As many of us are preparing for the Christmas holidays and time off from work it still feels like we live in uncertain times – with new government safety measures meaning we can’t reliably predict what this year’s celebrations will look like.
In situations like this it can help for us to focus on what we have, and what aspects of Christmas can be relied upon, and in many ways, the answer is, for us, what it’s always been… family.
It’s a theme we’ve explored in our recent #MakeTheirsMagic Christmas calendar pack, which outlines some great ways to make the most of time spent with those we love – including extended or wider family. We’ve also had a think about the ways you can still enjoy time together from if safety measures or travel considerations mean you can’t meet up in person.
Fun and games
Start with the classics, such as playing a board game together.
Yes, we know that some families can be competitive and younger children can get bored but often you can avoid this by playing a cooperative, fast-paced or skills-based game.
Board games have had a bit of a resurgence in popularity over lockdown so there’s a game for most tastes – we recommend checking out tech website T3’s list for some of the best – as a bonus you might even find a present for a sibling or parent who’s difficult to buy for.
One of the ideas in our Christmas calendar pack is playing virtual bingo together over webchat, but this can be surprisingly doable for lots of board games like Boggle, Taboo and Pictionary. There are some useful online services to help you play board games online together and if that gets a bit technical, many free online games you can try out.
If all that sitting inside playing games makes you antsy you could also consider layering up and heading out to a local Christmas Carol service. This is a great way to feel engaged with your local community and helps to make the season memorable.
And if someone in your house is isolating, or even if that all just sounds like a bit too much work in the cold weather, you could always get the same vibe by hosting a mini concert at home, holding a festive singalong over video conferencing software or tuning into our patron HRH the Duchess of Cambridge’s carol service on ITV at 7.30pm on Christmas Eve.
While we’re all sat around the TV we can explore another great family tradition, which is super simple, but effective too: setting some time aside to watch a good Christmas movie together.
You can explore the Christmas categories on streaming services, but a good movie night works best when parents or grandparents show youngsters the shows they love (feel free to tag us with yours!). This is also quite a resilient option if family need to distance, as many streaming services now allow you to host watch parties.
And, speaking of distancing, we also explore lots of options in our pack to virtually stay in touch in the pack, such as making a photo montage of the year for friends and family.
It’s a great way to involve tech-savvy or phone-obsessed teens but beware… It can be surprisingly emotional so make sure you have some tissues on hand!
Once you’ve put the photos together, you’ll also be surprised what else you can do with them, as mum Anja told us.
She said: “We make a photo calendar for my parents every year. They live abroad, so we don’t see them that often, and usually not at Christmas. They really love receiving a calendar from the children that has lots of family photos from the year past”.
Catching up over some festive food and fancy dress
A great suggestion for families who’re creative or a bit wacky is to dress up for a themed dinner party or nibbles night. As mum Emily told us: “My mum loves historical costumes and has quite the collection in the loft of our family home. For the last few years we have chosen a theme and got dressed up for themed drinks and cocktails on the night of Christmas Day to bring back a bit of novelty on a day that can feel quite samey. Last time it was Peaky Blinders with whisky cocktails and this year we are going medieval with, perhaps, some mead to drink!
It might not be historically accurate (we’re fairly sure the internet wasn’t really a “thing” in medieval times) but you can also host this get together via video conferencing software.
For more ideas regarding how to engage with your extended family and make new traditions this year download our Make Theirs Magic Christmas calendar pack.