I once read that we imagine Christmas as snowy thanks to Charles Dickens. All of his Christmas stories feature a cold, snowy Christmas season, even though the holiday is only a few days into winter – and rarely sees more than a slight dusting of snow in reality. Scholars think this is because Dickens’ childhood took place during an unusually cold decade and he grew up seeing more Christmases with a heavy blanket of snow than not.
When I first learned this fact, it remind me of my own childhood, growing up in the snow belt of Southern Ontario. It was normal for us to get a few big snow storms in November, I even remember having snow ball fights with my brother on his birthday at the end of October, and have that snow stick around and build through March and sometimes into April. My mom had a running joke about dreaming of a green Christmas and I remember wondering what that would be like, since I had only known white Christmases. As a teenager, the snow seemed lighter, but it was still always there. Then I moved to where I live now in the Niagara Region microclimate where most Christmases are brown and a snowfall before January is highly unusual. Sure driving is safer and there’s no shovelling to do, but I find myself missing the snow very much at Christmastime. There is just something so magical about a soft, fresh, downy blanket of snow covering the houses with colourful Christmas light glowing from underneath and the way the city seems so quiet and still before people have left their warm homes and covered the snow in footprints.
That’s why I was so excited when we got a big snow storm last week! It’s nearly all melted away now, but I made sure to get out and enjoy as much of it as I could while it was here, starting with grabbing my camera and heading out the morning after the storm to capture the city all done up for Christmas.
All photos by me.
Never show up empty handed. It may be cliche, but it’s a great motto to follow – especially around the holidays when everyone is working extra hard to make their celebrations special. Bringing along a little something to thank your host for all the time, money and effort they put into throwing the best party of the year is a big deal. Finding the perfect hostess gift can be tricky but when done right, the gesture appears elegant and effortless.
Here are some of the tips I like to follow:
- Find a gift that is small so it can be easily accepted by a host who has their hands full, literally or figuratively.
- Get them a gift that suits the scale of the party. Giving your host something expensive or unexpected may stress them at an already taxing time.
- Wrap the gift lightly or not at all, they will be busy with their hosting duties.
- Get them something that can be used right away or for future entertaining.
- Bring a unique gift – a person only needs so many bouquets and bottles of wine – but don’t go too crazy. A fun tea towel, a fancy bar tool or an indulgent snack in pretty packaging are all safe bets.
- Don’t know if gift-giving is appropriate? A sincere and gracious “thank you for having me” is all you need to give your host.
- Open each gift shortly after receiving it and not in front of other guests: hostess gifts are nice, but not required.
- Thank your gift-giving guests when you receive their gifts, thank you notes are not necessary.
- If a guest brings wine, scotch, etc, try to open and serve it at the party. Obviously, this becomes impossible if everyone brings wine but you can leave unopened bottles out to show intent. If a bottle doesn’t get opened, invite the guest over another time to enjoy it with you or simply text them a picture of you enjoying it alone.
All photos by me.