Cultural Experience | United Kingdom

Step Into Christmas – Full Throttle.

it’s mid-november, time to get your christmas spirit in full swing.

By Lizi Woolgar.

Yorkshire

Yorkshire

So, it’s that time of year again…mid-November. In an office full of self-proclaimed scrooges, my Christmas spirit is as strong as ever. Mid-Nov to me means we’re well into the very British (extensively drawn-out) run-up to Christmas. It’s funny that Christmas –evidently – is first and foremost a religious tradition. Am I religious? Nope. Do I really give much thought to what Christmas represents? Unfortunately, never. BUT, I would argue that Christmas now is as much about celebrating a joyful period of life, an uplifted mental state and a feeling of gentle euphoria for whatever the reason is that might appeal to you most. As I write this, 3 consecutive Christmas adverts pop up on the TV in front of me. Typical Brits, ey.

But what I’m really trying to say is that, in my opinion, Christmas is an excuse to do things that you wouldn’t normally bother doing; indulge yourself and drag the feeling out as long as possible! I’m still very childish about Christmas and I whole-heartedly encourage you to be the same. Whether it’s visiting the best Christmassy locations over the country, finding the perfect (#cringe-fest-ive) Christmas jumper or baking a big ole pie, there’s something for everyone. I want to share a few tips on how to best get yourself revved up for the festive season, in the vague hope that something might inspire you to shun the scrooge on your shoulder and embrace the festivities.

Nottingham

Nottingham

Sparkle-fy yourself

The sparkles. Oh, the sparkles! I become a bit like a human magpie I guess, but strictly during the month of December. I don’t really care for shimmers and glimmers during the year, but once that first advent calendar door is opened, oh boy, I really go craycray for anything that will reflect light. Just take it one step at a time if you have a bad case of Sparkle Fear; Glittery nails are always acceptable at Christmas. Similarly, if you happen to have a penchant for garish jewellery at this time of year (you know what I mean, those baubles hanging from yo’ lobes) are totally fine at this time and this time only.

Visit a Christmas Market

There is nothing like an authentic European Christmas Market to get you in the mood. Brimming with stalls of trinkets (watch the price), hot drinks and novelty food, why not make a day of it? Although there are hundreds across the UK cities – including the renowned Winter Wonderland in London – I’ve only visited a couple (so far!) personally. Nottingham Christmas market is teaming with Cadbury’s chocolate stands, fair-isle thick-knit gloves (saved my life walking to the station!) and even has its own mini ice rink. Bristol market (at Cabot Circus) is German-themed and really brings out those European traditions. Complete with authentic Bratwurst, pretzels and an array of hot alcoholic beverages, I can thoroughly recommend this as a place to warm your cockles.

Newcastle

Newcastle

London

London

Eat the food. Eat all of the food.

It goes without saying, but Christmas is the one time of year where gluttony is not only encouraged, but gleefully relished. To prepare in the run-up, allocate a few days to some Christmas home baking perhaps with siblings or yo’ mumma – make an effort to do something you wouldn’t normally do any time other than December. Probably the highest recommended item of food has to be a gingerbread house (with homemade icing). The challenge of trying to stick it together really is quite rewarding.

So get cookin’ good lookin’! When else will you have time or an excuse to actual make the good stuff? Check out these recipes for inspiration …

http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/pictures/30701/30-christmas-recipes-to-make-in-advance

Do the Christmas rounds.

I’ve been thinking back to why I used to get quite so excited about Christmas as a child (as, indeed, all children do) and I’m longing to bring that back this year. When younger, you take part in so many more Christmas-related activities through schools or organised family trips. How about revisiting your fondest childhood memories? Check out Santa’s Grotto (Colchester Zoo has a great one), go ice skating or make use of local xmas bazaars. Most schools hold them and you might actually pick up a cute unique Xmas gift for friends (and who knows, little Stacy’s #hawt older brother might just happen to be loitering under some mistletoe).

Christmas Carol13 081

Make a big deal out of putting up decorations.

The Woolgar family household excel at this one year in year out. We have a ritual for putting up decorations and if we don’t follow it we all get a little OCD-freak-out. So, dress yourself appropriately (Santa hat compulsory, weird solo-toe slipper socks optional), pour yourself a sherry and prepare the décor. Now, the most important part: dig out the oldest Xmas CD you can find and put this on immediately, full volume, none of this Destiny’s Child remix rubbish. Similarly, don’t neglect your personal space. Be sure to decorate it – whether it be your room, your bed headboard or your work desk (or – if you’re Hazza P – the cupboard under the stairs).

Stick to your Christmas morals.

If you are a creature of habit, don’t settle for anything less than what makes your perfect Christmas. I mean c’mon, you’re shelling out for all these gifts so you at least deserve to be a little demanding if it really makes a difference to your day. For me, it has to be stockings. Opened before the ‘present pile’, stockings are an essential part of Christmas morning. Even if only stuffed with socks and tangerines, I would still want a stocking. So, don’t back down; you are never too old…despite what your mother might say. [N.B. I taddle-taled to the hairdresser to get my own way, if you’re looking for tips, by the by].

3

Nottingham Ice Rink

Nottingham Ice Rink

Have a Christmas shopping day for YOURSELF!

Stock up on all sorts of Christmassy clothing; not just those pesky Christmas party frocks. Find some charity-shop-bargains of old school Christmas jumpers, or vintage sequinned steals. My very own favourite Christmas pieces are from charity shops; a versatile purple glittery vest top (great for layering) and a thick cream roll neck top with lines of silver thread running through it (a lot nicer than it sounds, promise).

DIY.

It’s time to get creative. Want to send out Christmas cards but don’t want to fork out all that cash? Dedicate a day to card DIY to get you in the Christmas mood and add that unique touch (article coming soon). Also, why not make your own crackers or add personal touches to present-wrapping? Throw in sequin snowflakes or cute confetti for that extra special element.

And finally…MY ABSOLUTE TOP TIP: If you are about to experience your first Christmas with pets, you need to know one thing. Do not, under any circumstances, buy a real tree.  They will rip down the needles (for cats, tree = scratching post) or possibly eat them. You can thank me later.

Essex

Essex

 

Nottingham Cadbury Stand

Nottingham Cadbury Stand

 

Lizi Woolgar

University of Bristol | 40 stories

Graduate of University of Bristol. Having spent my first two years of University writing for the student newspaper, epigram and Brighton-based Spindle Magazine, I then went on to edit the Style section of Epigram 2012-2013. Now keen to pursue a career in journalism/editorial work, I look forward to writing my weekly column for The College Tourist, all the while seeing where my writing and travel will take me.


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