5 Ways to: Feel Festive

I think it is fair to say that most people look forward to Christmas. Even if it isn’t your favourite time of year, there is always something in it for everyone, whether you’re the type of person who lives and breathes Christmas or you’re solely there for the food and drinks. Maybe you’re just excited to have some time off work and spend time with your loved ones. Regardless of what it may be, Christmas is generally enjoyable for all.

With that being said, I am yet to figure out if I enjoy Christmas or not. I am sure I can’t be the only one in two minds about the whole concept. Don’t get me wrong, some years I’m so eager to start listening to the classic songs that we’ve all heard thousands of times before. I cannot wait to decorate the tree, and stock up on all the best snacks that are sold exclusively at this time of year, but sometimes I’m just not feeling it. I guess that is expected in adult life. Christmas does inevitably start to lose its magic, well for me it has anyway, and these “unprecedented times” (as our government would say) have certainly not helped the matter. As a result, it’s been more difficult than ever to get into the festive spirit this year.

However, not much else has gone on since March, and so Christmas is likely to be the highlight of my year, for the pure fact that I’ll get to see my family and live a day that seems semi normal. So, I have decided that I want to make a real conscious effort this year and enjoy the entire Christmas experience while it lasts, not just the day itself. This year has been so filled with uncertainty and anxiety; we deserve a bit of Christmas magic. We finally have something to look forward to and so of course, I want to make the most of it, as I am sure many of you do.

To make this Christmas as special as I would like it to be, I needed to make myself excited. I needed to make sure I was feeling festive. Yes, there are a lot of limits on what we can do this year. We can’t go to Winter Wonderland or go to the pub with our oldest pals. We can’t even Christmas shop as we usually would, but putting all of that aside, we can focus on the simple things that make Christmas a special time of year.

I have tried a lot of different things to uphold the festivities for my own happiness. If you’re wanting to do the same, here are my five ways to feel festive. I hope you enjoy!

  1. Making a Cheeseboard

Christmas is all about indulging in good foods and beverages, right? So, it seems to me that a cheeseboard is absolutely essential. Not only does it provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy food and wine, but it is also a great feature for a social gathering during the festive season. (I know that this isn’t necessarily possible at the moment, but if you live in shared house with friends or family it’s a great way to get everyone around you in the mood, as well as yourself.)

I personally live in a shared house with friends and so I haven’t been able to see much of my family, hence why this Christmas is super important to me. So, I decided that as a little bit of a pick me up, I would put together an extravagant cheeseboard for us all. I am extremely proud of the outcome of this, and quite frankly shocked by how well it went. I think it’s important that I point that out because to some (myself included), this idea may seem quite daunting. Not only are you putting together a cheeseboard, you’re essentially hosting the evening, but I can assure you that it is super fun and easy to do.

My cheeseboard was completely tailored the personal preferences and dietary requirements of my friends, so I included a variety of different cheeses, including vegan cheese. At this point, I do just want to give a shoutout to Sainsburys because I am thoroughly impressed by the amount of vegan cheese options they had, including vegan blue cheese and chilli cheese. If dairy free is your preference, they have got you covered!

As well as all the cheese you could possibly think off, I also added a few extra nibbles for more variety. We had the full works. Everything from pickles, olives, breadsticks, chutneys, jams, crackers, fruit… The list is endless. As I mentioned before, this was all based on personal preferences. It can be altered completely to suit you and your guests. There aren’t really any rules to what you can and can’t include in your cheeseboard so experiment with it!

I would highly recommend putting a date in the diary to do something like this with your friends/family. Have a drink together, enjoy each other’s company and have a good old time. You’ll soon start to feel festive and hopefully your company will too.

2. Secret Santa

As mentioned above, I live in a shared house of adults’ and I think we all mutually agree that we don’t receive as many gifts at Christmas time as we used to. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that and it is to be expected. However, it is still a nice feeling to be gifted something and to give a gift too.

