Two things. Firstly, you’re probably a bit tired of me harping on about Christmas and secondly I’m sorry but I’m not quite done, yet. There are only 9 days left until Christmas and I’m heading into my last week here in Paris before the New Year. I’ve been a bit under the weather the past week meaning I haven’t done as much as I’d like…for one I’ve only been running once this week. I’ve also struggled to get all the final Christmas shopping done that I had planned and I’ve not done any additional French work outside of my lessons…oooops.
Being an au pair means I haven’t got much additional cash to spend but I really wanted to get the children I look after and my host parents a small gift for Christmas. Now, finding anything that is half decent and not too expensive can be quite tricky anywhere, but in Paris it’s extremely hard. I decided to settle on a little gift as a gesture for the children and then I also made them friendship bracelets with their name on too. For the parents I bought a book and baked my favourite cookies for them to share. I was running around Les Halles on Thursday trying to get all of the ingredients so I could hide them in my room. Who would have thought that buying self-raising flour would be so hard here!? The gifts are nothing grand, or expensive but it’s thoughtful and I think something nice for them to have. I’d put aside money from my savings to cover the presents for my actual family so I bought all of theirs back in November.
I’m a big believer in little details. I think they can make such a difference in many situations, and most certainly when in comes to gifts. No matter how small or how extravagant a present is if you wrap it beautifully it can make a great impression. It shows you care, that you’ve made a little extra effort. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to achieve this either, take five minutes on Pinterest and you’ll come across lots of very inexpensive ways to upgrade your gift wrapping. A little twine, some ribbon, even just a sprig of rosemary (inexpensive if you have your own rosemary bush) can make a difference. I’m a big fan of simple paper, nothing too garish or busy and then ribbon with a little tag. I’ve wrapped the family’s gifts simply too. I’ve gone for a gold and white colour scheme and then popped a candy cane on each with some twine. Rather cute, don’t you think?
My favourite part of gift giving is probably seeing the recipients face when you hand over a present that has been wrapped with great care and attention. Of course not everyone appreciates such things but the majority do. My mum has always been a great gift wrapper so maybe that is where I get it from. To this day she still manages to wrap even the most awkward presents so beautifully…a skill I’ve not yet mastered. All in time though!
Christmas time is full of small details. At every turn in Paris there is a nod to the festive season, a beautiful display, a Christmas tree, shop windows or lights on buildings that aren’t up the rest of the year. Even some of the buses have ‘Joyeuses Fêtes’ illuminated on the front panel. I went to Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche and it’s got to be my favourite Christmas display yet. The department store was so calm and tranquil, if I had the money I’d do as much of my Christmas shopping there as possible.
One of my favourite things growing up was seeing my mum decorate the house come December. The tree was always beautiful (we were allowed to help under her watchful eye), the table in the hallway decorated with a garland and the fire place in the lounge adorned with a matching one. I’ve always had a small tree in my room too that I was allowed to decorate. One of my godmothers cross-stitched an ornament to add to it each year from my birth until I was 18. Waiting for that little package was a highlight each December.
All of the above things made and continue to make Christmas very special for me. I think that’s why I get so excited for December and returning home. It’s a time for family, for rest and to be with those you love most.