A Gillian Kind of Christmas

The holidays are usually all about family time. With my entire extended family in the Edmonton area, I get to see them often throughout the year. Late December is a wonderful time of year for me because all of my friends who have moved away are coming home for the holidays! I can't wait to show friends new shops and restaurants and beating them at our usual (ridiculously hard "pop culture") charades show down.

Best Holiday Tradition: Since my family is mostly adults now, we all bring one steal-worthy gift on Christmas Day for a high stakes gift exchange. I usually end up quietly holding on to the auto car wash tickets and feeling like the biggest winner in the end (my weak pressure-washing arms are counting on my auntie to bring car wash tickets again this year).

Favourite Holiday Movie: Elf - Will it ever get old? Umm... no.

A Christmas Confession: I used to think that all Christmas trees should resemble one in the Festival of Trees. Maybe it's because I'm older or I've learned to get over myself, but I quite like that my mom decorates her tree with every single ornament my sister and I have ever made. Even if angels are missing halos, it's heartwarming to look back and laugh at your clay interpretations of reindeer and gingerbread men. There you go Mom, you read it here.

A Holiday Drink to Try...

Last year I spent time in London and Yorkshire just before Christmas. At this time of year in England, you can find mulled wine everywhere - it's in every pub and even some street vendors. When I got home, I borrowed inspiration from 5 different recipes to perfect a mulled wine I could share with my friends and family. Now just the thought of it brings me back to the lights of Oxford Street, the German-themed Christmas markets, and the adventures I had in Leeds.  

Gillian's Mulled Wine

  • 1 bottle red wine (use a cheap one, you'll be changing the flavour anyway!)
  • 1 cardamom pod (or 2-3 cardamom seeds)
  • 6 cloves
  • 5 allspice berries
  • 3 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1 nutmeg - grind at least half of it into the pot
  • 3-4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup orange juice

Put all ingredients together in a slow cooker. Start at high temp and move to low temp over 3-4 hours. Strain out spices and simmer on low setting. Serve in a holiday mug or (as I prefer) in your Grandmother's tea cups!

If you're in a hurry, mix these together in a pot on the stove but keep the temperature low the whole time (the wine will boil away at a much lower temperature than water - it's very sad when this happens, trust me).