While the entire east coast complains about their inability to “get into the Christmas spirit” due to abnormally warm temperatures and lack of snow – I have felt plenty festive these past few days and as an added bonus, I haven’t been freezing cold or trudging through black slush on the NYC sidewalks.
So here are 8 things that made me hum, “it’s Christmas time in the city” even though I wasn’t bundled up in 20 layers.
1) Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree & 5th Avenue
This was the start of the festive feels for me. Peter and I decided to dedicate one Sunday afternoon to doing some touristy things around town. We met at Bryant Park and after scoping out a grand total of one holiday shop, decided we needed food before we got too hangry around the masses of slow-moving sidewalk-blocking travelers.
We headed west to Hell’s Kitchen and found an adorable Thai restaurant. OBAO had tons of lanterns hanging from the ceiling which made me happy even though my first time trying pho was a little underwhelming. I think I’ll stick to ramen.
Next up was Rockefeller Center – bum bum bum. We took a cheesy selfie with the tree even though it was broad daylight and spent a few minutes watching the ice skaters. This is probably the first and last time we’ll view the tree in t-shirts.
We spent the next hour or so walking 5th Avenue to see the stores extravagant lights, windows and decorations. Again, broad daylight, but still nice!
My favorite was this new snowflake hanging in the street outside of Tiffany’s! At least I think it’s new – I don’t remember ever seeing it before!
2) Gingerbread Houses
This is the first time in recent memory that I made a gingerbread house but I think it’s a tradition I would like to continue for-ev-er. Peter and I picked up a kit and devoted a full 2 hours to decorating it while watching Elf.
Peter was a frosting MASTER and I got relegated to sticking on the candies since I couldn’t be bothered to be so painstaking in my frosting duties. I also did a great job eating the candies, taking fingerfuls of frosting and decorating the gingerbread man, snow woman and Christmas tree that went outside of our gingerbread house.
Can I just remind everyone who has yet to watch Elf this year to DO IT. Truly incredible how quotable it is!
And while you watch Elf and make a gingerbread house, you MUST drink hot chocolate. I mean, duh.
There are a few decorations around NYC that signal the holidays for me. They go up, and I know Christmas is coming. Those big red balls and giant lights on 6th Avenue, the tree outside of Radio City Music Hall and the gorgeous lights at the Columbus Circle Shops.
And last but not least, the holiday decorations in reception at work.
4) Holiday Parties
This year, I went to a Holiday Happy Hour with my new department at work, a Holiday Happy Hour with old coworkers AND the official office Holiday Party. I also went to Peter’s post-Holiday Party-party. Phew.
But by far the best Holiday Party I attended was the Annual Fehling Adult Christmas Party that my aunt and uncle throw at their house on Long Island. Peter came for his second time and my aunt and uncle were here from South Carolina – I was thrilled. It’s a pajama party, there’s a shotski and the variety of desserts is unreal (though my all-time favorites are the Christmas Crack and Peanut Butter Balls).
5) Waiting For 15 Minutes For A Parking Space At the Mall
True story – it didn’t feel like Christmas until we spent a day walking around an insanely crowded mall after waiting 15 minutes in the parking lot stalking shoppers back to their cars.
6) Gift Giving and Shopping
I did a lot of my Christmas shopping online this year, but there were 2 days where I was running around the city, dripping in sweat, standing in lines, carrying 7 different bags and riding the subway with a giant tube of wrapping paper sticking out of my bag. It was miserable but also SO EXCITING. More than getting Christmas gifts, I absolutely love giving Christmas presents. And even though I’m awful at it, I love wrapping presents.
So I bought a bunch of super lame stocking stuffers so I could individually wrap each thing for Peter while sitting on my living room floor listening to Christmas music.
7) Christmas Carols
I have two absolute favorite Christmas songs – and no, one of them is not Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” – although I DO love belting that one any time it comes on in a bar. Or in the car. Or at a November Project workout.
However, my two favorite Christmas songs are – Little Drummer Boy by Josh Groban (who is PS OMG making his Broadway debut next year) and Do You Hear What I Hear by Carrie Underwood. I am also not opposed to any Christmas song sung by Idina Menzel.
8) Cookie Exchange
I hosted my first ever cookie exchange this year and I hope to make it an annual tradition because – who doesn’t love holiday cookies?
I got really into it, printing and cutting and gluing recipe cards and awards and place mats. I bought tons of ingredients. I bought green frosting and peppermint kisses to decorate with. But none of that changed the fact that I’m just not a baker.
I thoroughly failed at following the recipes. I mixed up the baking soda and the baking powder and I used a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon. I improvised as if I knew the first thing about what I was doing. My cookies were most definitely not the best.
But we had a wonderful variety and some festive almond milk egg nog to wash it all down. We all took home the following in cute little holiday boxes:
Peppermint Sugar Cookies
Grain-free Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles (made with a secret ingredient – chickpeas!)
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
Funfetti Cookies with Vanilla Icing
Now I’m home on Long Island, sitting on my couch looking at the brand new FAKE Christmas tree that my parents bought. I’m a little sad about the switch to synthetic boughs with zero pine-scent, but I will admit that the 8 different lights and spinning functions are kind of cool.
With a 74 degree forecast for Christmas Eve, my dad and I are considering an unofficial Polar Bear Plunge into the Long Island Sound. We’ll see who chickens out first…