Based in Leeds, but exploring Berlin for the next two months.
Published December 25th 2012
At Christmas time, we all find ourselves in a mad rush, striving for perfection with gifts, food and decor, but we shouldn't forget that Christmas is also a time for fun, friends and family.
Here is my 'To-Do' list for the festive season:
1. Make gingerbread
For regular bakers, this will be a joy. For those who fear going anywhere near an oven, I tell you this: despite what you may think, baking is actually very simple if you can follow instructions correctly. Here is my favourite gingerbread recipe.Decorate your gingerbread with chocolate drops, dunk half in melted chocolate or ice on some decorations or lettering. Perfect for sharing with friends.
3. Find your staple festive film For my eighteen year old self, it's The Muppets Christmas Carol, yes, childish, I know, but aged five, Dumbo was a festive staple for me. I also know of a friend who claims Prometheus is his Christmas movie of choice. Anything goes with this one, but just find a film you know you will enjoy on the big day.
4. Cook a Christmas meal for friends I did this with a friend during our last term at University. Don't cook this all by yourself, it is always best if you work as a team. When we cooked ours, my friend tackled the turkey and the potatoes, while I dealt with everything else (including a cake). Dividing the task between more than one person will make it more fun and less stressful.
5. Be creative (but tasteful) with the decorations As you can see below, my mother's use of fairy lights and an arrangement of twigs makes for quite a novel decoration. Line door-frames with tinsel or fairy-lights, and find some quirky hangings for archways and stairs.
6. Ensure you have some appropriate Christmas attire I'm not referring to a full, Santa costume here, nor am I suggesting that you kit yourself out in a cardboard box as a festive present (oh yes, that is quite common!). Keep it simple with some antlers or the good old traditional hat (as seen below).
7. Don't be afraid to try something new and break tradition
Whether you replace your Christmas cake with some Italian panettone, or swapping your turkey for a ham or mutton joint, switch things round a little and add some more excitement to Christmas day. One of my good friends once admitted to having sushi as part of his family Christmas dinner, and I quite like the sound of that!
9. Make as many pigs-in-blankets as is physically possible The beautiful, pork creations are my favourite Christmas food. Make your own or buy ready-made, either way, do not be afraid to go completely mad. They even taste good cold, in a roll on Boxing Day...
And finally... 10. Spend all of Christmas Day in your pyjamas (if you don't already
Yes, really. I am already readying my one-piece and large slippers. If you feel like stepping outside, just pop some clothes over the top, no one will know...
N.B. I am aware that some like to keep to the true meaning of Christmas and attend church in the morning. Simply change back into your pyjamas when you return home.
(I haven't included a photo with this for reasons of modesty...)