December 01, 2022
No matter our beliefs, the holiday season is something we look forward to all year. It's a time to come together and celebrate joy—to express love and hope and make memories we’ll hold dear in our hearts for years to come. Although every year may look a little different as families and friendships grow, let this time be a season for gratitude—when we honor familiar traditions and take the opportunity to celebrate in new ways as well. It’s more important than ever that we focus on our common humanity, and our favorite way to celebrate those ties that bind us is by incorporating delightful elements of midwinter festivities from around the world into our own beloved and comforting holiday traditions.
Embrace the Wonder
What do you think of when you hear the phrase the holidays? Most of us would agree, for starters, that we’re talking about the festive season between Thanksgiving and the New Year. For many of us, Christmas is what springs immediately to mind, though the magic of that day means something slightly different to each of us. For some, a nativity scene lies at the center of their Christmas feelings, and for others it’s a glowing tree surrounded by carefully wrapped expressions of our love for each other. In some countries, gifts are exchanged and the big meal eaten on Christmas Eve, whereas in the US, the joyous frenzy of opening presents happens on Christmas morning. In some countries, Santa Claus hides your treats in a stocking, but in others he’ll put them in your shoes. Every country—and every family—has its own beloved traditions around Advent, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.
For some among us the holidays are centered on the eight bright nights of Hanukkah, when families gather to progressively light the candles of the menorah. Hanukkah traditions include spinning the dreidel, exchanging gifts, and making potato latkes, jelly donuts, and other traditional treats. Kwanzaa also involves feasting together and lighting candles to celebrate the ancestors.
And then, of course, there are all the high-spirited things we do to ring in the New Year and celebrate new beginnings together!
In our exploration of holiday festivities around the world, we’ve been delighted by the colorful details and differences. But more than anything we’ve been struck by what these celebrations share: all around the world, secular or religious, traditional and newly updated—they are about light, love, delicious treats, and joy.
At plj we love the deep comfort of the familiar traditions that have been passed down for generations. But much like our homes and much like joy itself, if we want our holiday celebrations to feel alive, we must be continually open to updating them as our lives and families evolve. For example, the holidays can mean travel—even international travel!—to where grown children are establishing new lives, and sharing the joy of family togetherness while creating new traditions as their circle of friendships and loved ones grows.
Make Moments to Remember
Meet for a Christmas market night
European-style Christmas markets are an unforgettable tradition—a simply magical experience! When the center of the city is dressed for the occasion, the twinkling hum of the holidays sweeps us up in a wave of nostalgia. Sip a hot beverage and buy handmade gifts from artisans’ stalls nestled in a picturesque, festively adorned square. If your town or city doesn’t offer a Christmas market, plan a weekend getaway around a city that does! Or take advantage of an outdoor fireplace and heaters to host your own Christmas market-style gathering for close circle friends—featuring steaming cups of mulled wine or Christmas punch, holiday music, warming snacks, and an abundance of good cheer.
Host a holiday baking day
A longstanding tradition in our home is to gather as a family and bake our favorite holiday cookies. Over the years it has become a moment for each generation to anticipate and adore. Don your aprons, sip eggnog, and connect through the art of baking! Every funny story you share, recipe you try, and cookie you decorate (or nibble!) will become part of your living tradition, a sweet stack of loving moments of joy. Extending an invitation to holiday baking day will brighten the festive season for someone in need of lighthearted companionship, and giving a decorative tin filled with homemade assorted holiday cookies is one of our favorite ways to share good cheer with friends and neighbors.
Trim the tree
If a Christmas tree is part of your family tradition, get everyone involved! Young children love to enjoy some holiday themed snacks while they spend an afternoon crafting new ornaments, stringing popcorn or decorating gingerbread cookies to hang on this year’s tree—let them each invite a friend and make a proper party of it! Handmade ornaments and the stories that go along with them become “heirlooms” as they get handed down year after year.
Take it outside!
It’s the time of year when we tend to spend more cozy time indoors, but outdoor activities with family and friends help everyone stay healthier, more cheerful, and more energized. Plan a sledding or ski day, a walk in the woods, even a picnic or cocktail gathering (with plenty of steamy sips and toasty bites) if weather permits.
