Friday 6 November 2015

A High Street Christmas

   I'm an Etsy seller, Etsy shopper and general crafter, so I love to get really hands-on with Christmas - but at the same time I can never resist Christmas displays in stores, nor the collection photography on websites or in catalogues. I just can't help staring at the displays and photographs, wishing my house could look like that (and occasionally foolishly thinking it could and wasting time and money only to realise how big a part of the set-up the flooring, walls and fireplace really are). I drag Seeg out to some of my favourite stores and dribble over the decorations - the shine, the glitter, the deep colours - and I bounce through the shops to the Christmas music. I buy the candles that smell Christmassy, even if burning them makes me feel a little ill, and I buy myself a few Christmas earrings, head pieces and so on that I know I'll never wear - nevermind the decorations I have nowhere to put!
   I just. Can't. Help it.

   So, as it's NaBloPoMo and I've had Christmas-brain since the beginning of October, I'm unleashing my festivities on the blog right now. And for me, Christmas really is a combination of food, decorations, music and gifts. A lot of people just say that to look good, but I'm quite proud of myself for actually adoring the holiday as a whole, and for the fact that I actually do love to give presents more than get them - of course, I'd be lying if I said I'd still love Christmas if I was given nothing. I think I'd cry if that was the case. Like I said before: I revert to a 10-year old at Christmas, both in terms of wanting presents but also in the wonder of Christmas. I get hypnotised by decorations and Christmas colours, sounds and smells play havoc with my synesthesia.
   So I've looked over some of my favourite high street stores when it comes to buying such decorations, and I've picked out my favourites while trying to cover all aspects - and I tell you, this post has been so much fun to put together!!

   A tree! It's the centre of Christmas decorations; true, you can make a wonderful visual atmosphere without one if you know what you're doing, but the tree is important to me, and I like a big, fluffy, full one, preferrably artificial. I can see the appeal of a real tree, but we used to have dogs and the pines were a bit of a nightmare with them. Artificial trees became a habit and given how long we've used them, the smell of a musty old artificial tree that has been sat in the lost for 49 weeks out of every 52 for 20 odd years is actually one to die for.
   If money grew on trees, I'd splash out on a big fluffy one like this kensington fir tree by John Lewis. I've looked at a number of trees across a number of websites and this one is the one that makes me think "CHRISTMAS!!!" the most.

   Like I already said, I love the displays in shops of fully-decorated trees and the photographs of fully-decorated living rooms and fireplaces on their websites. I see the themes they use and only come to truly appreciate the eye for design the whole thing has taken when I try to replicate it myself. Like I said, the colour of the walls, the type of floor and fireplace have a massive impact on the overall finish. However, all that said, I still can't help trying and this traditional collection set-up by Marks and Spencer is to die for. It appeals to the biscuit tin Christmas I grew up with, though far more elegant and...well, not my house!
   Fortunately, traditional Christmas decor tends to work with any kind of home, whether your interior is dark and old or if it's naturally-lit and spaciously modern. You can't really get it wrong, so it's not the greatest risk to try to replicate, but I know it will never work out quite how I hope it will.

   Food is a big part of Christmas; I love my roast dinner on a Sunday but Christmas dinner and Boxing Day dinner are bonuses, and while it might be a bit heavy if Christmas is on a weekend, or as near to one as it is this year, I still wouldn't change it. I workout even through Christmas, the only day I take off is Christmas Day itself, so I'm confident that I can work it off. In short: it's all worth it.
   I also love to bake; I try to make a new and original Christmas treat every year, but it can be tough to achieve, either because I don't get any ideas or because those ideas just don't finish the way I want them to, if they finish at all. Last year I made pinecone cakes and they were a massive success. They were one of those things that managed to give a brilliant and impressive finish without all that much work, and if there's one thing I love it's a finish that belies the ease with which it was made. Those pinecone cakes were the pinnacle of that.
   So, naturally, Christmas serveware and tableware are quite important to me, though admittedly not something I invest in. Even so, the odd festive tray, platter or cake stand do occasionally work their way into my cupboards, and this year I'm looking at

   I love the Denby monsoon silver filigree collection to the moon and back! I love the silver on white and while it's not actually Christmassy - no snowflakes or anything - that makes it usable year-round. I'm considering a breakfast bowl and tea cup/saucer. I can't help it. I love Christmas and I love things I can set aside as being exclusively festive. Like how you only really combine cinnamon and mandarin oranges at this time of year, you know?

   I admit that, if I could afford it, this 'toy's delight' Christmas cake plate would slide into my cupboard in a heartbeat - but I have a few already, so that's probably just as well. Regardless, I love its simplicity but certain Christmas theme, with gold snowflakes around the bottom and tiny Christmas pictures like trees and toys on the surface of the plate. It's not loud at all, either, so it would suit decorated cakes very well - and I always decorate my cakes!

