Festive Bon Bons

I wish it could be Christmas every day…

2021 has been tough – in some ways even tougher than 2020. So Deb, Sue, Donna and I put our collective heads together to come up with a way of spreading a little Christmas cheer. I came up with a set of 10 questions as thought promoters – and then decided to free-wheel it…which comes as no surprise at all to my book club buddies!

You know I love to bake, and I especially love a Christmas bake. So, in the spirit of sharing some Christmas cheer, here are the ingredients for my perfect Christmas.

Christmas Tree

Our tree goes up on the first Sunday in December with all the rituals – potato scones, pinwheels, and champagne. It’s a fake tree and it’s full of decorations we’ve acquired over the thirty-two Christmases we’ve spent together. 

The Christmas I was pregnant with Sarah we bought this gorgeous glass ball from DJs in the city (above, centre). The following year she chose her first ornament – pointing to this gold bear (above. left) from her pram. Over the years she’s chosen the cupcake Santa, the Surfing Santa, the parachuting Santa and a variety of bells and baubles. Her favourite is still the Ted Baker very glam ball we bought in Melbourne in 2014.

There are ornaments that remind us of people and places. The pandas I brought home from Hong Kong when I was there doing a relocation for work (2008), the pottery bird from the handmade markets in Perth when I was there doing another relocation for work (2009), and the pohutukawa my friend brought over from NZ. Whenever I hang that – and another I’ve bought since – I think of her and my “adopted” country.

In 2015 we brought 2 ornaments back from London: a suitcase with a map that was a reminder of the major project Sarah had done for the HSC that year and a cocker spaniel that we splashed out on in Liberty. It’s a posh cocker spaniel and looks nothing like Kali, Adventure Spaniel, but a spaniel it is. There’s the rolling pin and gingerbread recipe from the Christmas shop in Brugge (2018), the turtle and dolphin to signify our move to Queensland in 2017, the National Trust bauble from Lacock (2019) and the silver reindeer that reminded us of the one in Covent Garden (2020). This year we’ve gone with a squirrel in the hope that we’ll get to the UK next October.

Christmas Carols

I’m partial to a good Christmas song and have a playlist ready to go for the 1st Sunday in December all the way through until after Christmas lunch. Classics like Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, however, will always remind me of Mum and Dad.

Anyways, in no particular order, here’s my top 10:

  1. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, by Wizzard
  2. It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas, by the Pet Shop Boys
  3. Last Christmas, by Wham
  4. All I Want For Christmas is You, by Mariah Carey
  5. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), by Michael Buble 
  6. One More Sleep, by Leona Lewis
  7. Merry Christmas Everyone, by Shakin’ Stevens
  8. Merry Christmas Everybody, by Slade
  9. Step Into Christmas, by Elton John
  10. Do They Know It’s Christmas (1984), by Band Aid

Christmas Books

My festival of festive reading begins on December 1 and for a month I only read Christmas themed books.

What I love about a Christmas novel is that you know there’s going to be a happy ending. It feels like Christmas, tastes like Christmas but has none of the downsides of Christmas – the calories, the angst and the parking woes. Reading a Christmas novel is like a comfort food binge without regret.

Much of the time the Christmas in a Christmas novel is far from perfect. Plans go awry, money is tight, relationships are strained, yet somehow you just know it will all be alright on the night. In the imperfection is all the feeling of the season – and I love that. 

So, here’s what’s on my Kindle for this year, but first a warning. If you’re looking for something literary, life-affirming, life-changing, or highbrow, look away now. 

That’s not to say that what’s between these pages isn’t life-affirming or life-changing. A good Christmas novel could, in fact, be just what you need to read right now to lift your spirits and help you deal with the realness of reality.

On my kindle this year is:

  • The Christmas Bookshop, by Jenny Colgan
  • Midnight in the Snow, by Karen Swan
  • The Merry Christmas Project, by Cathy Bramley
  • Underneath the Christmas Tree, by Heidi Swain
  • Once Upon a Winter, by Tilly Tennant

If I get through these, don’t worry, I have back-ups.

You’ll find previous lists herehere and here.

Christmas Movies

I love a good Hallmark Christmas movie – cheesy plot lines, crappy acting, super-sweet happy endings.

