Image courtesy of OZphotography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Forget basting the turkey and roasting chestnuts, these are the things that we should all make time for in the final run-up to Christmas!
Play Christmas songs
Cheesy, tuneful, old, new… it’s got to be done. And it’s got to be done ‘til you’re sick to the back teeth of them.
Buy the Christmas edition of the Radio Times and go through it circling everything you want to watch.
Okay TiVo could do the job far more efficiently, but it’s just not the same as sitting down with a glass of wine, a red pen, and a copy of the Christmas listings.
Take a tour of the neighbours’ Christmas illuminations.
I’m so thankful that we have neighbours who are happy to plaster their houses with Christmas lights. Not only does it mean I don’t feel like a Scrooge when I say it isn’t happening to ours, but it’s given us one of the most eagerly-awaited dates in our pre-Christmas calendar. Driving around the neighbourhood ogling the lights is a treat we all look forward to every year.
Watch Christmas movies.
Personally, it has to be The Muppet Christmas Carol and Elf for me, but I know plenty of equally fervent fans of It’s A Wonderful Life and The Grinch; everyone has their favourites. No matter that I’ve watched The Muppet Christmas Carol every Christmas for 20 years… it just wouldn’t be the festive period without it.
As my Christmas hero, Elf, says, ‘The best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear.’ If you can’t make it to a carol concert, then why not have an impromptu sing-a-long in the kitchen on Christmas morning whilst preparing the spuds. Or whilst in the shower, if you’d rather it was a concert for one.
Make one Christmas bake.
Every year I watch the Christmas cookery shows and find inspiration in their incredible festive bakes. Only to realise I haven’t got anywhere near enough time to reproduce what I’ve seen, and that it isn’t anywhere near as easy or enjoyable as Nigella, Jamie and Heston made it look. So this year, I’ve resolved to limiting myself to just one batch of mince pies. Jar of mincemeat. Sheet of crumbly butter pastry. Icing Sugar. Done.
Take an easy option for pre-Christmas dinner.
In our family, it’s always takeaway fish ‘n’ chips on Christmas Eve. Yes, it feels distinctly un-festive, but somehow it’s become as much a part of the ritual as turkey and stuffing the following day. And it’s one less food headache in a week where there are many.
Buy a new board game for Christmas Day.
I’m not a big fan of board games – there, I said it – and I’m generally first to find a reason to be excused (“Turkey sandwiches anyone..?”) But even I can be persuaded to join in on Christmas Day. Once squabbles over the rules are over, it always turns out to be quite fun, and it makes the rest of the day lounging in front of the TV seem everso slightly more justified.
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One for Christmas Eve. Get onto http://www.noradsanta.org/ where for one night only a year the agency charged with securing the safety of America’s skies turns its attentions to matters far more serious; charting Santa’s progress around the world. Google also has a Santa tracker which will not only tell you which country he’s currently visiting, but also, a running tally on how many presents he’s already delivered. And boy does he work hard when you see it in black and white! Don’t go thinking this one’s just for the children either. For a truly magical experience that both big-kids and small alike will enjoy, go onto http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/where those helpful people at the International Space Station will give you a heads up on when you can see a glistening Santa’s sleigh passing above you in the night sky. (For those in England, look up to the heavens at 4:40pm on Christmas Eve 2015 and hope for clear skies). Just make sure you’re back indoors and tucked up in bed well before he touches down in your neck of the woods.
Break into the Christmas stash.
Yes, those luxury food items you’ve been stockpiling for months aren’t meant to be touched until at least Christmas Eve-Eve. Yes, you’re going to regret having to hit the shops all over again to replace them. No, it’s not wrong to eat them now because you can’t resist any longer, so go ahead.
Spread a little Christmas Cheer.
There was a great story in the news a few years ago about an anonymous individual who collected up all the parking tickets placed on Christmas Eve revellers’ cars, and paid their fines for them. Which definitely put him or her on Santa’s Nice List. But you don’t need to go to quite those lengths to bring a smile to someone’s face this Christmas. Taking an elderly neighbours one of your homemade mince pie and staying for a merry chat would spread just as much cheer.
It may sound like mission impossible in the run-up to the year’s most frenetic week of festivities, but make sure you take time to enjoy it in your own way. A walk in the park enjoying the crisp winter air, a soak in a candlelit bath… or a glass of mulled wine by the fire whilst listening to the carols from Kings College. Just make sure you take time to really appreciate it.
What are your absolute favourite ways to mark the run-up to Christmas? We’d love to hear from you!