Driving home yesterday, I noticed plenty of homes had put their Christmas lights up already (everything from icicles to nodding reindeers and waving polar bears) which always raises a smile! There has been the official first mince pie, but I have yet to enjoy a glass of mulled wine or the first song off my Christmas Playlist (Elvis singing 'Merry Christmas Baby' is a personal highlight of the season!)
It does seem to have snuck up on us this year as it has yet to feel properly frosty here in the South East, but filling the evenings with candles and firelight has managed to bring plenty of festive cheer! My Pinterest Christmas board has plenty of inspiration for crafting, decorating and feasting but there are also several books I'll be turning to over the next couple of weeks:
You can always rely on Sarah Raven to provide the best inspiration for bringing nature into the home in the most tasteful manner! If you haven't looked through her online shop yet, there are plenty of gift ideas for the gardeners in your life! I have been saving all my dried Allium heads for spraying silver just like the one below, as I always try to use as many natural decorations as possible, not just the holly and the ivy! The recipes in the book are also fantastic, lots of ideas for making ahead and freezing too! The cranberry cookies went down a treat last year, and I also highly recommend the Boxing Day set menu. The recipes are for fresh, rustic dishes using all the finest seasonal ingredients, I can only wonder if my Sarah Raven 'Rubine' Sprouts will actually be ready in time as they suffered a terrible Cabbage White Butterfly attack!
This is my go-to winter baking book, stuffed full of delicious recipes from Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. There are plenty of gorgeous photography of perfect snowy scenes and festive decorations that will bring out much house-envy, not a sprig of tinsel in sight! Picking up this book will ensure your home constantly smells of cinnamon and spices, as you won't be able to resist getting baking! My particular favourite section is the 'Christmas Party' entertaining ideas, the mini pork belly&apple sauce cups are going on my menu. The main celebration in Scandinavia is on Christmas Eve, with the Christmas Day menu becoming a Smörgåsbord of classic dishes, if you fancied a similar approach the recipes for beetroot cured salmon, classic meatballs and kale bruschetta would go down a storm at any party!
Something about the Scandinavian approach to Christmas really resonates with me. Trine Hahnemann mentions in her introduction the Danish word for cosiness 'Hygge' (that is almost untranslatable) encompasses comfort, camaraderie and good food and drink. This seems to particularly include stuffing your friends and family with cakes, cookies, chocolate and warming booze, what could be better than that?
We've designated this weekend to decorating the house, hope you're weeks off to a great start!