December Book Club 2020: Finding Love At The Christmas Market by Jo Thomas
We hope you enjoyed this literary hug as much as we did. Scroll through the team’s reviews to see what we thought of Jo Thomas’ festive treat…
We’ve spent the best part of the holidays curled up with a glass of Glühwein in one hand and our last 2020 book club read, Finding Love At The Christmas Market, in the other.
It’s been quite the rocky year, so we thought we’d round it off with a warm, uplifting and life-affirming tale to soothe our souls well into the New Year.
We hope you enjoyed this literary hug as much as we did. Scroll through the team’s reviews to see what we thought of Jo Thomas’ festive treat…
Residential-home caterer Connie has had one online-dating disaster too many. Hurt in the past and with her son to consider, now she’s feeling hesitant. Then one of Connie’s residents sets her up on a date at a beautiful German Christmas market – with the promise she’ll take a mini-bus full of pensioners along with her…
Amongst the twinkling lights and smell of warm gingerbread in the old market square, Connie heads off on her date with a checklist of potential partner must-haves. Baker Henrich ticks all the boxes, but when Connie meets Henrich’s rival William, she starts to wonder if ticking boxes is the answer.
Will Connie’s wish for love this Christmas come true, and if so – with who?
Finding Love At The Christmas Market is the epitome of feel-good fiction. With everything going on in the world, it was the perfect antidote for the weird ol’ 2020 holiday season. Is it sickly sweet at times? Sure. Are the cake puns over-baked? Absolutely, but what it lacks in originality it makes up for in light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel perspective. Whilst it had all the right ingredients, the alchemy was missing for me. Reading it felt like unwrapping your first tin of Quality Street – a novelty at first but a bit sickly sweet after you’ve mindlessly consumed all The Purple Ones. That said, Jo Thomas did a wonderful job of writing a cosy seasonal treat that ticks all of the festive fiction boxes.
Rating Out of 5 – 2.5
Would you recommend? Yes for Christmas escapism!
This was just such a delightful little Christmas read and exactly what I think I needed after the trials and tribulations of our current covid Christmas. There were so many little moments I started to compare like doing something different for Christmas and trying to remember all the little things that make is so magical at the beginning of the book. Then as soon as Connie got to Germany I was able to soak up all the wonderful descriptions of cosy markets at Christmas packed full of warm spicy scents and cosy vibes, something I wasn’t able to enjoy this year. The older citizens vibes, one-liners, and general attitude had me cracking up, I thought they were such a fun addition and definitely gave me memories of The Switch (my fave book from 2020). The only thing this book was missing was a bit more development on the romance side of things as I didn’t feel that desperate desire between characters where you’re just gagging for them to get together but what it lacked in that department it made up for in charm!
Rating out of 5 – 3.5
Would you recommend? Absolutely!
If you need a book to relight your love for Christmas, especially in 2020, this is the book for you! I loved reminiscing on those special things we can usually do in the holidays, like visiting Christmas markets and getting to spend that quality time with loved ones.
You follow Connie on her quest for love to Germany, after meeting a guy on an online dating site. The book is centred round Connie finding love, however the aspect I enjoyed the most was all the elderly residents that she cares for finding their love for Christmas again! I do think the book maybe lacked on the relationship side of things, but on the flip-side, this book offered me all the cosy Christmas vibes I was longing for so really I can’t complain!
Would you recommend? Yes!
This book was WHOLESOME to the max! Exactly what we needed at the end of 2020, the story was so heartwarming and had me feeling warm and fuzzy in the run up to what normally feels like the most magical time of the year. Although Christmas is certainly different this year, following Connie’s Christmas adventures had me feeling so nostalgic and injected some well needed feel-good into the month of December.
It completely encapsulated the magic and joy of Christmas markets and I really did feel transported into this setting which was lovely. The pensioners were so bloomin’ lovely too and this part of the story totally encapsulated the Christmas spirit. At times Connie’s character was a little annoying, particularly when she reeled off her requirements for ‘the perfect man’, but overall it was easy to gloss over and just enjoy the comfort of such a atmospheric December story.
Rating : 3/5
Would you recommend? Yes
I can’t say I was the biggest fan of ‘Finding love at the Christmas Market’. The main character, Connie, was nice enough but the whole plotline was just so predictable. I’m not joking when I say I guessed what would happen from the blurb.
The characters were OK. I would have liked to know a bit more about Pearl’s past as she was HILARIOUS and reminded me of my nan. I also really liked William and found his story believable. But I don’t think we got enough detail on any aspect of the story. I want to know more about Connie’s past relationships and her relationship with Sam, and why doesn’t she have any friends her own age? So many unanswered questions!
That being said, it gave me all the Christmassy vibes and made me want to go to the German Christmas markets next year. So I am glad I read it still.
From our favourite lockdown tv to the song that got us through it and the lockdown purchase we couldn't function without, here’s the team’s best bits from the quickest, slow year that’s ever been.
We can’t pretend we’re not glad to see the back of 2020 but rather than dwelling on all the bad, bad, double bad bits, we’re looking back on this year’s highlights and all the sparkly silver linings that helped us weather the shitstorm.
From our favourite lockdown tv to the song that got us through it and the lockdown purchase we couldn’t function without, here’s the team’s best bits from the quickest, slow year that’s ever been. Thank you, next 2020!
TV series/ Movie:
One tv show that I think wins my affection the most, however, was Normal PeopleZoe
This year my TV got an awful lot more loving than usual. I had something on most evenings, even if it was just in the background. One tv show that I think wins my affection the most, however, was Normal People. The BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel was just pure…chefs kiss. The acting, the cast, the FEEEELLS when you were watching it. When the final episode finished Alfie and I just sat in silence and tears just rolled down my face. It really got me right in the heart and even writing this now I want to re-watch it! Beautifully done.
This was an easy one for me, my yellow Nintendo DS and Animal Crossing. Just as lockdown happened, Alfie had purchased me a DS and told me that he thought I’d enjoy playing animal crossing. I didn’t know much about it besides the fact that Alfie had played the previous version before and I knew the characters were cute animals that made weird noises. A group of 6 of us all bought a DS, downloaded animal crossing and started playing at the same time. We all got SO into it, it consumed all our evenings comparing what fish or bugs we’d caught or what our islands looked like. We even created a WhatsApp group where we talked about it, spent endless hours on group calls talking about it and it will honestly be such a huge highlight for me when I look back at 2020. None of us really play it anymore or certainly not to the extent we were, but we still use the group chat, that will now always be called “AC IS A WAY OF LIFE”
This was hard as I have 2 memories that stick out for me. The first being my 30th birthday. Although not the one I had planned, and one I certainly won’t ever forget (5 days into the first national lockdown) Alfie made it so special and I had the best day even though I wasn’t able to spend it with any friends or family.
I remember feeling so lucky to spend time with people in this way and it was hilarious and crazy!Zoe
There was also one particular evening where we were allowed to have up to 6 people in the garden as lockdown was easing. We’d been on a walk with friends and even though it was so cold, and so rainy, everyone came back to the garden and we made a very makeshift gazebo with tarpaulin, a lot of random garden things to weigh it down and keep it on and used outdoor heaters and fairy lights to try and make it cosy. We all ordered a Wagamama and wrapped up in blankets and just had the best time. I remember feeling so lucky to spend time with people in this way and it was hilarious and crazy!
Song that got you through it:
My most played songs of 2020 were Mungo Jerry – In the Summertime and Bob Marley – Three Little Birds. I played both these songs over and over when I was spending time in the garden in the sun and they always put me in the best mood.
Alfie and I discovered a bit more of a love for cooking from scratch. We subscribed to Gousto just before lockdown as we told ourselves we would learn to cook proper meals in 2020, and when we were eventually faced with limited online shopping slots and only really going to the shop on very few occasions for food, it was such a joy to take that time out in the evenings to make something together. We were never really the cooking from scratch type of couple but it was so enjoyable and I learnt to cook so many new meals this year because of it!
TV series/ Movie:
I became really engrossed in the 6 part miniseries ‘The Undoing’ which launched on Sky Atlantic this year. It’s a gripping “Who done it” starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant who are absolutely brilliant in it. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but trust me, you will want to binge-watch the entire thing in one go to find out what happened and who you can believe. I also started the Crown for the first time, I know I’m terribly behind the times but have really loved watching that too, it’s far more scandalous than I imagined it would be.
My collective lockdown purchases have all been either house or baby-related things. I can’t remember the last time I bought something that wasn’t a really practical buy ie a hoover or lightbulbs! Researching our first pram was quite a fun experience though, I thought it would be really overwhelming with all the choice but for once I was quite decisive!
Picking a favourite memory is impossible but all of my favourite memories of this year revolve around finding out that I’m having a baby. That first positive test, breaking the news to my husband, hearing the heartbeat for the first time, telling our friends and family, feeling her kicks….the list goes on but it’s definitely been my biggest highlight of 2020.
Song that got you through it:
This is a bit of a weird one but I’m going to go with Meat Loaf – Life is a lemon (and I want my money back). There’s something about that song that I can’t help sing/yell along with, it’s incredibly cathartic and appropriate for this year! I also have to say that I’ve found a new appreciation for Harry Styles.
I’ve discovered so many independent brands, a lot of which were born out of lockdown which I think is incredible. Maddie
A big change for me this year has been a massive shift to shopping small where possible. I’ve discovered so many independent brands, a lot of which were born out of lockdown which I think is incredible. It’s been a really hard year for retail generally but I imagine that it hits even harder when it’s your own shop or business that’s bearing the brunt of an economic downturn. I definitely want to continue to make a concerted effort to shop more locally and support small businesses going forward.
TV series/ Movie:
Oh, this is a tough one but I was absolutely obsessed with Normal People, like OBSESSED. I just thought it was utterly brilliant and so beautifully done. I still think about Connell’s chain before I go to sleep at night. I also loved Little Fires Everywhere, The Queen’s Gambit, The Crown Season 4 and Emily In Paris. I mean, we’ve been spoilt rotten where TV’s concerned this year but Normal People still takes the top spot. Film-wise – I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Roald & Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse. At the time of writing, I haven’t even seen it yet but I just know it’s going to be my favourite film of this year. Enola Holmes was also a 10/10 movie to come out of 2020 – all the cosy nostalgia.
