What to do when you're just not a Christmas person...and you want to be.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

'Tis the Christmas season! It's the time of year when everything gets bedecked in sparkling lights and equally entrancing festive decorations, where Christmas songs are played on loop, and there is a rush to figure out what to get friends and loved ones, fight with the Christmas crowds to do so, and make sure that everything is sorted out on time before Christmas is upon us. Christmas is a time for many things, but mainly a time for expressing love and thanks for family and friends in various forms. The most important part of Christmas for me has always been getting together with friends and family. Our family tradition is to get together as a family on Christmas Eve and celebrate what the holiday means to us together.

Our tradition is far from the more...commercial side of Christmas. I don't say commercial in a bad way (I mainly use it for a lack of a better word), just that elements such as Christmas trees, advent calendars and exchanging gifts was never really part of our tradition, so I always felt a little odd when friends got excited about Christmas shopping and the arrival of Christmas-related goods in the shops. When I went away to university, Christmas felt like a massive cultural shock because despite having lived in the same country as my housemates, I didn't really get what you were supposed to do around this time of year.

And I don't think I'm the only one. I think there are others who just never got into the whole Christmas thing for a whole bunch of different reasons, from religion to bad childhood experiences with Christmas. I know how it can feel a little like the outside looking in and quite frankly overwhelming when it's the first Christmas that you're really trying to get into. This year is the first year I'm trying to completely immerse myself in the Christmas spirit. I have so many moments where I have no idea what I'm doing, but luckily I have friends who know what they're doing, and thanks to bloggers and vloggers, there really isn't a shortage of Christmas ideas. 

I'm by no means an expert, but sometimes it can be comforting to have a few guiding tips from someone who is just as lost as you are. So without further ado, here's a few things to do to get into the Christmas spirit when you're not a Christmas person but you want to be

Get an advent calendar. This is my first year getting an advent calendar, and I feel like it's really helped me get and stay in the Christmas spirit, because you have a little something to look forward every day and you're counting down the days until Christmas!

Listen to Christmas music. I challenge you to listen to Christmas songs and not get into the Christmas spirit. It might take a little searching to find what kind of Christmas songs you like but listening to playlists on Spotify or 8tracks can help you along the way. Strangely, my favourite Christmas song at the moment is Lily Allen's rendition of 'Somewhere Only We Know' because of last year's John Lewis advert, firmly knocking off The Pogues 'Fairytale of New York' from top place. That said, this ranking is most definitely subject to change before Christmas is over as I have only just Boney M Christmas song goodness and I've had 'Feliz Navidad' stuck in my head for days. 

Make hot chocolate and cosy up with a Christmas film. I've not yet to do this, but I am really looking forward to making hot chocolate (or a Christmas-spice herbal tea if I'm not in a chocolate mood) and just relaxing with a festive film. I love 'Love Actually' and it wasn't until last year that I finally watched 'Elf' after I was tired of not getting the constant references to it. Plus, Christmas films are usually light-hearted and uplifting - the perfect remedy for long dark cold winter nights.

Decorate your home. Spread Christmas cheer throughout every corner of the house. It doesn't have to be everywhere or perfect, especially if you feel a little overwhelmed. I've started in my bedroom by getting a few Christmas scented candles (nothing fancy, just something like Glade Apple Cinnamon though I would love a Yankee Candle), hanging a few Christmas decorations on my wall in place of my usual decorations and wrapping lights around my bed frame. I aim to add touches of Christmas everywhere, but just having a few touches this year has made me happy. 

Get a Christmas tree. Nothing says Christmas quite like a Christmas tree. Luckily they come in so many different sizes, and if you don't feel like you'd be able to decorate a 7ft natural tree (I really wouldn't know what to do with it), then a small synthetic desk tree is more than enough. Deck it with a few lights, a bit of tinsel, add a star on top and - voilà! Instant Christmas. 

Watch Vlogmas videos or read Christmas blog posts. 'Tis the season for daily vlogs on Youtube, and even though it's usually just Youtubers vlogging their daily activities, most of the time they'll be preparing for Christmas as well, and their general enthusiasm for the holidays can be addictive. If vlogs aren't your thing, luckily there are a plethora of Christmas-related blog posts on the Internet, ranging from gift guides if you have no idea what to get your brother to DIY ideas for things like cards, presents and decorations. Let yourself be inspired by others who've already got a decent grip on this Christmas thing. 

Send out Christmas cards. I have mixed feelings about this, even if I am excited to send out my own cards this year. Don't send out Christmas cards as an obligation because you're receiving them. It won't feel heartfelt and you won't get any enjoyment out of it. Do send out Christmas cards if you intend to add a personal touch, you know your friends and family will appreciate it (especially if you never send them!) and it's something that seems fun to you. 

Make or buy your friends and family gifts. If you come from a family that doesn't usually "do gifts" it can be really fun to break from tradition and get everyone gifts even if you know that you're probably not going to get anything in return. It doesn't have to be anything big, and it can even just be a DIY you picked up on your perusal of Youtube videos and blogs. Personally, I've discovered that there's something magical about getting into the spirit of giving. 

Go to a Christmas market or fair. This is another thing I'm really looking forward to. Christmas markets and fairs are a hub of Christmas spirit, with gift ideas on the stalls (and I'm all for supporting independent sellers) and traditional Christmas foods to be discovered. Last year was my first taste of mulled wine and I finally got what the hype was about. Since every country has its own traditions, it can be a good place to pick up the little local nuances and discover new things. 

Talk to others about Christmas. Last but not least, if you feel like you just don't know what to do or feel like this Christmas thing is a bigger hassle than it's worth getting into, call up a friend who is (comparatively) Christmas crazy and just toss ideas back and forth. You'll be sharing favourite Christmas songs and ideas before long! Also just talking to family members about decorations, maybe changing up dinner plans and so forth can also help feel like you're taking on the mammoth challenge of starting a new tradition all on your own. 

I'm sure there are loads of other ways to get into the Christmas spirit, but what's most important is doing what feels right for you. Some days Christmas songs are the most annoying things in the world, and outside of December you wouldn't catch me listening to Michael Bublé and I'm not even sure we're going to have a tree this year despite my good intentions because I keep thinking 'how will I decorate it? What if it looks rubbish? WHAT DO I DO WITH A TREE?' and you know what - that's fine. If the extent of your Christmas cheer is wearing a t-shirt that says 'Bah humbug' then that's pretty cool actually. Everyone should be able to just do whatever makes them happy, and that includes how to celebrate Christmas. And as I keep telling myself, there's always next year to step up my Christmas game if I want to. 

What about you? What do you do to get into the Christmas spirit?

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