Thus, I thought it would be a lovely idea for us all to do a Secret Santa this year, so everyone gets a little something. Unsurprisingly everyone was pretty up for it. We’re yet to do our gift opening, but again it’s just another thing to be excited about in the lead up to Christmas. We all need things to look forward to in a time like this, and I personally cannot wait to make a day/evening of it!

Secret Santa is a great and simple way to involve everyone. It assures that nobody gets left out and it is also something that can be inexpensive. There is no pressure to pull out all the stops or go above and beyond. It’s just a great opportunity to treat your friends and have it reciprocated. For instance, my friends and I have agreed on a £10 budget, so nothing too extravagant. However, there is room to push the boat out and up that budget if you wish. This again, can easily be altered to the suit everyone involved.

If like me, you’re missing the fun that comes with receiving and giving presents, give this a go!

3. Lighting the Fire

I am aware that not everyone has a fireplace in their home, but in the area that I live in it seems to be quite a common thing. Christmas is of course the perfect time to make good use of this advantage. The days are getting a little colder, a little shorter and a little darker, and I would argue lighting a fire is the perfect solution to all those things.

Having a fire lit on a cold and dark night will inevitably provide you with warmth and comfort, especially paired with a hot beverage and a cosey blanket. Not only does it make you feel super snug, it also instantly creates a festive atmosphere in the home. I can’t explain it, but we all know that Christmas and a lit fire go hand in hand.  I don’t know, maybe my subconscious just associates the two because it is the most cliché setting in your average Christmas film. All I know, Is that this my first Christmas with a fireplace and it has definitely added to the Christmas atmosphere in my house.

4. Lighting a Christmas Candle

This is a great alternative if you don’t have a fireplace. Lighting a few Christmas scented candle will still give you that extra warmth but also make your entire house smell like all things Christmas. I personally have been loving the scent of cinnamon this year, which is odd because I’m not usually the biggest fan of it. Nevertheless, I’ve been burning my Cinnamon sparkle Christmas candle since the middle of November and I cannot get enough of it. It is pretty much a dupe of a Yankee candle. It burns just as well, and the scent is just as pungent. The only difference is, I got it for a fraction of the price.

So, if you are looking for a Christmas scented candle, mine was purchased from Aldi, which you’ll know if you’re from the UK.  It was under £5 which just goes to show that these things don’t have to be expensive to be good quality. Equally, If you’re not someone who really likes to spend a lot on Christmas decorations, You can still invest in minor things like a scented candle to get your home feeling more festive.  

5. Decorating the House

I’d argue that this is the most obvious and effective way to feel festive, and that’s because it is a widely celebrated tradition at this time of year. It is undeniable that decor instantly changes the vibe of a room. We see this with day to day décor/interior design and Christmas decorations are no different. They really do make a massive difference in my opinion.

One of the great things about decorating the house, is that it’s not just about the finished product, but also the process. A lot of families will see this as a bonding session, a time to get excited and prepared for Christmas together! And once they’re up, It does really make you feel like Christmas has arrived.

I personally prefer the minimal and simple look when it comes to decorations, so I have opted for some holly branches, a couple of basic figures, some gold lanterns, gold candle holder, warm fairy lights and lit candles to pull it all together. It isn’t anything too out there, but it still gives the house a Christmassy feel. If this is your vibe, you’ll be happy to know that I spent under £10 on these decorations and they were all purchases from Poundland bar the holly branches. The holly branches cost absolutely nothing as they were picked, yet they really complete the look that I wanted to achieve.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. It just goes to show that a little goes a long way.

Why am I writing this post? Because I want to prolong the enjoyment of Christmas for as long as I possibly can, for myself and others. It is supposedly the most wonderful time of the year, so why not make the most of it? After all, we all deserve to enjoy what is left of this shit show of a year.

If you have any festive suggestions for me and others to try, comment below! I would love to hear your suggestions!

Lastly, I wish you all a very merry December! x

5 Ways to: Find Your Creative Spark

I feel it makes the most sense to debut this blog with this ‘5 ways to approach’, because the blog itself wouldn’t exist without it. This approach is by no means the holy grail to achieve this, but the steps below are a true reflection of my journey, getting to this point of putting my thoughts and ideas out there and awakening my creativity.