The five movies that I watch every year though are:

  • Elf
  • Last Christmas
  • The Holiday
  • Polar Express 
  • Love Actually

I also love love love the Christmas cooking shows and watch them all December.

Christmas Traditions

Our traditions changed a few years ago when we moved to Queensland as we no longer get to spend Christmas with my parents, siblings and nieces and nephews – something we always used to do in Sydney. 

Christmas morning swims

One thing that has remained the same is the gift unwrapping. It’s potato scones, pinwheels and champagne while Grant passes out the presents. We even managed to do that when we spent Christmas in the UK a couple of years ago.

Santa still drops by and leaves some little bits and pieces in a sack for Sarah, Kali and me and a chocolate stocking for Grant. We leave out a glass of whisky (Santa has a fondness for single malt) and a shortbread.

What’s on the table?

Christmas trifle

It’s all about the food. 

Despite it very often being hot, we’ve always had a traditional Christmas lunch. 

Last year we went to friends in Cooroy, in the hinterland. They did the turkey and the veg and we bought the glazed ham and the dessert – Grant’s trifle and a Christmas pudding. We’ll do the same this year.

Grant makes two trifles – one to take for Christmas lunch and one for leftovers – Sarah loves it for breakfast on Boxing Day. 

I’ll cook a turkey buffe (whole turkey breast as opposed to the whole turkey) on Christmas Eve so we’ll have it and ham as leftovers with fresh Mooloolaba prawns on Boxing Day and through until we’re all sick of ham and turkey salads.

Christmas memories?

The best Christmas in recent times was Christmas 2019 which we spent in Tetbury in The Cotswolds with some friends. We had the lead-up in Yorkshire and London, and Christmas lunch in a pub. We all wore Christmas jumpers (mine even had Christmas lights on the tree that you could turn on and off) and had the best time. There was even a Twelve Pubs of Christmas walk around the Monopoly Board in London.

All I want for Christmas is…

Certainty to book travel – both to see family in Sydney and to venture overseas – knowing I’ll be allowed back into my home state without the need to hotel quarantine.

Your turn…

Deb, Donna, Sue and I would love you to share the traditions and customs that make your festive season special. Feel free to grab and use the graphic below and the linky is below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

36 thoughts

  1. Hi, Jo – What a wonderful list of Christmas faves — very inspirational! I remember your Twelve Pubs of Christmas Monopoly Board walk in London from a couple years back. I definitely want to do that walk. Too bad our youngest recently moved from Lincoln to HK. So close but yet so far!
    Your food posts always look amazing but that Christmas Trifle looks soooo incredible.
    I love your tradition of purchasing a new, and significant, Christmas bulb each year. I’m looking at our tree right now — its a definite mismatch! 😀

  2. Jo, I adored your post and it was such a happy and festive one to read. You’ve lifted my spirits. I could see us dancing around to your playlist and like you I enjoy reading Christmassy novels during December. I loved the Christmas Bookshop which I recently finished and also enjoy reading Macca’s Christmas Cracker and Santa’s Aussie holiday to the boys. Having decorations that bring back memories is beautiful and I wish I had thought of buying these instead of the normal souvenirs when I travelled. Thanks for the idea of the Festive Bon Bons and hosting with Deb, Donna and I. xx

  3. Hi – I am enjoying this Festive Bonbon Link Up Party and so thanks for co-hosting it

    Your jumper with the lights sounds fun and it seriously is important that the lights turn on and off. I once wore a holiday necklace that lit up but it did not have an off switch and well – you just need that option – eh?

    I am curious about the potato scones – – do you have a recipe. Back in the 1990s, I used to try nd make cookies and they always came out as scones. – so we had a joke for a long time whenever we would see scones at stores or restaurants – I ended up making biscotti year after year because the Denver post had a recipe from Chef Cohen and mine always came out so well.

    Loved the ornaments and little story tidbits that went with them. Beautiful

  4. Hi Jo – I loved all your different Christmas baubles and their attached stories. I’ve gone in the completely opposite direction and culled our Christmas down significantly this year. New smaller tree, less baubles, less Christmas decor – but still some fairy lights….because I do love a sparkly Christmas. I’d forgotten about “Last Christmas” but it was a bit sad really, so I’ll stick with Love Actually for my favourite Christmas movie. x

    1. Absolutely yes to a sparkly Christmas. Last Christmas makes me cry every time, but it’s about 2nd chances & I do love a 2nd chance.

