Christmas is not just a festival, it is a religion in itself. From New York to Paris to Berlin, the event brings with it days of holiday cheer and glee. Homes are decked in fairy lights and major intersections decorated with Santa Claus figurines. Shops start selling gift paper by the bulk. Old cookbooks are taken out of the attic and dusted for recipes of cider and Christmas bread. It’s impossible not to get caught up in the merrymaking, even if you’re not big on the holiday spirit. Here’s how you can prepare your house (which includes its people!) for the festival.
A little ‘spring cleaning.’
Who said spring cleaning is only for the pre-summer months? December is as good a time as any to make your house squeaky clean. Before you bring out all the wreaths and Christmas lights from storage, you have to visualise where you want them placed. This involves a lot of decluttering. Boots and umbrellas need to be kept inside the storage compartments rather than scattered in the entrance hallway. Surfaces need to be cleared of unnecessary objects that can be put in wicker baskets. All windows should be given a thorough dusting, internal glazed doors wiped clean and bed sheets laundered with a scented fabric softener.
It’s not Christmas unless there are cookies
The kitchen is the nucleus of the household in the days leading up to Christmas. The smell of freshly baked fruit cakes and snickerdoodle cookies that wafts into the house is an instant air freshener. It brings all the children and some adults as well to the kitchen. It’s necessary to stock up the freezer and pantry days in advance. One must not run out of butter, cheeses, red meats and flour. Some baked goods such as fruit cakes and bread can be frozen and reheated on Christmas Day. Cookie dough and pie crust can be made in advance and frozen, ready for baking when the big day is here.
These peppermint bark cookies are some of our favorite!
Divide the decorations
One of the best things about Christmas is that it brings the entire family together. Relatives visit, friends come over for coffee and cake, and there are letters and phone calls from distant loved ones. Hence, decorations should also involve all family members. Children are often eager to help with hanging the ornaments on the Christmas tree. New ones can also be fashioned out of clay dough as an art project. Tasks such as hanging wreaths on the internal glazed doors and putting up fairy lights are, of course, better suited for adults.
The ‘warmth’ of winter
All of our childhood memories of ‘X-mas’ are associated with the warmth of a living room amid a cold winter night. This is what the festival represents. It provides a day when people can cosy up at home and enjoy (much-needed) time off from work and school. You can play on that by bringing out warm throws and blankets from the trunks. Clean up the fireplace of soot and ash, making sure there’s a good supply of wood for burning.