And so it has begun. The season of the carrier bag. Those relentless days where one seems to do little else other than walk in to the house laden with this, that and indeed the lovely other in our efforts to create the Christmas of our dreams.

On the one hand I rather adore what becomes one long shopping opportunity and the other I feel every vein in my body tightening in dreaded anticipation of buying the wrong thing. Of forgetting to buy a little something for someone altogether. Of buying lots and lots of teeny little things I could surely create Christmas without.

Ready then for understatement of the year? I sometimes feel as though the commercialization of Christmas has gone a bit far.

Though I am not quite ready for a true Buy Nothing Christmas, some of me thinks that reigning things in a little bit might go some way to saving our bank accounts, waistlines, sanity and soul. Some of me thinks that if only we could hark back to a time where kids were happy with a tangerine and a handful of copper and grown-ups didn’t see Christmas as one long gin soaked endurance test then the festivities might just be a little easier on all of us…

Oh heck. Am I turning in to Scrooge’s lady friend? Probably not, for I am nothing if not a bundle of contrary emotion when it comes to Christmas. Take yesterday for instance when under the guise of helping her choose a unit for her lovely bathroom, I accompanied Kath to a furniture shop neither of us had previously visited.

And in we went. And with delighted eyes on stalks, and senses so very gently assaulted by quiet festive tunes that were just right and big fat candles emitting the scent of Christmas without rendering our noses outraged, we took mugs of milky coffee from polite men in checked shirts and wandered about in something akin to awe. Here was Christmas made perfect. Cabinets painted in milky colors describing a lifestyle we suddenly found ourselves desperate to step in to. Nothing too festive but on every surface a nod to the season. A tangle of seedpods. An amber scented candle. A pile of Welsh wool blankets. Rooms in which a Christmas without the garish truth of the festivities could be played out. Rooms in which we could hole up, sip hot chocolate laced with red wine (my two favorite things in one cosy bowl, oh heavens yes please!), pretend television didn’t exist and instead spend those precious few days of the holidays talking, and laughing, playing games and eating food cooked exquisitely well: feasts of saddleback ham and red onion marmalade, sloe gin and homemade truffles.

You see I want Christmas but I want a Christmas that doesn’t exhaust me. I want to choose one or two presents for those I love that are just right instead of the endless stuff of carrier bags I tend to offer people. I want to start Christmas the traditional way it has long begun for us with the Christingle service, watching Finn set his hair on fire while holding a candle and singing “Away In a Manger” (one year the Verger sprinted across the aisles to offer a wet flannel to be flung upon Finn’s singed brow!). I want the house twinkly without glitter and baubles. I want an afternoon around Kath’s kitchen table, just me, her and our suddenly teenage babbas exchanging gifts, a quiet Christmas Eve spent wrapping gifts with Ste and Christmas Day at home. Nowhere to be. No people to see. Just the pleasures of the day to be enjoyed without any pressure to entertain.

Though it does of course reek of the lure of commercialization in itself, I want a Christmas like the one in that furniture shop. A mood. An atmosphere. A sense of space in time that had Kath whisper “Oh Ali, I could cry” at which we both burst out laughing and so thoroughly and completely understood.

So much of what is heavenly about Christmas is lost to the very chaos of it and this year I want  to experience wonder all over again. While it may be hard to set aside the season of the carrier bag we can at least do our very best to focus on festive hygge, to reign in the relentless urge to throw money at that which cannot be bought and instead to indulge ourselves and those we hold most dear with the kind of joy that the bestest kind of memories are made of.  


So you know how sometimes I fall off the blogging bandwagon and sometimes its because life is in the way and other times it is because I am entertaining the black dog and more often it is because I am being a floral- pinnied little worker minion busying away behind the scenes here at BrocanteHome? Recently has been one of those times.

You see so many of you have told me that you can’t work BrocanteHome: that some of it is in fact so mystifying as to surely be broken. That you can’t work out where the downloads you have bought have vanished to, you can’t find your account page, and you simply cannot even begin to navigate the Salon and the Living Room.

Now though I come from the rather cosy school of If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It, I do understand that sometimes I can be creating complex muddly systems I thoroughly understand because I invented them, but that you are thoroughly bewildered by and that if this is the case then whether I like it not the system is broken and I need to get on with fixing it. Preferably asap!

