Getting into the Christmas Spirit

More great DIY graphics from Canva
More great DIY graphics from Canva

I’m sure the fact that Christmas is so close is starting to fill some people with dread but I am excited, even though I can feel myself being sucked into the “oh no, I still have so much to do” mindset. But when this starts to happen, I remind myself just why I love Christmas. I’m also going to think about two lovely friends I caught up with last week. Both have had some very difficult things happen for them in the last year but they are both excited about Christmas. They are both focusing on the joy of the season and the excitement of spending time with loved ones. I think this is something we all need to focus on, rather than stressing if we have remembered every present and will have enough food.

I love the preparations, the shopping, the wrapping, decorating the house and cooking. I like planning for Christmas lunch, which is now followed by a family birthday party for our eldest who arrived at 3.47pm on Christmas Day 6 years ago. I’m especially excited this year because we are back in Australia, and able to buy all our ingredients including fabulous local produce. We have already ordered our ham from Michael at Barossa Heritage Pork and I’m now trying to decide which of the glazes featured in this month’s Gourmet Traveller we’ll use.

Ham Glazes, Gourmet Traveller December 2014
Ham Glazes, Gourmet Traveller December 2014

I’m still hoping we’ll be able to continue our tradition of oysters and prawns with bubbles mid-morning, so the big decision is which meat we’ll enjoy alongside the ham. I’m leaning towards a turkey or goose. The options for sides and desserts are endless although we still need to decide if anyone is cooking pudding. I’m hoping to start cooking my cakes in the next week or so (sadly the ants got into one batch) and I’ve decided to have a go a making some fruit mince tarts. I’m not game to attempt a gingerbread house (the last few years the boys have decorated a ready-assembled one from Hanoi Cooking Centre) but I am going to attempt some Christmas trees made out of layers of star biscuits both for the table and as gifts for teachers. And if I don’t succumb to the heat, some traditional Danish biscuits are also planned.

Christmas Gingerbread Houses made by Hanoi Cooking Centre and decorated by our boys, a Hanoi tradition
Christmas Gingerbread Houses made by Hanoi Cooking Centre and decorated by our boys, a Hanoi tradition

Inspired by these gingerbread star Christmas trees we saw at the Adelaide Show
Inspired by these gingerbread star Christmas trees we saw at the Adelaide Show
Fruit mince tart recipe, Gourmet Traveller December 2014
Fruit mince tart recipe, Gourmet Traveller December 2014

This year will be extra special because it will be the first time we have had the family together in our house and it will be our first Christmas with our youngest niece and cousin, who has just hit that age where she’ll be into everything.

Being back in Australia this year, it does feel like the Christmas shopping season starts earlier and earlier, even with Halloween now being a bigger event than before. As excited as I’d like to get by seeing all the decorations, but I can’t help but feel that seeing all that in October and November has people stressed even earlier, and has them spending more and more. I read something from an American writer yesterday who said they like to have everything purchased before Thanksgiving in late November so they can enjoy December as a family without the stress of shopping. While it does makes sense, I have such fond memories of the excitement of finally going out to do Christmas shopping and having Santa photos in mid December once school finished.

When it comes to buying presents, I’m torn between surprising people with something nice and buying something they really want. I’m glad that for the last few years my family has been big on Christmas lists. It’s still a surprise to open gifts on Christmas Day and everyone has something they really want or need, and doesn’t have to feel guilty about immediately logging on to eBay!

Santa still calls at our house and we have been having fun working out what the boys will write on their lists, at the same time reminding them that Santa can’t buy everything. I think the message is getting through! We also had a special shopping trip last weekend, partly to think about their lists, but mainly for each of the boys to choose a present to be put under the giving tree at our local shopping centre. I was inspired by a discussion on philanthropy at a recent conference I attended and we decided that at 4 and almost 6, the boys should start to understand the joy of giving and helping those less fortunate than they are.

My goal for this weekend is to write a list of everything I would like to do for Christmas and then make a plan and work out just when all this cooking, shopping and decorating is going to happen. I’ll share it with you on the blog next week.

What are you most excited about this Christmas? 

And what will be on your table at Christmas Lunch?

Published by


I started this blog almost 3 years ago when we first arrived in the Barossa Valley. I've always wanted to write and I wanted to share my experience of my career change, our move to this beautiful wine region and discovering my next adventure. After 15 years as a public servant working in Canberra, Beijing, China and Hanoi, Vietnam, I decided it was time for a career change and more importantly, a lifestyle change. In 2014, we left Hanoi and headed to the Barossa Valley in South Australia with a dream of a more fulfilling lifestyle in one of Australia's premier food and wine regions. My husband and I both work in the wine industry - where my job could be described as anything but making the wine. In 2017, I decided to wind-up the consulting business I established in 2015 and focus on learning as much as I could about the wine industry and writing - both on this blog and a memoir of our time in Vietnam. This blog is an opportunity for me to share my writing - about everything from motherhood, to career change, fitness, travel and our vine-change/career change experience.

2 thoughts on “Getting into the Christmas Spirit”

  1. The “Giving Tree” brought a lump to my throat thinking about your father’s idea all those years ago in Wollongong, a tradition which is continuing to this day. I still remember that Christmas at Corrimal where the temperature soared but we still had the traditional lunch and the bush fires made it difficult to leave Wollongong.


    1. Thanks Mum! Just hoping the boys end up with even a little of Dad’s generous spirit. Guessing it will be hot for our first Barossa Christmas but as we don’t have an outdoor table, we’ll be inside under the aircon


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.