This year, we might not be with everyone we wished, and our celebrations might not be as grand as planned but there's still ways in which we can make it feel like the holidays. We asked a few friends of ours what are the special activities that never fail to fill them with festive feelings.
Claire Ratinon, gardener and writer
“I spend much of November and a lot of December lamenting the early arrival of decorations and harbouring disdain for the same old Christmas songs, but it’s the first twinkle of fairy lights at home that finally gets me to give in to Christmas.
I’ve only had a real tree once and I dragged it off a pub roof on Christmas Eve because they let me have it for a fiver. I’d always wanted one and thought I’d love it but I actually found it quite devastating having this beautiful thing dying in my home when it could have been left in the ground to live a long life. Since that year, I committed to always finding an alternative to a real tree.
Most years, I decorate whichever house plant is the biggest but last year, Sam made a tree-sized triangle from offcuts of wood and we decorated it with holly and fir trimmings from our winter garden tidy up. Once the fairy lights were draped over it and switched on, our first Christmas had arrived in our new home. And come the New Year, we chopped it up and put it in the green waste bin!”
Liv & Dom, illustrators and ceramicists (and sisters)
“Something that definitely makes us get that Christmas feeling is mulled wine. It's a cliché for sure, but it's an unmistakably Christmassy smell. The first mull happens around the same time the Christmas tree goes up, and that's probably the first time we properly get into the Christmas spirit.
To save overdoing it with the alcohol, Dom bought all the components of mulled wine in essential oil form, clove, cinnamon, orange, etc, to diffuse around the house to keep the scent lingering all season.”
Matilda Goad, designer
“Physalis fruit are such an association for me. They are always such a treat and the ritual of peeling back the papery layer to reveal the jewel-like fruit is just as much of the enjoyment as the taste itself!”
“To be honest, I had never really experienced Christmas like the way I have in New York City. Coming from New Zealand, our Christmases were spent picnicking at the beach – it's summer down under in December! It's fun in a different way but to experience a Christmas with lights, ice-skating rinks, Christmas markets, and fluffy snow was a dream. It was exactly like Home Alone!
Much of my family is back in New Zealand, so I miss the family aspect of Christmas being here, but I’ve formed another type of family ritual with close friends. What makes me feel like Christmas is friends, great food, and being bundled up together sharing a tonne of laughs.”
Taymoor Atighetchi, Papier CEO & founder
“As an Iranian family, Christmas isn't exactly “traditional” so we instead selectively pick and choose the bits we like and leave out others. A great big decorated Christmas tree, Christmas crackers and a turkey lunch are all in, but we opt out of the carols, hymns and midnight mass.
Oh, and there's no charades, Monopoly or Scrabble as these are all deemed far inferior to the one and only (Iranian) board game and the thing that makes me feel like Christmas: Backgammon. A recent tradition has been that I do the cooking. It's one of the few meals in the year we don't eat with rice and where the meat isn't on a skewer and therefore one where I can be trusted in the kitchen!”
Eshita Kabra-Davies, By Rotation founder
“It's got to be the Christmas tree for me. I must admit I wasn't so into Christmas until recently – it was only until I bought my own tree and was able to decorate it to theme from all the baubles and artefacts I collected over the year.
I also adore having greens and fresh scents in the house and can't resist an “interior decoration” project. I love how this creative experience enables me to reflect on the passing year, it's almost therapeutic!”
Emma Block, illustrator
“The thing that makes me feel most Christmassy is a good old-fashioned carol service. I adore the carols, the candlelight, and having mulled wine and a mince pie afterwards. I normally go to a traditional carol service with my Granny, which is just magical.
Obviously we won’t be able to do that this year, but I will definitely be listening to my Christmas Carol Spotify playlist and having some non-alcoholic mulled wine at home whilst writing my Christmas cards.”
Paper treasures to make it feel like the Holidays