It is undeniable that this generation admires creativity and art. We long for good aesthetics and meaningful words and to be honest, why wouldn’t we? It is a natural human instinct to be drawn to things that are pleasant to the eye and mind. And so we follow artist, bloggers, influencers, musicians, and that is our gateway to a sense of serenity, to an idealistic reality.

Though it may sound like I’m being a little pessimistic, I’m really not. I actually think this escape is a beautiful thing. It provides hope in dark times, it motivates and sparks the imagination, and I would argue that in many circumstances it keeps us sane. How many of you really needed to cry so you put on a sad song by someone like Lewis Capaldi or Coldplay and poured your heart out into a pillow? How many of you follow pages dedicated to inspirational quotes and poetry to keep you going on a bad day? How many of you follow Instagram blog accounts that nail the concept of aesthetic and portray a perfect version of life? My point is, this stuff is in everyday life and boy do we need it.

One thing that remains prominent to me about this creative world, is that we all aspire to be a part of it. It is made to look so inviting and effortless. Inviting it may be, but effortless not so much. It is not always as attainable as it seems. We might begin to think that we are not all naturally gifted with a creative mind or that we don’t always know how to express it. I am one of these people, and to be honest if you were to ask me which one, I’d say I have no idea. Sometimes I burst with creative ideas, but it overwhelms me and I don’t know where to take them. Its that whole concept of all the gear but no idea. That eventually leads to overthinking the ideas, so much so that I doubt them. I doubt their inventiveness and originality. Eventually, I’m sat there thinking, Is my mind creative at all?  

This is a topic so close to me because it is a personal daily struggle of mine and has been for so many years. It is equally a controversial topic. Should we be so heavily influenced by this false sense of reality? Should we be trying so desperately to be a part of it? I’ll be the first to say I absolutely wish I were able to consistently capture beautiful photos, have a captivating way with words and I look up to the people succeeding at it. Is this always good? Absolutely not. Why? Because to constantly compare your work to that of someone else will unavoidably be detrimental to your confidence in your own work, especially if you’re just starting out. Can it be a good thing? Absolutely. Every writer or musician or artist was inspired by the work of others and sometimes in the most unexpected ways. For example, Banksy’s art is often inspired by the controversial world of politics. Without it, would Devolved Parliament exist? Most definitely not.

Without the influences we have in the world, we would have nothing to take inspiration from and everybody needs a little inspiration, whether that be to persevere with everyday life or build your very own creative outlet. I’m aware that not everyone strives to develop their creativity but for me, it has played an integral part in staying sane during a global pandemic. As someone who enjoys socialising with friends to keep busy, I struggled to know what to do with myself when it was taken away. That is when I realised the importance of having a creative hobby for me and for my mind, even if it was something that didn’t come naturally to me. I started to properly invest my extra time into coming up with blog ideas and photos to go with them. I explored logo designs and colour schemes to create a personalised aesthetic that I feel fits my concept. The truth is, we are all creative or have the capability to be. It is just a matter of changing your perspective.

Here are just a few ways I found my creative spark:

  1. Allow yourself to be inspired

One of the main struggles I had when starting this blog was trying to be original. I knew I wanted to write, but I didn’t want to write about things that everyone else writes about. As a result, I found myself reading other blogs to find out what had been done and what to avoid rather than taking inspiration from it. Eventually I found myself trying to force a niche that I didn’t really care for.

It is natural to want your idea to be innovative and unique, but it is important to realise that someone having the same interest as you doesn’t make your interest worth any less. Choosing how you express it is where the opportunity comes to explore your creative side. You wouldn’t stop loving your favourite band because so many others love that same band. Use the same mindset to start this process.

If you have a genuine interest in health and fitness, write about health and fitness and enjoy it. If you love fashion, start your own fashion magazine, and thrive. Yes, so many have already sparked a conversation in these areas. But think of it less as being competition and more as a collection of works to be inspired by. This way, you’ll feel less pressure and in turn have a lot more fun doing it.

