Christmas is quite frankly the most wonderful time of the year. A chance to spend time with your family, friends and loved ones, to indulge in festive food and drink and battle it out with your family to be the winner of Monopoly. I’m not sure where 2018 went but as we get closer to my favourite day of the year take a look at how myself and my fellow bloggers are getting into the festive mood..
Baking at Christmas is a very exciting activity, you can cover everything in glitter and give baked goods to family and friends as presents or to wow at your festive dinner parties. Baking not only relaxes me and makes me happy but the act of actually creating something myself from scratch for others to enjoy is one of the most rewarding hobbies you can have.
“Traditions in my family are of course, putting out a mince pie, carrot and whisky for Father Christmas- I don’t care how old we are you have to believe. We always watch A Miracle on 34th Street every Christmas Eve and I also absolutely love baking all sorts of Christmas goodies with my Mum. Although, nothing beats her Christmas cake, eating the marzipan will always be a festive favourite too though! “- Imogen Chloe
If you are searching for some festive recipe ideas why not try one of my festive favourites recipes;
These oozy gooey brownies are my ultimate naughty treat perfect for any season, although best in the winter months with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. For years I’ve been using the traditional brownie recipe from Hummingbird Bakery and although I’ve tried a few other brownie recipes over the years none have led to me creating brownies as good as those I create by following this recipe. The recipe below will make 12 brownies and you can add ingredients to it to give it an extra festive twist…
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark and line a 23 x 5 baking tray with butter and greaseproof paper.
- Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan and stir until melted and smooth
- Remove the mixture from the heat. Add the sugar and stir well until incorporated, add the flour and then stir in the eggs and mix until thick and smooth (Or use a food processor to combine ingredients)
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tray and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until flaky on top but soft in the centre
- Be careful not to overcook and then leave to cool before dusting with stars and glitter
Is it even Christmas if you don’t have mince pies somewhere in the house? Yes you can buy great quality ones from major supermarkets but it’s surprisingly easy to create homemade mince pies when you follow this recipe to bake 12 mince pies.
- 1 jar mincemeat
- zest of one orange
- 1 packet of ready rolled puff pastry
- 1 egg, beaten for glazing
- 1 or 2 tablespoons sugar for decorating
- A star cutter, round pastry cutter and pastry brush
- Preheat the oven to 180c/Gas 4 and line a baking tray with baking paper
- Spoon the mincemeat into a bowl and stir in grated orange zest
- Lay out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and cut out 12 circles using a round pastry cutter. Place the circles on the baking tray with space between them. Add a spoonful of mincemeat to each one being careful not to overfill.
- Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg and then roll our the remaining pastry to cut out 12 star pastry lids. Carefully place the lids over the top of each mince pie and pinch the edges together with your fingers.
- Brush the top of the mince pies with egg and sprinkle a little of caster sugar.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, then set aside to cool.
Why buy gifts and cards when you can make them yourself? Not only is it a lot cheaper but it adds more sentimental value to the whole aspect of giving during this festive season and I don’t know about you but giving and making other people happy gives me this real warm fuzzy feeling. These are my favourite Christmas crafts….
Last year I started the tradition of making my boyfriend an advent calendar, I bought the tree structure from Hobby Craft along with festive red paper, advent numbers and christmas themed paper. It took me a day or so to decorate and I then filled the draws with his favourite sweets, chocolates and some little gifts like a lego stig and aftershave samples. This is a great way to create a personalised advent calendar for your loved ones because it means each day they can open the draw to see something new and different, it’s a lot cheaper than buying the high street alternative to chocolate advent calendars and it’s personalised! Luckily the advent calendar is very sturdy and I’m sure it will be used for many years to come.
“Having grown up (in part) in Norway, Christmas is one of my absolute favourite times of year!! I love the lead-up to Christmas almost as much as Christmas itself! The prepping and anticipating is all part of what makes Christmas so amazing! A Norwegian Christmas tradition which I’ve taken with me everywhere I go is to light a candle each Sunday in Advent. Traditionally, these would be four red candles in a wreath, but sometimes I compromise and simply use regular candle holders. This year, Advent begins on Sunday 2nd December! “- A Zest for Travel
How will you be counting down the days till Christmas?
