The winter break has officially started and I AM HERE FOR IT! Each year, I compile a list of things to do to celebrate the season and even though this year is different, there are still so many things to delight and bring joy.
I hope my list will inspire you to make the best of the season and find ways to feel less isolated and alone.
Buy seasonal fresh greenery
In the past few years I’ve started the tradition of buying seasonal greenery like holy, eucalyptus and pine branches from my local garden center to celebrate the end of the school semester and the beginning of the Christmas break.
Since we have a faux Christmas tree, some greenery placed all around the house in lovely corners fill the home with that instantly recognizable fresh sent that encapsulates so well the winter season.
Okay, this is the year for cookies galore! with 2020 being so hard, I have been feeling the need to bake LOTS of cookies. So, I have been researching and gathering cookie recipes to try as part of my edible gifting, because boxes of cookies will be dropped on the doorsteps of my family members, friends and neighbors.
Some of the recipes I will be baking and tweaking are salted caramel pecan chocolate chip cookies, double chocolate peppermint fudge cookies, ultimate kitchen sink cookies and, some chocolate truffles thrown in just for fun.
Because this year, “YOU get a cookie, YOU get a cookie, and YOU get a cookie!” :D
Watch Hallmark Christmas movies
I am a very late comer to the traditional Christmas movies from Hallmark – I tried to watch some a couple of years ago but could not get into them (the ones I tried seemed a bit too unrealistic and silly).
But this year… I persevered! after trial and error, I was able to found some that I really enjoyed, thus boosting my confidence in the genre. And now, my list of Christmas movies to watch keeps expanding (WHO AM I?)
If you are skeptical, let me point you in the right direction by sharing with you some of the things that I found enjoyable and thus, what to look for when considering watching some of them:
- chemistry between the main characters and good acting skills – this makes a big difference in the overall feel and vibe of the movie. I’ve realized that I seem to favor the movies that star Joy Lenz because I find her a naturally gifted actress and her bubbly personality a good fit for these kind of movies. I really enjoyed watching Poinsettias for Christmas and Snowed Inn Christmas. I have also watched Royal Matchmaker because: a) it was shot primarily in Romania at Peles Castle and its environs b) felt really nostalgic and missed seeing my home country and wanted to catch some glimpses of it and c) because of Joy (who can also sing and just came out with a fantastic Christmas album! listen to it here). Now, if you can get passed the fact that everyone at the castle speaks with a very pronounced British accent (*eye roll*) AND that the name they gave the country in the movie is a little silly, you might enjoy it.
- credible story line and plot – this is another characteristic that I thought made a difference. I am all for romance and romantic movies, but it has to make sense! I mean, I know these are feel good movies with simplified story lines so everyone can enjoy, but they have to be believable and realistic.
- strong, talented, hard working and determined heroines – because these are the kinds of women I grew up with and am surrounded by, and these are the women I find real, authentic and relatable.
- local Christmas traditions – I love learning new things, especially about different cultures, traditions and cuisines. So, it has been a nice surprise to be transported to various places and see how other people celebrate Christmas. In this vein, I enjoyed Christmas contract and Christmas in Mississippi.
Apparently there are around 50 (!) Christmas movies that the channel comes out with every year and obviously, I have barely scratched the surface. If you have some favorite Hallmark Christmas movies to watch, comment down below and let me know.
Connect with family and friends
This goes without saying. Every day, I want to catch up with at least someone dear from back home and possibly, make a skype date to see their sweet faces. If that is not an option, then a message and a text can also help us feel connected. I am also planning to allocate some time and write some hand written letters – something I have not done in a very long time and it’s long overdue.
Make some mulled wine
I am craving this sweet, aromatic and spicy drink this year! It’s really funny because I don’t ever drink or like the taste of alcohol (have never even been drunk) but a cup of this warm drink takes me back to my Uni years spent in Cluj-Napoca (Kloozh’ Nah poh’ kah), Transylvania, when bundled up on a frigid afternoon we would hurry to the nearest cafe to warm our hands around this soothing and delicious drink.
The recipe is fairly simple and even though it is an alcohol based drink, the long duration of the cooking time makes it lose some of its strength. Therefore, one cup most likely won’t get you tipsy. If you’d like to give it a go, here’s the recipe.
Mulled wine is also a traditional seasonal drink in many other European countries, including Austria and Germany where it’s called “gluhwein“, whilst in Sweden, glogg. So you see, there are many ways to make a mulled spiced wine, and none of them wrong.
Walk every day
By myself, that is. I still walk Milo every day but I am planning on adding some alone walk time, which I’ve been sorely missing lately. For me, disconnecting and walking in nature is one of the easiest, simplest and most effective ways of self-care and I highly, highly recommend it.
Make a dried orange garland
I have spoken about this before in my 5 Simple, Easy and Natural Christmas Tree Decorating Ideas post that went up a couple of weeks ago. At the time and because we were shooting for multiple blog posts in advance, I had to quickly put up my tree to take some thematic pics and did not have the time to make any new decorations.
Now that Christmas break is here, I think it’s time to finally make that dried orange slice garland – seems so easy and what a sustainable, natural and lovely way to decorate a tree, a mantel or a tablescape.
Now tell me, do you have some time off for the holidays? and do you celebrate Christmas? if you do, tell me below what are some of the things you look forward to this Holiday season.
I feel like this December month finally cheered up the whole year and gave us something to feel joyful for.
I wish you health, abundance, joy and lots of lovely surprises in the stocking and underneath the tree!