A Few of My Favorite CHRISTMAS Things

"The world is so full of a number of things,
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings."

- Robert Louis Stevenson

Since it's jolly Christmas time, I thought it might be time for another of my postings on a few of my favorite things, but with a special emphasis on Christmas. Some of these are  perennial favorites of mine or our family's and others are more recent discoveries. As usual, I don't get any compensation for these recommendations, but I'll give you the sources, if you want to discover more (or purchase) for yourself...although some are delightfully free! Here are a few of my favorite Christmas things:

1.) Jenny Steffens Hobick's wrapping paper. Big shout out to her for designing gorgeous, distinctive, and high quality wrapping paper! The thickness of the paper is sheer luxury. And each roll comes in a cardboard tube for storage without a wrinkle. Seriously, why doesn't all wrapping paper come like this? These were the patterns I chose, but she has many other choices too. Ribbon and tags from JSH too! Click here for more.


2. Wassail recipe. For about 25 years now, our family has had a Christmas open house, and we have served this recipe every year. Some people even say...they come for the wassail. It's super simple. I heat it up on the stove and then add it to a crockpot to keep warm throughout the party.


Wassail

1 large jug of apple juice or cider
1/3 of a large can of pineapple juice
1 c. orange juice
1 T. whole allspice
1 T. whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks

Tie spices up in a square of cheesecloth, or place in a jumbo tea strainer. 
Put all juices in a large stockpot. Add spices and slowly heat, but not to boiling. Simmer for about 3-40 minutes to allow spices to infuse juices well. Remove spice bag. Serve.

3. Fresh greens. Nothing beats the fragrant beauty of fresh greens in our home! It doesn't really feel like Christmas until the banister has fresh roping draped from it and bits of greens are stuck in ironstone bowls and nestled in among bowls of ornaments. This year, I gathered them from our own property, but I have also been known to discretely *ahem* gather them in from less obvious places of the Christmas tree. 


4. Christmas mugs. Our collection of Christmas mugs (just a few shown here) just makes me smile. They are stored in a box with all the rest of our Christmas decorations, and they come out the day after Thanksgiving. We remove all the ordinary mugs from the cupboard, pack them into the Christmas box, and place the Christmas mugs into the cupboard. Then we reverse it all after New Year's. The plaid ones came from Williams-Sonoma (click here). The ones with the tartan initial came from Pottery Barn (click here). The adorable ones with the wreaths and sentiments are new from Target this year (click here). And the festive one with quilt squares and holly is designed by Susan Branch (click here).


5. The Gloucestershire Wassail. I love the imagery of this carol...the happy conviviality of the Christmas season that spreads peace and goodwill between all people...a time of wishing each other well and casting aside any ill feelings. I love almost every version of this song, but the one by Lorenna McKennitt is my favorite. Check for it on itunes, or listen to it here.

Image credit here. Photo by: Ann Elliot Cutting.
6. A mix of white Christmas lights. Haven't Christmas lights improved ten-fold in the last twenty years of so? I am just so thrilled with all the options we have now. My favorite way to use them is in a mix of styles, but all in white. We have warm white mixed with cool white on our Christmas tree, as well as twinkling and non-twinkling, and standard shaped lights and little round ball lights. The mix add interest and depth and sparkle!  The lights shown in this picture are entwined in some bare branches flanking our front door this season. They are: small pinecone-shaped lights (top), big clear balls (middle), and small white balls (bottom). Target is my go-to source for Christmas lights.


7. The Toad Hall Company Christmas cards. These are, without a doubt, some of my favorite Christmas cards we've ever sent! I purchased different Christmas cards from this same British artist for Christmas 2017, in honor of our trip to the UK last year. But I loved them so much, I went back for more this year. The artist, Rebecca Day, has her own website (click here) and an Etsy shop (click here). Check out all her cards, gift tags, and more!


8. Bayberry candle. When I was a child, my mother had a bayberry candle, a fat, pillar one, which she lit only on Christmas Eve. It was carefully packed away each year. And it lasted forever, since it was only burned for a few hours once a year. In fact, she may still have it! But the aroma of that bayberry candle...with all its botanical spiciness, is an instant Christmas memory trigger for me. For years and years, I searched in vain for a bayberry candle that smelled exactly like that. And at last I found one! It's available on Amazon (click here). It burns on our kitchen island every day during the Christmas season, and I hope our family always carries that scent memory with them.


9. "Christmas According to Christ" - a sermon by Alistair Begg. This sermon. This sermon! This sermon delivered by this man. It's message is eternal and explains clearly why we celebrate this thing called Christmas. And if that wasn't recommendation enough, any sermon delivered with a Scottish brogue makes me listen more carefully, makes me smile at the occasional turn of phrase that tickles the mind, and fills my mind with awe at the emphasis on the glory of God. Click here to listen.

Photo credit: here.

10. King's College Cambridge - A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. This live broadcast of the Christmas Eve service of King's College Cambridge fills me with awe and joy in the Lord every Christmas Eve. Nothing else helps to focus my heart more on the true meaning of Christmas than this broadcast. The sound of voices filling a soaring cathedral in praises to God is a beauty almost indescribable and a foretaste of what heaven must be like. Click here to find out all the ways you can listen to it live this Christmas Eve.

Photo source: here.
I'd love to hear what some of your favorite Christmas things are! Please leave a comment and share!

4 comments:

  1. We used to have a record of the lessons and carols from Kings College. It was never Christmas until this was played.

    This year I have splurged and have purchased some wooden decorations. I love them so much and they are giving great joy.

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  2. I loved your list. Jenny's paper is amazing. I ordered some and then ordered more while she has it on sale. I have been ordering her stuff for quite a while. Her pillows are so well made. Last year she had bayberry tapers. I like your idea with the mugs. We have some that have been around for decades and evoke lots of memories.

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