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No one has ever traveled to Los Angeles in pursuit of a White Christmas. While in January and February, California days turn coldish (not quite freezing, but close), many a Christmas morning in December has dawned bright, dusty Santa Ana winds breezing through the palm trees. 

As a young girl, I felt robbed; I wanted to feel cozy by a fire, but contented myself instead by playing soccer or football with my uncles and cousins on green grass. This changed after residing in the cold, northern elsewhere for parts of my adult life. I’ve come to treasure LA’s unique relationship with the holidays, particularly the absence of car scraping, snow shoveling, and wet socks, while still throwing myself full force into the spirit of the season. Here are some ways to get into the holiday spirit even if you live in a sunny city.

Go to a Wreath-Making Workshop 

Making a wreath is rather easy, even if you’re not crafty. All it takes is sticking some greenery on top of a bare stick wreath or wire circle, and wrapping some more wire around both. Youtube tutorials abound on the topic. If you prefer professional assistance, shop around on Groupon or call a few boutique floral companies to find an event happening near you. Some workshops are pricier than others, but often you get more than a wreath out of the experience. You can enjoy a cocktail or a hot chocolate while meeting other like-minded women (and maybe a few evolved men) in your area. I attended one a few years ago, and then felt equipped in the years since to host my own for a few friends in my backyard, complete with holiday snacks.

See The Nutcracker 

It’s iconic for a reason. Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker is the quintessential Christmas ballet . . .the magical music, the sugar plum fairy, and the dancing toy soldiers. It’s a surefire way to get the vibe going. Most dance companies put on a Nutcracker production this time of year as a matter of tradition, so this activity isn’t limited to just big cities. Even if all you can find is a children’s production, take the opportunity to support them and enjoy the delight of tiny ballerinas while you’re at it.

Enjoy a seasonal ice-skating rink 

Outdoor ice skating is not just for the Northerners anymore. Off the coast of San Diego on Coronado Island is the sumptuous Hotel Del Coronado where Some Like It Hot was filmed. Each year the staff transforms part of their oceanside patio into an ice-skating rink for the winter months, so that their patrons can ice skate on the beach! Similar rinks abound in other Southern cities, easily found with a bit of research.

Make a holiday-themed drink

The internet abounds with holiday-themed cocktails, mocktails, and hot drinks. Personally, I can’t resist an opportunity to slip a scoop of peppermint ice cream into my hot chocolate. It’s unbelievably good.

Listen to Better Christmas Music

"Holly Jolly Christmas" or "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" have played themselves out. When my husband and I got married, he confessed he hated Christmas music since he had always heard the same songs overkilled each season on the radio and in stores. 

I love Christmas carols, but I had to agree with him. Michael Buble’s Christmas Album aside, the pop holiday songs are lacking when it comes to true Christmas spirit. I’ve now converted my husband to listen to Carols from Clare instead: traditional carols and hymns sung by the Choir at Cambridge’s Clare College. The choral style creates an incredible sense of wonder, beauty, and mystery that is the essence of Christmas. Check out some of Verily's Christmas playlists as well. 

Enjoy aromatherapy

A few years ago, my parents decided to buy a fake tree to save time and money, I thought Christmas had died. A Christmas without snow? Fine. A family Christmas without the scent of fresh evergreen? Sacrilege. 

I buy a real tree for our own home, but when we visit my parents, I miss that scent that marked the Christmases of my childhood. Holiday-scented candles and essential oils have provided solace. A fir tree candle, or balsam and peppermint essence mixed into the diffuser, can change the way the house smells and feels. 

Embrace historical religious traditions 

Learn more about the history of which holiday you're celebrating: for Hannukah, read up on the victory of the Maccabees against the Syrian-Greeks. For Christmas, learn about the December feast days with cultural traditions going back hundreds of years. St. Nick’s Day falls on December 6th, customarily celebrated by leaving shoes out to be filled with chocolate coins overnight. St. Lucy’s day on December 13th is celebrated in Sweden by the oldest daughter dressing up as the martyr and serving pastries to her family. There are a number of unique holiday traditions from around the world. Whether it’s chanting a blessing for Hannukah, or anticipating Christmas by lighting an Advent Wreath, a surefire to get into the holiday spirit really is to tap into the “reason for the season.”

A White Christmas might be out of reach for those of us in the southern states, but a sparkly, warm holiday filled with love and cheer? That’s still ours to create. Put on some carols and pour yourself an Eggnog—you won’t even notice the weather outside.