Christmas crafts homemade cards
I love making my own Christmas cards, so each year towards the end of November I sit down on HobbyCraft and have a think about the style of card I want to create this year. They have a really great selection of paper and card toppers that you can use to create your own little masterpieces, it’s a lot cheaper than buying shop cards and a you can personalise each card for a certain person. I’ll be sharing images of my cards this year on my Instagram.
“Christmas is a blast, but it’s super expensive. I’ve been known to chow down on a £10 box of chocolates… not very thrifty of me. But I’ve got some ways to reduce your costs and help you budget. This year, me and my mum are doing a handmade Christmas. Literally, have no idea as to what I’ll make her yet, but I’m sure she’ll be good at pretending to love whatever it is. And then to save even more money me and my best friend have decided that we’re ONLY allowed to buy each other gifts from the reduced section… yep, broken eyeshadow palettes, bent tins of beans, the list could go on forever. But we literally can’t wait to unwrap all these random goodies. Christmas can really drain your bank account. Leading to a pretty miserable January. So be smart, budget properly, and enjoy the festive season! “- Save Money Blog
“Christmas is all coziness, lights, good times and good food! But, there are a few things which really help get me in the festive spirit. First of all – Writing Christmas cards! With family and friends spread all over the world, it’s not often that we get to have a big family gathering at Christmas time. So, writing Christmas cards and sending them to loved ones near and far is something I love to do in the lead-up to December.” – A Zest for Travel
Giving hampers at Christmas originally started in France before being introduced to England in the 11th century when employers used to present their staff with a basket of treats to ensure that they had a wonderful Christmas with plenty of festive food and drink to enjoy. This is a tradition that many companies now carry on to this day. The development of the railways in the 1800s made it much easier to send perishable goods in a hamper box or basket to friends and family around the country as a gift at Christmas.
So if you are struggling to think of a great Christmas gift this year, my top suggestion for 2018 Christmas gift giving is…. Christmas Hampers. They are ideal gifts for your parents, in-laws and siblings, because they offer such variety. Prestige Hampers UK have a wide selection of options for you to choose from, ranging from a boxed selection of seasonal treats to elaborate hampers packed full of delightful festive food and drink. You can enjoy scrolling through and taking time to choose a hamper that matches your budget and products that you know your loved one will really enjoy. With such a wide selection of items to include in the hamper, you can easily find one that perfectly suits the recipient.
My ‘Jingle all the Way‘ Hamper* arrived in a very festive red box. Before receiving the hamper I decided that although this was kindly gifted* to me, I wanted to experience the same surprise that a loved one would have before opening it for the first time, therefore I didn’t look up the contents online. Rummaging through the shredded paper was very exciting and each time I dived into the box I pulled out another high quality product, squealing with delight at each item.
The contents of the ‘Jingle all the way’ Hamper include:
Taylors of Harrogate English Breakfast Tea 50g
Taylors Ground Coffee Café Imperial 227g
Valley chocolate Fine Chocolatiers Hand Made chocolates 150g
Cranberry Crunch Biscuits tube 150g
Taylors of Harrogate Blackberry and Raspberry tea 50g
Annas Original Swedish Ginger Thins 150g
Chocolate Yule Log 200g ( approx weight)
Joe & Sephs Peanut Butter flavoured Popcorn 80g
Ultimate English Salt Water Chocolate Truffle Fudge 150g
Tomato Basil and Mozzarella Yorkshire Crisps 100g
Raspberry Preserve Mrs Bridges 113g
Finest Cut Seville Marmalade Mrs Bridges 113g
Country Victueller 140g Christmas pudding
Belvoir Fruit Lemonade 25cl
Belvoir Fruit Ginger Beer 25cl
Prestige Hampers Gift Presentation Gift Box
As you can see the contains are of exceptionally high quality including renowned brands such as Taylors and Joe & Sephs. The two key things I love most about this hamper is the wide selection of savoury and sweet products, plus all the products have a sumptuous twist of Christmas flavours (ginger, cranberry, yule cake and Christmas pudding).
