santa all over it and you can use it all year because it’s not season-specific!

Culinary exploits
On Sunday, my sister and I completed our second practise run of the Christmas dinner. We’ve decided to totally take over this year, to ensure that we get the dinner we’re dreaming of... and we’ve found that what we like, everyone else does too. Loads of meat and potatoes* and oodles of gravy? No one’s turning that down. Thanks to our practise runs, we’ve now introduced honey roasted sweet potatoes to the table (amaaazing... and low fat! Although if you cook them in the meat tin they’re even better, and that kind of cancels out the low fat thing...) and perfected our roasties. The other thing is, that at Christmas it’s totally fine to make loads of cakes, so I’m going to be trying out a few things. I’ve been dreaming about Baileys Brownies for ages, and had my first stab at them this weekend. Although they tasted epic, there were some consistency issues... so another try will have to be had. But don’t worry, I’ll post the recipe on here once they’re perfect.

*Um, four kinds?

Advent calendars
Um, hello, it's an excuse to eat chocolate every day for a month. This is the dream, people.

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