Christmas lights make the month of December glow in nostalgic ways. It is the most luminous and beautiful 31 days of the year. Lights are a common scene to see as you drive down the street or walk through your neighborhood.
As popular as holiday cheer and lights are this time of year, the ways in which writers describe such imagery might be more similar than we like to believe. This makes me ponder what new and creative ways Christmas can be described within poetry, stories, and even Instagram captions.
What is the most effective and descriptive language in which we can use to capture and illuminate the five senses? What similes and metaphors can create the best Christmas light imagery? How can the true shimmer of color be portrayed?
These vivid wonderings will be addressed in this blog.
The Five Senses
If described properly, writing can illuminate and stimulate one or all of the five senses quite easily. Tugging the strings of one’s senses is a perfect way to immerse the reader in a particular scene. It is one of the ways readers can interact with the story at hand.
Touch: Touch is all about the tangible Christmas trinkets and knick-knacks that bring instant cheer when handled and interacted with. From the solid roughness of gingerbread across fingertips to the thick woolen mittens that keep hands warm during the most harshest of winter wonderland winds. Even the stickiness of tape when wrapping paper bends, folds, and creases across boxes.
When we stimulate the sense of touch, we must remember the “overlooked” or “forgotten” items we interact with during the holiday season. It is common for families to cook together, but what about zooming in on the smaller parts of baking. Such as spinning the oven knobs or twirling a spoon in the bowl of dry ingredients. Often times, small moments make the best of memories during the holiday season, so it is important to capture those aspects when writing.
Taste: Taste is all about the sweet treats that are commonly consumed during Christmas time. We obsess over the tasteful flavors such as baskets of cookies, cinnamon, chocolate, peppermint, and more. These tastes are infused in almost all bakery treasures. However, they might not be all of the flavors that exist in December. Some holiday decorations come with strong scents that make our minds believe that our tongues can taste them. Just like the fragrance of pine.
When we stimulate the sense of taste, a wave of nostalgia fills our body, taking us back to a special time or memory within the holiday season. Taste is one of the strongest senses and can be sparked by flavors not truly edible. This is where a lot of freedom and creativity within writing can inspire unique lines.
Sight: Sight is all about considering the scene and its elements that are positioned right in front of your eyes. You focus on all the features as a whole, yet, also take each scene by sections, using the best fitting adjectives to describe. While everyone’s eyes manage to see something differently, this allows each writer to have a unique perspective and spin on what they want to convey to the reader. Even when a reader reads, their mind can visualize something different. Different isn’t incorrect or inaccurate, but can make a descriptive experience personalized for everyone. So, take the scene as a whole, but do not be afraid to focus or “zoom in” on specific aspects. Just like a previous tip, do not shy away from the smaller things.
When we stimulate the sense of sight, the words can morph into more than just letters by politely tricking the reader into feeling as if the scene is truly unfolding right in front of them. Sight is a strong sense and can make the reader feel as if they are seeing the same thing as the character. Readers like to relate to the character(s) in which they are reading. Being relatable makes a book worth-while.
Scent: Scent is all about capturing the common smells that fill nostrils this time of year. The kitchen is almost the new living room during December as families gather for cooking and baking. However, while smells often waft from the kitchen, other rooms in the home have their own scents too. Candles can be placed in the living room, seasonal potpourri in the bathrooms, etc. Maybe a character is wearing a sweet perfume that reminds of sugar cookies. Or the house cat now smells like pine because she can be found sleeping beneath the needles.
When we stimulate the sense of smell, connections can be made for the reader. The reader might be sitting in their kitchen where they are currently smelling the same scents described. No home goes scentless this time of year, so describing smell is not too much of an intense challenge.
Hear: Hearing is all about noticing and recognizing the constant sound that can be heard this time of year. From the silence of snow to the bustling of shopping malls. From Christmas tunes blaring from car radios and store speakers to snappy bites of chocolate bars. Whether we realize it or not, our ears are always hearing sound. Just pay attention a little bit more to discover the unique sounds you can add to your next writing session.
When we stimulate the sense of hearing, we allow the reader to listen right along with us. We enable them to hear their own bells, their own Christmas tunes, their own family laughter, their own whatever-they-want. While we can describe the sights of Christmas, describing the sounds can make the seasonal bustle appear more real.
Similes & Metaphors
Similes and metaphors are two of my favorite literary devices. While some similes and metaphors can be a bit cliché and overused, many are rather elegant and add the perfect addition to the text. Here are some examples of similes and metaphors that I encourage you to build off of to match your own writing style and voice.
The simile and metaphor examples compare Christmas related things together as well as draw similarity between non-related holiday themes.
A streetlamp, on the corner of Sycamore and Dover, sends an orange glow onto the sidewalk below. A gentle hue, warm like a flickering fireplace.
Three o’clock sun made the snow glisten like Christmas card glitter.
A subtle sunset, peaches and cream, streaking fierce and jagged across the sky like a reindeer’s antler.
His hands were warm as they wrapped around hers, a mug of hot chocolate filled to the brim.
Lipstick turned her lips woolen mitten red.
With treasure chest eyes, she was the golden star, perched upon the pine.
The Shimmer of Color
Color can be described in more ways than just stating the shade it shines in. How can we be more descriptive in describing hues? Below are some examples of ways to strongly and uniquely describe color. I encourage you to build off of these ideas to match your own writing style and voice.
Red is bold and dynamic and should be described with great intensity. Synonyms of red such as scarlet, crimson, wine, ruby, and more are good words to use.
Green is pure and is one of the most diverse hues. Recycling connotations, green takes on an earthy role, resembling nature. Paler tints represent fun and youthfulness.
Simply pretty, purple can be described on a wide spectrum. Indigo, lavender, mauve and more are great word choices to use. Stick adjectives royal, deep, passionate, magical, etc and you can create strong imagery.
Calming sky to a touch of winter iciness, or an intense electric, blue can zap life into any scene. Play with azure, sapphire, cerulean, and more.
Which of the five senses will you pull into your writing?
What simile and metaphor example was your favorite?
Which word will you use next to describe color?
Respond in the comment section and, as always, thanks for reading!