Nicole’s Favourite Things: The Tiny Secret Festive Edition

Next week parent-teacher interviews are held at the junior high, and I had a notification from the school that booking for said conferences started today. I knew that already, of course, and had it marked on my calendar. The usual start time for booking is 7:00 am, but in the notification it said that bookings opened at 12:00 am. I thought it was probably a typo, but I opened up my computer this morning at 5:45 just to check. It was not a typo. Dear reader, there are people who are even more insane than I, because many of the bookings were already filled. Fortunately I ended up with the bookings I wanted, but still. Who is getting up at midnight to book conferences? I asked this of my husband, and he suggested that it was less likely that people were getting up at midnight; rather, they were still awake at that time, implying that not everyone has been passed out in a coma for three hours by the time the clock strikes twelve.

It’s always startling to realize that there are people for whom there is an eleven o’clock PM. I was having coffee with a friend (HI CATHRYN) and she mentioned that she had a swim class at 8:30. EIGHT THIRTY AT NIGHT? I asked, in the kind of shocked tone you might reserve for discovering that your friend of a decade is really a hard-core heroin addict and has turned to prostitution as a way to finance said addiction.

On that bizarre note, after a brief hiatus, it’s time for Nicole’s Favourite Things! As you all well know, the holidays are one of my very favourite things; even when I see strange things like Christmas trees for sale at Costco in July, I still smile. I mean, to everything there is a season, and for me July is not the season to start stockpiling Christmas decorations, but you do you, Costco people. I don’t judge when people get excited for their pumpkin spice lattes in August, and so I do find it odd how upset people get when you start talking about Christmas in November. Mention Christmas on November 1, and it’s like you admit to kicking puppies or throwing garbage out the window or driving drunk, the judgement is so strong.

I obviously don’t do any of those things, and I don’t decorate in early November, nor do I play Christmas music. However, I do have some tiny, secretly festive things that I love at this time of year. These are little things that no one except me would notice, and they make me happy. It’s like the early stages of pregnancy, when you don’t tell anyone but you walk around with a secretive smile on your face; that’s what this feels like.

Nicole’s Favourite Things: The Tiny Secret Festive Edition

My Christmas Bracelet

I’ve had Pandora bracelets for years, and so for years I have been given Christmas-themed charms from my parents and my guys. Last year my sons gave me a Christmas-themed bangle with a little ornament on it, and I put all my Christmas charms on it. On November 1, I swapped out my usual Pandora bangle for the Christmas one, and I plan on wearing it daily until the New Year.

Isn’t it cute? The flip side of that little house shows the inside: a tiny little tree, strings of lights, a fireplace, and two wee little gifts.

Christmas Pajamas

My husband gave me these jammies last Christmas, and they make me feel appropriately festive. Coincidentally, they match the slippers my parents gave me.

So cozy!

Festively Scented Hand Soap

As someone who spends a really excessive amount of time in the kitchen, I wash my hands a lot. I like to swap out my regular hand soap for a festive scent, and this peppermint vanilla one is perfect. Note: last year I bought the Live Clean Gingerbread scent and this was a BIG MISTAKE. It…did not smell good. I guess gingerbread, although wonderful, is not a good scent for hands. Despite the off-putting scent, I used it all up, because, well, Scottish.


I know! I can buy oranges any time of the year! But, I don’t. There is just something lovely about Mandarin orange season; not only do I love looking at a bowl full of beautiful oranges, I also love eating them. Three out of four of us love them too, and it makes it more special because we don’t have oranges at any other time of year.

Note: since taking this photo yesterday, the bowl has been depleted by a third.

Sugar Cookie Dough

For those of you wondering what you could do to ease the pre-holiday baking stress, making and freezing dough is an excellent idea. I have done this for years as when the kids were small, the thought of making dough, chilling dough, rolling out dough, baking dough, and then waiting for the cookies to cool before decorating ALL IN THE SAME DAY was completely exhausting and overwhelming. However, if you make dough ahead of time, then it’s not too much to do the latter three. Any dough that needs to be chilled can be frozen; I make batches of gingerbread and sugar cookie dough in November. It’s so easy! Yesterday I made a batch of sugar cookie dough and it took me less than fifteen minutes from start to finish, including washing the dishes and wrapping up the dough to be frozen. If you haven’t made my mom’s sugar cookie recipe, why not? It’s right here. I make them several times a year to mark holidays, and they are the favourites of my kids and their friends. They are NO FAIL, unless you forget the baking powder, like I did once, leading to all the cookies spreading together in one big holiday mess. So don’t forget the baking powder.

Sugar cookie dough, getting friendly with the frozen Kaiser rolls we use for lunches.

Festive Notepads

As you know, I write all my lists down on paper. Very old-school. I like to swap out my usual pretty notepad for a festive one; every time I write down a needed item for my grocery list, it makes me smile.

More Favourite Things to come, when I turn fully into Nicole the Elf! What are your favourite things about this time of year? Do you have any secret festive traditions? xo


  1. I am feeling positively un-festive, so I really extra appreciate your cheer. Maybe I need to try to inject some holiday happiness into my life.

  2. Where I live, the leaves are peaking right around now, so that’s nice. I also like clementines and mandarins and this post reminded me we have some and I haven’t been eating them, so I had one.

  3. bibliomama2 says

    Vanilla peppermint soap sounds awesome – I’m not sure where around here sells live clean stuff. Eve and I have been toying around with just going whole hog into Christmas decorating right now and then it snowed a fuckton and she’s already done her room, so yeah, might as well have at it. I’ve been putting off buying the boxed oranges because the first box is always disappointing, but I half suspect that the first box will be disappointing no matter what, so maybe I should just get it over with.

  4. I like the pine scented hand soaps, and I have two of them just waiting for me to bring them out, which could be ANY DAY.

    I have been thinking about some tweet I read about how since 2016 we need to get joy wherever we can find scraps of it, and have therefore been considering setting up the tree, like, now, even though usually I wait until after Thanksgiving. At the very least I will soon put up “the Thanksgiving lights,” which is what I call the Christmas lights when I put them up before Thanksgiving.

  5. You are an eager elf! Curly dances in Irish dancing midwest championships evey Thanksgiving. It is a stressful time, so I do not do anything Chirstmas-y until after. Four of us have Christmas birthdays, so I am constantly shopping and prepping fav bday meals. Little time for anything else. I LOVE scented hand soaps at other people’s houses so maybe I will pick some up for us this year.

  6. I love your bracelet! So charming – and I also love this idea of tiny secret festive things. I am going out to get some oranges and fudge ASAP.

  7. I get up at 6 am so I fall asleep wherever I at by 10 pm. I had to stop sleeping with my phone in my room because a couple of years ago some moms added me to a group chat that was JUMPING between 11 and 11:45 pm. I don’t know if they just never go to bed or if they all nap during the day or what, but that’s WAY too late. Heck, this year Youngest has basketball practice 8:15-9:00 pm on a school night and I’m pretty unhappy about it. Not only do I think that’s too late for a 10 YO’s sports practice but also that means H or I will have to leave the house to pick her up at 9:00 pm. This is . . . an unhappy development…

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