It’s been a long ol’ two years since the last time we got to celebrate Christmas in a big, big way so we thought we’d round up all the magical ways there are to feel 100% festive this season. From things that are completely free to bits and bobs you can enjoy with the kids, here’s your tick list for the month of December…
1. Take a trip to your local big garden centre. (Or heck, even John Lewis department store) to peruse the Christmas decorations. Stop for a coffee and a mince pie in the cafe after you’ve finished eyeing up decadent glass ornaments and wrapping paper and glittering lights.
2. Do a drive-by of all your nearby light displays. Fill up a takeout coffee cup with your hot beverage of choice and take your loved ones for a drive of all the glorious neighbourhood light displays. Sunday evening is best, as to avoid any traffic. Local Facebook pages are a good way to find out if there’s any streets near you who are going OTT in the name of donations to charity.
3. Make a wildly big hot chocolate. There’s never a better time of year to treat yourself to a hot chocolate with all the trimmings. We’re talking whipped cream, chocolate shavings, mini marshmallows and even a Flake. Make it seasonal with some Quality Street and a Christmas film at the same time, obvs.
4. Build a gingerbread house. If you’re not so keen on the idea of baking one from scratch, both Flying Tiger and Aldi do great budget DIY versions for you to decorate. Get your icing, sprinkles and lots of sweets and chocolate like Smarties and Jelly Tots and go to town.
5. Visit a Santa’s Grotto. Probably only a brilliant idea if you take kids along with you (either yours or tag along with a mate or relative) wand watch their faces – and yours – light up at the sheer seasonal magic.
6. Walk a light trail. The hot new holiday trend we’re absolutely here for is the outdoor light trail. We’ve created a round-up of some of the UK’s biggest and best here, but it’s worth checking the National Trust website to find local displays to you. They’re usually around a mile-long, open from about 5pm, and have refreshments including mulled wine to see you through your glittering stroll.
7. Pop on a Christmas film. Both The Holiday and Love Actually are on Netflix if you’ve got a subscription, whilst you can find a full list of where to find the classics here.
8. Bake mince pies. Or do a half-and-half job and buy some ready made pastry and some ready made fruit filling and whack the two together and feel like a domestic goddess.
9. Head to an ice skating rink. There’s lots of local ones which have popped up for the festive season. Grab your skates, stretch your body, maybe make a fool of yourself and then enjoy a hot beverage afterwards to warm up.
10. Customise a Christmas jumper. If you’re feeling crafty, then why not pick up a second-hand jumper from a charity shop and give it a festive twist. You can add sequins or beads or just applique on a wonderfully festive Christmas scene. Not up to the job? We’ve got a round up of brilliant Xmas knits here.
11. Host a board game night. Get in the competitive spirit ahead of the family Monopoly showdown on Christmas spirit with a games night with mates. Mulled wine and tin of chocs optional.
12. Visit a Christmas market. There’s lots of brilliant European-style Christmas markets in the UK this year with wooden chalet style kiosks and lots of great food, drinks and gift ideas for independent vendors. Wrap up warm and bask in the festive charm.
13. Find local nativities and events. A great way to find free or low-cost Christmas activities is to join local community Facebook groups and get insider info about events that are going on. From festive raffles and Christmas processions to December clothes swaps and open-invite nativities, you’re bound to find loads going on.
14. Donate time/gifts to those who need them. Whether you take part in the Hartlepool Giving Tree or do a Christmas food shop to donate to a local food bank, there’s plenty of ways you can help those in need. (We’ll be updating this and when we discover brilliant festive initiatives).
15. Make your own wreath. Give your front door a festive makeover with a homemade wreath. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Wilko now stock everything you need for an easy DIY, or check out Pinterest for more ways to create a full foliage-crammed style at home.
16. Grab a Festive takeout coffee. And if all else fails, treat yourself to a morning pick-me-up on your way to work with a seasonal latte. The big chains all have plenty of offerings for 2021, whilst many of the independents now do everything from salted caramel lattes to mint hot chocolates. Merry Christmas!