It was a real labour of love but it also gave us something to throw all our time and energy during those long lockdown months.Lareese
Our bloody hallway! We have been renovating it since March and have now finally got to a point that feels close to completion. After seeing it in so many various states of undress and putting a ridiculous amount of hours and weekends into stripping wallpaper, prepping the walls and stripping the bannisters (that was painful), it feels like such a grown-up accomplishment to finally have a stair runner down. It was a real labour of love but it also gave us something to throw all our time and energy (and money tbh) during those long lockdown months. It’s beans on toast for the rest of forever now haha but it was worth it and hopefully, we’ve saved the next future owners a whole lot of hassle and blisters.
I think it was my birthday back in February, ya know – just the sheer normality of going out for a bog-standard meal with my mum, dad, sister, boyfriend and my niece and nephew and having absolutely no idea how extraordinary doing something that normal would become in the months that followed. Soppy right? But it’s so true. I remember coming home after that meal and watching a cosy film tucked up in bed and just feeling like my heart was fit to burst. Little did I know that the events of 2020 would make me feel even more grateful for who and what I have in my life. Blimey, pass the tissues – we did it guys, we made it through TOGETHER.
Song that got you through it:
Can I vote for Taylor Swift’s whole album please? Folklore definitely provided me with some much-needed escapism. I love the whole fairytale, the story-telling direction she’s taken with her music. Another song that got a serious amount of plays this year and was top of my Spotify Wrapped was Fleetwood Mac Everywhere. That intro! It gives me such a pick-me-up whenever I hear it.
I fell back in love with the water this year and found a new level of appreciation for where I live. Lareese
Definitely swimming. I fell back in love with the water this year and found a new level of appreciation for where I live. Lockdown completely highlighted how lucky we are to have the sea on our doorstep here in Brighton and I went sea swimming right up until November. I don’t think I’m quite brave enough to keep at it all through Winter – I’m definitely more of a fair-weather swimmer but as soon as I don’t need a woolly hat to do my breaststroke, I’ll be back in there like swimwear.
TV series/ Movie:
I have consumed a crapload of content this year, I’m sure everyone has so it’s so hard to think of my favourite. Let’s go with the Queen’s Gambit! These days every series I watch is set up for the second with a frustrating cliff hanger that ties up just enough to keep me hanging on for the next, nothing seems to just end which is one of the many reasons I loved QG as it was a perfect story all wrapped up and delivered. I loved the vibe, the music, the fashion, the characters and its ability to stray from the path of where I thought it was heading. It was a brilliant escape and now I’m a massive Anya Taylor-Joy fan girl.
Ummm we bought a house? I’m not sure if that counts but it’s definitely my most exciting purchase of the year! After the first lockdown we knew we needed more space and set out finding a new place to rent but the market was just heaving and unfortunately having a dog usually puts you behind others looking, so we decided it was time to buy instead. I’m yet to move in or as I’m writing this so fingers crossed it all went smoothly!
On the day itself we had a Zoom open all day for people to drop in and have a pint, it was so much fun!Danielle
My best memories of this year come from making the effort during the height of lockdown. It was my birthday, my partner Harry’s birthday and my hen-do all within a few weeks and they were some of the BEST times I’ve had due to the extra care and attention that went into them. Not to toot my own horn but I created a pub in my kitchen for Harry that I really enjoyed researching and putting together, on the day itself we had a Zoom open all day for people to drop in and have a pint, it was so much fun!
Song that got you through it:
I’ve always loved how This American Life podcast handles significant events, it was so interesting to hear so many COVID and election storiesDanielle
I actually don’t listen to a ton of music I’m more of a podcast or book person so a couple of things that I’ve loved is audible and rediscovering my love of listening to the Harry Potter books before I go to sleep. The Off-Menu podcast which is always hilarious and I’ve always loved how This American Life podcast handles significant events, it was so interesting to hear so many COVID and election stories from across the pond.
I really haven’t picked up a new hobby even though I think that was one of my new year’s resolutions last Jan! Most recently I think my discovery is Twitch, which I never thought I’d say. I love that I can pop on someone or a group of people playing a game and leave it for a few hours instead of constantly picking up my phone thinking what should I put on now. I won’t go into specifics about who I’m loving HA but watching people play Among Us is probs my fave.
I started watching The Vampire Diaries in Lockdown and I am obsessed. My Tik Tok explore page is literally all Damon Salvatore now. I couldn’t guess what was going to happen from episode to episode and the character development is also great. The people that start off as the bad guys, you grow to love. And I haven’t actually watched the ending because I couldn’t finish it in time before it was taken off of Netflix, but I know what happens and it makes my heart happy.
I did go a bit tie-die crazy though and I now have about 15 clothing items which are multicoloured. Roll on next summer!Holly
I actually didn’t make too many lockdown purchases. I got the little things to help get through it, crafts, tie-dye kit and tracksuits but that’s it. I got so bored at so many points so all these little things occupied my mind a bit. I did go a bit tie-die crazy though and I now have about 15 clothing items which are multicoloured. Roll on next summer!
I can’t say any great memories really sprung to mind. I had a couple of highlights, seeing my best friends for the first time in 9 months was GREAT and spending quality time with my family over lockdown was nice. But I think my absolute favourite was going to the comedy shows at the Warren outdoor theatre in Brighton. They had a different show on every day and I think it was the closest to normal I’ve felt in a while. I miss live entertainment!
Song that got you through it:
I’ve rediscovered my actual LOVE for One Direction. It reminds me of better times so I’ve been listening to them on repeat. The Take Me Home album specifically and even more specifically, She’d Not Afraid – I’m thinking of getting it tattooed on me because I’m a basic bitch and proud.
At the beginning of the year, I fully didn’t get the hype of Tik Tok but let me tell you I am converted. I’m not joking when I say I spend all of my spare time scrolling my for you page. I go to bed at night and have the dances in my head and sometimes I find myself scrolling and I don’t even know how I got there. Has it been 5 mins or 5 hours? I just wish I was better at dancing so I could actually do my own…
TV series/ Movie:
I think 2020 was the year of bingeing alllll the series on Netflix. I actually discovered Friends this year properly in the first lockdown, and watched it through TWICE. Yes, that is really how much time I had on my hands. I became obsessed with Friends and finally understood the hype! I also binge-watched all of Modern Family again too. But, my favourite new series has to be hands down Normal People and The Queens Gambit, both series were absolutely remarkable. I was obsessed with both leading ladies and how perfectly both storylines were done. If I had to pick one, I think it would be Queens Gambit in first place. Maybe I’ll take up Chess in 2021?
I did however in lockdown buy myself a proper desk set-up in my bedroom for my new WFH lifeDarcey
I can’t say that I really bought anything crazy in lockdown, I kind of had the mindset that if I can’t go anywhere then what’s the point in indulging in new things, especially makeup and clothes etc. I did however in lockdown buy myself a proper desk set-up in my bedroom for my new WFH life, although it was only a desk and some shelving, it actually made my room feel super zen and I think it has massively helped with dividing up my work/personal life while spending so much time at home.
My 2020 most definitely isn’t filled with many happy memories, it has been a really tough year and I am truly ready to wave goodbye to 2020. This year was going to be tough for me either with or without Covid, with my Mum falling Ill back in June. I think moments like this do make you realise how precious life is and how important it is to live life to the full. So although this was not a happy memory, this one really stands out for me. 2020 did give me the opportunity to spend more time with my family and that I am grateful for. I did, however, enjoy getting outside more once lockdown was lifted, going on bike rides with friends and enjoying the sunshine probably more than most summers as I think I appreciated that little extra bit of freedom so much.
Song that got you through it:
I spent a lot of 2020 listening to Fleetwood Mac, I grew up listening to their music and find it really soothing. They actually were my Spotify Unwrapped top artist this year, so that shows how much I listened to them! I think I listened to Dreams the most though, or Rhiannon, very close between the two.
I wouldn’t necessarily say this was a new discovery, but I do think my love for it grew exceptionally in Lockdown. I am obsessed with house plants, I think I have roughly 17 in my bedroom alone… But what I really enjoyed throughout lockdown and 2020, in general, is looking after them all, I think it’s really good for my mental health and it’s nice when you actually keep them alive haha!
TV series/ Movie:
I wish I could say something more profound but I found a lot of comfort in watching Selling Sunset during a difficult part of lockdown for me. It’s kinda trashy but I found getting a peek into the real estate world so interesting, as well as the dynamic between the girls and the LA lifestyle- plus there were a LOT of episodes to binge! Other than that, the 1D film ‘This Is Us’ ALWAYS cheers me up no matter the circumstance.
A TV for my room! Seems extravagant but it made the second lockdown so much more bearable and I love being able to catch up on vlogs on the big screen.
It sounds bizarre but I feel nostalgic and comforted looking back at the first 3 weeks of lockdown in March.Charlotte
2020 is really hard to reflect on for me, to be honest- it feels a bit too raw to relive how hard it’s been. It sounds bizarre but I feel nostalgic and comforted looking back at the first 3 weeks of lockdown in March. After that point, I had a really tricky time with my health that changed the whole experience, both those initial weeks of spending time with my mum and sister, baking banana bread, learning TikTok dances, watching Tiger King, reading in the bath and not feeling guilty about it felt really safe and reassuring for me. I guess the naivety of not knowing what was to come made me a lot more relaxed during those initial weeks.
If I forget the surrounding circumstances, seeing The 1975 in February at The O2 before Covid took over was magical.
Song that got you through it:
Peace by Taylor Swift really does sound like peace.
Making One Direction TikToks was such a WELCOME distraction! I’ve also really had to prioritise my mental health and have found yoga/breathing/meditation to be so helpful and practices I will continue for the long haul!
What are your top 5 things from 2020? Let us know in the comments!
13 Wholesome Reads To See You Through The Holidays
Grab a mince pie and a mulled wine, here’s a holly jolly round-up of festive stories to tuck into over the holiday season.
