December 20, 2017

Simple Ways to Add Old Fashioned Fun to Christmas

Christmas is a time for nostalgia and remembering fondly all the things that you hold dear from the past. While I definitely love my mid century silver tinsel tree and bold hued shiny brite ornaments, I also love the quaint old fashioned traditions from Christmases long long ago (as the famous song says). 

Want to add some old fashioned fun to your Christmas season this year? Here are three simple ways! 

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

Just try to read the above line without singing it. Impossible, right? 

I did an experiment with my family at Thanksgiving. After spotting a bag of fresh chestnuts at Trader Joe's, I decided to try my hand at roasting them. Not having an open fire, I used the oven but they turned out just fine. The experiment was to offer them to my family and see what they thought. 

Nobody in my test group (including folks of all ages) had ever eaten roasted chestnuts before. Reviews were mixed...some liked them, some not so much. But the experience was memorable. And it's hard to eat a roasted chestnut without getting into the spirit. 

If you can't find raw chestnuts where you live, you might be able to find some already cooked options. Although we tried some of these from Whole Foods and the texture wasn't quite the same. 

To roast raw chestnuts, simply use a sharp knife to CAREFULLY score an X into the flat side and then roast them for 10-12 minutes on 400 degrees. They will pop open and you can peel them. 

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe 

Hanging mistletoe as a symbol of luck supposedly got its start from the Druids, but it was popular in Norse mythology as a sign of love and friendship, and this appears to have helped create its status today.

Just a basic sprig of mistletoe is great for your holiday decor, but why stop there? Add a bit of old fashioned holiday cheer to your home with a traditional kissing ball.

Originally used in England’s Middle Ages, “holy boughs" were made from woven together evergreen branches that held figures of the baby Jesus or the holy family. These were used during the holiday season to let visitors know they were welcome to enter.

The boughs fell out of popularity for a time, but were introduced back by the Victorians. Did you know it was common to use an apple or potato as a starting point for the decorated herbal topiary? Different herbs were selected for their symbolism, like lavender and rosemary for friendship and thyme for courage.

The kissing ball came to be a symbol for romance, instead of just good will. Dancers would waltz under the kissing ball, hoping for a kiss from a sweetheart. And eventually this became the symbol we know today.

Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons 

One of my favorite school memories is making holiday ornaments with paper, ribbons and other decorations. My parents cleaned out their Christmas decorations a few years ago and distributed some of the ones my brother and I had made to us to put on our own grown-up trees. I have a little paper fan that I remember carefully folding from a bit of wrapping paper and then of course there are the infamous plastic spoon people we made one year. 

My husband and I went away to a little cabin last weekend to celebrate the holiday season and while we were there, enjoying the time being unplugged, I called on my  childhood experiences to make some new old fashioned paper ornaments. 

Using a simple tablet of holiday themed paper from Hobby Lobby (or any craft store), I made a few different designs, and a simple garland.

Check out a DIY tutorial for this cute paper ornament here.

There's nothing like a little bit of old fashioned cheer to make your holiday season truly special. I hope these ideas will inspire you to embrace something from days of old and make it new again.