Updated: Dec 18, 2020
We always knew this year's Christmas would be a little bit different. But with the majority of the UK moving back into either Tier 2 or Tier 3 things really are going to be very different! Even with the 'relaxed rules' from 23rd to 27th December, as a family, we are in two minds about how to handle meeting with friends and wider family and creating specific 'bubbles' for this. It seems like the end of the tunnel is (relatively) near and we don't want to put people at risk or jeopardise the overall 'recovery' of the country. But at the same time it would be so wonderful to finally have some normality....finally seeing our loved ones in their homes and having the children play together care free, being able to stay over and not only relax together in the evening, but also have breakfast and start the new day together.
Finding that right balance is a very personal thing and I respect everyone's needs and choices will be different, based on their circumstances. This post is about me finding alternatives to my normal 'go to' Christmas activities. And somehow not comparing this year to other years' activities, when we'd be going to see the Christmas lights, go on a Santa Express steam train with friends, spend time on Christmas Markets in Berlin and go to the Pantomime....I feel like I need to remind myself that I need to 'uncomplicate' my plans and change my mindset from feeling 'hard done by' to finding the positive in simpler activities. It feels harder than at the beginning of lockdown - the novelty has worn off and for me this is about my resilience and somehow finding a way to make Christmas safe and magical for my little ones....
So.... what on earth are we going to do!?
I have picked out a number of indoor games (for those rainy days) and outdoor activities to do over the coming weeks. For me, having some ideas of what to do is the thing that gets me through those days where I have not an ounce of inspiration in me.
1) Conker (or marble or table tennis ball) race.
Find yourself an old box (this should be relatively easy to do after Christmas Day...) and cut out 3-5 'tunnels' on one end - then get yourself your marbles, conkers or table tennis balls and have a competition as to who can get the most balls into the most tunnels. You can even give each tunnel a score and add up who gets the most points by hitting the right tunnel.
2) Treasure Hunt (indoors or outdoors)
Write 5 to 10 clues for things to find, then hide these things in the house along with the clue for the next item. Then give your child the first clue. When they find this item (along with the next clue) they will be on a roll to find clue after clue! For an outside game consider drawing (or writing the name of) various items that you want your little ones to find (like a stick, a leaf, a conker, a feather, a bit of mud and so on) and then put each drawing or note into a ziplock bag. Get outside into the park or woods and give your child each bag for them to find the item and add their treasure to it!
3) Number Thief or guess what is missing in the bag
You can either fill a pillow case with various things and then get each child to put their hand into the pillow case with their eyes closed and guess what each item is. Or you can line up playing cards on a table, ask your child to close their eyes while you remove one or more cards and then get them to guess which one it is.
Put cushions on the floor in your lounge between two sofas or different points and ask you children to carefully make their way across the room without touching the floor. You can make this harder by having little pieces of paper with various letters (or numbers) on each cushion and ask children to cross to cushions in the order of their name, or avoiding a certain letter or number. Or you have one cushion as a 'trap' - and this is the cushion that has a particular letter or number on it that they have to avoid. If they fall off a cushion or accidentally step on the trap cushion they get tickled and everyone shouts 'lava, lava!'
5) Grab the ribbon or hide and seek
Put a ribbon or piece of string into the back of each players trousers (sticking out) and then ask each player to grab the ribbon from you and all other players while you try to stop them from doing this. The last person to still have their ribbon wins. Or you can play a good old fashioned game of hide and seek - everyone hides while one person counts and then you go and find all other players. The last person to be found wins. Both these games can be played indoors and outdoors.
6) Taste test
Put various different foods on a tray (something sweet, salty, spicy, sour and so on). Then blindfold one player and get them to taste and guess the food! Keep an eye on what is being suggested so that nobody makes themselves ill...!
We will also (hopefully!) do lots of cooking together - and get the kids to chop, taste, 'lead' on different side dishes and really be part of the experience. We will be doing a fair few local walks - mixing this up with time to just explore the new presents they have and get down on the floor and join in with whatever they are up to. I also would like to play some board and card games - Scrabble maybe, UNO and Monopoly. And finally, get muddy and wet and then come in and snuggle on the sofa together with a hot chocolate and a Christmas movie. Or maybe even have a 'picnic' on the lounge - with a large blanket on the floor, our picnic hamper and the camping plates and cutlery - and let the kids (help!) decide what delights we will have for our picnic (!).
To connect with our wider family the plan is to also give a Christmas zoom a go - including my siblings and parents in Germany, and cousins and aunts in the US and Canada... I think it will be an experience to say the least... when we did this (on a much smaller scale) for my Dad's 70th in November, we spent a lot of time figuring out how to get the technology to work (I can't hear you!!) but it was lots of fun and very much worth it nonetheless.
This picture is many years old - it is of me, my siblings and my parents one Christmas in Berlin when I was little (I am the second one on the right) - where we took meeting friends and family for granted. It makes me look forward to spending time with my loved ones again very soon - but doing my best to keep them and us safe in the meantime! :-)
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, whatever hat looks like this year. That you get to make some special memories, but also have some time to fill your own cup. Stay safe everyone and see you in the New Year! xxx