When it comes to season’s reading, we want it fluffy, we want it sickeningly sentimental and we want it to make us feel positively merry and bright.
For the record, that’s no mention of pandemics, problematic relationships, murders or visceral dread. Give us comforting plots, twee characters, Yuletide reflection and blissfully unrealistic romances.
Grab a mince pie and a mulled wine, here’s a holly jolly round-up of festive stories to tuck into over the holiday season.
1. Dash & Lily’s Book Of Dares – Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
You may have already binged the new Netflix original series but if you haven’t, definitely read this collaborative novel first.
Set during the Christmas season in New York, this light-hearted novel tells the story of two book nerds, Dash & Lily. Lily leaves a red notebook full of challenges on her favourite book shop shelf and, as serendipity would have it, Dash is the first guy to discover it. They pass the red moleskin between them consisting of dreams, desires and dares for the other one to do, but will their in-person selves connect as well as their notebook versions?
2. Finding Love At The Christmas Market – Jo Thomas
Kicking off the must-read festive canon with this hug of a book and our very own book club pick for this month. We’ll be living vicariously through Jo Thomas’s sparkling imagination and hoping we can tuck into a gigantic Bratwurst at a bustling Christmas market in 2021. Not a euphemism, you filthy animals.
Perfect for those nights you want to dip in and out of your reading in-between nap-taking and present-wrapping, this collection of classic short stories is imbued with Christmas spirit and fanciful flights of the imagination.
4. Mr Dickens and His Carol – Samantha Silva
A companion novel based on the man who created the most famous Christmas story ever written. This festive imagining explores the conception of A Christmas Carol, as Dickens goes on a Scrooge-like journey through Christmases past and present to get some much-needed inspiration for his now-legendary moral fable.
5. Seven Days Of Us – Francesca Hornak
Fans of Love Actually and The Family Stone will LOVE this warm, life-affirming tale.
It’s the holiday season and the Birch family are forced to spend a week in quarantine together after the eldest daughter, Olivia, returns home from treating an epidemic abroad. Locked down and forced into one another’s immediate orbits, not much can stay hidden for long.
We know we said no mention of ‘P’ who should not be named but this one seemed too good to miss.
6. A Maigret Christmas: And Other Stories – Georges Simenon, David Coward
From the celebrated creator of Inspector Maigret, comes a short and sweet selection of heart-tugging seasonal stories, all set in Paris at Christmas. At 224 pages, it’s crying out to be stuffed into a stocking this December.
7. The Snow Ball – Brigid Brophy, Eley Williams
Who knows if we’ll be allowed to ring in the New Year in the old boozer together, garbling the words to Auld Lange Syne through passionate beer burps, but at least we have a bookish invitation to this 18th century costume Snow Ball. Glitter, scandal and utterly seductive prose – no lockdown caveat needed.
Dress code – your best pjs, venue – the grand sofa. This could catch on! New Year’s Eve escapism at its fictional finest!
8. A Treasury Of African American Christmas Stories – Bettye Collier-Thomas
Written between 1880 and 1953, this landmark collection of historical works written by African-American journalists, activists and visionaries will inspire and educate you. An important and strikingly current piece of the Christmas canon that celebrates the black storytelling tradition that flourished after the civil war.
9. The Twelve Dates of Christmas – Jenny Bayliss
Twelve festive dates with the area’s most eligible men? So, this is Christmas! Will we forget where we are and violently shake our head at the protagonist if she has non-socially distanced sexual intercourse, yes, yes, we will.
10. Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café – Jessica Redland
At this point, we’d like to personally congratulate Jessica Redland for coming up with the most comforting Hallmark-esque book title ever. Parlour games are over folks, Jess wins at Christmas.
Reading Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café is as wholesome as it sounds. So, grab a brew and a blanket and unwrap this literary gift, page by page.
11. One Day In December – Josie Silver
A whirlwind meet-cute through a misted-up bus window one snowy December is just what we need to be reading about this Yuletide. Petition to make it a Netflix rom-com asap!
12. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
Christmas won’t be Christmas without the March sisters. Curl up fireside with one of the most endearing classics every written.
13. A Boy Called Christmas – Matt Haig
Magical for all ages, Matt Haig’s Christmas story revives the spirit of the season with a sleigh-load of humour & festive wonder.
Feeling Anxious, Stressed & Distracted? Avoid Festive Burnout By Doing A Digital Detox This Christmas
Here’s some helpful tips for reducing your screen-time over the next few weeks. We hope you have a very merry and mindful Christmas.
With Christmas just a few days away, you might be thinking about how you can make the most of the holiday, whether you’re spending it alone or with family this year.
The festive period is the perfect time to switch off, put down your devices and be present with yourself and your loved ones, sharing in conversation, catching up on 2020 and rediscovering the magic of the holiday spirit, without the distraction of Instagram proposals, puppies, presents and the parlour games that are 10 X better than the ones you’re playing.
Taking a digital break can be an essential part of looking after your mental wellbeing over the Christmas period, particularly if you’re struggling with loneliness, low self-esteem or that little thief of joy – comparison culture.
By stepping away from the digital world, you can reconnect not only with the real world but with yourself and the things that matter to you. Here’s some helpful tips for reducing your screen-time over the next few weeks. We hope you have a very merry and mindful Christmas.
1 Make going online a conscious decision
If going cold turkey feels like too much of a giant leap, you can try having allocated social media times to check-in
If going cold turkey feels like too much of a giant leap, you can try having allocated social media times to check-in and respond to messages or catch up with everyone’s news, for example, 15 minutes a day. You’ll still be removing yourself from the relentless notifications, mindless scrolling and streams of content – this way, you can set some boundaries online and check-in when you’re prepared to, that way digital consumption and connectivity is on your terms.
2 Let your friends, family and followers know, you’re having some time off
Enjoying a 2-week hiatus from Instagram? We don’t bloody blame you. Much like shutting up shop or closing the office for the holidays, telling the people who need to know that you’ll be digitally unavailable is a great way to manage expectations.
3 Delete the apps
The temptation is real, and our thumbs clearly have a memory of their own. Save yourself the workout and delete your most-tapped apps from your phone altogether. Out of sight, out of mind. See ya Slack, in a bit Insta.
4 Make it work for you
Breaking up with all your digital devices might be a tad too ambitious for some, particularly if you rely on digital communication for work. If this is you, focus on practising some sustainable work-life balance habits instead. Whether that’s making sure you clock off by a certain time, taking regular screen breaks or having social media-free evenings, you don’t’ have to aim for to total disconnectedness to enjoy the benefits of a digital break.
5 Find other ways to connect
You might wrestle with the temptation to scroll into oblivion or send a quick email but positive distraction is a great way to break that unconscious cycle of digital addiction.
Use this extra time to fill your days with wholesome simple pleasures.
Whether you get stuck into a puzzle, start a gratitude journal, get lost in the fictional world or tune into the everyday magic of the real one, use this extra time to fill your days with wholesome simple pleasures. Forest bathing, walking with a coffee or enjoying an evening stretch with your favourite candle flickering away, or even eating at your favourite restaurant without the pressure to document every course on Stories.
6 Switch your screen to greyscale
When it comes to bright colours, we’re like moths to a flame. By turning your phone to greyscale in settings, you’ll be less distracted by pretty colourways. To change your colour filter settings go to: settings>accessibility>display & text size> colour filters > greyscale. Hello monochrome apps, we don’t want to open you at all.
7 Tune into your needs
A digital break should feel nourishing, not exhausting, so make the most of it by engaging in one activity at a time. Multi-tasking is often seen as the pinnacle of productivity, but it has quite the opposite effect on our concentration span. If you’re not going 100% screen-free with your digital break, try to adopt the one-screen rule. Concentrate on one type of tech at a time, rather than watching The Crown while replying to the girls’ WhatsApp group and shopping online for Christmas presents. We’ve all been there.
There’s a reason why it’s called the art of doing nothing – sometimes, it takes a certain type of skill, awareness and inner-peace to be comfortable with your thoughts and feelings.
Equally, you don’t need to fill your tech-free days with plans if stillness is what you crave. When was the last time you remember being truly stare-into-space bored? Lean into it and be in the moment. There’s a reason why it’s called the art of doing nothing – sometimes, it takes a certain type of skill, awareness and inner-peace to be comfortable with your thoughts and feelings.
Ultimately, taking regular digital breaks and reclaiming some of the control over how we let tech into our lives will enable us to have a healthier relationship with our devices.
Will you be stepping into Christmas and away from the screens this year? Enjoy the mental clarity!
The Power of Getting Dressed in a Year When We Didn’t Really Have To
To celebrate the transformative power of dressing for you, we’re rounding up the mood-boosting pieces that continue to get us out of bed and into our Sunday best.
AD | This is a paid-for advertorial with Very
Fashion is about feeling great and there’s no doubt that what we wear has a unique ability to control our mood and emotions.
We were left feeling some sort of blazer bereavement for the superior version of us that once thrived in trousers with a top button and commutable shoes.
In these trying times of heightened anxiety, never before have we relied on our clothes quite so much to get us through life. Sure, the Zoom shirt up top, weathered PJ bottoms below deck (or desk) had its moment and even sparked unadulterated comfort and joy at first, but after a few weeks of back-to-back Mufti Days, the novelty truly waned. We were left feeling some sort of blazer bereavement for the superior version of us that once thrived in trousers with a top button and commutable shoes.
The profoundly familiar routine of getting dressed each morning suddenly became an extraordinary pandemic-funk-busting pleasure. The day we were reunited with jeans felt like a momentous occasion in the lockdown timeline because well, we weren’t just reaching for our jeans, were we?
We had been blindsided by the allure of the delightfully slobbish, bra-less life and we were reaching for the part of us that felt vaguely human and unscathed. Not the all-out polished level of style stardom that leaves the DPD driver thinking he’s got the wrong house but the trusty sartorial armour that made us feel innately like our old, pre-pandemic selves.
We wanted to remember the nondescript but quietly fulfilling practice of dressing for ourselves; of fumbling over buttons in the morning and fastening jackets on our way to the office, or hurriedly applying lipstick on a jam-packed train – all the visible, tangible, physical reminders of feeling useful and prepared for the day ahead. We were looking for connection.
