Marie-Chantal shares her very favorite Christmas traditions…
MARIE-CHANTAL’S FAVORITE CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS:
Christmas and the month of December is my very favorite time of the year. Ever since I was a little girl it was the countdown to Christmas, which was the most exciting time for me. This tradition that I grew up with is something I love, value and I really wanted to pass down to my children. My mother is from Ecuador, my father from Boston and my husband, Pavlos, is half Greek and Danish; so there is a lovely mix to how we as a family celebrate during Christmas.
I love to decorate my home in a festive way. I love big Christmas trees decorated with ornaments that I have collected along the way. Christmas is about pine leaves, pine cones and cinnamon sticks, as well as winterberries and holly, I find them all so beautiful. I try to have lots of Christmas themed treats around the house for my children or guests who come to visit. I love having candy canes and traditional Danish gingerbread biscuits called Pepparkakor, my husband’s favorite. I’ll put up my hot chocolate station which plays a huge role in our home, with jars of marshmallows and candy canes, the candy canes really add to the Christmas spirit. As a family, we’ll also make gingerbread men and lots of different cookies, which is a great activity to do together to get us into the festive mood.
Our tree always goes up the first week of December with just the fairy lights. The second week the family comes together to decorate it – normally over a weekend. This year I added large pine cones to the fairy lights. Each member of the family has a favorite ornament and I’m pretty sure they still get the same pleasure from decorating the tree as they did when they were little. It’s a great way to get together and celebrate the spirit of family and Christmas. I have a Christmas playlist on Spotify that I’ve been adding to over the years but it’s pretty much the same music that I play every year. You can listen to it now on Spotify.
We have Advent calendars for each child, some are Lego advents and other ones are filled with chocolates. However, my favorite, are these beautifully painted house advents that I found at Fortnum and Mason a few years back. I fill them with sweet treats, little gifts like: jumping jacks, silly putty, legos or even Essie nail polish for Olympia.
December is the month for ice skating and when we were living in London, Somerset House or the Natural History Museum ice rings were a must, followed by hot chocolate. New York has a beautiful ring in Central Park or Rockefeller Plaza. It is also the season for the Nutcracker Ballet, which is a perfect way to get into the mood for Christmas. We always watch old Christmas movies like: Home Alone, the Grinch Who Stole Christmas or Olympia’s favorite – The Holiday.
My husband’s family celebrates and opens presents on the eve of the 24th. At their dinner they serve a traditional Danish rice pudding with a surprise almond, followed by a turkey with all the trimmings. Desert would be Christmas pudding with brandy butter. My parents would celebrate with a dinner on the 24th but would open presents on the 25th. At their dinner they would serve Goose with all the trimmings and for desert, a Christmas log. My husband and I decided to celebrate the way I did as a child and keep that tradition as ours. But we tried to keep a blend of both, so a bit of me and a bit of him. But whichever way you choose to celebrate at Christmas, it is the children that love tradition most and want to be a part of the celebration and spirit.
Happy Christmas everyone!