  5. I love your Christmas post Jo’s. Your decorations are gorgeous. I love your play list and have many of your songs on mine. I haven’t read any of the Christmas books you’ve read but will try to fit one of them in before Christmas. Thanks to you all for providing this linkup for us.

  6. I loved every bit of the descriptions and history of the ornaments on the Christmas Tree. SO special. I made collections like these once the grandkids came along and the tree got overladen so each older grandchild got to take a special box of theirs home. I like to think they will use them with their families in the years to come. Your love of food and writing about it and incorporating it into your fiction is a stand out. Your Sydney family must miss your contributions. I so remember your updates from the UK in Dec 2019. How good was the timing to do that trip.

    Thanks for the link up – a great way to almost finish the year.

    Take care and have a wonderful Christmas season!


  7. This was a fabulous post Jo, full of food, joy and memories. In fact I’m wondering if we could come to your place for Christmas as you sound like you’re organised and have lots of great food planned.
    We were also in England for Christmas in 2019 and had a lovely time with family in an environment so different to that at home. So much to love here in your post! Thanks for having the idea of this linkup and sharing your wonderful questions – you are a great co-host!

  8. Jo, I am absolutely borrowing/stealing a couple of things from this post and adding them to our traditions – the glass of whisky for Santa is priceless and will go over BIG! I remember your post from London and your ‘twelve pubs.’ Our downtown area is perfect for that, but getting it organized with our nutty friends will take some doing. Love, love, love the energy and joy in this post. Thank you so much for the prompt to share our traditions. You gals are always creating…

  9. This has been so fun seeing all the different traditions! What a marvelous idea! I’ve taken so many notes of things I want to incorporate into our own holiday festivities!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family and peace and joy to you in the New Year!

  10. How lovely. I too hope we can travel – I don’t think I even care about the quarantine but it’s the getting shut down or not being safe that concerns me….You really do love xmas! I struggled to think of books or movies! Ha! Your Cotswold trip looks fab and I really love the idea of the Monopoly pub crawl! #FestiveBonbons

  11. A wonderful post of Christmas treats and memories! I’m glad you added light reading to the mix, I like those too. I’d forgotten all those Christmas movies. Love Actually is fun to watch, it only to remember how all the handsome young men looked marvelous back then 🙂

    1. Thanks for dropping by Sandy. I do love a cheesy happy ending read or watch at this time of the year even more so than usual.

  12. I so enjoyed reading this post, Jo. Fabulous decorations, fabulous foods. I like similar Christmas songs and have started playing them this week. Books and movies are next, especially in the last two weeks of December. I remember reading about your wonderful time in the UK in 2019. Thank you for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare.

  13. How could I forget mentioning the Christmas trifle. An iconic Aussie Christmas dish. It might be because our table is full of pavlova and Scandinavian desserts! I love that you are a Bing Crosby fan too!
    The Christmas jumper with the lights on it sounds amazing! Have you still got it?
    Enjoy the festive season!

  14. I just finished The Christmas Bookshop this week and LOVED it! I am going to have to check out Last Christmas as that is one I haven’t seen and I love all your other favorite movies… I just watched Love Actually this past week also as I hadn’t gotten around to watching it yet this year. I am currently waiting for a Christmas sweater (or jumper) to come in that lights up. It’s the house from my favorite movie Christmas vacation and it will be the only Christmas sweater I have ever owned…. but I’m thinking it could easily become a favorite.

    1. Sarah puts her Christmas jumper on every year for the present opening ceremony – but we have to have the air-conditioning up to arctic for her to do so lol.

  15. Thank you for a wonderfully uplifting post! I needed a bit of cheer, as you say, this year has been tough and for me it has been a lot worse than 2020.
    You’re the second person who mentions the Christmas bookshop by Jenny Colgan, and I’ve loved everything I’ve read by her so far, so I guess I’ll go and look for this book now! I’ll also go looking for the Polar Express film.
    Your Christmas morning swim with champagne looks amazing. Believe it or not, people do a Christmas Day swim here, in the north Atlantic with maybe 4 degrees in the water.

Comments are closed.