Choosing what to clothe our bodies with each day became a revolutionary act of self-care in a year when we were stripped of pretty much every other joyful possibility.
Choosing what to clothe our bodies with each day became a revolutionary act of self-care in a year when we were stripped of pretty much every other joyful possibility. Travel, hugs, togetherness – it was all rationed but getting out of bed every day and deciding what to wear for another 24/7 shift in the living room was one way to raise our socially-distanced spirits. We learned how to turn up for ourselves when it felt like the rest of the world physically couldn’t.
Fashion phycologists call it ‘enclothed cognition’, essentially confirming what we already knew to be true: getting dressed makes us feel good and what we wear has an indisputable impact on our wellbeing and productivity.
The outfit of the day trend is no longer cast aside as Instagram frivolity or vanity but the ultimate 2020 antidote. Whether you found comfort in the soft neck of a warm knit, in the coats and the beanies you threw on for a blustery walk with a friend, or in the swathes of loungewear that rescued you from the vice-like grip of your wizened PJs, getting dressed has proved itself as a fundamental act of self-preservation and escapism.
To celebrate the transformative power of dressing for you, we’re rounding up the mood-boosting pieces that continue to get us out of bed and into our Sunday best. From the at-home essentials to the party pants that made us feel like we could take on the world (however frightful it looked outside), here’s enough feel-good fashion to fuel your positivity tank all the way to 2021.
Glamorised PJs, marry us. For those days when self-care is the only goal you need to achieve, effortless loungewear sets and comfy casuals are in your corner.
From duvet coats and trusty workwear staples and riding boots for all British weather eventualities, Very gets those timeless, practical yet stylish wardrobe must-haves very right. This is the capsule wardrobe you can rely on when you’re in the kind of coffee-deprived morning funk that leaves you putting your knickers on inside out. Twice.
Work Out, Feel Fab!
Resisting the snooze button is easier said than done when it’s still dark at 7am but getting up and at ‘em can do wonderful things for the always-tired girl. Whether you’re starting your day with a slow flow of downward dog or heading out for a lunchtime power walk, start as you mean to go on with work out wear that inspires positivity and productivity. Go get them mood-boosting endorphins.
Never under estimate the life-changing magic of a good pair of jeans. Nothing says, ‘come at me world’ more so than some hardworking denim, whether it’s an oversized jean jacket, a pair of straight leg jeans or a shirt dress with all the laid-back cool girl appeal, denim offers endless styling opportunities that oscillate effortlessly between smart and casual. If you gravitate towards a neutral palette or you’re a minimalist at heart, your basic blues will make day-to-day dressing infinitely easier.
The WFH Home Staples
The working from home uniform brief is a tough one to answer but Very does it with aplomb. It needs to be put-together enough to repel the duvet mindset, presentable enough for Zoom but comfortable enough that it doesn’t leave footprints in your skin if you’re sitting down for long periods of time. Here are the pieces that get us through the 9-5 on the daily.
The Pick-Me-Up Pieces
These are the kind of soul-lifting, happy, shiny pieces that make you walk a little taller, speak a little louder and smile a little wider. So what if you’re riding the bus in head-to-toe sequins! Like Vitamin D in outfit form they’ll have you living your best life without inhibition, no diggity, no doubt.
We hope this post has inspired you to climb into your happiest glad rags. What feel-good style essentials do you reach for when you want to harness the power of getting dressed?
Namrata Kamdar started her skincare brand Plenaire after suffering from burnout and a bout of post-natal depression. Her products were created out of a genuine need to develop safe, effective, and pleasurable alternatives for young women to care for their skin.
First of all, how are you and how are you coping in 2020?
Well, thank you so much for asking. As hard as this year has been, we have so much to be grateful for as a young business. We are ever grateful for the support of our retailer partners, beauty press, collaborators and the lovely independent beauty community online. Grateful for creators like Zoe that are supportive of what we are trying to do, and are generous with their platforms.
Sustainability, wellness, mental health, and well being have been the focus in beauty now more than ever.
No one could have been prepared for a global pandemic, but so many of the themes we developed Plenaire around – sustainability, wellness, mental health, and well being have been the focus in beauty now more than ever. Throughout 2020, we have been seeing a really healthy uplift in sales with significant growth of engagement and sharing online, despite the fact that physical interactions between people have been limited.
Plenaire has been stocked at a lot of special places too, and I feel like that’s important, whether you discover the brand online or in a boutique, it needs to feel really curated, and also in line with our overall ethos.
We are lucky enough to have created some really great collaborations and partnerships. We launched at one of the most beautiful stores in the world- Liberty’s; presented at the sustainable brands section at London Fashion Week and next year, we will be launching at Credo in San Francisco, as our first large retail partnership, outside the UK.
Can you tell us about what inspired you to create Plenaire?
During my late thirties, I experienced a stress-related burnout and a bout of post-natal depression and I took time off to work on myself. My own subsequent journey with mental health and what I learned during recovery from burnout coupled with the desire to lead a more balanced life was the impetus for me to create Plenaire.
Plenaire is from the French expression for “in the open air”, having the qualities of natural air and light. Holistically it is derived from the 1840 painting technique “en plein air”; emphasizing direct observation of nature, over a narrative and stylized depiction. We want to help young women everywhere take pleasure in their skincare again with our range of clean, sustainably designed products that meet everyday skincare needs but that also encourage emotional well-being and self-care.
Our business is built on a desire to do as little harm to the environment, animals or the planet as we can
Plenaire formulations were created out of a genuine need to develop safe, effective, and pleasurable alternatives for young women to care for their skin. Our business is built on a desire to do as little harm to the environment, animals or the planet as we can – not only because this feels like the right thing to do – but because this absolutely reflects the way our core consumer is shopping and making his or her choices today. Being an ingredient transparent brand is also a priority – we realise that our customer is so well informed, we need to ensure that we are sharing what we put in our formulas and also why, openly with her.
Plenaire began from this foundational understanding- the intent to build a product range that would best meet the needs of younger people both functionally with honest credentials but also emotionally- bringing a texture to it that was not just limited to its rational benefit; the somewhat narrow historical role of skincare, but that pushed these boundaries to create a conversation about the bigger issues that matter to them.
What was the journey like for starting a skincare business?
We did our research. I’m not an entrepreneur the way people wake up and have a great idea and just get started… On the other hand, you can do too much research and make decisions by committee like they do in large companies, and that’s not always right for a small company either. We’re always learning from our customer proposition as we go. We started by doing a blended research and ethnography piece – going into people’s homes, speaking to parents and girls as young as 15. As a parent, I also see parenting changing, and this feeds into our learnings.
During our research, it became evident that cultural beauty narratives for younger people have most definitely evolved. The everyday products that are marketed to young people as they come of age, we heard from them, felt sort of generic, a bit bland. Many people we spoke to said they felt patronized, and that high street brands were offering pretty basic ingredients and childish ideologies. Beauty myths or overly scientific jargon even, that were hard to believe and felt phoney. Being positioned as either rationally “problem-solution” or just about external appearances felt dated and irrelevant.
Secondly, we understood that mental health and well-being, particularly when linked to beauty and appearance were still a clear opportunity. With Plenaire we could see white space where beauty is no longer just about vanity, but about self-expression; not always about a desire for affirmation, but playing a central role in self-care.
I read somewhere once that “great brands reflect shifts in popular culture” – that’s the point, nothing stands still, so Plenaire is a reflection of how things in beauty have changed and the objective is to appeal to the next generation of informed skincare consumers.
Talk us through what your day looks like at Plenaire?
I love every aspect of this business from the crackle of the brown tissue when I pack an order, to pitching our business to a beautiful new retailer to trying out new textures, to writing a formulation or fragrance brief to solving a really complicated supply chain issue with our contract manufacturer, or working alongside a photographer to create a new brief. Every day is different and I have the freedom to structure it the way that I want, which is hugely appealing.
I wanted to experiment, to deeply enjoy every aspect and most importantly have complete autonomy over my time
We’re taking small steps, as I’m not trying to pursue the high-stress life I had when I worked at a large company. I wanted to be at home after 20 years of working in an office. I wanted to experiment, to deeply enjoy every aspect and most importantly have complete autonomy over my time, my ideas and my life than be leashed to a team that I didn’t think I really needed. I knew it was going to be a solo journey and that actually delighted me. My garden, my kitchen and my office became the perfect safe haven to create.
If I suddenly want to scale it up really fast, I’ll ask myself – is this the life I want? I get my energy from people who say they love our products, love our design aesthetic working with our creative collaborators. We’re trying to create a brand culture that’s not top-down, it’s much more open, hence engaging with collaborators.
What would you say is Plenaire’s mission statement?
It is true that our business objective is to “recreate the classic coming of age skincare rituals with a capsule collection of 8 products at launch”. But it’s more than just that. Plenaire is part of creating a bigger conversation with people of all ages to stop, think and perhaps change direction a bit.
Plenaire aims to explore previously unexplored narratives by building a route into wellbeing via your daily skincare routine.
We wanted to open a new chapter, rather than focusing on the current competitive offer.
From the beginning, our approach was to try and be radically different from other beauty brands. We wanted to open a new chapter, rather than focusing on the current competitive offer. Instead, we chose to simply observe the bigger sociological and cultural shifts with young women and men today. By simply listening to them. What we have created is as a direct result of talking to them about their daily lives, anxieties and of course, their relationship with skincare and beauty.
What are your top rules for finding the right skincare routine?
I have very few rules about beauty. I’m a very intuitive person – and am pretty moods based when it comes to beauty, sometimes you crave minimal: purity and plain textures, but then sometimes you want something that’s more special and exciting, just like with food.
Overall the use of gentle sulphate free cleanser or micellar, an effective sunscreen and regular weekly exfoliation is important. At night it’s all about recovery, adding back hydration, of course, manual massage with an oil-based cleanser is great at night as well, and an addition of a light serum or cream.
I don’t have too many rules but one is staying away from makeup wipes!
