Christmas is my favourite time of year! Much as I love the summer, I'm happiest when the weather starts to cool down again and I can layer up and trudge about in wellies.
I love choosing presents and writing cards, decorating and wrapping while singing Christmas songs. I long for snow and stop to gaze at glittering window displays. I love the traditions - my girl friends and I always get together to eat Mexican food and swap presents and last year we helped a friend decorate for her first Christmas in her new home. Another group of friends always gets together for 'Mini Christmas', including Secret Santa, board games and a full Christmas dinner.
These are the things I look forward to every year, the things that leave me full of the spirit of Christmas, bursting to spend time with the people I love best and to give presents.
Last year was not the relaxing, fun Christmas season that I was looking forward to. I was working a lot of overtime, Rich and I were leaving apart and there was a lot of running around, trying to make sure that everyone was seen.
My favourite thing about last year was The Great Stocking Saga, where I decided to make and personalise a stocking each for Rich and myself a couple of weeks before Christmas. Despite the deadline it was fun and it reminded me of what I love about Christmas - taking the time to be quiet and intentional and do something nice for someone else.
I decided that I wanted to get into that swing much earlier this year as I wanted to make a few things without the pressure of an imminent deadline. But I have to confess that I've only just started and finished one stocking and I've yet to design the personalised initials. It's harder than I thought it would be to find that motivation when I'm wandering around in shorts and getting pink shoulders no matter how heavy handed I am with the sun cream.
But now that I have one finished and am thinking what to make to go with them - mini Weasley jumpers as Christmas tree decorations, jars of jam and homemade hot chocolate.
I'm also thinking about projects I would love to make nearer the time, for our decoration box rather than as gifts, so that I can enjoy the making without the pressure of a deadline - after all, decorations come out annually, so there's always next year.
I love the Cindermouse set by What Delilah Did. This was a stitch-along last year that I really hope she repeats this year because I love hand-sewing and these are just so beautiful.
Speaking of hand-sewing, I'm also planning to make an applique Merry Christmas banner out of felt. I am still trying to decide on a colour combination, but I'm leaning towards a Swedish style red and cream palette...
Of course this idea led to another one that was a great deal more... ambitious (although some would say bonkers). I was talking to a friend about the banner I was planning to make and ended up saying. "Hey, wouldn't a Christmas story banner be beautiful too? A Night Before Christmas one or - hey, even better! - a Nutcracker one?!"
And it would be beautiful wouldn't it? A lovely thing to get out every year and to look at while going over the story. So what's the problem? Well, while I can plan simple Swedish-style banners, complex illustration is beyond me. Can't quite shake the idea though, so you may yet find me pursuing a bonkers idea in the lead up to Christmas...