I’m sure we all want Christmas to be a little better than last year, and we can certainly enjoy some festive fun in the comfort of our own home or outdoors in the fresh air. I’ve compiled a list of all the things I want to do this year to get into the Christmas spirit and enjoy the holiday season, so I hope this gives you some inspiration too!
1. Outdoor lights trail
One of my favourite things to do in recent years is visiting a festive lights trail. They’re mostly outdoors and you usually get timed entry so you can enjoy the experience at your own pace without it being overcrowded. One tip – wrap up warm and be ready for all weathers with umbrellas, coats and even wellies if you’re going off-road!
This year I went to Thursford’s Enchanted Journey of Light and it was a truly magical experience. There’s an indoor section of the trail, which takes in festive animatronic scenes and the most beautiful display of trees, lights and the Thursford Steam Engine collection. If you want to skip the indoors part, you can head straight to the outdoors trail, which you enter through a tunnel of lights.
There’s a huge variety of illuminated scenes, each with sound effects and music playing, so you feel like you’re walking through a beautiful, rainbow-coloured landscape. There are also plenty of photo opportunities at points along the trail so we snapped plenty of festive photos and made memories amongst the stunning lights.
2. At-home panto & Santa
If it’s been your family tradition to go to the panto, don’t worry – you can do it from the comfort of your own home this winter. PantoLive is an online interactive pantomime that’s streamed live into your home. This winter they’re running Cinderalla Live, with a star-studded cast from CBBC, Hollyoaks, Harry Potter and more. The shows run twice a day from 14th December and you can interact with the cast, just like you would in a live theatre – I cant wait to experience this at home myself!
Also, if you want to visit Santa’s grotto (but while staying safely at home) there’s also the SantaLive option, which allows you to see Father Christmas, enjoy the stories and songs and, if you want to turn your camera on, you can be in the live ‘front row’ audience and be beamed into the live stream with shout-outs from Santa! Pretty cool, huh?
3. Outdoors Christmas tree hunt
Another fun activity that you can do in the great outdoors is to go out to choose your own fresh Christmas tree. There are plenty of locations around the UK where you can visit a tree plantation, stroll through the forest and choose which tree you want for your home. Simply search for your local Christmas tree supplier and check if they have restrictions on times or tickets.
Even those Christmas tree sites with pre-cut trees are full of festive outdoor fun, often with hot drinks and other Christmas activities to enjoy while you’re there. I wrote a guide to Christmas tree barns in Issue 66 of Reclaim magazine this month so be sure to check that out!
4. At home Christmas comedy
As you may have read in my previous posts about at-home entertainment, I’ve really enjoyed ‘going to’ live comedy shows online this year so, as Christmas approaches, I’ve been on the lookout for some festive-themed performances. The Covid Arms virtual comedy club has a Christmas Booster special on the 22nd of December and the Frog and Bucket have multiple Christmas Barrel of Laughs shows coming up on weekends throughout December. There’s even a special New Years show online too – so you can enjoy live comedy and lots of festive laughs between now and 2022!
5. Outdoors garden games
Something that I particularly enjoyed last year was playing winter garden games. I made this freestanding snowman game, which not only allows you to score points by throwing snowballs (real or handmade pompoms!) through his buttonholes but also doubles as an outdoor decoration too. Here’s my step-by-step guide to make your own snowman target game.
6. At-home games nights
Taking it back indoors, there’s nothing I enjoy more than a games night and it’s especially fun at this time of year. Simply dig out your favourite games and gather some tasty treats (I love those packs of pretzels that are available at this time of year) and enjoy an evening of festive fun with your family!
I’ve tried a few new games this year including Six Second Scribbles (which I included in my sustainable Christmas gift guide) and the new 2021 edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which has interactive digital lifelines through your smartphone/tablet, making it even more like the TV game show that ever before. Another game I’m excited to play this year is Popmaster, based on the BBC Radio 2 game that my husband and I play along with every day. We love the radio version so I’m sure we’ll have hours of fun playing the trivia game too.
7. At-home movie night
And finally, one of my absolute favourite things to do at home in the run-up to Christmas is to have a movie night. We dim the lights (just keep the fairy lights on!), pop some popcorn and snuggle up under Christmas blankets to watch our old favourites and the latest festive releases.
This week I have watched the newly-launched movie Christmas Thieves starring Michael Madsen and Tom Arnold. The digital download came out yesterday on iTunes, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Sky Store. With its combination of live-action and animation, it’s one for the kids – an animated bedtime story features throughout the film so they may well drop off to sleep themselves haha! Here’s the trailer:
I’ve also watched Home Sweet Home Alone with my fave comedian Aisling Bea, which is new out on Disney+. If you liked the japes and scrapes of the original Home Alone, I think you’ll like this one! Plus, I always like to re-watch old favourites such as Elf, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Deck The Halls (free on Amazon Prime).
I hope this blog post has given you inspiration for some festive fun this Christmas. Let me know what other at-home or outdoor activities you’ll be doing this year in the comments below – I’d love to hear of some more seasonal things I can try out! 🙂