My birthday gift to myself this year was a beautiful new goose-down comforter. I’ve always wanted one. I bought a heavy-weight flannel duvet for the winter, and with my feather-bed mattress topper from last year, my bed must surely be the most coveted place in the universe. 🙂 Every night when I snuggle in between the cool, high thread-count sheets, I breathe a silent, grateful “thank you.”
During this crazy time of year, I really count on self-pampering things (like my bed) to help me unwind and say “ahhhh…”
These are a few of my favorite things at Christmas:
“…the sturdy kind that doesn’t mind the snow.” Wrap my feet in a cloud… oh yes… I love Daniel Green and Ugg. I hate to wear shoes, but when it’s cold, my piggies need to be covered up, and I prefer something soft and warm.
In the great wood-burning vs. gas fireplace debate, I’ll take the wood any day. I’ve had both. Give me the real deal. I want to smell it. I want to hear it. I want the joy of building a fire in true Girl Scout tradition, even if it’s messy.
I’m not lucky enough to have a fireplace in this rental home. Last year, Joey said the thing he missed most about the “number 4” house (our last address) was the fireplace. I did too. So I bought one of these. It sits in the corner of the living room, just outside the dining area, and I can enjoy the ambiance of a real flame, even if it’s not the ideal. We’ve got a place to hang our stockings.
When I was a little girl, we put one of those strands of humongous colored light-bulbs in our front window – you know, the kind that would probably set the whole house on fire today and is reserved for outdoor-only use.
I’m embarrassed to admit that, for several years, my Christmas tree was the victim of pink and purple lights. I was going for a Victorian feel, with ribbons and frou-frou ornaments. Ewww.
While I admire tastefully done lightings of all colors, I prefer to stick with white lights these days. I was among the first to display the popular “icicle” lights. I use them in the windows, inside the house (for ease of installation). It’s tasteful and organized.
Now, here’s a tip I highly recommend, if you are a master electrician or building a new home… When we built our last place – my “dream” home – I had the builder install special outlets underneath every single window in the front of the house, including the garage and the huge one above the front door. All of these outlets were connected to a master switch in one of the coat closets, which had a timer. Voila! Pure genius. Renee’s mother told me about that little trick, which should add about a gajillion dollars to your resale value if you get a customer who’s big into holiday decorating. Just make sure you still have enough regular outlets, too. You can never have enough of them at Christmas, and you don’t want your lamps to be on the timer circuit.
Super-Soft, Warm Scarves and Woolly Mittens
I get a rush when I get bundled up in something soft to go out and brave the Winter elements. Snow is always welcome, any time. The more, the better.
I still remember how excited I would get when it was time to trade out the regular albums for the stack of Christmas albums on the stereo each year. I memorized the playing pattern of all the songs, and sometimes when I hear one now, my head replays the parts that skipped on our records at home.
Special music is the icing on my holiday cake. My Sirius radio in the car is tuned to the sounds of the season, and I probably have at least 20 CD’s in my home collection. At a church service on Christmas Eve, you will hear me belting out harmony in my has-been, out of shape, formerly trained voice – I like to sing the alto lines an octave higher than written, but lately those high G’s and A’s above the staff are quite an uncomfortable stretch.
But my all-time favorite – the one that moves me to tears every time… the one that compels my body to dance around the house in a flitting, ballerina-wanna-be way, is Bryan Duncan’s Christmas is Jesus. Try it, you’ll like it.
Silk, satin, cotton… I prefer natural fibers and simple beauty, whether it’s a sexy gown or a pair of flannel men’s style PJ’s. Victoria’s Secret is my favorite shopping place for pajamas, but I actually found my robe several years ago at Restoration Hardware. It’s a favorite that makes me feel like a pampered movie star every time I put it on.
We had some family friends from Maggie Valley, North Carolina, and every year they would mail us new Vanity Fair pajamas, which my mother would let us open on Christmas Eve. I carried the tradition of Christmas PJ’s over to my own family, and every year I bundle up comfy sets for everyone in the family to don on Christmas Eve before the reading of the Christmas Story.
Last night I made my infamous Potato Soup, taken straight from a Weight Watchers cookbook. The kids beg for it. Hot soup on a cold day – divine. Likewise… pot roast, chili, macaroni and cheese, and a little (ha) holiday candy. My favorite – my beloved m&ms in holiday colors with nuts. (The nuts – almonds or peanuts – add some protein which makes the sugar less toxic to my system.) Oh, and candy canes… don’t forget candy canes. I still hang real ones on my tree.
My mother used to have a jar of old-fashioned hard-candies out at Christmas – I still remember the beautiful assorted shapes and sizes and colors… pillow shapes with red and white stripes, rounds with pink or yellow centers, butterscotch… yum. It was on the end table right next to the basket of nuts and the nutcracker. Dad and I always fought over the pecans, and we ignorant Hoosiers had no shame about calling the Brazil nuts “nigger toes” back then.
After years of cooking (or being served) the traditional seven fishes for Christmas Eve dinner (or some acceptable variation of it) I am breaking out of the Italian traditions. For several years, I’ve been making a special English meal for Christmas Day, which I will swap for Christmas Eve dinner this year, since that’s when I celebrate with the kids… the very best Prime Rib roast, coated with black pepper, and homemade Yorkshire pudding. Martha Stewart never lets me down.
Sparkle and Shine
I’m a girly-girl, and the past few years of glitter and sequins and rhinestone-studded clothes have been absolute shopping heaven for me. This fashion is no longer reserved only for the holidays, but Christmas time gives me an excuse to go wild with it. Shimmery powder on my skin… lip gloss that kisses my lips with glitter that isn’t too garish… anything with Swarovski crystals, sparkling shoes… gemstones hanging from my cellphone… beautiful. Even my Christmas tree will be bejeweled with crystals.
For romance, relaxation, or for a magical ambiance at the holiday table, you just can’t beat candles. And none of that “flameless” plastic crap – get the real deal. Just be responsible. My favorites are here.
If you’re fortunate to live near an Illuminations shop, you’ll find a lovely assortment of very special, unique candles there. I love to use these to finish off my holiday table, where I put as much effort and planning as the meal itself. I want my guests to sit back and feel as though they’ve been transported to some fantasy Winter Wonderland.
And candlelight makes everything gorgeous, darling.
US Post Office & UPS
When I was a little girl, I sent away for some cheap doo-dad from the back of my comic book. I eagerly checked the mail every day, waiting for my precious purchase to arrive.
I have a mailbox fetish.
The anticipation of finding a treasure among the bills and catalogs never ends for me. I’m always hopeful. At Christmas, I get much satisfaction from seeing the brown boxes pile up on my porch as I near the end of my cyber gift-buying spree.
The delivery people in that familiar brown truck are angels (okay, let’s give Fed Ex its due, also), and these service companies just don’t get enough credit for what they do. It still amazes me how consistent and timely they are. Amazing Christmas miracle. And I love that I can track my packages online and see the current status, up to the minute that it’s dropped at the door, eliminating some of the disappointment when I’m wrong about the expected delivery date.
I use the post office for most of my gift deliveries, and their automated postage dispensers and package scales eliminate the need to stand in long lines inside. If you have a debit card or a credit card, you’re good to go. Make sure you leave room on your package for the very big bar-code label the machine spits out. Try to avoid the lunchtime rush.
And there you have it… Lisa’s List of Christmas Favorites.