Planning A Gorgeous Christmas.

P22 P11

This is a thank-you to all those of you who have already bought and downloaded the Christmas Planner: I truly wasn't expecting such an enthusiastic response and I want to tell you how very, very  grateful I am...

Finley has caught a hideous vomiting bug and so with a hot little body on my knee and Katherine Hepburns  "Holiday"  on the dvd, I  have today put together my own Christmas Planner and having dipped my head in and out of my cinnamon scented Christmas present box a few times, I'm now feeling scrumptiously festive two months too early and so in celebration I hereby  present two of my favorite posts  from my old Brocante Salon group...

Amoretti. (From September 2005. Pretend you can't see the MARK word.)

So there you are, snug as a bug, with your cocoa and pen and Scrumptious little Christmas jobs book at the ready (if you don't have one, get yourself to a pretty little boutique and find a notebook scrumptious and small enough to carry about with you over the next few months...)

Are you ready for your Brocante Noel Brainstorming session? Let's start with rituals- Write down:

1) What rituals are essential to your family on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day? In our house I have to have amorettis and hot chocolate for breakfast on Christmas eve. It's a rule. Mark makes breakfast on Christmas morning (It's a miracle,year after year!) I always go on a shopping expedition for the single decoration I am keeping in my memory box, and tree hunting is a major event to us...

2) What rituals would you like to make into an annual event? What rituals do you yearn to be a part of at Christmas? Midnight mass? The local Pantomime? A trek through the countryside for nature inspired decorations? A festive lunch with your Mum the week before Christmas? A day where the whole family hibernates and wraps presents and watchs Christmassy films with milk and mince pies?

3) What rituals drive you nut's? Family obligations? Having to cook dinner year after year or never being allowed to play the festive hostess? Do you hate Christmas pudding? Don't like real Christmas trees? Write them down...

4) And finally, what rituals from your childhood do you want to make a part of your Christmas now? In our house, Father Christmas left his gifts in the living room, and Helen and I were never allowed downstairs until my Dad had been down to check whether Father Christmas had remembered to call at our house! I want that for Finley. That magical anticipation. I don't want him opening his stocking by himself in the middle of the night in his bedroom. But that is my ritual, my house: yours may have been entirely different, so whatever memories you treasure, write them down...

This isn't a big thing, so don't stress about. All I am really asking you to do is to imagine the Christmas of your dreams, so that in even the smallest of ways, we can begin to make it happen...

I bought my Amoretti yesterday afternoon and now they sit in their italian pretty tinned glory on my Christmas shelf in the pantry cupboard, quietly reminding me that Christmas Eve, is and always will be, my favorite day of the year...

The Present Box. (From September 2005)

Last week we talked about creating the rituals that will establish in our minds, the kind of christmas we would like our families to look forward to in years to come...

One of the rituals I treasure is finding a place in the house in which to store the presents I buy, prior to the big event, so that they don't look like I bought them at a rummage sale by the time Christmas day looms...

This year I have chosen a blanket box in the dining room, but it can of course be anywhere, out of the way of rooting little fingers...

The space you need will of course entirely depends on the number of presents you have to buy, but I have strangely found in years past that the goldfish syndrome applies to my Christmas storage space: Sub-consciously I only buy items that fit in my box, chest or drawers, and consequently don't find myself with oddly shaped presents sticking out of all manner of places, but then perhaps I am a little neurotic...

Part of the way I begin to shop for each member of my family is to choose a box, large tin, basket, bucket (Memorably a hot pink one for my sister Helen, which I filled with all manner of silly housekeeping nonsense and a few glitzy treats...), sock's or bag, which will act as both part of the present itself and as a holder for the presents I plan to wrap: so I always know exactly how much space I am going to need, and once each present holder is full of treats that is the end of my shopping... **It is, I accept, a little different with kid's presents (hard to hide a rocking horse or Barbie Bike in a blanket box!), but we will get to those later in the month...**

So once you have estimated how much space you will need, it is time to Brocante it up and thus have it ready for the marathon shopping task ahead...

I have started this year, by rubbing some cinnamon scented oil into the timber inside my pine blanket box, purely so that every time I open it, I will be greeted with the spicy scent of Noel. On the base of the box lie the 6 rolls of brown paper I will use to wrap my presents, with their cellophane removed, so they will absorb the fragrance of the box over the next few months. Then coverng this the gorgeous hand embroidered stocking I bought Finley last year. Then over this lies a tiny patchwork quilt so that anything delicate has a soft landing, should I decide to go rooting with abandon...

Last night I took 6 vintage hankies, laid a handful of homemade pot pourri (oranges, cinnamon, soap shavings and cedar oil) in the centre of each and pulled the corners together and tied them up with a ribbon to make a crude little pomander, and these will go in the box next, to add a bit of vintage taste to the box and to fragrance the gifts they end up lying next to, and will ultimately hang from the tree in December (I am wanting a flowery, pink and powder blue decorated tree this year, but we will see)... I then hunted out the Christmas cards I have left over from last year, alongside the Vintage Xmas postcards I have found while fleamarketing this year, tied them with a ribbon and laid them flat between the folds of the quilt, again so they will absorb the scent of the box, something I will do, with every card I will buy until Christmas...

After this I hunted out a teeny little notepad, tied a pen to it, and will later add this to the box, because this year, everytime Iadd something I will be writing down who I intended it for, so I am not entirely flummoxed when it comes to wrapping...

Finally I made little bundles of cinnamon sticks and dried lavender from the garden, tied them up with ribbon and again will throw these into the box for some BrocanteHome style festive cheer, whenever I open the box, and will finish my efforts so far, by folding a scrumptious red blanket inside the box, so that everything inside will not be immediately visible...

This is, dear housekeepers, your own bit of Christmas, so make it as scrumptiously wonderful as possible, so you will be itching to add your gifts as you buy them, and who knows, you may find yourself all wrapped and ready by December the 1st...

On My Wishlist...