2. Find your passions and run with it

Before starting this blog, I of course googled tips and advice for starting one. One of the main tips that stuck out to me was ‘find your passion’ or ‘write about something your passionate about.’ My issue with this was that writing is my passion, hence the blog. I thought to myself, ‘now what to write about? I can’t just write about writing and to be honest I don’t want to.’  That’s where I hit the creative wall and had a mini meltdown.

It hit home for me that I don’t have many passions so to speak. Not when you look at the word passion for what it actually means. I can’t lie and say I have a strong enough and incontrollable emotion towards fashion or food or health to make one of them the singular topic of my blog  but I certainly have an interest in all of those things and so I want to write about them all.

And so, initially the word passion made me feel limited in what I could write about. Now I’m starting to realise that the blog itself showcases my passion, but my interests are what shapes it and there is no limit to that. That is the beauty of having a creative outlet. It allows you to follow your passion, whether that be photography, or art and so on. But, equally as important, it allows you to portray your interests.

So just take note that your passion doesn’t always have to be the be all and end all your creations. For me, its my interest that will shape my content. My passion is the way I choose to express them. For others it may be different. No two creative outlets are the same.

3. Trial and Error

In the process of my slight mental breakdown during the UK lockdown period, I realised a hobby was what I needed to keep me motivated. A creative hobby to keep my mind occupied.

I’m the type of girl who enjoys seeing my friends, going to events and nights out. That was my hobby. That was my outlet. Under the circumstances, all those privileges were suddenly taken away and in turn I completely lost my sense of self and routine.

I lived in a house full of creative minds invested in arts and music and fabrics and quickly realised that they all still had what I didn’t. This absolutely terrified me. In a frenzy, I found myself panic looking for a hobby, looking for my creative spark.

This process was genuinely traumatising for me. I tried drawing, and although it calmed me down it bored the hell out of me, I tried candle making which was great fun but became repetitive rather quickly. I tried reigniting my interest in music and failed terribly due to lack of confidence. Long story short, it took me seven months to find my creative hobby. To find this blog.

My point is trial and error is your best bet at finding what works for you and what you enjoy doing the most. Don’t see it as a failure when you absolutely hate something you’ve tried. See it as trying something new and learning more about yourself and what stimulates your mind.

4. Enjoy what you are doing

I cannot stress enough the importance of enjoying what you are doing. I took so long to pluck up the courage and launch this whole thing because I was so scared of not giving any potential readers what they want.

I was and still am worried that the things I write about wont spark joy or interest in everyone. Although it still scares me, I’m conscious that it is impossible to impress or tailor to absolutely everyone.  For example, I know I won’t write on the topic of knitting or cars because I don’t care for those subjects, and so people who have an interest in those things probably won’t be intrigued by my words. And that is okay.

There are plenty of other things that I enjoy writing about that will interest someone else somewhere. And that is a key reason why I am keen not to limit what I talk about on this platform to one thing. Why limit the subjects I write about if they all spark joy for me?

If it doesn’t bring you joy or excite you, your spark will inevitably go out.

5. Be confident

Yes, it is the most cliché tip of them all and one that is always easier said than done but it is so important. If you lack confidence in your creativity you will subconsciously limit it. The beauty of creativity is it should have no limits, it is a way to reflect your interests and explore them in the ways you enjoy most.

If you’re feeling a little sad and you want to draw an something that reflects that, you should do it with confidence. If you want to vent about something in a post that happened that day, you should go ahead and do that with confidence. If you want to post a really extra posey Instagram of yourself then do it with confidence. Don’t let the fear of exposing yourself too much get in the way of that.

So long as doing it is going to lift a weight off you and/or contribute to making you happy then do it with confidence. It is helpful to remember that our best work is often a reflection of our emotions.

I’m posting this because 2020 has been a difficult time for all of us in so many ways. But, if there is anything I have learnt from it, it is that we should all learn to enjoy our own company, make time for a creative outlet and develop ourselves in the process.