December in New York is my favorite month. So many recurring family events occur during this time, and as my children get older they remember and look forward to them as much as I do!
First of all, I love getting a tree and decorating it. There is something so magical about putting lights and ornaments on a tree and then watching it light up at night for the first time. We remember each and every ornament- whether it's the hand-painted ornament I made of my son's handprint in 2005, or the etched sterling silver ornament with my children's birthdates, or the handmade laminated marker printed snowflake from Group 3 in pre-school, or even the silly the plastic Dominos pizza ornament from a deal the kids dad was working on 15 years ago when we first got married ... each ornament has a place and is lovingly stored each year.
Second, I love caroling. Christmas carols put me in such a good mood. I love the meaning of Christmas and family, and religion too. I love sitting in a beautiful church and listening to carols or singing around a tree with family and friends. My favorite caroling events in NYC are the Brick Church Carol sing which takes place outside on Park Avenue, usually the first Sunday in December. It is one of those things that makes New York feel like a small neighborhood- everyone clustered together outside with their children singing carols.
The other two caroling traditions I love are the Christmas pageant and the family Carol sing at our family club. This year, my daughter got to play Mary and she was so excited about it for the entire month leading up to the pageant. Thinking about all the great things we have to do in December together as a family is part of the fun too! The family carol sing is wonderful in that all generations participate. The children's grandmother comes, they come, my friends come and this year my son brought one of his friends too. My fiancé even dressed up and played Santa Claus!
Third, I love holiday events at my children's schools. My sons' school has a Holiday Concert each year, which ends with the boys singing the Alleluia chorus from the Messiah, and I tear up every year. It is so wonderful to watch people come together to listen to singing.
Fourth, I love gift-giving! Whether a small gift like a candle to a hostess of a cocktail party, or a large gift like a trip or Hamilton tickets (which I got this year as a surprise for my children and wrapped up in a big box inside a Hamilton mug) I love thinking of the special people in my life, picking out fun and creative gifts, and wrapping them nicely. I have such a sense of accomplishment when I have my whole list filled out, UPS labels made, and boxes wrapped and packaged to ship! Often, I'll find one great gift (this year it was our carved serving trays) and personalize it for all our extended family members, and keep it simple that way.
Another fun gift I did this year at a luncheon I hosted, was personalized Christmas gift stickers for each girl at the table. I picked one of our most-popular stickers for gift giving, and personalized with each guest's name. These are SUPER useful for everyone, and always a hit. These also make a great hostess gift.
If you are completely at a loss, Christmas Cookies that are beautifully decorated will always be appreciated as a thank you gift to anyone before Christmas. I often wrap a few in a box and give to doormen or doctors for my children.
Fifth, I love holiday parties. Everyone is so festive and in such wonderful frames of mind at this time of year, and I love catching up with people I don't see as much during the year, all in one place and hearing about the lovely family holiday plans of my friends. One of my favorite hostesses always does something fun and different- this year she had a dancer serving caramelized bacon- but the twist was she made a human tray holder out of her foot!
Sixth, the Nutcracker. The season wouldn't be complete without a visit to this wonderful New York City event. We are so lucky to have Lincoln Center in our backyard and be able to witness this world-class dancing every year. My children know the music almost by heart, and it never gets old. The dancers always bring something fresh and interesting to their roles, and I always see something new each year. For the past few years, we've had so much fun because we have known 4-5 of the children dancing from my children's schools. So impressive! This year, we even got a backstage tour of the "Land of Sweets" which was amazing!
Lastly, my favorite time is the week when it gets quiet, right before Christmas, and everyone leaves town or hunkers down with their families. After all the commotion, and events, and end of school responsibilities (when did Secret Santa become such a thing? I think I made 7 trips to Duane Reade...), it's so nice to have a week of quiet and to enjoy taking a break from work, school, and parties, to be with my children and family. Even Charlie our dog seems exhausted by December 20th! Merry Christmas, xxx Kate