It’s officially the first of December and if your Christmas tree isn’t yet up and looking beautifully festive, it’s time to start thinking about it! It’s a time for brightening your home with a colourfully decorated tree while draping tinsel over all of your festive canvas photos of cute animals in the snow and lighting fairy lights so your home is twinkling. Whether you go for a minimalist touch or decorate every accessible area in your home (including the front garden and porch!), it can be so much fun getting into the festive spirit. It only comes around once a year, so it’s understandable that we like to make the most of it!
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE
Did you know that our ancestors have been decorating Christmas trees since the 16th Century? Well, the tradition doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon! Whether your tree is real or artificial, green or white, it’s a fun way to jazz up your home for the festive season. Evergreen fire trees are the traditional choice, but for those on a budget or those who don’t like the idea of spending the season cleaning up tree needles, artificial trees are the ideal option and can be stored until the following winter. With everything from baubles and hanging decorations to tinsel and fairy lights, how can we not get carried away? A beautiful angel or star is the perfect way to top your tree and if you have a sweet tooth, why not add some candy canes for yourself and guests to snack on?
The decorative pieces sure look pretty but why is it considered normal to bring a living tree into our homes and decorate them? Well, Christians and pagans are the reason for this, as they would bring trees and twigs into their homes during the winter solstice to get them excited for spring time. Germans of the 16th Century are often credited for the tradition of decorating trees and they are topped with a beautiful angel or star to represent the angels in Bethlehem who announced the birth of Christ or the star that directed the three wise men to his birth place. If you have a sweet tooth, why not add some candy canes for yourself and guests to snack on?
CREATING A WARM & COSY HOME
If you have a fireplace, you probably enjoy stocking up on fire wood to create a cosy log-cabin vibe throughout the winter months. But if you don’t have the luxury of having an amazing smelling (and beautiful to look at) fire, don’t panic! Invest in a wall-mounted electric heater for (almost) the same effect. It might not look as good, but it will be ideal to keep you warm and comfortable throughout the winter months, while taking care of your joints and health!
And who can honestly say they enjoy the winter time without having a fluffy blanket at arm’s reach, ready at a moment’s notice for cuddling up in on the sofa to get warm and snug?! Enjoy a movie marathon with a warm blanket, comfy pyjamas and a hot chocolate with marshmallows (and a cheeky helping of Baileys) while munching on home-baked festive-shaped cookies, made by you, for you – and maybe the neighbours if there are any left over! Decorate your home with furry cushions and a fluffy rug to sink your toes into – you deserve it! Keep a dressing gown and slippers close by at ALL times and there you have it – the perfect winter set up.
Once you’ve got the basics prepared, all you’re missing is a living room kettle and mini fridge so you don’t have to get up from your nest to treat yourself to a creamy hot chocolate. We can’t win them all…
THE SCENT OF WINTER? YES, PLEASE!
Burning a log fire spreads a wintery woody smell throughout the home but what about when the fire is unlit? We all decorate our homes with candles and pretty bowls full of scented potpourri but if you want to get more creative, don’t hesitate – treat yourself!
Cinnamon and vanilla candles make the house smell delicious and you can even surround the candles with a few acorns to help you get even further into the festive spirit. Just don’t get carried away with making your home look festive that you forget the basics! Wash any outdoor decorations properly before decorating every surface with them… Acorns + bugs = stress. Another of our favourite winter ideas is to place a candle in the centre of a plate and surround it with vanilla beans for the finishing (and amazingly scented) touch.
Why not try cooking up some ingredients on the stove? Boil a pan full of water and, while it simmers, add some beautifully scented ingredients such as lavender, nutmeg and cinnamon. Either add one ingredient at a time or get creative by combining multiple ingredients at once! Get into the habit of sustainable (and delicious-smelling) living by adding your orange, pear, lemon and lime peels to the simmering pot. And what if you get carried away and your home begins to smell like a candle factory – and not a nice one? Cool the mix down, dispose of it and start again!
We also love a bit of home baking (ok, you got us – a LOT of home baking) during the winter time and our favourite scent to get the home smelling incredible is cinnamon cookies… mostly because they taste so good once they’re cooked!
How do you keep your home smelling incredible during the winter months? Let us know in the comments!
THE BEST FESTIVE DECORATIONS
Ok, so the tree is decorated and the photo frames are tinsel-covered, but it doesn’t seem enough? Don’t forget a nativity scene with a little baby Jesus, a cheeky sprig of mistletoe in your doorway which might get you an extra kiss over the winter period and a beautiful holly and flower wreath on your front door to let your neighbours know that you are Christmas-ready. And if you’re feeling extra creative and fancy trying something different with your Christmas tree, check out these amazing ideas for some inspiration.
What are your favourite Christmas decorations and how prepared do you get? Do you get so excited for the festive season that you have already put up your tree and nativity scene by mid-November? Or do you enjoy a last-minute rush and cover your TV, kitchen cupboards, staircase and shelves in tinsel a week before Christmas? Let us know!
THE BEST FESTIVE TREATS
Try a new drink this season! From warm apple cider to mulled wine and eggnog, you won’t be short of choice and there is something for everyone. Why not jazz up your hot chocolate with a splash of Baileys and extra marshmallows to give your taste buds a treat?! And grab a gingerbread house to decorate with icing and sweets before you get too drunk!
FESTIVE OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
We generally only see snow once a year (if at all!) so why not make the most out of it? Wrap up warm and take a woodland walk to witness the magic of the beautiful snow falling at your feet. Build a snowman, have a snowball fight and maybe make some snow angels. Enjoy ice skating, sledding or skiing before roasting some marshmallows over a lit bonfire in the garden while huddling around it with warm blankets and warm drinks.
Another festive activity to get you into the spirit of the season include visiting a Christmas Market, many of which are German Markets and offer a variety of handmade gift stalls, freshly-cooked meats (and delicious German sausages) and alcohol – including lots of warm mulled wine, warm apple cider and alcohol-infused hot chocolate. Baileys, amaretto and chocolate? Count us in!
GIVE THE GIFT OF LOVE
There are lots of ways to donate all year round but at Christmas it’s nice to give gifts to children across the world so they don’t miss out on the celebrations! Most large shops run charity services at this time of year and organise collection areas at the front of their stores so people can buy extra tinned foods and toys to put in after finishing their shopping trip. There are also collection box services available where you can fill a shoe box with toys for children in foreign countries.
If you want to donate to people closer to home, why not have a search through your home for old, forgotten books, games, toys, teddies and warm blankets and take a trip to a trustworthy donation center – and by that, we mean a homeless charity where people are given items for free without them having to spend the little money they have which should really be put towards funding somewhere warm to sleep when the temperatures hit below freezing. If you’re feeling extra generous, include some warm clothes and some cheap foods from your local shop. Everything from tinned food to bread, sweet treats and drinks will always be appreciated, especially at this time of the year!
SLEEP WELL THIS WINTER
We can’t all afford to have the heating on for hours before bed and during the night and it can get very cold, leaving us shivering under our blankets before falling asleep. Investing in a hot water bottle will do the trick to keep you warm. It’s tempting to curl up into a ball and begin hibernation but stretching your legs out will help to improve the circulation of blood, making your body warmer – plus, it’s good for your joints! Click here to find the best ways to get your 8 hours.
Have a wonderful winter! Sending festive vibes from the team at Her Next Smile.
Please note: All of the photos used are sourced from pixabay.