It’s that time.
Time to make shopping lists and fight crowds through malls.
Time to pack your suitcase or frantically sterilize your kitchen.
Time to go to the grocery store… and then go back to the grocery store one hour later because you forgot to buy fresh basil.
Time to brace yourself for personal questions and for Uncle Furgus’s gross commentary on your weight.
Um, let’s try this again: it’s that time!
Time for fellowship with your loved ones and for charmed solitude in your pjs.
Time to brew some mulled wine to drink out of your most fabulous, oddly-shaped goblet.
Time to create or curate gifts for the people you love.
Time to nourish yourself with good books, delicious food, and the beautiful, sparkling space that is your own.
So. How to get the magic of Scenario Two and bypass the chaotic, empty, and stressful BLERGH of Scenario One? Here are our best tips for cultivating your own holiday magic:
- Set Aside Time for Yourself – We know, we know, this might seem impossible: you’re busy, you’re traveling or hosting or working overtime. But hear us out. Taking some time to yourself will help keep you calm, resilient, and engaged, even when things are chaotic. Take it from an extreme introvert (Brittany) and an introvert-ambivert hybrid thing (Sara): this works. So steal an hour to savor a wintry read. Spend 10 minutes meditating in your childhood bedroom. Take an actual walk, outside the busy house, on Thanksgiving Day. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to appreciate the beauty and kindness you’re working so hard to create.
- Wear Clothes that Make You Feel Like the Gorgeous Witch You Are – This might sound superficial, but we assure you, it is vital. We believe profoundly that dressing with intention and creativity can be transformative. This does NOT mean that you need to wear a ballgown (although please ROCK THAT TAFFETA if it makes you feel amazing to do so!) It means giving yourself permission to wear the clothes that feel the most comfortable, flattering, and empowering. The clothes that make you feel most like you. So make it a point to wear your fancy pjs and to finally break out that gorgeous, sparkling dress with the wings embroidered on the back.
- Avoid Shopping at Big Chain Stores – Big Chain Stores are convenient, but they don’t exactly promote a relaxed, magical mentality. Instead, it’s a bombardment of Christmas pop music and neon “SALE” signs, and there is So. Much. Pressure. To BUY BUY BUY. We know that this really isn’t what the holidays are all about. So maybe think about shopping small this year, perhaps from independent designers and artists online or from makers at holiday markets. These individual people do actual happy dances when you buy from them (unlike a corporation, who will never notice or care.) The money you give small businesses helps them pay for groceries, doctors’ bills, etc. … and how awesome and magical is that?!
- Make Things – Don’t skip this one, even if you’re thinking “HAHAHAHA, yeah right” right now! It’s SO much easier to make useful, beautiful things for those you love than you think it might be. Get big pieces of felt and make tied blankets, bake cookies and put them in pretty packaging, make a mix cd of your favorite music to share. Heck, make an enormous art canvas of your niece’s cat even if you can’t draw AT ALL! If it’s a picture of their cat, they’re going to love it no matter how ridiculous it looks. Trust us. And sometimes these kinds of presents actually mean more than anyone ever imagines they will. Plus this bonus: even making lumpy, asymmetrical cookies will make you feel like a Holiday Super Hero. MAKING a thing is empowering and grounding, two feelings that are extremely useful in the holiday chaos!
- Be Kind – Offer invitations to friends and extended family who don’t have plans. Take time to text, email, or call your besties, especially if you haven’t in a while. Don’t criticize the oyster stuffing your Aunt Muriel brings to the table on Thursday, even if it smells really pungent. (You still don’t have to eat it!) Tell your daughter that her new haircut looks beautiful. Scritch all willing cats at least once behind the ear, and tell them that they are the best cat, and mean it.
- Take No Crap – You are not obligated to spend the holidays (or any day!) with people who make you feel bad. Instead, make plans with people who want to cackle with you, share stories with you, and don’t say or do cruel things. There are so many beautiful, magical people in the world to meet. You don’t have to spend energy on people who make you feel small or dim your magic.
And finally, we have a simple ritual for conjuring your own holiday magic.
What you’ll need: a teacup, tea, a candle, some matches, paper, a pen.
Step 1: Make a cup of tea. This is pretty much our first step for doing anything in life. We recommend peppermint for its holiday flair, but brew whatever you prefer.
Step 2: Light a candle. We’re obsessed with the glittery, swoon-worthy scents of Sihaya and Company, but any tea light or taper will do. Lighting a candle is a useful way to open a ritual, to signal the beginning of an altered, even sacred, space – a way to make magic from the mundane.
Step 3: Take a moment to enjoy your tea and the dancing light of the candle. Because these are two of the loveliest things to be found in winter.
Step 4: On one piece of paper, write down what you love most about this time of year, and write down one thing you can do to nurture, protect, or enhance that aspect. Make sure it’s something that you can realistically do and want to do, even if it’s challenging.
Step 5: Write down one thing that is stressing you out. And then write down one small way you can act in order to minimize or combat that stress. (Are you nervous that Uncle Fergus will say something mean to you at Christmas dinner? Perhaps write down that you will give yourself permission in advance to leave the room if he does.) Now, DESTROY this stress paper! Rip it into pieces, put it through your shredder, or burn it (VERY CAREFULLY) in your fireplace.
Step 6: Enjoy the second half of your tea. Blow out your candle to mark the closing of your ritual.
If you’d like, you can download a PDF of the above ritual here, our small gift to you :). Speaking of gifts, we are embracing the madness of Small Business Saturday and running a sale too! Use the code WINTERMAGIC to get 15% off both our “Kindling a Light in the Darkness: Folklore and Fairy Tales” Mini-Course AND our “Introduction to Fairy Tales” Self-Guided Course until Monday, December 2nd. Do you know someone who needs a bit of magic in their lives? Courses make wonderful presents!
Go forth, tend your magic, and have a sparkling week.