Creating your own traditions for the festive season

How do you like to celebrate Christmas?  Christmas is a time when we find comfort and joy in performing familiar rituals with familiar people. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make new traditions, and indeed many have – by creating something to share with your own children or your tribe of friends, or by adopting something you’ve loved in your travels.  If you’re ready to put your own special touch on your Christmas celebrations, we’re here to help – we’ve gathered some great resources to help you make your Christmas more imaginative, creative, sustainable and authentic:

Christmas: a Biography by Judith Flanders

Social historian Judith Flanders investigates the history of Christmas in this extensive and entertaining biography.  She turns up some surprising tidbits – Christmas has long been more about merriment and feasting than about religion (even in the fourth century, Church Fathers were lamenting that people were forgetting the “true meaning of Christmas”); that the commercialisation of Christmas is not a recent problem, and that Santa was dressed in red even before the iconic Coca Cola advertisements.  The evolution of Christmas meanders from Europe towards Turkey (where the real Santa Claus supposedly lived) and even to Japan, where Judith Flanders discovers that Christmas Eve is seen as a romantic time, like Valentine’s Day, to be celebrated by couples. The wealth of detail in Christmas: a Biography is perfect for putting you in the festive mood.

Green Christmas: how to have a Joyous, Eco-friendly Holiday Season by Jennifer Basye Sander and Peter Sander with Anna Basye

“Give more, consume less” is the mantra that will help you achieve a more eco-conscious Christmas without skimping on the love and fun – it will make Christmas cheaper and less stressful too.  Green Christmas shows us how the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle ideas can work at Christmas time – a time typically associated with conspicuous consumption.  It’s packed with tips on reducing our environmental impact, from using recycled materials to make cards and gifts, choosing between a live or an artificial tree, to creating eco-responsible lighting displays. It also reminds us that even simple actions such as carpooling and swapping outfits with friends can reduce our use of limited natural resources.

 

Maggie’s Christmas by Maggie Beer

As a former northern-hemispherian who has fully embraced summery Christmases, I think the Old World can learn a thing or two from the New.  One of these is our approach to festive food – lighter dishes, emphasis on seafood, a relaxed and informal attitude to entertaining, and a willingness to incorporate new flavours.  Let Maggie Beer be your trusted guide in introducing new ideas to your Christmas menu.  Whether you’re after a twist on classics, such as roast turkey with prune and orange stuffing, or passionfruit and banana pavlova; or crowd pleasers such as gourmet pizza, pan-fried squid or espresso jellies, you’ll find recipes that will make your next season’s entertaining more memorable than ever.

 

The Christmas Chronicles: Notes, Stories and Essential Recipes for Midwinter by Nigel Slater

Nigel Slater is one of my favourite authors, and this is my early Christmas present to myself.  Like his Kitchen Diaries series, the Christmas Chronicles is a journal studded with seasonal recipes – and also Nigel Slater’s love-letter to winter.  Spanning the days from November 1 to February 2, The Christmas Chronicles waxes lyrical about anything and everything wintry, from hot toddies to pantomimes to choosing Christmas trees to winter travels in Norway and Japan.  Nigel Slater’s quiet but evocative writing takes the reader straight to a cosy room with a crackling fire, book in one hand and hot drink in the other, while outside the landscape is silenced by falling snow.  The Christmas Chronicles is not just an absorbing read, but also the ultimate journalling inspiration.

 

 

Big Book of Christmas Things to Make and Do by Fiona Watt
The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book by Chris McVeigh

One of the best ways to get kids involved and busy at Christmas is through making decorations – there’s nothing more personal than decorating with items made by your kids or yourself, and even the wonkier pieces are sure to bring back fond memories in years to come.  The Big Book of Christmas Things to Make and Do offers lots of ideas in a range of crafts including Christmas decorations, cards, wrapping paper, toys and baking.  Projects are illustrated with stepwise instructions.  For those who don’t fancy paper crafts, how about making decorations from LEGO?  The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book offers detailed instructions on fifteen impressive projects, from traditional styles such as snowflake to more lighthearted ones such as a hamburger!

 

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party: Christmas Crafts, Recipes and Activities by Brandy and Matt Shay

When did ugly Christmas sweaters come back as a thing? Add some silliness to the festive season by throwing your own Ugly Christmas Sweater party.  It’s a good opportunity to hang out with friends, dress up and have lots of laughs.  You can also use this opportunity to help those less fortunate, by raising funds for charities such as Save the Children. Marketing experts Matt and Brandy Shay have done all the hard work for party-throwers by compiling this manual – suggestions for outfits (including for your pets!), decorations, food, drinks and games are all included.

About Karen Seligman

Karen Seligman is a newly-qualified librarian working in a public library. As a book- and library-lover from way back, she finds nothing better than being surrounded by books and other library-lovers! Karen’s past lives as a law graduate, corporate warrior and research scientist continue to inform her wide-ranging tastes in reading material, with her favourite genres including historical fiction, fantasy, food writing and popular science.