Finding an efficient, occlusive cleanser and makeup remover is also key, once you start wearing makeup regularly. I don’t have too many rules but one is staying away from makeup wipes! With Plenaire we have created hemp and bamboo flannel that do an amazing job of makeup removal as well as make the perfect partner for removal of Skin Frosting and Tripler.
The only other rule I have would be when you are doing your skincare, make sure you are making that time special for yourself, somehow. Maybe light a candle, play some music and take time to focus on yourself. With Plenaire, it’s much more than just about how you look, it’s always going to be about how these moments make you feel, and that’s an investment in yourself in a completely different way.
What are some of your most used Plenaire products?
I have to say that I love all of them, it’s pretty hard to choose. But if I had to pick a few it would be Plenaire Rose Jelly and our Tripler Paste. We have tried to create water-efficient technologies and we don’t use traditional cleansing agents like sulphates in our products so they are really gentle and perfect for sensitive and delicate skin, during pregnancy and anytime you want to pamper yourself with something innocent yet luxurious. With Rose Jelly it contains really classical ingredients like rosewater and sugar – a natural antiseptic. Tripler has the effect of clay and salicylic acid which gives you a really deep, satisfying, detoxifying clean. It’s a 3 in 1 that treats like a mask, foams like a wash and also lightly polishes skin at the same time. Skin Frosting is an indulgent cocooning product that leaves your skin feeling plump and pampered.
What would you say is your biggest achievement to date?
Through my own journey with mental health I have learned that through your own choices, you can really create options for yourself and the life you want to live.
My biggest achievement to date is evolving into a human being that worries less about what other people think. For a long time, I felt I needed to fit into a norm or a standard to be appreciated or accepted. With the move into entrepreneurship, I have left those feelings safely behind to feel free to create something that I love and that has meaning for me. It’s important to be aware that everyone has feelings of wanting to be accepted and to fit in but also to find the balance between that and being able to assert your own creativity and individuality. Through my own journey with mental health I have learned that through your own choices, you can really create options for yourself and the life you want to live.
What are you currently working on?
Right now I am working on the next set of product launches for Plenaire, extending our retail network and also developing marketing outputs for our upcoming crowdfunding campaign with Seedrs.
What do you always carry with you?
Here’s what is in my bag right now: A Fleurose mask, a Dr Bonners peppermint oil hand sanitizer, hand cream from Nursem, my keys, my phone, Dr Paw Paw raspberry lip balm, and a mini bottle of perfume called Tropica by Maya Njie. Headphones, Extra Bubblemint, my Monzo debit card, some old instax pictures of my two kids from our trip to Paris last year.
What does your perfect weekend look like?
My perfect weekend would begin with a productive Friday morning. An early start to the weekend Friday night- maybe a great TV show, Netflix and some takeaway. Saturday is a lie-in, freshly brewed coffee in bed. Then, a run or a workout. 2pm with friends or family over a meal or late brunch. My husband and I love foreign films and we miss our trips to the Curzon Cinema followed by dimsum in Chinatown- hopefully, we can get back to doing some of those things.
I love spending time in cafes or finding new ingredients to cook with- so some sort of creative food shopping. Sunday is a pyjama day, with some cooking, planning for the week ahead and organising to get to Monday in a relaxed way.
If you could only eat one meal again what would it be?
That’s a super hard one. I went to grad school in Austin, Texas and I do miss all the Mexican food. If I could only eat one meal again it would be the Enchiladas Mole and the Shrimp Flautas Verde, followed by the Tres Leches Cake at Fonda San Miguel in Austin. For me, Mexican food is like comfort and reminds me of my childhood.
If you could give one positive message to our followers what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to change or take risks- while staying safe in the safe zone might feel reassuring, it sometimes prevents you from growing in ways you need to. Change can be uncomfortable, but being open to change is key.
Vulnerability and sharing weaknesses is healthy and allows creativity to flourish
Stay open-minded about people and ideas – you never know what is waiting around the corner for you and staying open and curious, is an essential part of disruptive thinking. Vulnerability and sharing weaknesses is healthy and allows creativity to flourish – be vulnerable and lead by example, so your team will too.
Above all, be kind to yourself. As women we are sometimes tougher on ourselves than anyone else- and there is a direct link between perfectionism, comparisons and poor mental health. Developing a daily habit of taking just five minutes a day to focus on your breath, or to do something kind for yourself from a young age, is essential in looking after your mental health and well being.
Loaded with next-day turkey, tart cranberry sauce, crumbly stuffing and creamy brie, this is the crème de la crème of holiday comfort food.
If you’ve had your fill of moist-maker turkey sarnies over the years, these stuffed pasta shells are a lip-smacking alternative for using up those Christmas Day leftovers.
Enjoy that sweet languid Boxing Day pace with a bowl of carbs & Christmas movies on repeat.
Loaded with next-day turkey, tart cranberry sauce, crumbly stuffing and creamy brie, this is the crème de la crème of holiday comfort food. Gather the family round for Christmas Day take II or settle in front of the tv and enjoy that sweet languid Boxing Day pace with a bowl of carbs & Christmas movies on repeat.
The more festive scraps, the merrier so if you’ve got any ham, sprouts, pigs in blankets and cheeseboard cheese leftover, throw them in for good measure.
45 MINS COOK:
Jumbo pasta shells
Leftover bread sauce
For the creamy sauce:
300ml double cream
2 cloves of garlic
Add the pasta to a pan of boiling salted water and simmer according to packet instructions.
Meanwhile, heat a splash of oil in a pan on medium to high heat and cook off two cloves of crushed garlic.
Add the double cream and 100ml of the pasta water and stir regularly until the sauce has thickened.
Stir half your sauce in with your leftover stuffing and pour the other had in the base of an over proof dish.
Pipe or spoon the stuffing sauce mix into your cooked jumbo pasta shells and place on the bed of sauce in your dish.
It’s now time to add in your other Christmas leftovers, we went for strips of turkey, lashings of bread sauce, dollops of cranberry sauce and chunks of brie. You could also top the pasta with breadcrumbs or sage leaves for a nice crunch.
Bake for 30 – 35 minutes at 190 degrees until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese looks golden. Then, load up your plate and get stuffed!
What will you be wearing to see in the New Year? Whether it's slippers or sparkle, we hope you can find some pockets of happiness to see you through.
Helloooo to the potentially most overhyped night of the year in which we all hope to have the time of our lives but quite often settle for a distinctly average evening in which we’re more worried about what everyone else is doing that’s more fun than us. Ahh yes, New Year’s Eve. Now more than ever we’re ready to say good riddance to the past 365 days and welcome in the new year with some fresh optimism for 2021, with the hope of health and contentment for the next chapter of our lives. Perhaps this NYE won’t be so bad in the end.
We’ve learnt what makes us happy, what makes us anxious, the small parts of our routines we can’t go without, the people that feel like total peace, the memories we hold dear and the plans for the rest of our lives that are bursting at the seams. Regardless of our lack of plans, there’s something to be said for wearing something special whilst sipping on some bubbles and taking a positive attitude into the new year- after all, anything but loungewear feels like a treat these days!
What will you be wearing to see in the New Year? Whether it’s slippers or sparkle, we hope you can find some pockets of happiness to see you through.
Any excuse to dress up I’m there with BELLS on, and a staying at home NYE is no exception to that rule! I love a dress with a bit of drama (all I can hear is the ‘can I hear a little commotion for the dress TikTok audio) and this Sister Jane number is everything I look for in a comfy but stylish number. I’ve paired it with some pink accessories- mainly because the shoes look like something I’d actually be able to walk in- and voila, I’m ready to take on 2021 in a flash!
So as I’ve gone all black for my Christmas Day outfit I thought I’d lighten things up for NYE. This skirt is following me around the internet and at only £17.99 if you’re an H&M member I have to go for it. Pairing with cosy jumper and slippers because I am 1000% staying in this year and loving the fact that I don’t have to feel guilty about it.
I’m not the biggest fan of NYE and especially this year when we can’t celebrate like we usually would with friends and family. I think because of this I’ll more than likely be curled up in some comfy loungewear, watching Netflix and eating snacks! Not the wild NYE I’m used to (it will be much cheaper though no doubt) but quite fitting for 2020. Here’s to 2021!
Guys, I used to wear sequins to my seminars so you bet I’m glamming up for New Year, whatever the tier forecast. Trousers don’t get more bougie than Daily Sleeper, and if there’s ever been a good excuse to buy the fancy pants and celebrate life, it’s kissing goodbye to 2020. Plus, going this extra on my bottom half means I can get away with a cardigan up top. Now to remember how to walk in heels…
I’m not the biggest fan of NYE but I still love to use it as an excuse to get super dressed up and dance the night away. No doubt this year will be more chilled but I still plan on going all out. I usually opt for a black glittery number and a red lippy because you can’t really go wrong and it makes me feel classier than I actually am.
This new years eve will be a bit different for most of us, not least because I won’t be able to toast in the new year in the way that I’m used to IE alcohol-free for me, please! I think for that reason we all need a bit of a pick me up and personally for me when I make more effort and look great then I usually feel better too. I might even go crazy and put some heels on for the first time this year!
10 Christmas Parlour Games You Can Play That Aren’t Charades
If you’ve got the family over this Christmas and you don’t want to settle on another game of charades, these are the pen and paper parlour games to keep you entertained well past the Queen’s speech.
There’s only one way to avoid that post-turkey lull and that’s with forced family participation. If you’ve got the family over this Christmas and you don’t want to settle on another game of charades, these are the pen and paper parlour games to keep you entertained well past the Queen’s speech.
Talking of the Queen, you may have seen this raucous drinking game on season 4 of The Crown in that excruciating scene when the Iron Lady, played by the wickedly talented Gillian Anderson, is called to ibble-dibble with the royals. Spoiler alert: she doesn’t do party games.
An ibble-dibble is a player and a dibble-ibble is the name of a mark you stamp on your face with a blackened cork
The premise of the drinking game is to say the tongue-twister without fluffing it up. If you hesitate or trip over your words, you drink. An ibble-dibble is a player and a dibble-ibble is the name of a mark you stamp on your face with a blackened cork when you get the gibberish saying wrong.