My parents are especially delighted to have this in the house for our Christmas this year – although there will be less of us at home we are sure it won’t be too much of a struggle for us to get through the tasty contents of this hamper. I can’t wait to tuck into the Chocolate Yule cake and try the Blackberry & Raspberry tea. Whereas my mum has her eye on the Cranberry crunch biscuits and Mrs Bridges Raspberry Preserve. Over the next couple of weeks we will be sitting down to watch Strictly and Christmas films and tucking into some of the treats, especially the popcorn ( I will be sharing a festive twist on this snack in the next couple of weeks so subscribe to stay up to date).
With exceptional reviews, high attention to detail and a creative selection of hampers it’s clear to see that Prestige Hampers UK is a great place to buy a Christmas Hamper gift for your loved one this year.
Christmas is, if you didn’t know, probably one of my most favourite times of year. Not only because of all the food it brings! My ultimate festive favourite has to be that I get to spend time with my family, playing games, exchanging gifts and eating LOTS of goodies. Although I do go home from uni the time off I get at Christmas is the best as I get quite a long break and can just share it with all my loved ones. I absolutely love gift giving too, I love the feeling you get when you give someone a present they really want and seeing their face when they open it is priceless. – Imogen Chloe
Many families have their own traditions when it comes to Christmas celebrations so I asked my fellow bloggers to share what leaves them feeling festive and how they choose to celebrate and here’s what they had to say…..
Safe Haven Anonymous Letters says “Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! There are two festivities every year that never fail to get me hyped up for the holiday season: visiting the Christmas market and watching Christmas movies. I’m at my happiest when I’m feeling the power of Christmas magic, so walking through town with beautiful lights, smiling faces, sipping on Bailey’s and hot choc whilst eating pigs in blankets and stuffing – that is PERFECT to me! Then I usually dedicate a whole day to watching my favourite festive movies: I turn my phone off, make myself hot chocolate, light candles and get cosy with a blanket……”
“One thing that always makes it feel like Christmas for me is of course when we get the decorations out and decorate the Christmas tree or should I say trees because as well as the main one downstairs I also have this smaller Christmas tree in my room (though it still isn’t exactly tiny by any means). I love Christmas decorations though, newer ones, plus ones we’ve collected over the years as a family and even ones from a long time before, I think we’re pretty sentimental about that sort of thing to be honest, I love a very mix and match tree too with a bit of everything on it. Eclectic style – that’s me! Plus I enjoy listening to Christmas music in the run up to Christmas, I’ve got a NOW Christmas CD we’ve had for years that I’ll put in the CD player and play. I love a good Christmas outfit too” – Victoria Austin
Wandering around a Christmas market is one of the most festive activities you can do in the lead up the the big day, whether you go abroad
I’ve always been a lover of Christmas markets, from a young age I’d always go with family. I enjoy getting into the Christmas spirit with mulled wine, Christmas crafts and singing carols at the cathedral. Bath is a beautiful city, and with the market as well the place has an amazing buzz to it (not great for people who don’t like crowds). Bath always has a special feel to it around Christmas time, the Christmas aromas and the winter feel. – Life of Emma
I was lucky enough to attend the Budapest Christmas market last year! Wow, there were so many wonderful stalls selling amazing gifts and crafts. I wish I had more time to look at each stall, but it just wasn’t possible. Also the great food on offer was a must! I tried their chimney cakes which I loved. Budapest market was definitely more of a traditional Christmas market with the street lit with pretty Christmas lights. – Life of Emma
Last year I went to Christmas at Kew with my boyfriend and we were totally blown away by the festive trail of lights, each area showcases a different lighting design and you can even stop to toast marshmellows and enjoy a mulled wine or cider. In 2017 there was a Christmas tree made out of sleighs and a light tunnel with the magnificent light display at the greenhouse designed to truly get you into the festive mood. To see photos from our visit this year make sure you are following me on Instagram .
I hope this post has given you some inspiration for the festive season ahead, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a fun December in the lead up to this special day.
How will you be feeling festive this year? Let me know in the comments below or via social media using #FeelingFestiveWithElle
DISCLAIMER ** Jingle all the Way Christmas Hamper was gifted by Prestige Hampers UK in exchange for a review, all photos and views expressed are entirely my own**