It is the first of December and no one can deny that 'tis the season. So to celebrate my love for Christmas, I am going to have a new post up every day for the month of December with recipes, gift ideas, Christmas movies and festive activities! This is a list that I've compiled, specifically for Stockholmers but it can be applied to anyone. It entails fun things to do to get in the Christmas spirit and I'm going to attempt to do all of the things on my list and document them on this blog so you'll have to check back in every day for something new.
Finding the perfect tree
Imagine: walking through a forest of Christmas trees, smelling that green pine smell that instantly signalling to your brain that the Christmas season is upon us. Buying a Christmas tree is such a staple for me, I have such strong memories from when I was young and my family would go to Zetas or Ulriksdals trädgård to pick out a tree. The darkness would be lit up by garden lights and candles that created such a cosy atmosphere along with their cute cafes providing hot drinks for those needing a rest while picking out whatever it was they needed. It was that feeling, that feeling in the air that covered everything in a Christmas-tinged haze of excitement and the smell of pine trees that sticks with me to this day. And with that trip down memory lane, I definitely think that buying a tree is worth it, even if it's just a little one.
Ice skating in Kungsträdgåren
Here in Stockholm, we have a frozen man-made pond/lake in Kungsträdgården that becomes a cute spot for ice skating during the winter, very festive. I probably won't be ice skating this year because I don't think I have any extra time since I've also lost the touch for ice skating due to living in Australia but maybe next year...
Going to Christmas markets
If you live in Europe, this is most likely a thing that you already do since Christmas markets are very common here. A week or so ago I released a post listing my favourite Christmas markets in Stockholm (find it here) and I also went to the market in Gamla Stan the other day (link here). If there is a market where you live I highly suggest you go since it's a magical affair where the air smells of sugared almonds, the people are milling around the stalls of Christmas gifts and treasures while others sit back and enjoy a cup of steaming mulled wine and maybe a saffron bun. So cosy.
Watching this year's Christmas calendar
Another Swedish cult classic and the first episode came out this morning! I'm writing this post on the 30th of November so I don't know the outcome. I'm planning on getting up a little earlier and watching the first episode with cinnamon porridge and a cup of coffee. If an episode a day isn't enough, check out the previous year's Christmas calendars. I'll have a post up with my favourites in a few days so stay tuned! Last year I also started listening to the podcast Christmas calendar and I definitely think you should too since you can still find the past few years of calendars on the iTunes podcast app. I like to listen to the most recent episode while walking to the bus since it is only about 10 minutes, perfectly matching my walk. My final Christmas calendar related tip is to see the living calendar in "Gamla Stan". I've never been but plan on going at least once. Apparently, every day around 17.00 (just an estimate, since I can't remember the actual time. Google if you're interested), there is a type of scene out of one of the many buildings windows and there is a rush to find it among the locals and tourists milling about. Sounds like such a fun and creative idea!
Seeing the NK Christmas windows
Every year the department store NK has a festive theme in their store windows that attracts a lot of attention. Last year's theme was Christmas through the last 100 years and this year is specifically aimed at children, titled "The Magic Forest"; quite similar to the Nutcracker in theme.
Watching lots of Christmas movies
Yes, we binge watch shows and movies all year round but now you have an excuse: ..its festive...? That counts right... You are perceived as a little strange if you watch Christmas movies all year round (apparently...) so now it time to stay up till 3am every night in a festive frenzy of Love Actually and Home Alone. In about a week I will be sharing my own recommendations in case you run out of movies 'till then.
Baking festive treats
This is something that may seem obvious but taking time out of your schedule to bake something Christmassy is harder than you may think, but as you probably know, the result is worth it. I love baking toffee (knäck), saffron buns (lussebullar), gingerbread (pepparkakor), maybe a gingerbread house (pepparkakshus) and snowball cookies (my favourite synonym for them is Russian tea cakes). Those are my staples that I bake every year but its always fun to try something new so comment if you have any favourite recipes you love. I will be posting some recipies as well on here starting with snowball cookies...
Watching "Luciafirandet" on SVT
Here in Sweden, we have a thing called "Lucia" on the 13th of December and since I was a little kid, my family has watched "Luciafirandet" on SVT almost every year. It so cosy to get up at 7:30 while its still dark outside, make some coffee, warm some mulled wine and some baked Christmassy goods along your breakfast while watching the lucia festivities. If you're not inclined to be up so early (or don't have to), you can still catch up on SVT play whenever you choose.
Make an evening of wrapping presents
I love giving people presents and I also love the process of finding the perfect present through to wrapping it really nicely. That's why I like to have an evening where I settle down with a hot drink, put on a good movie or TV show, gather my equipment and gifts around me and package everything up nicely. It's so much fun and very relaxing to get it all done at once.
Have adventsfika with friends
On saturday I'm hosting a little get-together with a few friends where we'll drink mulled wine, eat saffron buns and have a nice chat. It's fun to organise and bake everything for the relaxed event because now you have an excuse to consume loads of Christmas treats and spend time baking instead of doing homework.
Enjoy a book with a seasonal drink
What's better than being wrapped up like a burrito in a blanket with a good book or movie along with a steaming cup of coffee while the snow is falling outside your window. Whether you buy one at Starbucks or make one yourself, everyone enjoys a seasonal drink. Later in the month I will have a post with some drink recipies for you to recreate if you're, like me, not inclined to go to Starbucks.
Having a relaxing evening on the 23rd
I don't know if this is something that others are inclined to do so maybe this is just a personal tradition but I like to have a relaxing evening on the night before Christmas: the 23rd of December. Since the month can get quite hectic and I'm usually a little wound up when heading to bed that night (excited yet nervous and a little stressed for the coming day), I like to have a "spa night". By "spa night" I still don't mean anything too drastic since I find it exhausting to do all the prepping and priming. Instead, I like to take a bath with a lush bath bomb, drink some julmust, maybe eat a saffron bun and watch a Christmas movie. After that I may do a face mask and paint my nails for the coming day. Nothing too extreme, just a little beauty routine that helps me relax.