Last night, I attended my first holiday party of the season which definitely put me in a Christmas state of mind – are you there yet? Even though I started feeling slight twinges for the holidays as early as November 1st, I feel like now they are truly right around the corner and there is so much excitement and anticipation in the air already.
I’m so happy to have Alyssa, of the self-titled Ms. Beltempo slow fashion & sustainable style blog, here today sharing with us what Christmas means to her, a fav seasonal recipe, her holiday decor style and more. It’s such a joy to learn more about different holiday traditions and to gather inspiration from friends – and that’s exactly why I wanted to do this Home for the Holidays interview series. I hope you’ve been enjoying it as much as I have!
Alyssa is such a lovely lady – from her warm and generous disposition to following her exploration of slow and sustainable fashion, it’s always a pleasure to connect with her and see what she’s up to. With that in mind, pour a cup of tea and get cozy as we head home for the holidays with Alyssa.
I think the true meaning of Christmas is celebrating love and human kindness, and finding the magic in our day to day.
Do you have a special Christmas memory that stands out?
I am lucky to have several! A standout memory however, is when I was in a choir and for several years in a row we participated in a concert at the National Gallery in front of the huge Christmas tree. There were always amazing choirs from the city, and it was really magical to not only be a part of but to enjoy the other carolers.
What holiday traditions does your family have?
A big meal at some point! On both sides of the family we celebrate with a big family meal. I love that my husband and I have different cultural backgrounds because we experience a traditional Italian holiday meal on my side with fish (if it’s on the 24th), pasta, veal and fruits, and then a typical French Canadian meal with tourtiere, a roast, and sugar pie at my in-laws.
I’d love to know what you personally believe is the true meaning of Christmas?
I think the true meaning of Christmas is celebrating love and human kindness, and finding the magic in our day to day. Maybe it’s witnessing someone help a stranger, taking in a quiet, snowy sky, or getting a chuckle out of rambunctious kids on Santa’s lap at the shopping centre.
Do you host during the holidays? Do you have a tip or two to share for joyful entertaining?
I don’t host during the holidays because my tiny condo doesn’t have enough room! We normally head to Montreal and Saint Sauveur to spend time with our families. However I have hosted some small gatherings at home and I think the key to joyful entertaining is to be as relaxed as possible! Guests and the entire party atmosphere take their cue from you as the host, so even if stuff burns, spills and is a bit wild, just go with it!
What are your favourite kinds of gifts to give?
Thoughtful ones. I prefer to give gifts that were purchased because the item (or service, or experience) made me think of the person who will be receiving it, instead of gifting something out of obligation.
You have amazing personal style, so naturally I want to know about your holiday decor style!
My holiday decor style is very much a product of my small surroundings! I don’t have a lot of space to store seasonal items, so it’s very minimal and natural. I go to the market and buy greenery like fir and cedar garland then string it up around the condo with ribbons.
Your holiday decor is beautiful! So what does a wrapped gift from you look like?
I’m a very lazy – or minimalist! – wrapper. I have one roll of plain white paper or brown kraft paper (so that it can be recycled) and then I personalize the wrapping by drawing on it, or writing a note to the receiver with gold and silver sharpies. This eliminates the need for a card, and it adds a personal touch to each gift – a little gentler on the planet but still cute!
Do you like to bake during the holidays?
I tend to go over to my parents house and bake with my mom. Every year we make Pizzelle, a traditional Italian cookie, but at home I’ve taken to mixing up warm cocktails. I discovered this great Mulled Wine Recipe and have been brewing it for friends through the holiday season!
The original recipe is from Mitzy at Home – here – but I left out the anise seeds, white sugar, and added a splash of blood orange juice instead. It’s delicious!
That mulled wine looks delicious! Thanks for passing along the recipe. Can you share with us some of the holiday activities that you and your family love to do?
Since discovering the Stairwell Carolers during my old choir days, we try our best to attend their Christmas concert every year. The acappella sound is beautiful and it really puts us in a holiday mood. We also always try to take a drive down locally-famous Taffy Lane to see the lights!
Lastly, what’s on your Christmas wish list this year?
- A nutri-bullet! My blender is dying and this would be a great replacement!
- I would love to add a cruelty-free Sentaler coat to my wardrobe. This one especially – Santa, are you listening!?
- I’m always cold, so this throw made out of recycled plastic bottles would be a great decor addition
- I’ve been looking for a non-toxic nail polish and this Acquarella one looks like fun.
- My running habit hasn’t been expensive until I started signing up for races. I’d love a bib to a cool race in 2018 – maybe Rome for the Maratona di Roma! Right Santa?!
Thank you so much Alyssa for opening up your home to us and sharing some of what makes Christmas special to you. Your touches of holiday decor around your home are so lovely and inspiring; I am smitten with the idea of fresh greenery tied with a simple, elegant ribbon. I am also excited to try this mulled wine recipe, it looks absolutely delicious! I hope your holidays are as sweet as you are, xx.