Now that Halloween and Bonfire Night are over for another year, I feel it’s socially acceptable to start getting excited about Christmas and the traditions it brings. We’re right on the cusp of the festive season (already, Christmas adverts are starting to fill our screens) so if, like me, you’re a love of organisation here are some of the Christmas traditions I’m making a start on right now, this November.
If there’s one Christmas tradition to love, it’s secret Santa. Shopping for secret gifts, for people you’ve never met or know little about. Blog stalking, listening in on conversations and each with a valid reason – it makes me feel as mischievous as an elf! What’s not to love?
Each year, I sign up for blogger Secret Santas and this year is no different. In stark contrast, I signed up for both John Lewis’ Secret Santa and Someone, Somewhere’s thrifty Christmas gift swap.
Starting the festive season early, my John Lewis goodies arrived last week, wrapped in their fabulously festive wrapping and tied in beautiful green ribbon. Before opening my gifts, I was a little apprehensive. My Instagram holds no helpful clues to my taste (unless you plan on gifting me a rustic building) and my blog name features my least favourite colour (clever, huh?) Poor Santa!
That said, Secret Santa didn’t do bad at all (considering I provided zero clues) and I was gifted with useful gifts – thank you. Here’s what was in my parcel:
As a stationery lover, my favourite gift is the Caroline Gardner notebook. I’m always scribbling away, whenever I get the chance so it’ll be nice to pull this beautiful book out of my handbag on train journeys, or when grabbing a quick coffee. Who am I kidding? It’s too pretty to even consider writing in it.
I’m sure you’ll agree that John Lewis is a British institution when it comes to Christmas gifting. If you’ve got Secret Santa gifts to buy on a budget, try John Lewis’ Secret Santa category to find gifts under a tenner.
Janet’s thrifty Christmas gift swap is one of my favourite blogger-organised Secret Santa. My box should arrive next month, which means i have around 3 weeks to source some thoughtful yet thrifty finds for my recipient. Thankfully, I have one gift ticked off following a quick visit to Bakewell last weekend. I can’t tell you what it is yet, but I promise to share in good time.
Living near Manchester, it won’t surprise you that a trip to the the Manchester Markets is one of my favourite Christmas traditions. I go most years and featured it here in one of the very first blog posts I wrote. The popularity of these markets continues to grow and to beat the crowds, I’ll be visiting just after they open in late November.
However, there is an alternative. If you’re from the North West, you may already know of Bents Garden Centre and the magical transformation it undergoes each year to turn it into a Christmas wonderland. This year, they’ve created their own Winter Food Market in store, transforming their Open Skies Glass House into a small, potted version of a Christmas market. I visited on launch night and experienced a delicious pulled pork sandwich and mulled wine. I couldn’t recommend it more, especially if you’re looking for an alternative to busy, city centre markets.
Alternative Advent Calendars (Forward & Reverse)
Last year, I made an alternative advent calendar for the first time. It was for John, my fiancé, and was nothing fancy but definitely personalised to his tastes. My alternative calendar featured socks and John’s favourite chocolates, socks and chocs. It cost around £25 to make and an afternoon of shopping and wrapping.
This year, I’ve seen a lot more mention of reverse advent calendars. It’s a simple concept based on the idea that you add an item rather than removing an item. Up to 25 days before Christmas, pop an item a day into a cardboard box and by the end of advent, you’ll have a hamper to gift to someone in need. You can find further information on the Changing Lives website, here.
What Christmas traditions will you be starting this November?