   I love my tea and biscuits, though I do try to keep the latter under control, but Christmas tea and biscuits is important to me, whether I make the biscuits or buy them, be they shortbread or iced sugar cookies, and whether the tea is a Christmas-infused green or an outright Christmas spiced assam, I love it. So it's natural that, in the season when every little thing is made into a big deal, that my afternoon tea would, too. And though a bit dark, this folk Christmas tray from Marks and Spencer is actually the nicest once I've seen. I love the Scandinavian Christmas theme!

   I've been seeing this Emma Bridgewater 'Christmas Joy' design for weeks and, I admit, I hated it at first. Now, however, perhaps because I've seen it so much it's really rather grown on me and I've done a 180 and decided that I love it! So, as important as my afternoon tea and Christmas biscuits are, my evening hot chocolate is just as important! Don't worry, though: I can keep it low-calorie and surprisingly clean by sticking to Options hot chocolates. No guilt!
   This half-pint mug can be found in most highstreet shops but it was in John Lewis when I finally decided that I liked it.

   Home decorations. These are my real weakness. There's only so much you can put on a tree and, while there are usually around seven trees between two and six foot up in the house over Christmas, I really love decorations that make a feature of themselves. I actually love Paperchase for this because their stuff appeals to the whimsy in me. I love woodland animals - you might be able to tell from my jewellery shop, to be honest - and every year Paperchase have these wonderful 10 inch stags. Initially they were simple, silvers and the like, but over the past couple of years they've been more outlandish - this year there's one wearing a pompom jumper! As gorgeous as he is, I think he's a little too silly for me, but I snatched up the grey and mint/gold deer immediately! I've got more than I know what to do with, to be honest. And, to make matters better worse, they've added jackalopes to their collection. Jackalopes! How could I not?!
   It's true that I prefer rustic or traditional red/gold Christmasses, but I can never help indulging in the whimsy that is Paperchase's Christmas range. They have sprouts, too - I just wish there was a plush sprout!

   Foooood... It's actually come to light that I do a perfect Homer Simpson impression and, rather worryingly, it's completely accidental. But regardless, I love food (why do you think I exercise so much?) and it's a huge part of Christmas. I love the sweet and the savoury, but while I am a chocolate fiend, I find myself more interested in biscuits at this time of the year - good news for my waistline because that's something I can make myself at home, and make them with healthier ingredients so I can at least make them more nutritious. But I also admit that I rarely do that. Christmas is my time of indulgence; I behave all year long and, while I have no intention of undoing all of November's work in the course of three December days, Christmas is my favourite day of the year and if any day is a day for me to indulge, it's then. I won't eat to capacity, but if I'm going to have a treat it will be worth it. Like decadent hot chocolates, a perfect assortment of biscuits and rich chocolates.


   To be honest, I don't look online for meals. That just doesn't make sense - they wouldn't keep, they wouldn't ship well, and it's just downright unusual so the thought never occurs to me, just like I'm sure it doesn't occur to anyone else, either. But when I was looking on Marks and Spencer's website I couldn't help getting drawn in! It's like how food in cartoons always looks so stupidly delicious, so does everything they're laying in front of my eyes! It's impossible!
   Apparently you can order an entire Christmas dinner, trimmings and all, to serve 6 people in a saver bundle (pictured above, *dribble dribble*), or you can put together your dream dinner yourself by going through the main dishes (poultry, meat, fish and vegetarian options) and sides yourself!
   I can't really believe it, looking at it, it sounds absurd, but then again I'm at home all day as a full-time carer and we have a very small family - in the end, we have an awful lot of time to take care of Christmas. Other people - larger or busier families - can't necessarily do that, so this is a good alternative. In fact, it looks as though these dinners would be better than what I dish up on Christmas day - but I wouldn't change it for the world!
   But as delicious as their main courses look, I have a deadly sweet tooth so the desserts pulled me in right away!

   I love wrapping my gifts as creatively as I can, but I admit that, at Christmas time when there are so many gifts to wrap, I kind of lose the motivation. Most people I gift won't really take a moment to notice it, and I admit that I love wrapping paper. I buy rolls of it every year though I rarely use it all up. I have Christmas wrapping paper in my wardrobe from about 3 years ago and I can guarantee I'll buy more this time around. I don't put my gifts under the tree, see. If they were going to be on display as if part of the decoration then it would be a totally different matter, but instead they're hidden in boxes in the wardrobe and various other unsuspecting places around the house. And besides, it takes me a whole afternoon even if all I use is paper off the roll!
   Plus paper can look gorgeous. I love classy designs like damask and black/gold/silver combinations - but I admit that some of the more childish designs catch my eye quite often, like the sprout paper by Paperchase.

Such would be my High Street Christmas

NaBloPoMo November 2015


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