Tis the season, my loves! December conjures up dreams of twinkling lights, snow-covered streets, scents of fresh pine on the cool air, beautifully wrapped gifts being placed beneath the tree and spending time eating delicious food with loved ones, it really can be the most wonderful time of the year. Then you become an adult, and quickly realise that behind all of those images, a fair bit of hard work and consideration goes in! Right?!

So while we are most definitely gonna bask in the loveliness that is Christmas time in today’s post, you can also expect a little dose of realness from us too! We’re sharing coping strategies, charitable or eco-friendly gift ideas, self-care practices, and ways to celebrate throughout December to help spread the expectation, rather than pinning it all on one day.

Grab something cosy, maybe a mug of something warm too, and let’s keep it joyful, but real this Christmas!

Oh and if you fancy a folksy carol to accompany your reading…

One: an Optional Christmas

We’re giving you permission to choose this Christmas.

Christmas isn’t compulsory, and neither are all those annual traditions associated with it, despite what all the adverts would have you think. If you’re missing someone this year, if you simply can’t afford it, if your mental health will suffer as a result of those interactions this year… For whatever reason, I’ll say it again: Christmas isn’t compulsory, everything is optional.

It’s ok to politely decline, it’s ok to scale down that present list, it’s ok to take some time by yourself (yes, even on Christmas day!), and it’s ok to reduce or change how you celebrate the holiday year-on-year, you’re not competing with last year’s Christmas. Self care and self preservation are an all-year-round pursuit, and while Christmas can be a wonderful opportunity to act charitably, to connect with family and friends, and to hold up tradition. If it costs you your peace, adjust according.

Two: Solstice Celebrations

And on that note, why celebrate only on the 25th, when the celebration could be spread throughout the winter season? Why not celebrate the Winter Solstice which, in the northern hemisphere, lands on the 21st December?

Why celebrate it? Well, traditionally it’s seen as the turning point in Winter, whereupon the Sun starts to return to us (which is surely something to be celebrated?!) and the long nights gradually begin to shorten again. 

How to celebrate it? Whether you choose a tradition (of which there are many!) or create your own, there is a lovely sense of ceremony and ritual around the solstice. Extinguishing all electric light, to appreciate the darkness as it nourishes our dreams and allows us to rest in this season. Maybe then gathering around a fire to sing carols, tell stories and perhaps to burn a yule log? Traditionally the Yule log was a large piece of Oak, which represented the Oak King of Summer, and was burnt slowly to symbolise the returning of the sun and its warmth. 

Yule can also be a quieter celebration, perhaps even a private one just for yourself. ‘Yule’ comes from the Germanic ‘yula’ meaning ‘wheel’; the wheel of life, the cycle of light and dark, death and life. It can be a time to ruminate on the year that’s past, and envision what’s to come. To meditatively let go of things that no longer work for you, and visualise those things you believe are coming to you.

Three: Suited + (snow) Booted

So, I hear we’re getting snow? And not in a small way either, so one best be prepared and H&M seem to have taken this very much into account with their snow-chic shoes this season! 

I could be delirious with the excitement of snow, but for me, these boots are the one! Faux fur lined to keep you super snug and rocking that clumpy-yet-cute vibe (you know the one!) I will be living in a set of these for the next month – if I could only pick which colour?! HELP.  

Four: Charitable Givings

Because Christmas is about giving, but for many of us, we have so much and need so little, so why not try and purchase gifts from a charity? 

A great place to start? Iconic charitable t-shirts. Everyone needs a slogan shirt in their wardrobe; you know, the one you sling on with some mom jeans and a beanie and get that instant I just woke up cute vibe going on? Yeah, that one! 

With wholly appropriate ‘peace’ and ‘love’ related designs, we love shirts (and sweaters) by War Child and of course, the ‘Choose Love’ campaign remains high on our wish list for another year. 