All participating ibble-dibbles (that’s players, remember) must grab their tipple of choice and gather in a circle. One player assigns a number to each person. If you get number 7, you’ll henceforth be known as number 7 ibble dibble. Once everyone has a number, someone will need to light the end of the cork to blacken it and blow it out. Then the nonsensical game can begin!
The first player will begin by stating their number and the number of dibble-ibbles (none to start with), followed by the ibble-dibble they’re calling and the number of dibble-ibbles they have. It’ll go something like this, “Number 7 ibble-dibble with no dibble-ibbles calling number 3 ibble-dibble with no dibble-ibbles.”
As the game progresses, you’ll not only have to remember the who’s who of ibble-dibbles but you’ll have to keep an eye on their dibble-ibbles, too. If a player fluffs up their words or hesitates, they receive a dibble-ibble on their face. They must then take a sip of their drink and try again.
When do you call it a night and just drink in a circle instead? Once everyone’s had enough and grandpa ibble dibble’s catching Zs in the chair.
Each person needs to think of a celebrity or character. For each game, you’ll need a leader, this person will leave the room and everyone else will take it in turns to go and secretly tell the game leader who they are. The game leader will then write all the names down and throw in three wildcards. They then return to the room and read out the list three times, including the wildcards. The person to the left of the leader then kicks off the game by picking any person (not the game leader) and matching them with a celebrity / character. For example, “Dad, are you Boris Johnson?”. If you’re right, you join up with that person, secretly share your name with them and form a little team. The next turn belongs to the person who was asked, whether the guess was right or wrong. You keep going until the teams get bigger and eventually, there’s one player left. They win the game.
Everyone is trying to kill another person, so trust no-one. Each player writes their name on a piece of paper plus one festive object in the house on another piece of paper. Make sure it’s an object you can actually pick up, no dogs dressed as reindeer or Christmas trees. You have been warned.
They then give their person and object to their killer so they can continue sleighing the Christmas Day proceedings.
Each person takes a name out of a bag and an object (if you pick yourself or another name instead of an object, keep going). You need to pass the person you draw the Christmas object you draw and if they take it without realising, they die. They then give their person and object to their killer so they can continue sleighing the Christmas Day proceedings.
Who Am I?
Is it even Christmas Day if you’re not trying to attach a Post-it note to your impossibly clammy forehead? The Christmas jumper and turkey sweats always make you come unstuck, eh.
This game is super simple – every player writes the name of a famous person onto a sticky note and puts it on another player’s head. Keep going round until everyone has a name. You all take it in turns to guess who you are by asking the other players yes / no questions about who you are. If you get a ‘yes’ you keep on asking questions, if you get a ‘no’, the next player takes their turn. Keep going until everyone has guessed who they are – and take particular delight in the person who ended up with Olaf.
Heads Up is a charades style app, displaying words that your audience have to explain or act out to you. Simply hold your device with your screen facing your audience, start the timer and off you GO. When you get an answer right, simply tilt your head down to move onto the next round, to pass tilt your head up. The more inebriated you are, the funnier it gets.
Human Christmas Tree
Separate into teams with one person in each group playing the human Christmas tree. Each team then has just one minute to transform their human into a winning Christmas tree using wrapping paper, tape, decorations and whatever else they can find tbh. May the best human spruce win.
Message Under A Plate
Before your guests sit down for dinner, prepare slips of paper with weird or wildly inappropriate dinner table phrases under each plate. The objective? To casually slip your random sentence into conversation over dinner without getting caught out. If a player guesses wrong, they’re out. Whoever drops their message under a plate without getting caught will be the winner/s.
The Name Game
A quick-fire game similar to who am I and charades. Rip up bits of paper and write three famous (fictional or real) people on separate pieces of paper. Once everyone has finished, fold up the pieces of paper and place in a bowl. Split into two teams.
The first person from team one chooses a piece of paper from the bowl and has one minute to describe as many people to the rest of the team without using their name. When the team call out the correct name, the person puts that piece of paper to the side and takes another piece of paper out the bowl. At the end of the minute, they count up how many names they got right, and the next team go.
You can also add on a 4th round like Zoe and act out the people under a blanket!
The second round is to describe the people on the paper using just one word, then the final round is to act it out using charades. A different person from each team should take the lead on each round. Whichever team has the most amount of points after the three rounds wins. You can also add on a 4th round like Zoe and act out the people under a blanket! As the rounds go on people tend to remember everyone in the bowl so it’s not as hard as it might seem.
Just like the name game, only this time you draw what you see. Split into two teams again and designate a team artist each, this person is responsible for drawing the word on a big piece of paper for the rest of their team mates to guess. When the team get it right, the person drawing takes another piece of paper from the bowl and draws the next object. When one minute it up, they count how many words they got right and the next team have their go. The team who draw the most correct words within the time limit wins.
Read My Lips
Write down a series of words or phrases on slips of paper, fold them up and mix them in a hat or bowl. You can split up into two teams to compete or play as a single group. One person from each team puts headphones on with loud music so they can’t hear what’s going on in the room. The rest of their team draw a phrase from the bowl and say it aloud while the team mate with the headphones on has to guess what they’re saying. The teams can either play in two-minute intervals or draw a certain number of pieces of paper each. The team or person (if playing in a single group) who has the most correct answers is the winner. If you’re having a virtual family Christmas, you can play a version of this on Zoom simply by muting the player and guessing what they’re saying.
Do your family play parlour games on Christmas Day? Let us know your traditions in the comments below!
Between You And Me: Answering Your Problems Part 11
Whether you’re dealing with festive family fallouts, struggling to stay motivated in this last leg of 2020 or feeling a little lost in your relationship, we’ve got your back.
It’s the final part of our Between You And Me problem series for 2020 and what a roller-coaster of emotion it’s been. Now with Christmas just around the corner and Covid-19 restrictions still in place, we know a lot of you will be feeling overwhelmed and struggling to see the light at the end of a very long, dark, socially distanced tunnel. Whether you’re dealing with festive family fallouts, struggling to stay motivated in this last leg of 2020 or feeling a little lost in your relationship, we’ve got your back.
Christmas may look a little different this year but with family bubbles and baubles, we can get through it and start looking to the future again. Team Zoella would like to thank everyone who has written in with their problems and opened up to us in confidence in what has been an incredibly challenging and unprecedented 12 months. Virtual hugs to you all -remember you are more resilient than you know and this year is all the proof you need. Better days are coming.
We will be back and ready to lean on in 2021. In the meantime, please be gentle with yourself. Reach out to friends, family and mental health professionals if you feel vulnerable. You might feel alone but you’re not on your own.
Here’s BYAM: Your Problems Answered Part 11…
I’m so sorry you’re having a hard time with this. Just reading your message made me feel a little exhausted so I can only imagine how you’re feeling when you’re constantly running in the hamster wheel of work. I know the feeling of wanting to do as much as you can, ticking off lists scientifically provides a nice old dopamine hit, so you can see why people do it, and also just how helpful that can be. However this is only helpful if you’re setting yourself do-able amounts of work and it sounds as though you’ve pushed yourself so much, and so thin that you’re setting yourself a new “normal”. However, you are still the same person and you will end up burning yourself out trying to push yourself more and more. It’s so important to give yourself time to reset, to balance out those busy times and prioritize yourself in order to fuel yourself. You have likely forgotten how to do this, which is why it scares you so much, and is also possibly why you continue to fill your time with more work instead of relax or socialise. Maybe start adding little things in a bit at a time. A bath, a walk on your own, even a 10 minute viewing of something on Netflix and start building it up. I always like to think I will work better if I can give myself that little bit of calm and give myself the brain space in order to be more productive when I am working! Really hope this helps and that you are able to enjoy christmas, you DESERVE it! x
Hey, thanks so much for writing in to us. I found reading about what you’re struggling with really interesting as I think it’s certainly something I’ve struggled with in the past. So I’ll start by saying how amazing it is that you have this level of self-awareness that you’re able to vocalise your worries and how being unproductive makes you feel. I think a lot of us get caught up in the rat race of feeling like we need to do more, more, more, especially in this day and age where we’re bombarded with what everyone else is doing and achieving all the time, it’s easy to feel inadequate and that we’re not working hard enough. I used to be very much like this, threw everything I had into work, never leaving an email unanswered no matter how urgent or non-urgent it was, often working into the early hours. It got to the point of burn out where I was so stressed and couldn’t really see that I was putting all this pressure on myself that wasn’t necessary. My mindset has changed a lot over the last 4/5 years, I think the turning point was when my manager could see how stressed I was, he taught me some really valuable lessons on how to properly prioritise myself, my workload and it really helped me achieve a much more balanced work/life structure. With that in mind, I wonder whether speaking to your peers or manager would be a good first step? You’re definitely putting a lot of pressure on yourself which could be because of a perception of the culture of the company you’re in has made you feel like you can’t relax or slow down? It sounds like you’re an incredibly productive person and you should feel a sense of achievement once you’ve finished your to-do list rather than worry that you’ve not worked hard enough, trust me, often the most productive people are the ones that can do this, not the ones that are always slaving away out of hours. You’re only human and you can only do so much but you will start to burn out if you continue on this path where your work/life balance is completely off-key. Realising that you will be your best self if you give yourself some time off will be the turning in point for you. Rather than worrying about not always being 100% productive, you will begin to enjoy the time off, knowing that you will be able to do so much more if you’re not completely stressed and anxious. If you’re worried about feeling anxious over Christmas when you’re taking time off then why don’t you set yourself a few non-work-related goals, reading a book you’ve always wanted to read, do some cooking or baking or taking up a new hobby. Finding joy in ticking off smaller everyday tasks that are also enjoyable will hopefully help you feel like you’re not being “useless” and having fun at the same time. I really hope you do have a lovely Christmas and remember to be gentle on yourself. x
Hello lovely, thanks so much for writing into us. I hear you! As someone who is productive to her own detriment sometimes, I totally understand where this unfounded but valid fear is coming from. You clearly have an incredible work ethic and for that, you should be immensely proud of yourself – to be this self-motivated and driven is a fantastic trait, especially for your self-study. However, glamorising productivity is such a problem in modern living. We’ve all kinda forgotten what switching off really looks like thanks to these always-on lifestyles we’re living. It’s a hard concept to get your head around but actually, stepping away from your work is so important to be able to do it to the best of your ability. It might seem counter-intuitive when you could just carry on working but you’re not giving into idleness by granting yourself permission to rest and reset, quite the opposite actually. You’re forcing yourself to create some distance from your work in order to do it to the best of your ability. Too much of the same things is bad for us and that definitely is the case it comes to work. Work smarter, not longer. This year has been a lot for us all mentally so be gentle with yourself. You don’t need to be achieving all the time, especially in 2020. Getting through it to the best of your ability is enough. If you’re experiencing a lull in your productivity and motivation, it’s likely to be because you’re overworked, fatigued and heading for burn out, so all the more reason to take a jolly good screen-break and revisit work with fresh eyes. Christmas is the one time of the year you’re actively encouraged to slow down and relax, so definitely make the most of this downtime. Like Maddie says, if a lot of your worth and fulfilment comes from that sense of accomplishment, turn your focus to other things you can achieve such as writing all your Christmas cards and posting them on time, life-admin or a coach to 5K run? Your homework from me is to find some balance over these next few weeks and throw yourself into self-care, it sounds like you really do deserve some time to unwind 🙂 have a wonderful Christmas, my love! xx
Thanks so much for getting in touch. I can totally relate. I was definitely a late bloomer when it comes to relationships. From about the age of 14/15, all of my best friends were getting in relationships and no matter how much I wanted that, it just didn’t happen.
