sEAsons…but the fire is so delightful

It is snowing here and we are snuggled up by the fire all cosy and warm…

The fruit cake is made and being fed daily (or when I remember) with a trickle of brandy – it smells heavenly and almost too good to wait until Christmas to eat it.  I will probably cut it when we have the neighbours round – it won’t get decorated this year but then I don’t like marzipan and icing is too sweet for me so I end up chopping it all off again.  I have in the past decorated it with a glaze over a fruit and nut topping.  Time is too short this year.

I love opening the box of Christmas decorations and rediscovering my little treasure trove.  Each year though I find I am putting fewer and fewer decorations out and maybe after Christmas I will give away the ones that no longer ‘spark joy’ for me.

The Christmas tree is in the garage and will be brought into the house soon for decorating, the majority of my cards are written and posted and the hand delivered ones will follow.  I still hope I might make the ones for my close friends but I will see how next week goes.  I have my daughter’s birthday next week too so will probably call in to see her on our trip North when we take mum home.

Mum arrived today and it will be nothing but none stop shopping now for the weekend – luckily my back, which suddenly ‘went’ on Monday, is a lot better and just in time too.  I don’t have a lot of shopping to do myself but I help my mum with the bits and pieces she likes to buy.  I do enjoy looking in the shops at Christmas there are some lovely things but I have no desire to own them just look like you would if you went to a museum.  I am definitely getting into a more minimalist mindset these days after creating more space in my home – I now crave more but that starts buy not buying more, no matter how much I am tempted.

I buy a present for my young nephew who will have clothes, my niece (who is 20 and will just want the money) and then my granddaughter.  I have bought my one family Secret Santa present and a few of the Secret Stocking gifts for OH.  I often make my close friends a crafty gift – we just give little gifts of about £6 or £7.

I have read a few blogs recently where some people are finding the gift side of Christmas difficult and it seems to be one of the issues that can really spoil Christmas and family relations.  A few years ago we had a family discussion about the present buying as we had the younger generation saving to buy homes of their own and the older generation reaching pensionable age so money was tighter for some of us.  As a family we were also struggling to find gifts for some of us who already had most things and we were spending far too much time at the shops and missing the festive Christmas events – so we agreed to give a Secret Santa a go.

Our limit is £50 per person and one person buys a gift for one other.  In November I send each person their own Wish List and they write down up to 10 items so it is still a surprise on the day what you might get and if anyone genuinely wants a surprise they just tick the box provided.

The surprise is often in what other people wish for on their lists and it can be a bit difficult to disguise a wheelbarrow or ironing board  (yes I would not have thought of buying those as a present before!).   Once the lists are written I put each persons name in a hat and draw them out.  Then we pass our list to the person who will be buying for us.

We still buy as usual for the children so they are not included in the Secret Santa.

Having only one present to buy we now make more of the live name draw night (which we do on Facebook with everyone tuning in at 9pm one Friday night for the grand event) even some of my friends tune in as well because they also like our Not so Secret Santa name draw!

Just before Christmas we get together for the big family present swap as we can’t all be together now on Christmas day, but we don’t open our gifts .  Instead we have a small buffet complete with Christmas hats,  jumpers and crackers.  Afterwards we play lots of games like pass the parcel, hot and cold or the Banana game.

We complete the evening with a musical session using an array of instruments that once came out of previous crackers and this has become the highlight of the evening.  After a few years of practice I can honestly say that we are no better, have no rhythm and sometimes or most times have the wrong notes.  In fact we have only once completed a tune that has sounded remotely like it should and there is nothing difficult about Jingle Bells is there?

Last year we introduced selfie props and a picture frame and snapped some wonderful photos.

In addition to the Not so Secret Santa my very immediate family (our two daughters and partners, myself and OH) do a Secret Santa Stocking in the same way with a £20 limit.  This year I am doing a stocking for my OH.

So I can only say have a go at something different you can always change back – we all agree though that we would not go back to the old way of shopping for everyone but equally we would not like to not buy anything either.  This has the best of both worlds for us. Our only problem is agreeing a venue and date for all 16 of us.  It took nearly 100 messages this time with our busy schedules but even that became a fun afternoon in itself.


10 thoughts on “sEAsons…but the fire is so delightful”

  1. I loved reading about your traditions. I think simplifying Christmas is absolutely the way to go. Less money, less waste, and less stress all add up to a happier holiday. My boys (17 and 20) are at an age when practical gifts win the day. In the past I’ve given them gift cards for gas (petrol) and for my older son, a membership to AAA, a roadside emergency service. I like your idea of passing on the decorations you no longer use or favor. I’ve let my boys choose an ornament every year since they were about three, allowing it to reflect that age and stage, with the idea of giving them their ornaments as a set when they’re fully adults and on their own. A few years ago, I started ordering a photo ornament for each of them via Shutterfly and those have been well received as well. It can be a challenge coming up with practical and useful gifts, but I enjoy the challenge most of the time. We’re a small family though, with all our parents now passed. Enjoy the season and what fun to visit the shops with your mum.


  2. I love the sound of your Secret Santa arrangement. Not sure it would work in our families though, but I do think I’d like to do some sort of secret santa gift giving as it does sound like fun.


    1. If you are looking to escape the route that the commercial shops want us all to go down then I think it is worth exploring other ways of celebrating Christmas. I was surprised at the reaction we got when it was suggested that we changed in our family – as it turned out everyone had been thinking along the same lines and they welcomed trying something new that would cut down on the endless trailing round shops looking for gifts that many of us did not even like, use or want – it all seemed a big waste of money and time. I know some people really enjoy shopping (like my mum) but it was even getting too much for her thinking what can I get for so and so this year. Of course it usually ends up with someone taking control of it all (that will be me then in our family!) but I don’t mind the organising as it can be mainly done from home and doesn’t take as much time as shopping.


  3. So glad you’ve found something that works for everyone.

    In my experience it has been the younger people who are far more willing to do things differently, all the issues I’ve had have been with older family members. When you’re not the head of the family you just don’t get to set the agenda! And to be totally honest I’d rather just give in and buy a gift than put up with all the comments about it that are dropped into conversation the rest of the year.


    1. It suits us all well – might not be for everyone though but I am sure there are other solutions if everyone is willing to give it a try. It isn’t that I don’t like buying presents and looking at the nice things in the shops but trying to get so many gifts and thinking of what people might like had become so difficult and time consuming.


  4. I am so glad your back has righted itself. My heart sank for you when you told me it had gone again. There is so much to do at this time of year, the last thing needed is a bad back.
    Your cake is going to be so, so good!
    I love your approach to gift buying, the one thing I realised from talking about it on the blog was how tricky a subject it is. I had no idea.
    Your decorations are so delicate and pretty, I love them.x


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