And while we’re here: did you that the Choose Love Help Refugees charity have set up a pop-up shop this winter whereby you can buy actual gifts for refugees? Essentials such as nappies, children’s coats, a meal, a sleeping bag, mental health support… Starting from as little as £3, you could make a difference to a refugee’s life this Christmas!

Five: ’tis the Season to be Mindful

Seasonal overwhelm is real, and it can be tough. 

Whether it’s the pressure of that to-do list, the prospect of spending significantly greater portions of time being sociable, or maybe the juggling of finances to make Christmas viable, either way it’s a lot to handle!

Which is why, now more than ever, meditation is your very best friend. Mindful breath, consciously creating space for your head, slowing down, this is how you’ll survive the season and come out feeling a-ok (as opposed to exhausted, hungover etc. etc. you get the gist!) 

Think you can’t mediate? I have a few stats for you then:

10% of success in meditation is determined by body position – you do not have to sit like Yoda or use any fancy hand positions to meditate, you can simply sit upright in a chair or with your back against the wall

40% is determined by your attitude

50% by consistency

0% by what you’re thinking about during meditation – your mind will wander, it’s natural and a part of the meditation process. Once you realise you’re away with your thoughts, just keep gently guiding your mind back to your breath 

The most important things then? Attitude, and consistency. Just keep on trying and eventually it’ll become essential for you. And remember, you can mediate anywhere. The passenger seat of the car, by the fire, in the shower… There are no rules!

Six: hello, tushy

For the eco warrior in your life, or maybe as a gift to yourself this season, I present to you: Hello Tushy. Bet you didn’t think we’d be talking about this in today’s post now, did ya?!

A New York brand taking the wellbeing, earth-conscious insta community by storm, the days of excessive toilet paper usage are about to become no more! Hello Tushy is the easy add-on toilet bidet you need in your life!

‘BUT WHY, CLARE?’ Haha, i’ll get straight to it: 

It takes just 1 pint of water to properly wash with TUSHY – it takes 437 billion gallons of water, 253,000 tons of bleach, and 15 million trees to make toilet paper annually

Protect your booty from infection and disease wiping with dry paper or wet wipes contributes to the 30 million annual cases of haemorrhoids, UTIs, yeast infections, anal fissures… need I go on?!

Your backside gives back – each TUSHY bidet purchase helps provide clean community toilets built by Samagra in India

You could reduce your toilet paper usage by a whopping 80% with Hello Tushy!

Seven: the Scent of Pine

And while we’re on that eco warrior war path, let’s talk trees shall we? 

If you’re sat there anxiously weighing up the pros and cons of a real vs faux tree this year, we’re here to advocate you go au naturel! 

‘But surely a faux tree is better, they’re reusable?’ I hear you, we’re forever being told to reuse, right? However, a faux tree will more than likely be made from a petroleum-based products and may well have been flown in from China. Among the materials commonly used in the manufacture of artificial trees are PVC, polyurethane foam and steel, and while you may reuse it for several years, if your tree is not recyclable, it will eventually end up in a land-fill and linger for centuries, if not longer. 

That said, it’s not all good with real trees, there are a few things to look out for! Try and make sure your tree is locally grown, rather than imported, check out the British Christmas Tree Growers Association website for suppliers selling trees direct from the field.

And, when it comes to the sad disposal of your tree, be sure to recycle it. According to the charity Action for Sustainable Living, over 6m Christmas trees were bought in the UK last year but only 750,000 of those – just 12.5% – were recycled. The remainder created 9,000 tonnes of unnecessary waste, equal to five times the weight of the London Eye (the Guardian).

Enter your postcode on the Recycle Now to learn the best way to dispose of your tree locally.

Eight: Christmas Pre-Tox

So many of us dive head first into the post Christmas detox, but why not minimise damage now, pre-Christmas?! Yes, of course it’s lovely to let your hair down a little when it comes to indulging through December, but trying to find some balance (to minimise January regrets!) and to continually promote self-care through the season seems like a wise move from where I stand. 

