Chatsworth Christmas Market

Is there really a better way to get yourself in the festive spirit than immersing yourself in a Christmas market?

A couple of weeks back my mum and I visited Chatsworth House (a gorgeous stately home in Derbyshire) to soak up the festive atmosphere at their gorgeous annual Christmas market. It's something I've been longing to go to ever since I moved up north so it was ever so exciting that this year we got to make the trip.

The market took place this year between 15th November and 3rd December and it played host to over 100 stalls selling unique gifts, handcrafted decorations and festive food galore. Set against the stunning backdrop of the beautiful Chatsworth House, you wander around a multitude of wooden chalet stalls which are all decorated with an abundance of pretty lights and trees.

You park a fair way away from the market itself and then jump on a tractor trailer (which is decked out in it's Christmas finery of course) and it whisks you off towards the festivities. It doesn't look like much on the approach but as soon as you stepped through the entranceway, you were transported to a winter wonderland that was buzzing with festivity.

Something you cannot fault is the festive atmosphere. Each of the traders were absolutely lovely and so keen to have a good chat with you. There was live music from some very talented people, including an oompah band who managed to drag people away from their Christmas shopping to watch and join in with their rendition of well known holiday tunes.

One of my favourite things about Christmas markets is the unique shopping opportunities they provide to support local businesses, both through the gifts you buy and the locally made festive delicacies you enjoy. 

I was able to buy a whole sleigh worth of beautiful pieces, from handmade decorations to deck the halls with, to locally made cheeses and brownies. Several items on my present to-buy list were ticked off too, which made it a successful day all round!

Have you been to a Christmas market this year?

The A to Z of Festive Things To Do This December

Well folks, there's no denying it, the Christmas period is well and truly on its way. We've opened a weeks worth of doors on our advent calendar and Christmas trees are starting to pop up here, there and everywhere.

To avoid getting yourself lost in a sea of wrapping paper and mince pies, I've written an A to Z of things you can do to get in the Christmas spirit this December. From Secret Santa to festive movies, it's all in there, so there will definitely be something that will jingle your bells.

A is for Advent Calendar
Advent calendars are a classic festive tradition and a great way to count down the days until Christmas Day itself is here. Whether you go for a classic chocolate calendar or prefer something a little more swish, such as a beauty calendar, they're a perfect daily festive treat to get you in the holiday spirit.

B is for Boxing Day
Ah Boxing Day, a day centered around rest, food and all of the festive telly they couldn't fit into the Christmas Day scheduling. I love a good board game on Boxing Day; something that gets all of the family involved. But however you choose to spend it, I hope it's a good'un for you.

C is for Carol Concert
When I was a child, my school choir used to sing in my city's cathedral carol concert every year and it's embedded in me the idea that Christmas isn't complete without a good carol concert. Find somewhere in your local area where you can join together with your friends and neighbours for a good ol' sing song to celebrate the holidays.

D is for Deck The Halls
We've now reached the point where it is socially acceptable to go all out and cover your home in Christmas joy. Pop your tree up, throw some tinsel about the place and make your home look like a proper Santa's grotto.

E is for Elf
You can't beat a good Christmas movie or TV special, especially when it's watched next to a burning fire and enjoyed with a steaming mug of hot chocolate with all the trimmings. If Elf doesn't jingle your bells, you have a whole host of festive classics to choose from. Love Actually is my personal favourite!

F is for Friends
One of my favourite quotes at this time of year is "Christmas is not about presents, but about presence" and that just sums this point up. The holidays are a perfect time to catch up with friends, be it for a festive meal, a tipple or two, a Christmas shopping trip or anything in between.

G is for Gingerbread
There are four main food groups during the holiday season: turkey, chocolate, cheese and gingerbread!

H is for Hot Chocolate
Winter is the best time of year for hot drinks, especially hot chocolate. The UK coffee shops are smashing it with their festive picks this year; I'm particularly partial to a Starbucks Toasted Marshmallow Hot Chocolate with all the trimmings!

