The festive season. Do you love it, hate it, put up with it, find yourself doing something unusual, adhere to traditions so strictly that no-one dares suggest something new?… anything goes.
Christmas in the U.K. is definitely different to how I celebrated it back home when I was younger.
There was less of a hype and it was a stress free time. In Kenya it was another holiday that would involve lots of family get togethers, picnics or a short break within the country. December is summer in Kenya and most of the time all my sister and I wanted to do is go swimming.
In fact I barely have any photos of me with Santa or by a Christmas Tree. This one below just sums up what we did over the festive period; family, food and fun. (Clearly the grand parents were celebrating with whisky).
My mum would get us a little present that we woke up to on the morning of Christmas Day. I loved the tinsel filled trees and the twinkly lights in the shops and hotels. They were not as grand as what you get now however they were enough to make us smile.
Fast forward to now in the U.K. when the festive period starts as soon as Halloween ends (if not sooner). With all the adverts and social media it’s clear why there is so much pressure to buy that perfect gift or have that perfect Xmas.
Kev loves Christmas and the songs are on just before December and tree is up by the first weekend. As long as the tree and decor are up at some point in the first two weeks of December I don’t mind. I love the build up to it and make the most of everything festive. If there is a new festive drink to try or a special mince-pie, I will have it.
There is no theme in our house when it comes to decor.. it’s just lots of sparkles, twinkles and warming candles that smell like cinnamon.
Shopping & Presents:
I am a sucker for the adverts and I go crazy with the spending for my family BUT it has to be a good buy. Between friends we just have an agreement for no presents – just quality time with lots of festive food and drink. I just love how shops are making more of an effort with what they offer, especially the independents.
I have a few items on my own wish list and keep and eye out for any deals that come up. Money Saving Expert is my go to and Martin Lewis is always good at predicting when the deals will be on.
December is also the start of Shop Small, something I really encourage. American Express usually have a “Spend £10 and get £5 back” on a range of small shops for two weeks. This means Kev and I flex those cards a lot but we are supporting smaller shops and getting our money’s worth.
December is always a busy month and we try to get together with our friends and family and have a Xmas themed night- be rude not to. It can get expensive so we try and meet up at each other’s houses rather than go out.
For the first time this year we went to a Christmas Market abroad and loved it. You can read about it my experience in Vienna here. I liked the idea of going away just before December to get us in the festive spirit and want to make this a tradition. I see so many £99pp deals which is a bargain. Also compared to the U.K. Christmas markets the queues are less and prices are cheaper.
Since we moved to the U.K. we have never gone away over Christmas – it’s been a time when I can have my family around and now with two nephews it makes it extra special.
If we all went away then it wouldn’t be so bad I guess.
I love being host and doing all the prep for the big day. Yes it can get a tab but stressful but I kinda enjoy the pressure. It also puts my kitchen skills to the test. A tradition I like doing is making a gingerbread man for every place setting.
I have anything from 4 to 14 people on the day. The more the merrier I say. We are not turkeys fans & on Christmas Day it’s normally a combination or duck, lamb and gammon. For the vegetarians it is a nut roast along with anything that catches my eye at Marks and Spencers.
If you plan ahead the supermarkets are always running lots of offers beforehand to get all the canapés and drinks in.
The day can be as expensive as you wish but I believe it’s is what you make of it and who you have around you that matters the most.
It is the end of the year and sometimes it is nice to just remember how fortunate we are and reflect on the year. Everyone has ups and downs but these often are so small to what others have been though. We live in a fast world (sometimes in our little bubble) and forget so many go without. Food banks and YMCA are always seeking donations and many hospitals and charities need gifts for those who have nothing.
Sainsbury’s now have a sign next to the items that the food banks require (I saw this on the news the other day). I think this is a great idea. There are also Community Fridges were you can drop off some of that fine food that would be wasted.
So to sum up.. I love the festive period and all the hype that goes with it . I like some tradition and as long as there are lots of festive joy and time I dont mind. It is the time to be with your loved ones and enjoy.
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