So you’ve blinked your eyes and voilà, Christmas is here. When did this happen? How did it arrive so quickly? I have so much to do in so little time. Worry not friend, help is here.
This time of year to many is overwhelming, to say the least, as the preparations lists keep growing by the minute, seemingly.
Whether you are planning on having a mega family gathering or a quiet sit in with you, and either the children and other half, that special somebody, or even just your own company, there are numerous ways of getting into the Christmas spirit at home.
One of the most important things one must always remember is planning. Trying to dive in to Christmas preparation without having some form of plan is a recipe for disaster as it can all become too much too quickly. Sit and carefully think of what direction you are heading in and carefully plan ahead.
Secondly remember, no man is an island so don’t be afraid to have help on hand. Preparations around this time of year can be hard work, especially if there are children or large families involved, so rope in the helping hands unless you are up for the mammoth challenge of doing it alone. If you are then good luck to you.
The initial stages are always the same, the big clean up. Now this is where those extra hands are most useful.
As you may know, Christmas time is house hopping time where guests stop by invited or not, so it is important to have a clean house. Not only does a clean house leave a positive impression, it is also more inviting and less awkward because let’s face it, walking into an unkempt house is off putting, uncomfortable to both guests and residents of the said house and is even enough to make one lose their appetite. You can live in St. Lucia’s biggest mansion or the smallest wooden house, a clean-up effort goes a long way.
Get your gloves on and get reacquainted with that old broom and mop. Evict all those ghastly spiders by clearing out the cobwebs in the corner, get yourself some bleach and scrub down the stovetops, kitchen counters, floors, bathroom, and pretty much all visible surfaces. Sweep up those dead leaves in the front and or backyard, dig out those weeds and prune you potted plants, that is, if you have any of those, of course. One other optional tip is this: a quick touch up of paint on surfaces that have been over-exposed to the elements, peeling or even been the drawing pad for the children has the power to make all appear as good as new.
Once the scrubbing, mopping and sweeping phases are complete, move on to the laundry. Break out the dusty bed sheets, table cloths and curtains and breathe some life into them with a quick wash using fabric softener and hang them out in the sun to for that added bit of heaven that you get from clean sheets.
Now comes the fun part, decorations. Pause, steady on, we’re not ready for the Christmas tree and all the sparkly bits as yet.
How about giving your house that warm and comfortable feel where you either never want to leave or when guests come over, they want to move in. Scents are very important but always remember, whilst you want to give off those warm, inviting and yummy scents, you don’t want to drown in those scents so find a medium. Try making your own potpourri with the dried out rinds of oranges or apples with added stalks of cinnamon and a grated nutmeg. A well placed homemade potpourri is perfect for setting that Christmas feeling.
Turn your bedroom into a haven. One can’t go wrong with deep burgundy or dark green sheet sets with a mix and match selection of cream and or gold pillow cases and you can never have too many pillows…fluff it up. Cinnamon and apple scented candles are must haves but beware, you might never want to get out of bed. If you are really to the Christmas spirit, fairy lights running along your curtain rods will add just that bit more magic to your bedroom.
If there is ever a time for switching up your décor, it’s year-end so why not give your a facelift with a new bathroom set inclusive of bath and sink mats and new shower curtains?
The same applies to your living room. Fairy lights and tea candles are effective enough to give your living room that warmth that you thought only ever existed on television. This added to the potpourri mentioned earlier, fresh curtains that are not too loud…you are on point.
By then you would have decided if you are going to put up a tree or not. If you are not, it’s no problem although in keeping in line with the Christmas theme, its absence will be noticeable.
If you are getting a tree, don’t let the idea overwhelm you, you can give life to your living room with a tree that is three feet tall, it’s the decorations that count. When decorating your tree and you have also decided to break out the old box of decorations, unless you are going to let the children have fun and do the decorating, you would fare well with patterns and colour schemes. Blue and silver is a good start. Although sparkly boas are very traditional, they are also very outdated and a bit too loud so unless you are truly a die hard, vintage Christmas fan who loves going all out, retire the boas and perhaps the buntings as well. Less is more and over the top decorations will only distract guests for the wrong reasons. Christmas lights, baubles, tinsel and perhaps a few candy canes will do; oh, and don’t forget your treetop star or angel.
One thing I always believe is needed, extra comforters. Now this is in no way a necessity but picture this; you have a great family gathering and everyone has had fun and they’ve eaten until they’re stuffed, what comes after that? Sleep. It’s a lovely gesture to have a couple of spare comforters to cover up granny or dad who has fallen asleep on the couch. After all, it can get a bit nippy outside these days. But hey, that’s just my cheesy opinion.
Moving closer to the kitchen, do you own a dining table? If so then know that this is going to be the centre of attraction. You might want to keep the table cloth suitable for the season but simple because, trust me, it is going to get messy. Candles are always welcoming touches to dining tables whether they’re long or tea candles, just remember to put safety first. Where are we without poinsettias?
A small basket of these beautiful Christmas blossoms are perfect as the centrepiece. Since Christmas dinners are usually so grand and vast, I would suggest leaving the space on the table designated to the variety of meals to be served but if you plan on catering for a small amount of people, then a dinner plate with your wrapped knife and fork on top and your wine and water glasses to the side will suffice…remember, we’re keeping it simple.
Last but not least, the kitchen…specifically, the food corner. By now you should know the traditional St. Lucian essentials like turkey and or ham, fruitcakes and sorrel so I’m not going to focus on those. St. Lucians, except for vegans of course, love their meat so get ready to prepare the “Souse” and all things porcine including roast kidneys and livers. St. Lucians also love their ground provisions so don’t forget the “Banja” and Dasheen with sweet potatoes in the mix. And one simply cannot leave out the plantains, green bananas and pies, pies and more pies ranging from macaroni and lasagne to apple pies.
Now although I always try to promote good and responsible behaviour, I will be kidding myself if I leave out alcohol. I will still push responsibility but a bottle of both red and white wine at dinner time will seal the deal and be the cherry on top of a sweet cake. I know for most, the alcohol list will not stop there so the selection I will leave up to you, but it is never a wise idea to overindulge.
As a form of entertainment, why not settle for the songs of yesteryear? Throw in some good old Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers or if you wish to stay in the Caribbean, try songs like Lord Nelson’s “A Party for Santa” or Parrot’s “Noelo”. If you want to settle for gathering around the television, a great family movie is “The Grinch” starring Jim Carrey…he never fails. You can also never go wrong with the likes of “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation”, “Home Alone 1 and 2”, “A Christmas Carol/Scrooge”, “The Family Man” and who can forget, “Friday After Next”. Movie time is the perfect way to wind down after a day of chatting, eating and merry making.
The most important feature needed for and on the big day is the cheapest yet most valuable of all features…LOVE.
Without love and good cheer and spirit, none of the above has any point or value so this is my biggest tip, at this time of year, set all the negativity aside, come together as one and have a blessed and enjoyable time. If you follow this tip, you are bound to start the New Year with memories that will last a lifetime.