Making Christmas

This is the time of year when I want to do a ‘wreath making’ course, deck the halls and simmer mulled wine.

Hhhm, looking at the assorted wreath-chic… maybe just order one from Athropologie? or Twig?

I certainly want to be festive…pop some fizz, nest and be jolly. Know the feeling? So how to make Christmas special? what family traditions will we make our own? especially as time is suddenly marching on, no longer ‘when we were 6’ but ‘now we are 8’.

family 2 2006 The practised hip-hold is so long ago…..

Christmas is about continuity. Family traditions are important, festive activities or events which become ritualised so that they are imbued with a golden glow. Fingers crossed that as they get older  they might still might want to do festive favourites  (sometimes with us?).  Be it ice skating, the panto (a singularly British affair) oh no it isn’t… OH YES it is,  to decorating the tree all together (glass in hand, carols blasting) to turkey basting (glass in hand, carols blasting).

IMG_1843‘Pop’ my favourite bauble.

 At its heart Christmas isn’t  lists  and (tut-tut) conspicuous consumption, it’s a heart warming pit-stop in darkest winter, celebrated since pagan times: bringing friends and family together… oh and possibly mother-in-laws.

1_marthastewart_yule-logs_dessert_holiday_christmas_trees_chocolate_log_taste_recipe_little_gathererMy mother is basically a Martha Stewart and I remember  all the baking and crafting days that led up to the main event. Mincemeat day,  the yuletide ‘log’ and of course wreaths and garlands after gathering buckets of evergreen foliage.

IMG_6139Now it’s my turn to be Mum, NO PRESSURE.  When they were little the snowman scene was a winner.

IMG_2249Now we’re bigger and quite the bakers, I have decided to embrace gingerbread, for two good reasons: I don’t like traditional Christmas cake and  with gingerbread you can literally – Let it Go – from fairy tale cottages to Frozen palaces, as this was our first construction we settled for ‘woodland cabin’.  How hard can it be I thought?  The recipe is basic (yeah) the medium forgiving (double yeah) so let’s go:

IMG_1527From this… to this (complete with candy jewelled windows)… is fairly achievable and then you have to leave it overnight while the sugar-concrete SETS solid.

  • IMG_1529Note: Adults in the family now collapse glass in hand, younger members collapse into bed aprés sugar-crash …dreaming of Hansel, Grëtl and Santa Claus to the rescue.

IMG_1818The next day you can really DECORATE.  We had a lot of fun.

IMG_1592From  endless sugar icing

IMG_1595to the over-loaded tree

IMG_1571meringue roof tiles, jelly bean sealers…


IMG_1577and of course ‘welcome mat’.

IMG_1568We finished by liberally sugar dusting ‘snow’. Naturally some of us got stuck in, but hey, whose telling tales – not me:

IMG_1578Next year I think we are going to make a village… lots of little houses, easy to re-build, when you eat them for tea if your VERY good.

spaggola christmas villageThe future, well I have never forgotten teen-neighbours whose Christmas cakes became legend, Christian children look away now:

Photo 02203Father Christmas hunting scene

Where could gingerbread go for the mine craft generation? It has an authentic role at the heart of our Christmas past: gingerbread has been baked and moulded for festive celebrations in Europe ever since Crusaders returned from the Holy Land,  Medieval Europe even had gingerbread guilds and masters. So our Christmas baking holds hands through time into a traditional past, yet it’s fantastically malleable for the future, this gingerbread is a family legend in the making.IMG_1841Now … where’s that fairy?




Photos: All from me bar Martha Stewart’s log and Spaggola Christmas village.


Check out A Decorative Affair’s ‘Christmas’ board… it’s growing.

Recipe: BBC good food.

Tutorial: You Tube… for the ambitious.





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