Sunday, 13 November 2016

Getting in the (festive) spirit!

As someone who works in a retail environment (albeit not as a sales person), I am in the midst of Christmas for a long time, with our Christmas stock arriving into stock rooms at the start of September, sometimes end of August! Our winter stock starts to go out in September/October, then the start of November is officially all systems go for Christmas in retail. And I love it! I love that the start of November may bring cold weather and dark days, but in the spirit of hygge, there are cosy memories and traditions to be enjoyed everywhere you look! 

We have started to think about how we will spend Christmas, what we will eat, and what gifts we will buy. We are so excited it will be our son's first Christmas, and our first as a family! As our boy will only be 6 months old, we aren't buying him mountains of presents, but instead making memories and traditions we will hopefully continue for many years to come, when he is a bit more aware of what's going on! 
It seems surreal to think our Christmas last year looked like this! 

But as the festive season is officially here, here are the things that always get us well into the festive spirit. 

Red Cups

The Starbucks Christmas drinks arrive at the start of November, with the famous red cups arriving not long after. As fans of Starbucks since we were teenagers, the sight of the bright red cups definitely is a lovely cosy piece of Christmas tradition. We love toffee nut lattes but the gingerbread latte to us tastes like warming your hands with pretty red cups that shout 'Christmas is coming' whilst Christmas shopping and admiring our city's lights, or drives home from work chatting about what we'll eat, buy and do over the festive season. This years cup features different hand drawn designs, and are so pretty!



The city centre - Christmas lights, shop windows and the German market

We love fairy lights whatever the season (and unsurprisingly, our son loves them too!) so having beautiful lights everywhere you look, inside and out, is great! 



We have seen some beautiful shop windows, with John Lewis being the winner for us this year. It has a woodland theme complete with snow topped tree, which we adore, and lots of festive sparkle! 
The lights are also on in our home town of Birmingham, and as I get to work early in the morning, my favourite part of my work day is walking through the empty shopping centre admiring all the lights before anyone else! 


In years past, Birmingham had an annual Christmas parade to mark the light switch on, which we always attended with Sarah's family, getting Christmas drinks afterwards, but sadly the parade ceased to exist a few years ago!


Now the lights coming on usually coincides with the city's German Market, which starts next week. Like many life-long Birmingham residents, we have a love/hate relationship with the German market! On one hand, since Birmingham has been targeted more at tourists and attracting Londoners to spend their money here, the German market has become somewhere that seems permanently like a giant sardine tin, which has queue barriers, crowds directed by loud-speakers, and something that causes a headache if you want to get from A to B and the market is in your path! But if you don't mind crowds, or manage to avoid them, it's pretty, signals the festive season, and brings back lovely memories of wandering round the stalls with a mulled wine in the cold enjoying the sights. We have lovely memories of evenings there with family, friends, and each other.






Christmas music

We don't start playing this at home or in the car until quite close to Christmas, but shops start playing it early November. The store in which I work doesn't start playing Christmas music until mid November - it feels late enough to not feel strange and 'too early', and I love the music our store plays anyway, so the Christmas choices we play are lovely! 

The Christmas ads!

There's that lovely feeling you get when you're snuggled up at home and then the excitement of a Christmas ad first being shown! 
Here are our favourite this year:

John Lewis


Although John Lewis is the one everyone seems to anticipate the most, it often divides opinion! The choice of soundtrack is always beautiful, but last years story was a little too sad for us! 
This year features a girl jumping on her bed, whilst her Dad secretly builds her a trampoline outside in the snow. When night falls, two foxes decide to try out the trampoline for themselves (we LOVE foxes so loved this part!) and are soon joined by a host of woodland animals who also want to try out the trampoline! They are watched with annoyance and jealousy by the family boxer dog, who upon the little girl going outside and gasping at her trampoline on Christmas morning, barges her out of the way to have a good old jump around himself! Some people have said it's not Christmassy, which we can kiiiiind of understand, but Sarah in particular really likes it, as an animal lover and especially a dog lover, it really made her smile, and the boxer dog made her laugh out loud! The music is also lovely - a cover by Vaults of One Day I'll Fly Away. 

Waitrose



This beautifully shot advert shows the importance of togetherness at Christmas, with a robin showing no interest in a mince pie, then going on an epic adventure until he (or she!) finds another robin to share it with. Beautiful message, beautiful advert!

Aldi



A surprising choice but we really liked this one! It's cute, it's entertaining to watch as it tells a story, and it's Christmassy! It shows the journey of a 'little carrot who liked to believe' who wants to see Santa, so goes on an adventure across the dinner table to get to the fire place, and ends up leading Santa's sleigh through the sky! We liked the magical message of this one, it feels very Christmas spirited - we believe too, little carrot!

Marks & Spencer



This one may actually be our favourite, and dare we say it, better than John Lewis'!
This beautifully shot ad shows Santa being waved off to work by Mrs Claus, and once he's left, we see that it's actually Mrs Claus who makes sure everything goes to plan! (No surprises there then!) 
It's shows the story of Mrs Claus reading a late-received letter to Santa, and making a child's wish come true (the whole thing looks AMAZING - think Bond movie style shots of beautiful scenery with red helicopters and snowy mountains!) before returning home to snuggle up with a book, then greeting her unsuspecting husband with a cuddle. It bought a tears to our eyes, looks so beautiful, has a lovely story in the wish of the young boy, and we love the Clauses example of being very much in love and being a great team! Plus our new hero Mrs Claus looks amazing - all cable knit jumpers, cashmere socks, and stunning red coats!

So there you go, a round up of all things that are making us feel festive at the moment! We'd love to hear yours, or what your thoughts on the Christmas ads are! 


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