I know, I know, most people are all, “No Christmas before Remembrance Day” (November 11th for those who are not Canadian). I, however, love Christmas. As in read Christmas chick-lit, watch made-for-TV Christmas movies, listen to Christmas music all year round. [For those wondering, I do observe Remembrance Day- although I love Christmas, Remembrance Day is for my family members, and the millions of other family members who have fought for us.] Because of my intense love of Christmas, I usually start planning very early. The holidays are a very busy time for all of us. A lot of work places (including mine) close for the holidays, making December a work-rush. I work at a university, so it is usually worse, as a lot of people take off in early-mid December. There are family gatherings, holiday parties, and if you are like me, travel! So, what are my plans?
1. Christmas Shopping
My goal is to have all of my Christmas shopping done by October 1, 2015- November 1, 2015 at the absolute latest. I was able to get 90% done by mid-October last year, and it made the world of a difference. I was able to spread it across paycheques instead putting it on a credit card, or using up already claimed December cheques. I will admit, I am one of those people who keeps an eye out for presents all year round, so I already have a bit of a running list of presents. My goal is to have any presents I am making finished by December 1, 2015. I would have liked it to be November 1st as well, but the weekend of 85th is in late October, and realistically I won’t be starting until after that!
2. Christmas Cards
I still send Christmas cards- I know people say it is a waste of money, and stamps are too expensive, and it takes too much time, but I will still send them out. I love getting Christmas cards. It’s a small thing that can brighten up your whole week, and I want to be able to do that for someone. I usually pick up my Christmas cards at Michaels. They always have cute cards in the 2 for $3 area, so it’s 12 cards for $3. (Plus a coupon is usually involved). I only have to buy three dozen cards, so it’s under $10. Hopefully these will be mailed by December 1, 2015!
My parents have a strict, no-decorations-before-November-11th policy. As much as I love and get into Christmas, I agree with the decorations. I don’t do much planning in this area, my mom already has her decorations. I am thankful that we have a 22-foot ceiling, as it means we have a 12 foot Christmas tree. We have to special order it from the tree farm, it turns out that 12 foot Christmas trees don’t regularly grow in Manitoba. I also get my own little 6 foot tree that we cut down and I decorate using my dad’s childhood decorations.
On a 12 foot tree, you need a lot of ornaments. Thankfully, we have a ton. I love that we don’t just have one set of ornaments. I think it still looks beautiful to have one set of ornaments on the tree, but I love the personality and stories behind all of our ornaments. I try to collect ornaments when I travel- it can be a tad tricky, as ornaments aren’t always available year round. Closer to Christmas, I will have a post with all of my favourite ornaments. Mostly they are squirrels (Alpha Gam shout-out), moose (always has been my favourite animal, always will be), ballet dancers, and then places I’ve visited.
I love holiday parties! They are fun and you get to have some great food, make some memories, and enjoy your time with friends and family. Here, the Alpha Gamma Delta Junior Circle (the group I am in) host an Ugly Sweater Christmas Party for the collegians and alumnae. Save for a year here and there, I think this has been happening for 10 years plus. It is a great way for us to get together one last time in the year before everyone scatters. Last year, I hosted it, and it was a ton of fun! I’m not sure if I will host it this year, but I will certainly bake up a storm for it again!
Clearly I wasn’t going to not talk about baking. That would be insanity. In addition to the Ugly Sweater Party, I also like to bake for the office and the family. I find that when half the university has already started their Christmas vacation, a little cookie here and brownie there help keep everyone going. Obviously the family will always eat my baking, so they get a bunch, too. Now that I have the Butter Baked Goods cookbook, I have my eye on a few recipes. Gingerstamps, for one. Shaped Cookies (which I believe are just butter cookies cut into shapes). Cookies and cream cake looks delicious (cookie tortes are amazing and pretty easy to make). I am determined to successfully make butter tarts this year. I attempted to make butter tart square, but no bueno. The tarts will happen, NO MATTER WHAT. And then of course, the family shortbread. The recipe is from Scotland, handed down through the generations. Not only is it amazing, and melts in your mouth, it also makes up super quick in a Kitchen Aid mixer. Also, more dog-friendly baking for Loki and Thorn- probably the doggie gingerbread again, plus some others.
What do you do to start getting ready for Christmas? When do you start getting ready for Christmas?