Take a family outing to the tree farm and choose your Christmas tree! Celebrate Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, by reconnecting with nature—with your loved ones or even on a self-care solo outing to your favorite setting. The best part about getting out in brisk weather? Bringing those rosy cheeks inside and warming up by a fire afterward, over cocoa and boardgames or a movie!
Speaking of rosy cheeks, taking good care of yourself during the holiday season is as essential as watching out for those around you who might need a little extra TLC. It's important to keep things in balance right now. Savor this precious moment when nature is dormant and time slows down. Allow yourself those joyous festive indulgences and keep eating well otherwise. Make some time to be active but also to rest, relax, and enjoy your family. Practice yoga to embody mindfulness and take a brisk walk to boost your energy.
Design Notes: Sprinkle in the Sparkle
Deck the halls
At partager la joie we like to keep our design simple and chic as a backdrop for festivities, using elements from nature to anchor decor and choosing a neutral, light palette to create a warm holiday feeling. We love winter whites in various textures, especially luxurious blended throws, paperwhites, and simple twinkling lights. Winter boughs like pine, juniper, magnolia, olive, birch, green oak, and holly all complement each other in wreaths, vases or simple, elegant garlands to create a welcome entrance for the home or to dress a long table. Adorn these garlands with simple holiday ornaments—strings of clear bulbs, or silver keepsakes. Infuse your home environment with comfort using earthy scented candles—like the Juniper and Lavender or Winter Woods candles from our winter candle collection. Shop partager la joie
Merry & Bright
Indulge your creativity in bouquets. We like to keep the theme of seasonal simplicity going with ours—lots of winter whites and fresh greens, including magnolia or pepperberries on the branch, paperwhites, and amaryllis. Force some of these bulbs in your favorite containers (they take about two weeks to open) and depending on the timing, they will last well into the New Year.
Can anything say holiday more than the earthy fresh scent of pine in your home? A Christmas tree—if that’s part of your tradition—is at the center of your winter wonderland, but you can bring holiday cheer to other parts of your home with small trees, potted winter plants or even decorated winter garlands or branches in your office, foyer, kitchen or a bedroom.
Festive place settings
Use a charger plate to anchor your place settings so that each guest’s dinner plate has a set spot at the table. If your group is large, think about making place-cards of some sort: a handwritten card with a seasonal sprig, a small gift, or a personalized cookie for each guest. Incorporate warmth by using cozy touches such as faux fur accessories draped along the table or chairs.
Baubles and Bubbly
Epicure: A Holiday Feast
Whether you’re looking to turn heads with a Christmas dinner showstopper, complement the craft cocktails for a midwinter apéro party, add some festive cheer to a midweek meal, or simply indulge in some seasonal comfort food, we’ve got the bases covered for you in our December epicure.
Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Reduction
Baked Brie with Cranberries
French Onion Soup
Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup
Traditional Christmas Punch
Favorite Pie Crust
Scotch Crescent Cookies
Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
A Time to Toast
In nearly every culture under the sun, midwinter marks a time for the fading out of the old and the welcoming in of the new. On December 21st we celebrate the Winter Solstice, when the tide turns and days start getting longer again. It all gets brighter starting now! And then there’s New Year’s Eve—let’s say goodbye to 2022 and make a joyous toast together about our wishes and intentions for 2023. Host a small gathering to ring in the new year, or a brunch on January 1st—but not too early in the day!
At plj we like to look at the end of the year as our opportunity to welcome a fresh start. However you choose to celebrate the turning of the year, and whether or not you set resolutions, take some time to reflect on what you want to keep, going forward, and what you want to let go. Focus on the positive and customize your intentions to what you want for your life, not what you think you should want. Remember, if you find joy in what you do and focus on doing something that makes you happy, you’ll find more success doing it. As you transition into 2023, think about how you’d like to make small, positive edits in your life to create and share goodness around you—and we’re sure you’ll find success, not only this new year but for many years to come.
Take the time throughout the festive season to journal on these themes; your notes will guide you in the coming year. This season is a moment to take stock of what we’re grateful for. It’s a moment to share our hopes and wishes for the future, and above all, express our love for those who give us joy.
May your festive season be merry, warm and bright! xo, Kristin🎄
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