Please don’t be embarrassed by not having much experience with boys, I honestly don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed. Some of my best friends haven’t ever kissed anyone. You’ve not met a person you want to share that experience with just yet, and that’s OK.
It’s only natural that you’re pushing people away when you don’t have much experience liking people before. Just try not to put too much pressure on yourself. I think you should join some dating apps, get chatting to some people. It’s nice to get to know people. Go into it with the intention of just being friends and see what happens. The absolute last thing you want to do is to rush into something that isn’t right because you’ll end up having a negative experience. Online dating is great because there is that barrier, you don’t have to go any further than you’re comfortable and can just stop chatting to somebody if you’re not feeling it!
Also, with the Australia guy, I think to try not to dwell on past relationships. Everything happens for a reason and just because you weren’t ready at the time, doesn’t mean you were wrong.
Best of luck going forward and I hope you meet your person when you’re ready. Just remember, ‘You’re exactly where you’re meant to be right now’
Lots of love, Holly x
Hello, Anon thank you SO much for writing in with your worries as I actually think your situation is way more common than you might think and I’ve had a friend in a super similar situation to you before. Firstly you need to get out of your head, you worrying about the situation is actually making it into a much bigger deal than it is and causing you to push people away meaning it’s not getting… ‘resolved’ for lack of a better word.
It really isn’t that weird to have never had a relationship or any kind of sexual experience and you shouldn’t be embarrassed about it. The best thing you can do is actually own it, admit it to people, share your concerns with them and how you’d quite like to change your situation when the right person comes along. The most common way of meeting people is through friends so to have people in your corner thinking about setting you up with someone is great! Secondly, do not lie about it, it’s incredibly obvious when someone lies about this kind of thing and it makes people confused about why your lying, having them jump to conclusions about what could possibly have happened in your past. It also makes it harder for you to be open with them moving forward when you should be bringing them along on your journey to your first kiss, it’s exciting!
When it comes to talking to potential partners about your experience just keep it light and vague, there’s no reason for you to talk about your past especially so soon in your relationship and after you’ve got to a position where you are comfortable and confident with the person you’re with you can tell them your history, if they’re worth keeping they won’t judge you at all!
Make 2021 the year you get that smooch and everything else that comes with it, manifest your goals, own your past and strive for what you want! P.S there’s no such thing as ‘cool people’ when you’re in your mid-twenties, just focus on finding your people and I bet they’ll be the coolest people you know xx
I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been having a tough time, but I want to start by saying you’re so brave to have made so many big life decisions and gone into them head-on, so don’t be too hard on yourself!
In a similar vein to you, I moved to a different part of the UK at the start of this year just before Covid hit without knowing anyone here, and whilst it’s not as challenging as your circumstance, I definitely know how it feels when countless obstacles get in the way of your new life. It sounds like your time in Belgium has been challenging from the start, and I wonder if you see yourself ever fully adjusting and thriving in this environment? It sounds like life was looking up with the promise of your new internship, but I want to throw an idea into the ring and ask if you’re truly putting your needs and mental health first in this situation? I don’t think now is the time for rash decisions, but I would hate for you to spend more and more time in this environment and still have this anxiety bubbling under the surface. Hopefully, 2021 is looking up in regards to life returning to some sort of normality, so if you can hang on in there then I think you could make it work if you really throw yourself into it. It’s going to be difficult and anxiety-inducing, but perhaps a job/internship would be the first piece of the puzzle, and then having more of a social life and fully integrating to your new home will bring some comfort, peace and stability.
Having said that, I also want to pose the question of if Belgium really is where you see yourself for the long haul? It’s one of those big decisions that you probably don’t want to think about, but if you continue to feel a sense of unsteadiness and worry whilst being there without a strong support network, maybe it’s time to rethink your home there and how it will serve you and your future happiness in the long run. I think you’re at a make or break point where you need to really put YOU first and think about the big picture, and lean into what really brings you happiness and stability.
Having said that, I want to touch on what you said about feeling lost and not in the space you thought you would be at this stage of life. A quote I’ve heard recently that I often repeat to myself is: “all great things in life are proceeded by chaos”. It really helps me to know that whilst life might feel totally out of my control, there often is a funny way of things working out just when you feel like you’ve reached the end of your tether. Keep going, hold out through this lockdown and know that your offer of an internship beforehand should give you the confidence that job options are out there for you to move along your life ‘timeline’ and reach the point of a house and family that you really strive for. Sometimes the best plan is not having a plan and trusting that things will be okay in the end. It’s hard to imagine that amongst the current fog you’re in, but I hope these affirmations might help you see the wood between the trees …
I am not stuck
I am ready for all life has to throw at me
I am stronger than I know
I am on the right path
What’s for me won’t pass me by
Good luck with your journey and make the most of having your boyfriend around more to discuss really making you feel prepared and confident for seizing life there, even if it looks a little different to what you’d hoped. Sending love!
Hi, there anon!
Thank you for writing in, Covid-19 and Christmas are NOT the mix we were hoping for in 2020, but here we are all having to navigate a new way of celebrating the holidays as best as we can. I can understand why you feel so stressed about this situation, it’s really tricky planning things with Covid-19 and trying to keep yourself and your family as safe as possible.
Here in the UK, we have cases rising across the country again too and we have also been given 5 days over Christmas to effectively form a ‘bubble’ with three households. So, I totally understand where you are coming from as I am in the same boat that technically we can see more of our family, but is it safe to do so? I’m sure many people reading this too will be feeling worried about the mixing that will be happening at Christmas, I know I certainly am. It is really stressful as you want to make everyone happy but when it comes to Covid-19 and a holiday which usually means a lot of socialising, it’s tricky to know what to do.
Is there any way you could all come to a compromise and maybe see if your brother and his family could isolate for a week or so before Christmas? As if you know they haven’t been in contact with anyone (assuming schools break up a week before Christmas too) then you might feel much safer. I saw that your Dad said he wouldn’t want to socially distance himself from them either, so I wonder if them isolating could be a good solution. If that isn’t possible due to work etc, maybe ask your Dad to rethink the social distancing. To me it sounds as if he just wants Christmas to be normal like it always is and might be struggling with the new reality of Christmas day.
If both of the above don’t work out, the only thing I can suggest is trying to have another conversation with your Dad about how worried you are. At the end of the day, everyone needs to feel comfortable and safe on Christmas day and it’s not fair for you and your Mum’s feelings to be disregarded. All else you can really do is just ensure you are washing your hands loads, cleaning surfaces etc if you are feeling super anxious about it and your Brother and his family do end up coming in the end.
I really hope you and your family can come to some sort of compromise for the holidays, so you are all feeling safe and happy. I hope this helps in some way! All the best, Darcey Xx
Christmas is always a very highly anticipated time of year and with Covid thrown into the mix it’s made it all kinds of complicated for families all over the globe. I think one of the main things to consider is what would make YOU feel most comfortable. Nobody should ever be in a position where they feel compromised or unsafe around someone or larger groups of people (even if that’s someone we love). It’s a hard thing to navigate as you don’t want to hurt feelings and it’s not personal, but prioritise yourself and what makes you most comfortable and others will accept that if they love and respect you. Although Christmas is such a highlight of the year for a lot of people, it will be very different this time for so many, so we shouldn’t put so much pressure on ourselves to try and make it the perfect day, and consider it a little blip in the way of Christmases. I think sitting down together and talking very calmly and openly about how it would make you feel will get the best outcome! Hope you all manage to come to an arrangement that suits everyone! xx
Hey Anon, thanks so much for writing in!
I have a feeling there is A LOT of people in your situation at the moment with friends and family having different opinions on what is safe and what is not. The rules for covid are unclear at times and I personally think part of that is making people assess risk for themselves and make good decisions. It’s incredibly tricky being in a situation where your parents’ arent on the same page and it must be quite distressing feeling like you are not getting anywhere. I think the classic conflict resolution tactic of compromising can be used here and maybe the could use you as a mediator to form a plan for Christmas. Obviously, I don’t know where you are in the US or where your brother lives but would it be possible for your brothers family to isolate for 10 days before they come to you? Try and find something in between what your parents want from Christmas in the safest way possible but also remember seeing people doesn’t automatically mean you’re all going to get COVID, there has to be some wiggle room somewhere even if that’s making the most of something virtually. There are so many different issues that have come out of this mess of a year and I completely understand why your Dad would rather end it on a high with the people he loves at Christmas, but maybe remind him we’re close to the end with vaccines on the way, it would be so awful to fall at the final hurdle, and battling the virus all together is the only way to keep numbers down, it’s a team effort. I hope you can come to a decision with your parents that you’re all happy with this Christmas xx
Hello my love, thanks so much for writing in. It takes a lot of courage to open up about sex and relationships so you’re half-way there already, well done you. First of all, I’d say if you’re not sure that you’re ready to have sex, then you’re not ready.