And so m’dears that is exactly what I’m doing. My lovely Salon, Living Room, courses and Store are all headed under one roof: The BrocanteHome School of Life, where eventually you will have just one account page with access to everything you have ever bought or downloaded from BrocanteHome and with my gorgeous members-only community organised in to step-by-step blocks you will find oh so very easy to access on the road to a life less ordinary.

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This is a huuuuge undertaking and it is costly in terms of both time and finance –which is why you haven’t seen much of me recently. Because although I would dearly love to be back to blogging the way I used to blog, my community has to take priority so you feel less confused by me and my warren like tunnel of ideas and inspiration!

The School of Life will be  go live after Christmas: I am busy behind the scenes pulling all the strings together and I am getting more excited by the day about it’s potential for all of us!

Phew! All this and Christmas to plan? Too true… but as Ste will be working and my family down South, Finn and I will be spending our very first, cosy Christmas alone and both of us are almost giddy with excitement at the very idea!

Talk soon Lovely Housekeepers.x

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P.S: 100 Scrumptious Things To Do For Christmas is available at a special pre-release price of $12.00 and will be $20.00 after launch on or after November 25th.

This is an excerpt from my thirty day Christmas Countdown. Enjoy!

In my heart of hearts I believe Christmas is for children. Till we have our own we still think of ourselves as kids, but when we are blessed with our very own munchkins the season becomes weighted down with the responsibility of creating the magic we once allowed ourselves to believe in…

Today I suggest we sit down and think up a few ways we can make Christmas the season of joy and wonder that it should be for little hearts and minds. Teeny tiny little rituals and puttery treats we can do for the children in our family that will make the holiday three times as scrumptiously special and leave them in no doubt, that whether or not they believe in Santa, Christmas is a season stuffed full of magical treats…

You know the children in your family best. You know your babbas hearts desire, the rituals that will have their eyes widening with wonder, and the moments they will tuck away in their memory boxes for ever after, but allow me to get you started with a few special puttery ideas of my own. Simply choose your favorites, add a few of your own and schedule them in to your Christmas Countdown…

* Have the children leave Father Christmas a list of the gifts they would like before they go to bed at the beginning of December. Make the decorating of the lists and envelopes an elaborate affair, and then leave them sitting by the fire for a few days so you have the kids guessing when Santa is planning on sending one of his Elves to collect them. When he finally does, leave the teeny tiniest of token gifts as his calling card and have the kids whooping with joy, first thing on the most ordinary of December school days…

* Write a letter from Father Christmas to your children, grand-children, nieces and nephews. Type it on the computer or scrawl it in an elaborate font in coloured ink. Make it as personal as you can, use thick, luxurious paper, add if at all possible a little collection of Christmas stickers, a photograph of Rudolph or a post-able flat gift, tie the whole thing up with ribbon and add a waxed seal before posting in time for the first couple of weeks for Christmas.

* Play Christmas music loudly around the house everyday at breakfast time!

* Ask the children of the family to prepare a tiny post Christmas lunch pantomime or play. Offer them as much help as you can with costumes etc. and spread the news so as much anticipation as possible is generated among the grown-ups. Keep back one or two
gifts with which to reward the “actors” afterwards…

* Have all the children write lists of gratitude to be left out for Santa to exchange for gifts on Christmas Eve…

* If you don’t have a proper chimney, seek out a vintage skeleton key, hang it from a long piece of velvet ribbon and label it “front door”. Give it to the children to leave out for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve so he can let himself in…

* Search the world for a musical Christmas box or snow-globe and switch it on just after the reading of a Christmas themed book every night at bedtime.

* Make the serving of warm mince pies a December morning breakfast ritual.

* Decorate their bedrooms one day while they are out at school. Swing paper chains across their headboard, change their bedding for
something snowy white, add the cosiest blankets you can find, fix fairy lights around the room and set up the tiniest of trees. When they come home send them upstairs on the smallest of errands and listen out for their joyous reaction…

* Start a family Christmas scrapbook and every year ask each child to decorate a page stuffed full of that seasons parties, pantomimes, services and plays.

* Hold a Christmas movie night every week between now and Christmas. Let them choose from a collection of films, arrange a tray of festive treats, and make the evening meal a festive picnic. Snuggle up the entire family in dressing gowns and quilts and watch something magical by candlelight.

Yes… Christmas really is for kids. Oh to be a child again!

Buy my 30 day Christmas Countdown, jam-packed with scrumptious, festive treats on Etsy today…