Feeling festive and up for more holiday content? Check out our holiday series.

Growing up in Pakistan, I never formally celebrated Christmas or any other mainstream western occasion for that matter. But I guess when you consume western media your entire childhood the holidays are without a doubt glamorized and romanticized to a great extent. While I may have certain reservations with the fact that I knew more about mistletoe, Santa and western traditions than I did about my desi culture, I have to say the holidays are truly magical even if the closest thing that I have to a Christmas tree is a Himalayan Pine in my grandmother’s garden.

Now here’s the real issue: how do I unwind for the holidays when the weather is, at its lowest, 16 degrees Celsius in my city, when there are no hallmark gift cards around, no jingle bells playing at the local store, or young girl scouts coming to the door to sing a few carols. First things first, winter finally hits differently when school is off, the temperature drops to a great degree, the day decreases in length paving way for long chilly nights and my sisters and I get cozy to binge-watch every romantic comedy with a bowl full of halwa (A Pakistani specialty)  made from carrots! Trust me, it’s super delicious! Truth be told, without hot carrot halwa (gajar halwa in Urdu), it never feels like the holidays. Food historians claim that the first known recipe of halwa appeared in the 13th century in the Middle East, but I first laid my eyes on this confection in my early years of childhood. To this day, my grandmother waits all year round for the season’s best carrots to cook some mouth-watering gajar halwa for her grandchildren! It would be a crime on my part to not share it with you, so consider it my holiday gift to you! 


  • 1 kg carrots
  • Almonds, pistachio and cardamom (to taste)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2-3 cups milk
  • cups oil
  • Chopped walnuts (optional)
  • Silver paper (optional for garnishing)


  1. Grate and peel the carrots. Make sure to dry the water from the carrots when you’re done!
  2. Take 1½ cup of oil in the pan and add in the cardamom.
  3. Add in the grated carrots and cook them till they have a shimmery texture.
  4. Add in the milk, sugar, and walnuts if you choose, and cook until the milk evaporates.
  5. When the oil starts separating, the halwa is ready.
  6. Garnish it with boiled almonds, chopped pistachio and silver paper

 Now, I have the right amount of halwa and the perfect rom-com (The Holiday is a winner!) and yet, it still doesn’t feel like I am fully ready to unwind myself for the holidays if I have not pampered myself with the best and most effective self-care items. 

 A facial humidifier

A facial humidifier set.
[Image Description: A facial humidifier set. ] Via Amazon
This can be used in the morning and before going to bed. Since the weather is almost always dry and chilly this product is essential to ensure that your skin stays fresh.

Get this facial humidifier kit from Amazon for $49.95!

An essential oil diffuser

A blue and brown essential oil diffuser.
[Image Description: A blue and brown essential oil diffuser.] Via Amazon
This is another great product if you want to protect your skin from going dry and rough this season.

Get this essential oil diffuser from Amazon for $27.99!

Free Your Mind: A Self-Care and Mindfulness Activity Book

A blue book titled "Free Your Mind".
[Image Description: A blue book titled “Free Your Mind”.] Via Amazon
Looking to self reflect and rejuvenate? This book is a must-have.

Get this mindfulness book from Amazon for $15.99!

A self-care sticker book

A pink journal titles "Self Care Stickers".
[Image Description: A pink journal titled “Self Care Stickers”.] Via Amazon
This book contains all the aesthetically pleasing self-care themed stickers, so just peel them right off and paste them on your phone case or your journal. A daily reminder of self-love!

Get this sticker book from Amazon for $9.99!

And, that’s it! That is how I plan to unwind this winter break with the company of my mother, sisters and of course, grandmother. Their company is as always complemented with our traditional gajar halwa and essential self-care items.

I know my plans may not be one’s mainstream holiday traditions, but they are still incredibly special to me because I get to share them with the people I care about. That, based on what I’ve learned from western films, is what the holidays are all about. 

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!


As The Tempest editors, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll love, too. Just so you know, The Tempest may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Heads up — prices are accurate and items in stock as of the time of publication.

Areesha Rahim

By Areesha Rahim

Community Fellow

Western culture and Muslim women , muslim traditions , The Tempest , pakistani food , recipes from middle east , romantic comedies , The Tempest fellowships , The Tempest Media , Christmas , self care , Pakistani family , write for the tempest , Kate Winslet , dealing with self care , winter skin care , self care ideas , self-care tips , self care quotes , self care articles , self care activities , self care definition , self care checklist , self care assessment , self care apps , the holidays , christmas traditions , self care books , The Tempest Studio , self care is for everyone , a self care day , a self care plan , a self care action plan , a self care solution , Areesha Rahim , Gajar Halwa , salt lamp , best self care products , night time routine , self care gifts , self care christmas gifts , self care holidays , self care holiday gifts , self care holidays 2020 , self care holiday gift guide , self care holidays covid , self care holiday season , holiday self care checklist , holiday self care ideas , self care around the holidays , self care after the holidays , self care during holidays , self care at the holidays , self care through the holidays , self care for the holidays , holiday self care plan , self care during the holiday season , gajar halwa recipe , gajar halwa cake , gajar halwa calories , gajar halwa authentic recipe , gajar ka halwa authentic recipe , gajar halwa benefits , gajar halwa best recipe , gajar halwa description , gajar halwa easy recipe , gajar halwa english name , carrot halwa easy method , self care activities for teens , a self care kit , self care basket ideas , self care box gift , self care covid , self care holiday quotes , self care holiday gift box , self care holiday 2020 , self care isn't just holidays and massages , holiday self care challenge , self care tips for holidays , holiday self care kit , self service holiday planner , post holiday self care ,


Editor's Picks
White supremacy is on display in the US Capitol
Aafiyah Shaikh
January 6, 2021


Featured Video Play Icon 0