1. Bad Hallmark movies on Netflix. All the bad Hallmark movies.
They all seem to involve secret princes and princesses from made-up countries like Montsaurai ('Once Upon a Holiday') and Cordinia ('A Royal Christmas'), but they're perfect for putting on in the background while decorating the tree or wrapping presents.
2. Buying a Christmas tree.
In my head, there's something incredibly romantic about picking out a tree and carrying it home with a significant other - one of you at the front end and the other in the back, wearing mittens and wool hats, as snow begins to fall and everything looks like a scene out of Stars Hollow (Gilmore Girls reference there for those of you who don't watch the show).
In reality, John and I argued about which tree's needles looked "droopier", while I expressed concern that the squat little variations available in London were so wide around the bottom, they resembled a boat before shouting across the garden center parking lot, "Fine. Just pay. Just pay!" And then we took about 5 breaks during our 7-minute walk home with the tree, while John sang, "Chestnuts roasting on the open fire / black frost nipping at your nose," and I had to correct him by explaining that it was "Jack Frost. Not black frost. Black frost sounds like something out of the Mighty Boosh and probably means you'd lose your nose, if black frost got to it."
It was still romantic.
3. Decorating the Christmas tree.
This also involves arguing about color scheme ("The pink is too close to the red; what is WRONG with you?") and placement of the lights ("The bottom of the tree looks like a blackout." "Well, why don't you fix it, then? I told you we needed longer lights."), but when it's done and the presents are placed under the tree, it looks so, so good.
4. A wreath on the door.
A wreath on the door signifies, "Hello! Joy here!" or "Hello and welcome to my humble abode of ULTIMATE FESTIVE CHEER!" No Christmas is complete without a fresh wreath on the door - ours is due to arrive tomorrow, and I can't wait.
5. Sequinned party wear.
FYI, I have zero parties to attend this year (besides a work Christmas party, of course) but I am still immediately attracted to anything that's remotely shimmery or bejewelled or decked out with sequins. Sequinned trousers, sequinned tops, sequinned blazers ... throw it at me, and I'll wear it. Promise. Christmas is basically the only time where it's semi-socially acceptable to dress like a giant piece of tinsel and no one will blink an eye (sort of).
6. Christmas songs.
On full-blast from 1 December onwards. From Bing to Mariah to S Club 7 ... if it's on Spotify, we'll play it in our house. Last year, I woke up on Christmas morning and snuck into the room where my brother was sleeping and snuck a bluetooth speaker under his bed before blasting him with "Last Christmas" at the highest decibel-level possible for a mini JBL portable speaker. My parents were in the next room and were so confused: "What was all that noise this morning?" my dad asked at the breakfast table, seriously concerned. Siblings will be siblings, dad.
7. Christmas markets.
This year, I'm heading to Amsterdam (with a day trip to Cologne in between) with John and my parents and I'm super excited to see both cities in all their Christmas-sy glory - particularly Cologne, since it's known for its Christmas markets. There are seven. Seven. I think we'll get to three, if we walk quickly. I'm keeping an eye out for a suitable tree topper, since we don't have one.
8. Christmas decorations.
London is pretty magical at this time of year. Some of my favorite places to visit for Christmas decorations include the Duke of York Square, St. Christopher's Place, Covent Garden, and, of course, Oxford Street and Regent Street.
9. Christmas morning.
All the fanfare leading up to Christmas Day is almost more enjoyable than the day itself. Almost. As an American, I love all the British traditions: pulling Christmas crackers open and reading the jokes inside, wearing the paper crowns, dousing the Christmas pudding with alcohol and lighting it on fire (yep), putting on a pair of wellies and having a post-Christmas lunch country walk ... it all feels so festive.
10. Family time.
If I haven't mentioned it about a gazillion times already, my parents are arriving on Saturday and I'm so
What are your favorite things about this time of the year? It doesn't have to be Christmas-related, if you're more of the bah-humbug type! Let me know in the comments below.