Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Look, Feel, Taste and Scent of Christmas

This time of year is sensory overload for me. I want it all you see! The look, the feel, the taste, the scent of all things Christmassy. Frankly I can't get enough of it, and even setting up our tree in the last weeks of November and sometimes not taking it down until late January (one year I waited till February!) does not seem enough time to fully revel in all the pleasures of this Christmas season.  I see everything through my "Christmas Eyes", honing in on anything red, gold, silver, bronze, sparkly, glitzy and preferably all of those things - decorating potential is everywhere!

The Look: Usually at Christmas I am scooping up the December issues of the home decorating magazines, actually I'm still doing that in January/February for the overseas issues (which for reasons I do not understand, take 4-6 weeks after Dec to get here), or looking at previous year's issues for ideas and colours. So far I've found the local mags a disappointment. Have you noticed tinsel is out of favour? Except for the supermarket magazines, no one is decorating their tree with tinsel. It's obviously been deemed too tacky.  Too bad I say. I think a Christmas tree looks near nude without at least some tinsel. And kids love it. If you do want a tinsel-less tree, at least stuff some in to a large glass vase or a bowl and use it to adorn tables or bookshelves. 

Also I can't not mention the treasures that can be found in op shops at this time of year. Old china, silver and glass can be found for giveaway prices and can be used to serve Christmas treats, hold decorations or just look wonderful. The burgundy and gold plate in my top picture was only $3 and is just begging to be covered in mince pies.

The Feel: From bristly green garlands (which I love and have several of, they look wonderful on top of cupboards or high shelves - why should only those with mantlepieces have all the fun??) to soft pom pom braiding or glittery sequined cushions (the gold and silver ones in my top pic were $4ea from KMart!) Christmassy fabulous things to feel are everywhere!

At a fabric shop I found some fantastic silky gold material I'm going to use as a Christmas Day tablecloth. The gold circle design is modern but understated, so it will easily fit in with whatever china and glass I decide to use. It was only $10 a metre and I make sure I get enough drop that noone will notice that I haven't hemmed it (far too time consuming).

Speaking of the tactile, did you notice the gorgeous box in my top photo labelled "Artificial Snow"? I found it on the quirky gift table in a Sussan shop (whoever is doing their gift buying is really really good at it). The box looks like something that could have been discovered in an ancient junk, magic or toy shop. I had no idea what I would find inside the box. It turned out there was a medium sized clip lock bag full of a feathery mixture of pure white powder (?) mixed with sparkly pearly glitter. My kids gasped with delight when I showed them - it is as light and soft as snow!

The Taste: Wow, hard to know where to start here. Obviously everyone has their favourite Christmas foods and treats, and I'm going to show (uncharacteristic restraint) and just mention a few things I'm enjoying.


I love Rocky Road - and mini versions provide the delight of a bite-sized piece (without feeling like you've got to eat a whole slab, which seems like a good idea when you start, but is quickly regretted half way through). These mini cupcake holders with a cute holly pattern were $2 for 200 in Hot Dollar.  For these I used mini marshmallows, turkish delight, roasted chopped almonds and dark/milk choc.

I hadn't made snowballs before, but now realise I should have been as they are SO EASY! One tin of sweetened condensed milk, 4 cups of dessicated coconut and icing sugar. I wasn't great at mixing in the pink food colouring so mine are abit more eclectic than the soft pink ones I was copying.

The gorgeous mini cupcakes (holly ones are cinnamon flavoured, santa ones are vanilla) were $10 for 2 dozen from Coles and saved me so much hassle for Archie's party I've added the General Manager of Coles to my Christmas card list. Oh, and the the edible hanging christmas balls (top photo) were also from Coles and look so glamourous in a crystal bowl. They seem to be diminishing in number by the day, but the kids swear they haven't touched them..

Flavoured Christmas Coffee is not for everyone. But for me, it is heaven in a mug. I just love it and one year I did buy up all the boxes I could find in a post-Christmas DJ's sale and drink buttery rum flavoured coffee for about eight months until the slightest whiff made Jonathan run heaving for the bathroom. It's not that easy to find (unless you live in the USA who excel at flavoured coffee) but this brand is cognac flavoured (abit like a pudding) and is available in DJs. Gorgeous friends gave us this box and we've already finished it so am off to find some more. Give yourself a treat! 
The Scent: Decent Christmas scented candles are widely available (soy based seems to be healthiest. Don't buy chinese made candles under any circumstance. The Americans do great ones.) and come in numerous Christmas inspired scents: my faves are apple and raisin; gingerbread; cranberry and cinnamon. They don't have to be overpowering and DO make your house smell divine. Try Crabtree & Evelyn, L'Occitane or Partylite.  

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