'Tis the season of good cheer, twinkling lights, family and friends. 'Tis also the season of packed shopping centres, endless parties, and, strangely but almost invariably, a million professional deadlines. Look, I like December as much as the next person– it's fun and festive and all that, but no one ever said it was easy.
I think the root cause of most December Exhaustion is that we're simply out too much, whether it's from working long hours, running from cocktail gathering to dinner party, or getting our shopping done. Before this month is out I'll have spent weekends in New York City, Paris and the English countryside, and that's all before the event itself. Perhaps mine's an extreme case (it certainly feels extreme) but the point is: what happened to just hanging out at home, enjoying the holidays on our own terms?
If you're of a similar mind, never fear. Here are nine things you can do, in the comfort of your own home, to celebrate the holiday season.
- Bake. Nothing gets me in a holiday mood faster than firing up the oven to create something that looks beautiful, smells delicious, and is full of empty calories. At this time of year The Kitchn has loads of great recipes, from cakes to candy for gifts.
- Get your craft on. Sometimes, just making something pretty with your hands is enough to get you into the holiday spirit. Consider making some tree decorations, sewing something, or making a wreath from your front door.
- Wrap something. Oh, isn't this everyone's favourite way to feel festive? Whether you're into simple brown paper or modern printed ones, there's a way to put your stamp on it. Oh, and if you have papers but no gifts, there are other things you can use them for.
- Decorate. I have a friend who loves the holidays so much that she keeps some festive-hued cushions and accessories stored away for 11 months of the year, and brings them out every December to mix up her living space. That might be taking things a bit far (or maybe not!), but change is good for us, and any excuse works. Move some chairs around or simply through up a garland or two; whatever your holiday decorating style is, indulge it.
- Have a movie marathon. What is Christmas without an afternoon spent watching Elf, Miracle on 34th Street or Love Actually? Not a holiday I want anything to do with, that's for sure. Find the time and make it happen.
- Throw a (low-key) party. Entertaining in December doesn't have to be a chore. Keep it casual and invite some friends 'round for wreath making, gift wrapping or cookie decorating. Make it a potluck, so all you'll have to do is throw on some tunes and open some bubbly.
- Cook something different. You know how, after the rich meals of the holiday season, you begin to crave anything that isn't roast veg, cheese or wine? That first Thai, Indian, or Mexican meal post-Christmas can be the best of the year. Go make that meal now; whether it's a tasty curry or bright stir-fry, your tastebuds will thank you.
- Do something useful. So this one isn't so fun, but it makes sense: you just know you're going to need to tackle a million home-improvement tasks during the dull days of January, so why not get a head start? Take an afternoon to scrub out your kitchen cupboards, defrost your freezer or throw out all the odd socks in your underwear drawer. This post has some great practical ideas.
- Plan a holiday. Slightly strange to stay at home in order to plan to leave it, but I find the dark days of December are fantastic for plotting your next escape. Even if it's just armchair travel, dreaming of warmer climes and exotic tastes can make the cold, gray days seem automatically sunnier.