If your happiness and wellbeing are important to him, then he will be more than willing to wait this one out, especially as it sounds like you very much want to take this next step in your relationship but maybe just not right now. There’s no specific timeline that says after 9 months in a relationship, you should be ready to have sex. You should absolutely only have sex if you genuinely want to do it and you certainly don’t owe him anything just because you’ve been together for a while. It sounds like your boyfriend isn’t a virgin, so perhaps he could do more to assure you that, when you’re ready and only when you’re ready, that you can take it slow and if you’re uncomfortable. Us girls always put a huge amount of pressure on ourselves first time round. We build it up and think it has to be this perfect, memorable, romantic, sexy event and well, like the movies but the reality is sex can be messy, clumsy, soft, goofy, wobbly and still be bloody great. That’s not to say it can’t be magical but I think if you let go of the idea that it has to be perfect, you’ll instantly relax and just enjoy the moment. Use this time to explore each other’s bodies, turn-ons and turn-offs and enjoy other fun ways of giving and receiving pleasure.
Trust is such a huge part of any relationship whether you’re having sex or not and communication is a great basis to start from, especially when it comes to sex. So talk about it together! Have an open conversation about intimacy, where your head’s at, your reservations, your expectations, how you want to be treated and respected and what you’re excited about trying in the near future. I think if you’re both on the same page, he will be aware of your feelings and you’ll have an all the more healthier relationship for it. Also, no-one knows what they’re doing btw – truth! Even those of us who have been at it for years, haha – it’s all a learning curve and everyone’s preferences are different but as long as you communicate openly as partners, it’ll be absolutely fine. If your boyfriend starts getting irritable because you’re not ready, then he was definitely not worthy of your V plates anyway. Thank you, next!
Thank you so much for writing in and opening up to us, losing your virginity is both a daunting and exciting time, but I absolutely do believe that you need to do it when you feel comfortable to do so. I think if you are feeling unsure, you probably aren’t quite ready. I feel like a lot of pressure is put on losing your virginity and that it can sometimes push people to do it before they are ready, or people say, “it’s not a big deal just do it”, but actually I think when you are truly ready it will just happen quite naturally. It’s not something that needs to be planned like in the movies, I think it’s got to feel really right at that moment.
If he truly cares about you and your feelings, he will not mind waiting and if he does mind, well, maybe he doesn’t deserve to share that intimate moment with you after all. From the sounds of it seems he may not be a virgin, so maybe talk through with him your fears of it being painful or maybe slightly uncomfortable for you the first time. I can assure you that probably most people’s first times are bit awkward and clumsy, no one knows what they are bloody doing and that’s the same with new sexual partners throughout your life. You always have to learn what each other like and don’t like, but that’s the beauty of building an intimate relationship with someone too.
When the time feels right you will know and remember that sex isn’t about how your body looks, so please don’t fret about that. We are all unique and beautiful in our own way, sex isn’t about how we look, it’s about what you feel and the person you are within that moment. Sex doesn’t need to be perfect, least does your first time! Make sure to communicate with him how you are feeling, what you do and don’t want to do and that when the time is right you will let him know. The ball is in your court!
Thanks so much for sending this message in. Lockdown has seriously wreaked havoc on EVERYTHING, hasn’t it!
Firstly, it’s nice that you’ve gotten close to your neighbours. That was my favourite thing about lockdown, everyone pulling together and creating new support networks.
In any relationship, I think it’s actually quite normal to have little feelings for other people. When I say feelings I mean little crushes and fancying. When I make a new friend I get so obsessed with them and want to spend all my time with them, it’s like that. But that feeling passes pretty quickly and as long as you haven’t acted on it, you’re not necessarily doing anything wrong.
5 years is a long time to be with someone and you obviously have a connection if you’ve been together that long. Maybe not being able to see your partner over lockdown has played a part in your growing feelings. It might be that you’re missing them and looking for that kind of attention from elsewhere, from someone more accessible. Facetime is not the same as being able to chat in person.
Think properly about what you want and try not to make any big life decisions while we’re in this weird in-between phase. This isn’t normal life and you don’t want to rush into a decision you’re going to regret.
Lot of love, Holly x
Hey lovely, thanks so much for writing in. This year has been WEIRD and our routines have really been shaken up which inevitably is going to have knock-on effects to our health, whether that be mentally or physically. That being said, even in a “normal” year it’s very common for our bodies to fluctuate in size so please don’t be too hard on yourself, it’s been a hard enough year as it is and you’ve done amazingly just to get through it. Without knowing where you’re from it’s difficult to give specific advice as I know a lot of countries have different rules at the moment but here are a few suggestions of things I’ve done in the past (a fellow non-natural exerciser) that might give you some ideas. Gym classes were a real game-changer for me and doing things in groups, whether that was boxing or barre I always found it much easier to stay motivated with others around. If you’d rather not go to classes at the moment which is completely understandable, most companies are still offering virtual classes. A friend of mine who recently had a baby swears by the Joe Wicks YouTube classes which are a quick 15-20minute HIIT that you can fit in around your busy day at home. The main thing is finding what really makes you tick if it’s dancing then signing up to a dance fit class would be perfect for you, you could even try some online dance choreography routines to ease yourself into it. It sounds so simple but even just walking makes such a difference, if you’ve got a Fitbit or pedometer app on your phone it will be able to track how much you’re moving per day. The recommended amount of steps is 10,000 which is surprisingly difficult to achieve, especially when you’re stuck at home so try setting yourself some small goals to meet each week. Slowly you will see a difference and feel so much better. Try not to get too obsessed with what the scales say and listen to your body and do what makes you feel good. Sending lots of positive vibes! Have a great Christmas xx
Hey my love, thanks so much for writing to us and trusting us to answer your dilemma. This year has been A LOT, so the first thing I would say is, so what if you’ve put on a few pounds anyway!? Is it really the worst thing that could have happened this year? Definitely not. Be gentle to yourself, 2020 has been one hell of a rollercoaster – our routines are all out of whack, our stress levels have been at an all-time high, our eating habits have changed and our exercise routines are still up in the air all these months later, so you’re not on your own. Before the first national lockdown, I loved going to my local gym and joining the Body Combat class and I still miss the morale of a group of people all working out together but now, I just make sure I keep moving by going on solo runs and changing up my routes to keep it interesting. It’s a great motivator for getting outside and making the most of my lunchtimes – otherwise, I wouldn’t move from my laptop. Depending on your region’s coronavirus restrictions, you could look into joining a local running club if you think having that support from other people to motivate you would help you get out there. If running isn’t your thing, you could try a couple of virtual classes such as yoga or pilates, or even YouTube videos. There are so many online classes available now as the industry was very quick to adapt – plus, doing it in the comfort of your own home is a great way to try something new without the pressure of being in front of people in a real studio (no-one is paying attention to what anyone else is doing on Zoom, they’ll be too concerned with keeping up with the teacher). I would also say, don’t underestimate the power of a good, long walk for your physical and mental health. It’s actually pretty hard to walk the recommended 10,000 steps a day unless you actively try so just getting outside and setting yourself the goal of walking a certain amount of steps every day is a fantastic place to start. Check out your local area too as I’m sure they’ll be some socially distanced dance classes that run outdoors, weather permitting. I’m not sure where you are geographically and whether sea swimming or lido swimming would be an option but it has a whole host of benefits for the mind and body so perhaps you could look into that. I’d say, take the pressure off exercising to ‘look’ a certain way and instead focus on doing it to ‘feel’ a certain way. If dancing is the ultimate mood-booster then stick on your favourite tracks in your bedroom and dance like no-one’s watching, right? It definitely counts as exercise where I’m coming from. Merry Christmas to you lovely xxx
WOW- I really relate to this situation, unfortunately, and I’m so sorry you’ve been put into a position that makes you question your worth and significance in your boyfriend’s life. I want to start by saying I don’t think anything that your boyfriend has done here is from a place of malice or intent to make you feel less than, but sadly boys do have a funny way of communicating and really not thinking things through with the same nuances and depth that women do. It can be really challenging over a long period of time to feel a sense of unease and low-level sadness at not being made to feel a priority, so don’t belittle or disregard your feelings because you are 100% entitled to be feeling this way given how he’s handled these situations. I find the idea of you agreeing to give him space to play his games a little sad really, as I can really see from your submission how much it would mean for you to spend more time with him which he is perhaps a bit oblivious to. Relationships are so much about compromise and I really feel in that situation he could have reassured you and made a sacrifice to cut down his gaming and chatting late at night a couple of nights a week to really show how much he values your presence. Again, I don’t think he did it with any ill intention, but from personal experience insecurities and doubt will only continue to build as you put more and more effort in without it being reciprocated back. Playing mind games never ends well, but perhaps you could ease off putting your all into keeping things going and see if he steps up? Especially with his new living situation, I really feel like he should be going above and beyond to show you how much he values you!
I find the flat circumstance such a tricky one as I really can see it from both perspectives. You’re not being unreasonable for feeling like a second choice or having a sense of being undervalued because of his lack of excitement, so don’t second guess that and think you’re doing anything wrong- you’re not. It’s an impossible scenario because either you or the friend would end up being disappointed, but I do agree I personally would want someone who actively wanted to spend time with me and would jump at thought of working out a way to live together. I think it’s little niggles like this that can often make insecurities and anxiety form in the relationship, as the lack of attention and not having needs met starts the path of chasing someone and becoming needy in the hope of feeling validated and fulfilled. It’s so hard, and I would never suggest breaking up with someone when you’re clearly not ready to, but don’t disregard how you’re feeling and think it’s normal to not feel like a priority. You’ve been together long enough that he should know how to make you feel secure and happy.
I hope that whatever happens you get the value and appreciation you want and deserve from him, and if not, know that what one person isn’t capable of, someone else can do tenfold.
Lots of love and hugs
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