I’m so excited that we only have 5 days until Christmas! I’m really looking forward to it, but this month more than any others seemed to fly by! Staying in London instead of heading home this year has definitely made Christmas feel a bit different. While it’s been so fun and festive being able to experience a city that has so much holiday spirit, I’m really looking forward to my family getting into town and enjoying all that London has to offer with them! Whether you’re on Christmas cloud 9 or lacking a bit of that twinkling festive spirit, I’ve rounded up 12 ways to make the most of this last stretch of December and get us all in the Christmas spirit leading up to the big day!
1. LIGHT A CHRISTMAS CANDLE
To savor the memories of Christmas, call upon a candle. Smells always trigger memories for me and since I’ve been far from home this year and wasn’t able to decorate a real tree, I’ve been savoring the cedar & spruce scent of my favorite holiday candle to make my apartment feel festive!
2. LISTEN TO CHRISTMAS MUSIC
I am that girl that has been blaring Christmas music on repeat and humming Christmas songs everywhere I go. I love the classics but am a major fan of instrumental music so some of my favorite Spotify stations have been The Christmas Playlist, Christmas Cocktails, Hillsong Christmas, and Classical Christmas.
3. WATCH A CHRISTMAS MOVIE
Get in a fa-la-la spirit with your favorite festive films. My forever favorites will be the Grinch and the Holiday, but there’s also Elf, Home Alone, It’s A Wonderful Life and Christmas Vacation. If you’re limited to Netflix my favorites that I’ve watched this year have been Miracle on 34th Street, Love Actually, Just Friends, and A Christmas Prince.
4. SEE A SHOW
From the Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol to Pantomimes and Christmas concerts, there are plenty of shows to see to liven up your Christmas Experience. I just saw the Nutcracker at the English Ballet with my roommates and it was such a beautiful experience! I always turn to stub hub if I need last minute seats + Royal Albert Hall is offering their own rendition, December 28-31 with tickets still available to all showings. This time of year, many boutique movie theatres also offer screenings of classic films. Last year I saw, “It’s A Wonderful Life” at the Aero theatre in Santa Monica and just saw they’re screening it here in London on December 24 at the Gate Cinema in Notting Hill.
5. GO ICE SKATING
Whether you’re seeking date night activity or an outing with family & friends, ice skating always get’s me in the spirit of Christmas! If you’re in London, I had so much fun skating at the Natural History Museum with my friends and also recommend Somerset House! If you’re in New York there’s the forever famous Rockefeller Plaza or my personal favorite Central Park. And for all my California friends, Santa Monica is your best bet in LA or definitely check out the Hotel Del if you’re near San Diego!
6. COOK ON CHRISTMAS MORNING
Every year it’s always been tradition to cook something yummy on Christmas morning after all the gifts have been exchanged! One of our go-tos is Christmas themed pancakes. As a kid, I used to make regular pancakes with red and green sprinkles and now that I’m older, I really like using William Sonoma’s holiday molds. (I’ve never tried but I think cookie cutters may work too?! The trick is putting the batter in a ziplock bag and cutting the corner slightly to get a steady pour. Cinamon rolls are another family favorite and this year since we’ll be at the Connaught, room-service will be our go-to!
7. VISIT A CHRISTMAS MARKET
For specialty shopping, mulled drinks, and other holiday treats plan a trip to a Christmas market. If you’re in London, definitely check out Winter Wonderland and the South Bank Markets and if you’re able to travel this season or plan ahead for next, I couldn’t recommend Salzburg, Austria, and Berchtesgaden, Germany enough! Hellbrunner Advent Market was one of my favorites (Travel Guide coming Friday!)!
8. INDULGE IN CHRISTMAS TEA
Cozy up for Christmas with a decadent Afternoon Tea. Reservations may be hard to come by but The Resident offers 18 top tea spots to try this Christmas in London. Or if you live in Los Angeles, I always love the Peninsula or the Ritz Carlton if you’re in Dallas.
9. HOST A GIFT EXCHANGE
In the spirit of giving, especially once all the fam gets together it’s so much fun having a family gift exchange. Set a price cap, select a genre of gifts, then number every participant before drawing for places. Need a refresher on the rules? Check out my post, HERE.
10. PICK A PINTEREST PROJECT OR A PUZZLE
From baking Christmas cookies to decorating gingerbread houses and ornaments, Pinterest has over 30+ million ideas to enjoy Christmas from the comfort of your own home! I just made chocolate covered cherries to give out as gifts, and am excited to decorate my own gingerbread house this weekend, while watching a Christmas movie with my family. Another tradition I love at Christmas time is doing puzzles. Every year my dad and I always stay up until the wee hours of the night obsessing over finishing our puzzle. Normally we do a 1000 piece but this year we may downsize.
11. BE FESTIVE FOR FREE
Even if you don’t have the budget to jingle ALL the way, there are still plenty of activities to enjoy for free. Growing up one of my favorite things to do was load up in the car with hot chocolate and look at all the Christmas lights with family. Plus there’s always plenty of holiday decor and window displays found on each city’s main shopping streets.
LONDON: Oxford Street, Covent Garden, Harrods, & Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Bond Street (Cartier & Tiffany’s)
LA: Rodeo Drive, The Grove
NEW YORK: 5th Avenue, Central Park, Madison Ave
DALLAS: Highland Park Village, The Galleria
12. ATTEND A CHRISTMAS SERVICE & GIVE!
With all the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s easy to forget what Christmas is all about. There are plenty of church services to choose from depending on what works for your schedule. I love the candlelight and carol services, typically on Christmas Eve, but be sure to check what’s going on in your area to celebrate the best part of this season! For those in London, Westminster Abbey is offering free but ticked services. If you weren’t able to reserve a spot, consider St. Pauls (all services are unticketed) or one of the many beautiful churches.
In anticipation of Christmas morning, I’m sure we’re all excited to open up gifts, but as exciting as it is to be on the receiving end of things, it’s even more important to give. This year more than ever I’ve really enjoyed Christmas shopping for my mom, dad, and brother. I think the distance has definitely made me appreciate this time of year with the family more and I can’t wait for them to get here. Additionally, I’m definitely that spirited person, that’s always letting my friends know how grateful for them I am, so I’ve always felt it’s important to get something for all the people that mean something to you even if it’s as simple as a hand-baked treat or handwritten card.
I love that this time of year really brings out the best in people. Our hearts are a little softer, we slow down our pace (even for just a day), and above all the tinsel and decorations we come closer together because of the true spirit of the season. Beyond just giving to the people that we know and love, consider opening up your heart a bit and perhaps doing something kind for a stranger, helping out a homeless person you often pass by routinely every day, or something as bold as sponsoring an individual or family and making someone else’s Christmas! I guarantee if you aren’t feeling in the Christmas spirit yet, by giving you’ll quickly discover what this season is all about!