How To Create The Best Atmosphere This Christmas
For me growing up, Christmas was not on the same day as everyone else, but rather on Christmas Eve. Sure, we still called the 25th Christmas, but it was on the 24th when all the exciting stuff happened. That’s when we opened the presents, and that’s when we brought out the alcohol and the best food.
You see I am part Polish and part German, and over on the continent that’s how you do Christmas. And perhaps I’m biased, but I think they’ve got it right…
It’s All About the Atmosphere
My argument here is that opening presents in the evening makes for a much more special and romantic occasion. It feels much more atmospheric and much more sacred (whether you’re religious or not) which I think is the way Christmas should be. We’ve all complained that Christmas can feel a little too commercial at times – having all the cards shoved down our throats and the repetitive carols and the general garishness, and opening presents in the morning only exacerbates this as the day becomes a rush to rip open the wrapping and to stuff yourself with food. We spend all day playing with toys or new gadgets rather than talking to each other, and the whole thing is blamed on a Coca-Cola themed fat man.
Opening in the evening means you have to wait all day (the official rule is that you have to wait until the first star comes out) which forces you to spend more time talking to your family and teaches children patience and self-control. That’s also when the tree looks the most beautiful with the lights glowing in the darkness, and everything seems stiller and more quiet. It’s late enough to sip some mulled wine, and if you add the carols too the whole thing just feels magical. Because it’s got atmosphere.
How to Bring the Atmosphere
Of course you don’t have to be European to enjoy opening presents in the evening and I would recommend you try this style of Christmas if you want to enjoy something new. At the same time though, if you would rather stick to the 25th then there are many other ways that you can still drench your occasion in atmosphere. Here are some suggestions…
Carols: If you normally have Christmas Number 1s blaring all day then your Christmas isn’t going to feel magical, it’s going to feel irritating. These over-played pop songs are the equivalent of a sugar rush and they aren’t conducive to taking your time and enjoying the moment. Instead then, try some real Christmas carols or even just some quiet classical music and you’ll find it gives the season a whole different feeling.
Lighting and Decorations: Christmas decorations can once again be hit-and-miss. While they can potentially dress up your home in celebration and keep you constantly reminded that it’s Christmas, they can also sometimes be a bit tacky and overly colourful. Red, green and gold are over used and ostentatious – so try whites and silvers for a different ‘winter’ feeling that will be more about the season and less about the shops.
The same goes for your Christmas lights, try using a blue and white colour scheme for your LEDs and you’ll find that it creates an ethereal glow that really does feel magical.
Drinks: Another reason I enjoyed doing Christmas in the evening rather than in the day, was that it would allow us to have a few drinks while we opened the presents which was a great way to relax, to unwind and to make the experience feel like more of a big event rather than a mad rush to the finish.
Pacing: Speaking of which, you can also make the moment feel more special by taking your time a little more to open the presents. Rather than rushing to rip the wrapper off, designate a ‘tree elf’ to hand out gifts so that everyone has one, and then invite everybody to start opening at the same time.
These are just a few ways to make Christmas feel more atmospheric and more ‘special’ as a result. There are many other ways to accomplish too, but the main point is to just set out with that in mind rather than bowing to the usual commercialism.
The author of this post, Vikram Shenoy, is a part of the team at Westminster Christmas. He has a keen interest in keeping up with the latest trends in artificial Christmas decorations.You can also follow him on twitter @ShenoyTrivikram