Food can still be warm and comforting, while also being jam-packed with nutrition, rather than refined sugar. This rich lentil soup has been a firm favourite in our household this month already, and as for this buttery, creamy cauliflower wild rice soup… Don’t get me started *drools*

Allow me to also be your friendly reminder to keep up whatever exercise you can! If you’re not a fan of the cold, head to an indoor class, just 60 mins can make a whole world of difference. If you love the great outdoors, then get your good self out there – be fuelled by the Winter sun, or refreshed by the cool rain, I promise you’ll feel better for it. Got small people to account for? Why not take a walk in your local area to admire all the Christmas lights? It still counts!

And finally, I have a feeling you’ll like this one: sleep, my loves. Getting regular sleep, in both duration and time of day, during the winter can help massively to beat that Winter sluggishness, so regulate and try not to nap during the day. If you’re struggling with waking up this month, give this 12 minute waking meditation a go. 

Eight: Gua Sha

Haven’t heard of it? Yeah, neither had I, but this is the perfect gift for the beauty-lover in your life! 

Good self care and good skin care go hand in hand, and the ancient Chinese ritual of Gua Sha promotes a vitality and radiance from within.

Pronounced gwa sha, it’s is an ancient self-care practice used in traditional Chinese medicine in which a tool, usually made from jade, bone or horn is scraped across the skin to redirect energy flow, breaking down stagnant energy, and thereby increasing blood flow, reducing inflammation and stimulating the lymphatic system to promote healing. The technique is simple but rigorous, and has been used for centuries to treat ailments such as fever, muscle pain and tension, inflammation, chronic coughs, sinusitis and migraines.

So, as with many ancient wellness traditions, interest in the western world has rocketed, introducing a gentler version of the treatment to be done at home as part of your everyday skincare routine. All you need is a Gua Sha tool (such as this traditionally shaped one, or a roller like this) and about a minute per day to incorporate this practice.

Check out this video tutorial for a great how to and prepare to improve your microcirculation by up to 400% – reducing wrinkles, boosting collagen, combating pigmentation, and even helping to define your jawline!

Ten: Go Rogue

Reasons to drink wine at Christmas, by Rogue Wines:

  • burning the roast potatoes
  • being asked by friends and family if you’ve found ‘the one’ yet
  • because it’s vegan, planet friendly, low in sulphites and sustainably produced…

…Wait, what was that last one? While it’s not quite saving the Arctic, drinking  Rogue Wines is arguably an act of heroic environmentalism in its own right! Their box fresh wines cut the carbon footprint of shipping by an estimated 60%, and with a fab partnership with Terracycle, even the plastic inner of their packaging will be saved from landfill; a huge improvement on the heavy, poor loading efficiency of glass wine bottles, not to mention the never of bottles that never make it to recycling!

And with a sulphite level that’s at least three times lower than the legal limit, their wines do wonders for your hangover too! 

And let me tell you (from experience! Hic!) that their wines are SO. DELICIOUS. Definitely one to get in for the holidays. 

And so it is! The last 10 Ways of 2018. We’ve had a baller seeking and sharing loveliness with you over the past year, and hope that we’ve spread a little light into your world. Have a gorgeous holiday, however you choose to (or don’t, of course) celebrate it and take care. 

We’ll see you in 2019 for more loveliness!

Peace + Love

Clare XO

Image Sources: unknown, the Merry Thought, unknown, unknown, Style Files, H&M,  Wear it for War Child, Wear it for War Child, ASOS, Yoga Vibes, BLDG25, State of Liberty, Hello Tushy, Lake Buckley, Hello Tushy, Hello Tushy, @linenandcake, unknown, unknown, Hello Glow, the Dash of Darling, unknown, The Zoe Report, Byrdie, Herbivore Botanicals, Skin Gym, Rogue Wines



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