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Seven ways to enjoy a traditional Swedish Christmas at home

Whether you will be celebrating Christmas alone or in a small group in Sweden, or you're located elsewhere in the world looking to add a Scandinavian touch to the festivities, here are our best tips for getting into the holiday spirit at home.

Seven ways to enjoy a traditional Swedish Christmas at home
Follow our tips to get into the Swedish festive spirit without posing unnecessary risks to your health or others'. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Everyone is urged to keep close contacts to a minimum (a small bubble of no more than eight close family and friends over the whole holiday period) and to continue to follow the coronavirus recommendations in place. But fortunately there are ways to get into the holiday spirit from the comfort of your own home.

Online concerts

Events might be on hold this year, but you can still fill your home with Swedish Christmas music.

Many churches are streaming their traditional advent concerts. There are also options for secular holiday concerts, including for example from Stockholm's Konserthuset and Berwaldhallen.

You could also find other festive videos to stream, whether you put a simple fireplace video on your TV in the background or watch videos of Christmas lights from years gone by in Sweden and around the world.

Holiday baking

Baking festive treats is a way to spend time with your family, fill the home with warming scents, and of course enjoy the finished products. Here are some of the essential Christmas recipes in Sweden:

If you are in Sweden when you normally spend time in your home country for Christmas, baking a favourite treat from your childhood could be a great way to be transported there for a moment.

Last year we asked our readers where they get the food for their international festivities; here are their recommendations, whether you are dreaming of an Italian pandoro, British mince pie, or Polish pączki. 

Photo: Gorm Kallestad / NTB scanpix / TT

Get crafty

Maybe it's your first Christmas in your Swedish home, and even if not, we are all spending more time at home than ever. As well as putting up your advent candles and star, you could try crafting some extra festive decorations of your own.

A lot of Nordic winter decor is based on bringing nature inside, so you could venture out on a foraging walk to pick up some small branches, fir tree sprigs, or pinecones, and make a wreath or garland. You'll also need a wire, metal or straw base for a wreath, which you can buy at most hobby and craft stores or plant shops.

A dried orange garland is a great way to add a pop of colour and, again, get your home smelling festive – just bake orange slices in the oven and thread through string or twine.

Any Brits missing Christmas crackers could DIY the Swedish version, smällkarameller, using the cardboard tubes from kitchen or toilet paper. You'll also need coloured tissue paper and (wrapped) toffees or sweets of your choice to go inside.

Or for something a little more advanced, you could learn a new skill such as knitting, crochet, or paper-folding to make your own holiday decorations.

DIY julbord

The safest way to enjoy the traditional Christmas buffet is at home, and there are two ways you could do this. One is to make the dishes yourself, perhaps using the recipes below:

Too much effort? It's also possible to order a julbord delivered direct to your door from a local restaurant. They will usually drop the food off outside your door, with instructions for heating up the warm dishes.

In Stockholm you could try Aubergine, Gamla Riksarkivet or the Spritmuseum.

A few options in Gothenburg include Salut, Lilla Spinneriet, the selections from Stora Saluhallen, an Italian feast from Enoteca Maglia if you're not such a fan of fish, and in Malmö there's the chance to get a Skånska julbord from Mylla Mat.

Christmas markets and museums online

With most Christmas markets cancelled, there is still the chance to support small businesses.

Look for a digital market in your area, such as this one in Umeå or this one in Jämtland, both organised via Facebook.

If you would usually explore the stalls at Stockholm's open air museum Skansen, head to their online shop to grab some gifts and Nordic decorations – they have also added extra virtual content while they are closed, as have other museums.

The annual gingerbread house exhibition and competition at Stockholm's ArkDes museum has gone digital this year, and you can view all the gingerbread houses in 3D. You could also check out the Post Museum's online exhibition of vintage Christmas cards or follow the 'live advent calendar' from Stockholm's Old Town in virtual form (Swedish speakers may get the most out of this tradition which sees a different performance in a window each day of December).

Go to the Skansen website for more photos of Christmas time past in Sweden. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

Watch TV

As in many countries, a big part of Swedish Christmas is simply sitting in front of the TV and watching the same classics you've seen every year before. 

The essentials in the Swedish schedule are Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul (literally Donald Duck and His Friends Wish You a Merry Christmas, or From All of Us to All of You in English-speaking countries) at 3pm on December 24th, SVT's Julkalendern (The Advent Calendar) each day of December; Ingmar Bergman's film Fanny and Alexander (be warned, this one is long!) and finally Ivanhoe on New Year's Day.

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