This is the first time that I won’t be spending the holidays with my family because of the pandemic. Instead, Billy and I will celebrate our first Christmas in NYC (not vacationing this time, we moved here a month ago). Rather than getting upset that we can’t spend this festive season with my family, we decided to embrace it and start some new traditions of our own. Here’s what we’ve been doing so far and what we’re planning to do throughout the rest of December.
What we’ve done so far…
Listened to my Christmas playlist day and night.
I start playing Christmas music throughout our apartment on Thanksgiving. I have it on while I’m writing, while I’m in the shower, and it’s streaming on our Apple TV when I’m in the living room. A few years ago I created a playlist on Spotify, and each year I add new songs and remove the ones I’m tired of. You can listen here.
Watched a ton of holiday movies and plan on watching a ton more.
So far I’ve already seen Elf, A Bad Moms Christmas, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and I have watched The Night Before and Christmas Vacation with Billy. I also plan on seeing Metropolitan, Black Christmas (1974), and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Got our first real tree and chose a theme.
When I lived in L.A. I put up a small artificial tree because I’d fly home in the middle of December and spend the holidays with my family. It seemed pointless to put up something so big to enjoy for only two weeks. To celebrate spending our first Christmas in NYC, Billy and I opted to get a real one (I haven’t had a real tree since I was a child and he always had an artificial one growing up). About a week ago, we walked a few blocks to a sidewalk tree farm and Billy chose a stunning 8 foot Douglas fir.
Since he chose the tree, I chose the theme. I decided on polka dots and colorful shiny things. The pom pom garland, silver disco balls, rainbow disco balls, and rainbow ornaments were all purchased on Amazon. I then added ornaments that I already owned and picked up a few dessert inspired ones at Walgreens. I also made my own ornaments by putting pom poms and tinsel into clear plastic balls. I have to say, I couldn’t be happier with it and I’m already dreading having to take it down.
Ventured outside during a Nor’easter.
I can’t recall the last time that I experienced a snowstorm prior to Christmas, so when I heard that a Nor’easter was hitting NYC I was beyond excited. Billy and I made plans to head outside as soon as the snow started, but our plans got delayed so we actually ventured out in the height of it. After we roamed around aimlessly while staring up at the snow covered buildings and taking pictures, we then ended up at the New York Public Library which looked even more stunning blanketed in snow. Then, we walked through The Winter Village at Bryant Park and by now we were freezing, so we went into the Whole Foods across the street to warm up and buy a few groceries.
Came home and watched the snow fall by the tree and read a book.
As soon as we got back to our apartment, I took a hot shower and then made a chai latte. As the snow continued to fall, I lit our tree and sat on the couch and read for a bit. In between sips of my chai latte, I’d look out the window and watch the snow pile up on our terrace; this was one of my favorite days out of the year.
Bought chocolates and hot cocoa at Jacques Torres and strolled through Central Park.
The snow continued well into the following day. I’ve been to Central Park many times, but I’ve never seen it covered in snow aside from in photographs. First, we stopped at Jacques Torres where I purchased a few chocolates and hot cocoa to warm up. Then we made our way to Bloomingdales to pick up a few last-minute gifts. We arrived at Central Park just in time to see it painted in a fresh coat of snow before the sun set. As beautiful as it looks in photos, it’s a must-see in person.
A reservation for an early Birthday lunch at Pier 17.
Billy took me to The Greens at Pier 17 for a Birthday lunch. I had been trying to get a reservation for weeks and finally got one for yesterday. The outdoor rooftop dining experience provided us with our own cabin and virtual fireplace. I ordered the cheese fondue that came with sour dough bread, broccoli, potato wedges, and apples and it was amazing. Billy got a pasta dish and loved it. For dessert I opted for the butterscotch pudding topped with caramel, whipped cream, and sea salt; I’m still thinking about it. They have an extensive drink menu with tons of seasonal options. I wasn’t in the mood for alcohol but I plan on coming back and trying the hot buttered rum or the smoked hot toddy.
Visited some of our favorite Christmas sights in the city.
It wouldn’t be Christmastime in New York without the tradition of viewing the Saks Fifth Avenue light show, and stopping by the stores to see their window displays. This year, my favorite is Bloomingdales.
What we’re still planning on doing…
Baking cookies on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve (I haven’t decided yet).
We picked up ingredients to make vegan chocolate chip cookies while at Whole Foods. I’m leaning more towards making them on New Year’s Eve so we have something to snack on while sipping champagne.
A cake on my actual Birthday.
Since we won’t be able to celebrate my birthday with my parents this year, they’re bringing a cake when they come to NYC to drop off our presents and pick up theirs. My mom said that the cake is from Shayna B’s By The Sea which is one of my favorite vegan bakeries in Old Saybrook, CT. It’s where we got one of the cakes for my dad’s birthday party and everyone was in love with it.
Having a catered Christmas Eve dinner rather than going out to eat.
Every year my family and I would dine out in the city and then head back to my Massachusetts home later on in the evening. Some places we celebrated the holidays in the past were The Russian Tea Room, Beauty and Essex, Sauce, and Modern Love. This year since it will be just Billy and I and because of covid, we’re picking up an already prepared meal from Marty V’s. I’m obsessed with their burgers and animal style fries that taste just like In-N-Out (everything on their menu is vegan, but you would never know it). For our Christmas Eve dinner I ordered salad, drumsticks, stuffing, and mac & cheese.
A few traditions that we’re keeping the same…
Christmas day means we do nothing after we open our presents.
Usually, we would get home late the night before and not go to bed until around 2 am. After getting a few hours of sleep, we would wake up and open our gifts. Rather than getting dressed up (we would do that on Christmas Eve), we had our Christmas dinner in lounge wear and later on sat by the fireplace and played trivia games or watched a movie. Minus the fireplace part, everything else will be done the same just like last year and the years before.
A champagne toast at home on New Year’s Eve.
For the last five or six years, I celebrated New Year’s Eve at my parents’ house by watching the ball drop on NBC. It became a tradition of sorts and then I’d leave in the following days to go back to L.A. As I look back to 2019 and ringing in the New Year and then everything that happened in 2020 (the good, bad, and the challenging), I’d love nothing more than to get a bottle of Moët, sit at home by the tree and hope that 2021 will lead us out of this dark time.
Taking our tree down on New Year’s Day.
Since I was a child, my parents would take our tree down on New Year’s Day and I plan on doing the same. When I was little, it used to upset me because I hated having the holiday season come to an end. Now, it’s still a bittersweet moment. Knowing that Christmas is a year away and having to put away our festive decorations and get rid of our gorgeous tree is kind of depressing, but also knowing that January 1st signifies a fresh new start which is something I think we could all use now more than ever.
Happy Holidays! Xx.Kristie
PS: For December there will be no monthly must-haves. Instead Gina and I will be focusing on fresh content to bring you after Christmas. We’ll be starting with our favorite memorable moments of 2020.
*This article contains some affiliate links.