So… apparently Thanksgiving has come and gone and I never even got around to posting. I felt like death that weekend, but regardless, we carried out some old (and even a few new) traditions and made the best of it. One of my favorite traditions now is that we put up the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving night — this year we added to it by drinking champagne (for me) and whiskey (for him) while eating donuts. The cork now lives in the tree, after it shot across the parking lot outside and Michael spent 10 minutes looking for it.
For some reason, I love the holidays a little bit more this go-round. Maybe its because we’re settled into a place that feels like home, instead of a tiny shoebox of an apartment while all of my things lived in storage. I compiled a holiday checklist and figured I would share here in case any of you are looking for some last minute things to get you in the Christmas spirit. Because seriously, December 26th is a real bummer. We sort of did an advent calendar but accidentally started buying some pricey gifts for said calendar so I don’t think we’re getting to a full 24 day countdown, but all of these could easily take the place of a gift. Money ain’t no thing, y’all. DO THINGS!
1. Bake sugar cookies. I found this cookie mix as a buy one/get one deal so two boxes + cookie cutters were one of the advent gifts for Michael. We’re making some this week and on Christmas Eve, of course. Santa needs cookies, duh.
2. Drive around and look at Christmas lights or take a tacky light tour. I love riding around and taking detours after our standard Target or grocery store trip, but this year we added in a trolley tacky light tour & it was great. We did it with two other couples and we didn’t drink, but obviously you could if you’re in that kind of mood. We were in a hot chocolate kind of mood.
3. Build a gingerbread house. Two things I’ve learned this year: Trader’s Joe’s kit is legit, and Michael is not an excellent decorator.
3. Watch Christmas movies. Obviously you need to wear flannel pajamas and drink hot tea or hot chocolate (a tin can of peppermint hot chocolate was one of his advent gifts because I am the master of killing two birds with one stone.) One of Michael’s favorite holiday movies is the Polar Express and after years of thinking I HATED that movie, turns out I actually like it. That’s my way of saying, just keep re-watching every Christmas movie ever, every year. You will learn to love them all, if you don’t already. I can’t even believe that I haven’t watched Love Actually yet this season, but it’s on the list.
4. Make a potpourri simmer. Okay, this year was the first time I did it and I’m not sure what took me so long. It’s beautiful, and so easy to put together. Oranges, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, rosemary, apples, cranberries + water. Easy peasy, and your house will smell like Christmas magic.
5. Take a cold walk to a coffeeshop. I hate being cold. H A T E it. But there’s something about bundling up and just going for it that feels very winter to me. Walking to a coffeeshop date in the cold is much more enjoyable than walking around an outdoor mall in the cold, FYI.
6. Lewis Ginter Gardenfest of Lights. Don’t go on a Friday or Saturday, but go, make yourself some s’mores, walk around in the cold, and go home and do #3.
7. Go see the Nutcracker. Also, first timer over here. My entire adult life, I’ve wanted to see the Nutcracker here in Richmond, but I’ve never had the chance. Michael surprised me with tickets on Friday night, and it was the perfect date night, and also gave me an excuse to treat myself to a Madewell shopping trip. It was incredible, and we’ve (I’ve) already decided we’ll take our kids to this every year, if it’s still a thing in 30 years when we have kids. I loved it so much that I’d even say it might be my favorite date so far, and we’ve been on A LOT.
8. Get a new Christmas record. We both gifted each other new vinyl in the advent calendar (Bing Crosby’s Merry Christmas for him and She & Him’s Christmas Party for me) so I’ve been playing them non-stop.
9. Get fancied up & grab a drink or dinner somewhere… fancy. Just because. Back in November, I made a pledge to get my health back in check and I’ve been eating mostly clean, whole foods, but mostly to just make room for special occasions like these. 😉 PS: a gin & tonic tastes just like Christmas.
10. Give yourself a festive mani/pedi. Because I think it’s some sort of rule that you should have red nails at least once during the winter, but I’ve been rocking Essie’s bordeaux for the last few weeks (and I have to do them every three days because I can’t have nice things.)
11. Donate! Whether its some gently used clothing, toys for the Angel Tree, books for the Children’s Hospital, or money when you’re just checking out at a store, think of those who don’t have anything at all. My sister-in-law has a whole list of giving back activities that she does with my niece and it’s the cutest thing ever to see her start it so young.
12. Bake orange slices. I just learned about this little trick this year, but you can bake orange slices at a low temperature (I did around 225) for about 3 hours. I kept changing the temperature towards the end because I’m no rocket scientist and I just wanted my slices to brown because I was losing daylight. You can hang them on the treat, make a garland, or use them to decorate wrapped gifts. They are pretty dang cute and so easy that you could knock out some of the other items on this list while you wait.
I used to spend my holidays being down in the dumps and missing my dad, but having someone around who brought my Christmas spirit back, mixed with having two nieces to celebrate with, makes Christmas a much happier time for me again.