I is for Ice Skating
When Winter comes around once again, ice rinks start to pop up here there and everywhere and they make a perfect way to spend a festive afternoon. Bundle up in your cosiest clothing and let any Christmas stresses melt away as you skate around to some fantastic festive tunes.

J is for Jumper
Friday 13th December is this years Christmas Jumper Day for Save The Children. It's a lovely way to get in the Christmas spirit whilst doing your bit for a wonderful cause. You could go down the traditional route, pick something sparkly or embrace the truly daft and ugly; the choice is yours.

K is for Kisses Under The Mistletoe
Are mistletoe kisses actually a think outside of the fictional world of TV and films? Who knows! If they are, I hope you get the opportunity to meet that special someone under the mistletoe this December.

L is for Lights
Is there anything more beautiful than Christmas lights? A lovely festive tradition is to have a long drive around your local area, checking out all of the lights the community has decked out their homes with.

M is for Market
Is there really a better way to get yourself in the festive spirit than immersing yourself in a Christmas market? You can't beat perusing a traditional German market for some festive gems whilst enjoying a delicious treat or two.

N is for Neighborly Cheer
Christmas is a time for giving; a time for spreading joy. This isn't just in relation to your family and friends but also your wider acquaintances and a great place to start is with your neighbours. I grew up in a very close-knit community, where everyone swapped hand-delivered Christmas cards and there was even the odd home-baked festive treat thrown into the mix. What a wonderful way to spread the Christmas spirit. 

O is for Ornaments
I've already mentioned popping your Christmas decorations up, but a fantastic festive tradition is to treat yourself to a new ornament to celebrate each Christmas. It might be a piece from a traditional Christmas market or maybe just something which catches your eye at a local garden centre; whatever it is, give it pride of place in your 2019 holiday decor.

P is for Pyjamas 
No matter how old you get, you're never too old for a good pair of Christmas pyjamas! Christmas jim jams are a bit of a tradition in my family; my sister and I get a new pair each year to wear on Christmas Eve and into Christmas morning. 

Q is for Quiet Night In
At this time of year, last minute shopping and other Christmas craziness can unleash your inner stressed Susan, so it's important to have a little bit of a break and a good ol' breather. Schedule in a pamper night or cosy movie night in; anything which will calm your mind.

R is for Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree
It's December, it's time to defrost Michael Buble and start jingling your bells to all of the classics. Is there really a better way to get in the Christmas spirit? Alexa... play Mariah Carey.

S is for Secret Santa
Secret Santa is a fantastic cost-effective gift-giving solution for groups, be it with friends, work colleagues or even family. There are lots of websites and apps that take away any hassle and sorts all of the allocations for you, such as Elfster and DrawNames.

T is for Traditions
Traditions really shape Christmas and each family has their own special festive practices they do year after year. Some are traditions we've inherited from generations gone by and some are ones we create for ourselves. Whether it's opening a small gift on Christmas Eve, attending a local carol service or wearing matching pyjamas as a family; it's the little things that really make Christmas.

U is for Unwrap
I'm not sure what's better: unwrapping gifts or watching other people unwrap the gifts you bought for them!

V is for Visiting Family
The true beauty of Christmas lies with the company you choose to spend it with. Often, the Christmas period plays host to catch ups with family you haven't seen all year and it can be so wonderful.

W is for Winter Walks
During the cold winter months, many of us stay cooped up inside but wrapping up warm and venturing out into the great outdoors is a wonderful way to spend a December morning. It's also a fantastic self care practise during a time which can be rife with stress and anxiety.

X is for Xmas
Couldn't not include the big day itself on this list, could I?

Y is for Yule Log
Chocolate yule logs are yet another festive treat that are a true crowd-pleaser at every festive shindig. A perfect alternative to the traditional Christmas cake for those among us with more of a sweet-tooth, it wouldn't be Christmas without enjoying a piece (or seven) now would it?

Z is for Zzzzzz
The festive period can be busy busy busy and it's tempting to fill every minute of the day with lots of festive antics, but make sure you give yourself a good ol' break this December! Keep some space back solely for self preservation; nothing but rest and relaxation.

What are you planning on doing this month to get into the Christmas spirit?