Festive Thursday #2: The Christmas lights switch on & Winter Wonderland

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Welcome to Festive Thursday where I’m going to be sharing with you all my Christmas endeavours, including the books I’m reading, the films I’ve watched, gift ideas I’ve found, and any festive events I’ve attended. Because, well, I LOVE CHRISTMAS SO HARD.

The Funtimes

I missed last week’s post because, well, I was just being too festive and didn’t get time to write it. Soz. But on the plus side –  Happy 1st of December!!!

Last week the festivities really started. On Thursday I went to my old town (I moved but it’s still my town, OK) for the Christmas lights switch-on/ opening of the Christmas market. I donned my favourite Christmas jumper, had my first mulled beverage of the year and tried on silly hats – it’s tradition – and it was glorious.

The mulled wine was good, the hog roast was spectacular, but the entertainment was sorely lacking. Unless we somehow missed it all. There were too many people to even see who was turning the lights on but it was certainly someone no one has ever heard of. The giant nutcrackers were a welcome addition to the decorations this year, however.

Despite the wetness of weather, fun was had. Christmas has begun my friends.

Then on Saturday my parents came to visit and we went to Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park. I LOVE WW! Sure, it can get really busy and annoying, but the atmosphere is always great. And I love that they have so many bands and artists playing for free. Most of them are so-bad-they’re-good, but that just adds to the fun.

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This year I actually booked tickets for things for the first time. The Magical Ice Kingdom was definitely impressive and beautiful, but it was a lot smaller/quicker than I expected. The Cirque Berserk modern circus was great though. I went all out and booked us a VIP box which came with champagne and chocolates and my parents loved it. It was a welcome break from sitting in the cold too. Highly recommended.

The Books

Last week I finished two festive reads.

thegirlwhosavedxmasJOURNEY TO THE EDGE OF MAGIC

If magic has a beginning, can it also have an end?

When Amelia wants a wish to come true she knows just the man to ask – Father Christmas.

But the magic she wants to believe in is starting to fade, and Father Christmas has more than impossible wishes to worry about. Upset elves, reindeers dropping out of the sky, angry trolls and the chance that Christmas might be cancelled.

But Amelia isn’t just any ordinary girl. And – as Father Christmas is going to find out – if Christmas is going to be saved, he might not be able to do it alone . . .

And:

thechristmastownDonna VanLiere, New York Times bestselling author of the timeless The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Hope, is back with this moving and uplifting story about finding love, hope, and family in unexpected places.

Lauren Gabriel spent many years of her childhood in foster homes, wishing her mother would come back for her and be the family she needs. Now twenty-years-old, she still longs for a place that she can truly call home. Her work as a cashier is unfulfilling, and at Christmas it’s unbearable with the songs and carols and chatter of Christmas that she hears throughout the day.

When Lauren ends her shift one night, she finds herself driving aimlessly in order to avoid returning to her lonely apartment. And when she witnesses a car accident she is suddenly pulled into the small town of Grandon, first as a witness but then as a volunteer for the annual fundraiser for Glory’s Place, a center for single mothers and families who need assistance. Could this town and its people be the home she has always longed for?

My review of the Matt Haig book is here, and the other one will be up on Monday.

The Films

I think it’s important to save certain Christmas films until closer to the time itself, but there are SO many that are good, but wouldn’t be too sacrilege to watch before December.

The ones well and truly off my before December list are Elf, Home Alone, Muppets Christmas Carol & Santa Claus the movie. I’m sure there are more but they are the most important.

Last week I watched Krampus: The Christmas Devil (not the recent one) which was truly terrible, and then The Santa Clause – the one with Tim Allen. I love this film and totally think it gets overlooked! Go watch it and feel the festive wash over you.

In other news, I have done about 60% of my shopping and made a start on the Christmas booze cabinet, but more on that next time. Winning all round.

How have you been preparing for Christmas this week?

Next week – more Christmas market fun, I get crafty…and my attention will turn to FOOD!

Festive Thursdays are back!

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For the next couple of Thursdays I’m going to be sharing with you all of my Christmas preparation, the books I’m reading, the films I’ve watched, gift ideas I’ve found, and the festive events I’ve attended. Because, well, I LOVE CHRISTMAS SO HARD.

I know I say it all the time, and so does everyone else, but WHERE THE HELL HAS THIS YEAR GONE? I’ve been so busy with work and RL that even December crept up on me this year. I’m usually cracking out the Christmas films as soon as Halloween is over, but this year has been a bit more slow on the up take.

