Embracing the Magic

Fond Memories

I have always loved Christmas and have such fond memories of it. It’s a time filled with nostalgic family traditions, evoking the sweetest memories. It’s a time to cherish moments with family and friends, where everyone seems to take a pause from work to truly embrace the joy of the season. I’m mindful that it can be a challenging time for some, and I don’t take out blessings for granted. Since Mollie came into our lives, Christmas has gained an extra layer of magic. We’re excited to create more memories and traditions as a family.

Winter Wonderland

When it comes to decorating , I like to go all out on festive decorations. Six years ago, we moved into our new home, and I started the tradition of setting up 25 Christmas trees, each representing the 25 days of Christmas. However, since Mollie’s arrival, I’ve scaled back a bit, as it’s a very time consuming job lets just say! Despite the scaling back, I still love the joy of decorating and having festive decorations in our home. I enjoy trying out new ideas inspired by the wonderful world of Instagram. Over the last 8-10 years, I’ve accumulated quite a collection of festive décor and I have picked these up across numerous shops and I must say some of the local independent stores have the most incredible ranges available – namely Christmas at Kenwells, Alexander’s in Markethill and Mid Ulster Garden Centre.

I love lots of garlands and wreaths and the little Christmas houses and lots of lights…and I love to decorate so many different corners of my home so nowhere feels forgotten about. The festive home decorating transformation takes about two weeks, starting in the last two weeks of November. I’ve learned to make it a joyful process, especially now with Mollie as my little helper. I’ve also enlist the help of my husband and parents and we make it a special occasion with festive tunes playing and a lovely glass of mulled wine made by my daddy. My mum is very creative so she always gifts me a handmade wreath or swag to add to my décor, which is always special. Before COVID times, when I used to travel more for work every December, I always felt behind and stressed, as I retuned trying to rush around and get all done last minute. Now, I try to be as organized as possible to enjoy the decorations throughout December.

Support Local

Particularly during the Christmas season I make a conscious effort to support local and small businesses. I’ve already picked up some special gifts and unique decor items from some local companies I love. And just this past weekend, I attended the most wonderful festive seasonal market, Cohen & Co that had over 50 local businesses so it was fabulous to find lots more new businesses to support and I managed to pick up lots more Christmas gifts and some other special pieces. It really brings a sense of fulfillment to support these companies.

Put your creativity to test

Every year I also love to have a go at crafting some of my own Christmas décor. Thanks to Instagram and Pinterest, they’ve become treasure troves of inspiration. This year, I’m all about using foliage from around us, making it not just a wallet-friendly choice but also a nod to keeping things green. It’s surprisingly satisfying to create beautiful decorations without breaking the bank, using what nature provides. And it nice to get the whole family involved , from whipping up wreaths with whatever greenery we can find to putting together handmade ornaments, each piece carries a personal touch and adds that cosy, homemade vibe to our Christmas setup

Scaling Back

This year, I’ve been more mindful of what and how much I buy and have tried to scale back as I honestly don’t need any more décor, but there is always the temptations of some and I have given in of course to few new bits. It’s a lesson learned over time – Christmas is about more than just decor, sparkle, and presents. It’s about the precious time spent with loved ones, doing what makes you happy and content, without succumbing to the pressure to overspend.

Matching PJ’s

Matching Christmas PJs have been a playful tradition since Mollie joined our family. While we plan to continue this tradition, we also try to keep it simple, comfy, and cosy and not overspend too much and they get plenty of wear throughout the festive season and well beyond.

Avoid Unnecessary Financial Strain & Stress

Reflecting on the upcoming Christmas season, I think it’s also important to acknowledge the immense pressures that parents & guardians can face with all that comes with it. Fulfilling extensive gift lists and keeping up with new trends like Christmas Eve Boxes, buying and doing the latest décor etc can be overwhelming and cause a lot so financial strain and stress. However, it’s essential to prioritize what is manageable for your family, avoiding unnecessary stress and financial strain. Christmas, at its core, is about love and cherished moments.

The Meaning of Christmas

It was after a personal experience last year that I became much more aware about what is important this time of year. Last year was exceptionally challenging for us with Mollie facing health issues and several hospital stays. It made Christmas and all that’s associated with it much less significant, and I found myself having little interest in it as other priorities took precedence. Coming this Winter season, I had a lot of fear about a repeat of events, but thankfully we are experiencing much better health for Mollie, and I find myself looking forward to the festivities with renewed enthusiasm. My heart is filled with gratitude for the health and happiness we are enjoying and I am ready for the magic of the holidays, focusing on the love and joy we share, mindful not to succumb to external pressures. After all, the most meaningful gifts cannot be found under a tree but are wrapped in the warmth of family bonds.

Wishing you a joyous and healthy Christmas season filled with love, laughter, and cherished moments with your loved ones.