My Home Alone Christmas & NYE in NYC
I am all about all things holidays. Back home, in Australia and New Zealand, the holiday season falls smack-bang in the middle of the scorching summer. It’s a pretty relaxed vibe, some years it’s a barbecue on the beach, others, it’s a long alfresco lunch with the family. Santa wears shorts and we spend a whole lot of time outdoors - playing backyard cricket or chucking around a footy.
In the USA, it’s a completely different story! I was so overwhelmed with just how Christmassy everyone and everything is here! From the second the Thanksgiving leftovers were put into the fridge, elves came and sprinkled everything with festive fairy dust. All of a sudden, the most fashionable people were dressed in ugly Christmas sweaters, sunny California was dusted in (artificial) snow, Starbucks was changing lives by combining egg nog and coffee and coloured lights lit up even the darkest of alleys. There weren’t just office Christmas parties - there were cookie-swap parties, ornament exchange parties, Hallmark movie watching parties, Secret Santa parties and gingerbread decorating parties! The lead up to Christmas was next level and I was next level obsessed!
For me, Christmas always looks different but the one thing that has remained constant is that I am surrounded by my family. Some years, that is my cousins, second-cousins, third-cousins, and more aunties and uncles than you can count. Other years, it has been my Mum, Dad, Dad’s ex-fiancé and her Mum! No matter how awkward or dysfunctional the set up may have been, family is always what makes the day so special. This year was my first Christmas away from my family, so I decided to go to the most Christmassy place I could think of - New York City, for a Kevin McAllister-style Christmas!
When I booked my tickets back in August, I sent my Mum a photo of the pigeon lady from Home Alone 2, chilling by herself in Central Park, and said: “This will be me on Christmas!”. Society sees spending Christmas alone as being a sad thing, and for some people, it really is! But I made the most of the alone time by taking some much-needed time to myself and indulging in a bit of rest and relaxation.
I landed in New York early on the morning of Christmas Eve and started with a rich hot chocolate with a giant marshmallow at City Bakery before taking to the beautifully adorned city streets with starry eyes.
I fossicked through the Union Square Christmas Markets and flaunted my un-coordination as I took to the ice skating rink at the Bryant Park Winter Village.
Mulled wine was a must as I entered the cozy but chaotic ornament explosion that is Rolf’s German Restaurant.
I joined the swarm of foreign accents bustling and barging through the lights at Radio City Music Hall, the Rockefeller Center and Saks on Fifth Avenue.
After a Christmas Eve jam-packed full of adventure and exploration, I tucked myself into the crisp sheets at the Archer Hotel, nibbled the hot-chocolate cookies left on my bed as a turndown treat, and went to sleep. On Christmas morning, I woke up to this …
Christmas morning was a lovely, lazy one. I sat in bed watching Hillsong Worship on TV and the Empire State Building out my window. I FaceTimed my family and stuffed my face with French toast - because what's Christmas without eating yourself sick, right?
It wasn’t a white Christmas, the sky was blue and the sun was out but I was actually super stoked about it because I don’t like the cold anyway. After switching to the Ludlow Hotel on the Lower East Side, I created my own “white Christmas” with an entire bottle of bubble bath. I grabbed a glass of champagne and sat in there for three hours, because why the heck not?!?
When I was a wrinkly prune from the longest bath I have ever taken in my life, I made the most of the sunshine and set out to explore the area around the hotel. I instantly adored the Lower East Side, it was a bit grittier and grungier than Midtown, and I fell in love with the nearby East Village. First stop was Russ & Daughters for a bagel board. It was definitely a different kind of Christmas lunch but, oh my, It was delicious!
As the sun set on the city that never sleeps, I hopped on the subway and headed deep into the heart of Brooklyn to check out the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. Talk about extra!
The Christmas fun didn’t end after the day itself did. I headed to the David H Koch Theatre to watch the New York City Ballet performance of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker® and to the Rooftop of Pier 17 to ice skate on the Manhattan Skyline.
After a wild week of exploring the city, New Years had come around. I wanted to see the ball drop in Times Square but I changed my mind as soon as I saw the cold and rainy weather forecast. Instead, I spent it with my good friend from university who has moved to New York, Nadia, and my new friends Phoebe and Jess at a Manhattan studio party that felt like it came straight out of a scene of Gossip Girl! We pre-gamed with huge slices of pepperoni pizza and then interrupted the preppy and polished crowd of New Yorkers with our Kiwi chaos and danced the night away. When the clock struck midnight, we watched the ball drop on a projector, which to me felt equally as magical!
This time last year I was celebrating the New Year by Sydney Harbour. I was there on holiday and living in Auckland, with absolutely no idea that 2018 would see me living back home for six months - let alone moving to the USA! I used to love having my whole life planned out but now I love just sitting back watching it unfold.
I know I say this almost every year but 2018 was the best year of my life so far. It has has been wild but wonderful. It’s had its challenges, for sure, but I feel like they have just given me opportunities to grow.
Hello, 2019. It was nice to welcome you in New York style! I have no idea what you hold or where I’ll be this time next year - but that is the most exciting thing part!