I know I don’t need to tell you that Christmas is not only the most wonderful time of the year, but also the busiest and so today I thought we would think about creating a festive tradition specifically with romance in mind. Keeping the sparkle alive in a relationship is always key, but during December, when those extra commitments and responsibilities are jostling for our attention it is, I think, even more important to set aside some time for those who mean the most to us and straight to the top of my ‘looking after and loving list’ goes a trip to the Christmas Market!

Heidi Swain

Heidi Swain

In my Christmas book, Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market, the market itself quickly became central to many of the community celebrations and I have noticed an increasing number of similar markets popping up in towns, and even in villages, around the UK this year. With their seasonal scents, tastes and treats I think they provide the ultimate opportunity for the perfect festive date-night. Not only are there a wide variety of unique gifts on offer, but musical entertainment and plenty of warming food and drink. Not to mention the abundance of dazzling decorations and sparkling lights to get you in the celebratory mood.

A Christmas market is the ideal spot to shop for that perfect present which, it may surprise you to learn, I am all in favour of opening ahead of the big day. Traditionally here in the UK we reserve our present giving until the 25th but in lots of countries across the globe – Norway, Sweden, Portugal and Germany to name a few – gifts are exchanged and opened on Christmas Eve. In my experience December 25th is generally all about the hectic family clan gathering so why not take a leaf out of our European cousins book and set at least a part of the 24th aside for a more intimate moment?

Imagine a frosty evening wandering through the market with your best beloved. You have looked around the stalls together, perhaps helpfully pointing out things which particularly catch your eye and then you split up, but only temporarily of course! A forty minute window during which you both head off, with a pre-decided budget, to buy one another a specific present for opening on Christmas Eve. Once reunited, with any luck, under a strategically hung bunch of mistletoe, you can then enjoy the market together again, sipping mulled wine, humming carols and generally making merry.

Making a concerted effort to ensure you have everything wrapped up by the 23rd (pun intended), will give you extra time to indulge in a private celebration before the aforementioned clan gathering. You could even fill a hamper with food and drink from the market to enjoy ahead of exchanging gifts and don’t forget to take home that all-important bunch of mistletoe to keep the fires burning!

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New year!

Heidi x

Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair by Heidi Swain is out now.