I have however, finally made a start, and managed to do quite a lot of Christmassy things in the last week or so.

Christmas Markets: 
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The first time I feel festive usually coincides with the start of the Christmas market in my town and on the Southbank. I didn’t manage to make it to the lights switch-on this year, but I have already sampled the mulled wine (much better this year), and devoured a hog roast from the local market and it was gooooooood.

Festive Reads:

I had a really hard time deciding which seasonal reads to add to my shelves this year. I bought a couple from a charity shop a couple of weeks ago, and I was approved for the following book on Netgalley which I’ve just finished.

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Decorations:
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Yes, my decorations are up and I love them! I went all out this year and bought some new items which I hope I’ll keep for a long time.

I also made some of my own decorations this year, from melting glitter beads in the oven, in cookie cutters. They were so much fun and easy to make and they look amazing hanging in front of fairy lights on the tree. I sold a set on Etsy, and there is still one set of 6 up for grabs. You can see them here.

Gremlins: 

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I went to see a special screening of Gremlins at my favourite cinema in London, in which BILLY did a Q&A, and brought Gizmo with him, of course. It was great! It’s one of my favourite Christmas Films!

Christmas Cake:
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I’ve had my fruit and spices soaking in brandy for around six weeks now. I was only planning on around 3 weeks but I just never made the time to bake the cake. I did finally bake it last Sunday though….it better be good! All that’s left to do is feed it more brandy syrup (of course) and ice it. I use this recipe here, which has great results even without soaking your fruit – so there’s still time!

Next week: Winter Wonderland @ Hyde Park, Christmas Pudding Vodka and Christmas muffins, and what I’m reading and watching!

Festive Thursday – Part 1.

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As I was deciding what to put in this post it dawned on me that there are only 2 Thursdays (this one included) left before Christmas Day…and I have already done SO MANY festive things to talk about so I am going to let some (badly taken) photos do most of the talking.

And so it Begins:
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My Christmas excitement this year started the same way it always does; when I received a package from my Mum & Dad containing some chocolates, advent calendars for me and my flatmate Dora, and the message ‘Santa is Coming’, which cracks me up every time.

Preparations:
– One of the first things I did was set about making some Christmas Pudding Vodka. Gotta get your priorities right.
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I’ve heard about this a lot in recent years but never tried any, nor made any of my own. There are loads of different recipes out there (Google is your friend), so I chose the simplest one with the least ingredients and it turned out great.
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– I am already making my second batch as I drank too much of the first and was supposed to give it away as presents. Oops.

– I put up some decorations whilst listening to the Michael Bublé Christmas album and A Very She and Him Christmas. Zooey Deschanel has such a beautiful voice!
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– I also made some cute little gift tags/tree decorations out of Fimo modelling clay.
December 2013 019 This is 2nd year that I’ve enjoyed making these. I’m not really a crafty person and get bored with fiddly things quite easily but it’s hard to wrong with Fimo.
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December 2013 027 These are nice to put on ribbons and tie around gifts and the lucky recipient can then hang them on their tree if they so wish. My family were really impressed last year.

Christmas Booze:
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It is not Christmas without an abundance of booze in my book, and Bailey’s is one of my favourite treats at Christmas. The coffee flavoured one is dangerously yummy. Mulled Wine is also up there, and is probably one of my favourite things about Christmas in general. It’s really simple to make at home and can not fail to make you feel all festively warm and fuzzy inside. But the lazy pre-made bottles will do too.

One of the best places to buy mulled wine though, is at the German Christmas Markets which are so popular these days. I have a little collection of ‘mulled boots’ that I’ve bought from my local Christmas market in previous years. This year however, our market is quite disappointing so when one of my friends told me that the Christmas market in Birmingham where she lives is the 2nd largest in Europe, the train ticket just seemed to buy itself.

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They didn’t have boot mugs, but oh my, was it Christmassy!
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And I wanted to eat EVERYTHING.

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And then there were books:

I started reading A Breath of Frost, and Starry Night. And I must say, as soon as I picked up Starry Night I didn’t want to put it down so I’ve abandoned A Breath of Frost for now. Not that I wasn’t enjoying it, but it’s just not Christmassy enough right now.

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Coming up in part 2 next Thursday: My favourite Christmas Films and SANTACON!!

Happy Holidays!