Creative Christmas

30 Nov

I probably said it last year but I’ll say it again: going Christmas shopping in Australia feels wrong. Despite the shops festooned with Christmas trees and baubles, it is hard to feel festive while wearing a sundress and flip flops and taking refuge in the shopping mall from the 30 plus degrees heat outside. If any further evidence were needed that the Northern Hemisphere rules culturally – just browse the shops in Sydney at this time of year when, in the middle of a heatwave, the tunes are blaring out: ‘Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow’ and glittery snowflakes adorn the window displays.

This year I broadened my shopping horizons from the local Westfield to explore an annual Christmas market, held in a nearby National Trust property. I wasn’t even aware it existed until I saw the market advertised and it was a good way of visiting the house at the same time. Lindesay is a historic Georgian House overlooking the harbour in Darling Point. As I entered the gates, I was immediately taken back to an English summer fete: there was the house with its manicured lawns, marquee, tea shop and ladies selling raffle tickets. Despite the summery weather, it is as close to feeling Christmassy as I’ve yet come. Inside the house, each room had been transformed by lots of different stalls appropriate to the room it inhabited. In the cellar were the gourmet food stalls: jams, chutneys, Christmas puddings, cakes, infused olive oils, vinegars and an English toffee stall! In the dining room, a grand table display showcased everything you could want for your Christmas table from decorations, cake stands, silverware, dainty macaroons and china. The bedrooms housed all the stalls selling clothing, textiles, scented candles, bed and bath wear and toiletries and outside was a large marquee full of other stalls selling everything from gardening dibbers and baby blankets to decorations and jewellery. I could have spent an absolute fortune but it was a lovely setting for a fair and one I’ll definitely drag James around next year!

I was trying to get a bit more creative with my gifts this year, especially as around this time we have lots of birthdays as well. (Don’t worry – you won’t all be getting handmade presents, which look as if a five-year-old has had a fit with a paint brush!) As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I wanted to attempt making macaroons at some point but after having read how fiddly they were, I was a little daunted about giving them a go. Anyway, I did, and once the first salted caramel batch were successful, I then went on to make chocolate and pink with white chocolate ganache.

Macaroon cases

The finished macaroons

Salted caramel macaroon

I found they also made perfect presents, especially when presented in a handmade box.

Gift macaroons

On the subject of getting creative and festive, I’ve also been getting the cards underway… Do be expecting one of these. Get your orders in now folks!
Handmade Christmas cards

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