Christmastime, mistletoe, and wine! The Christmas period is all about soaking up the festive vibes for as long as possible and making memories with family and friends, even if said memories do involve a communal effort to make Uncle Peter feel better about the fact that you had to staple two paper hats together to fit his one head.
From eating the same dinner and playing the same games, to watching the Queen’s speech and forcing everyone out on a post-roast walk, the warm familiarity of our 25 December routines is what makes Christmas Day feel Christmassy.
Maybe you’re yet to find your family’s *thing* or perhaps 2020 threw a rule-of-six shaped spanner in the works and it’s time to forge new seasonal fun, from signed, sealed and delivered self-care rituals to festive tipples with the squad, we’re hoping at least a few of these ideas will make your spirits bright. And if you just so happen to come from a long line of Grinches, let this be the year their hearts triple, nay quadruple in size thanks to these wholesome Yuletide traditions.
Whether you’re looking for all-out festive ideas or something with a subtle and tenuous link to Christmas but with a solid link to mirth, here’s 10 holiday traditions you can adopt as your own. You’ll be v pleased to read, eggnog didn’t make the cut – it’s been banished to the cupboard under the stairs where it belongs.
1. Get yourself a new Christmas decoration to chortle & weep over in years to come
Nothing says tradition like a commemorative decoration you can pluck out the attic every year as your annual reminder that you once had a real thing for *drumroll please* excessively sparkly lobsters.
From the cult ‘n’ classy Harrods bauble to space rockets, avocados, hotdogs and trad nutcrackers (or buttcrackers as they’re now known to Team Zoella thanks to a rather beautiful slip of the keyboard) there’s an ornament for every aesthetic from minimal through to novelty and picking one out each year brings silly amounts of joy.
If you skipped decorations altogether last year and want to ensure you never forget the year when banana bread became our sole food group and even Santa was working from home, we can think of no better way to keep the 2020 mems alive than with these guys:
2. Nourish your soul with a seasonal feel-good read
Part of the beauty of Christmas is that we can do whatever the figgy pudding we want. Getting up at 11? Sure, it’s Christmas. Indulging in a digital detox, well they wouldn’t have wifi in the stable now would they (in a bit TikTok). Slipping into a peaceful cocoon of pure, non-threatening fiction in lieu of leafing through Instagram until you’ve got a throbbing migraine – we love to see it.
Selecting your book of the season will truly light up your soul with wide-eyed wonderment (times that by ten if it’s a distinguished gentleman bound in cloth) and bequeath you with plenty of reasons to stay at home in the loving arms of your weighted blanket.
Unlike a night out where you’re coerced into shotting seven ‘Bucas despite appearing to be a grown up and counting down the hours until your feet can live in flat, heavenly peace once more, season’s readings always end on merry terms. If you’re looking for a recommendation, allow us to hard plug Mandy Baggot’s One New York Christmas.
3. Break out the matching pjs for the family portrait
‘Tis the bona fide trademark of Christmas, no? Presenting your dad with a pair of dorky candy cane stripe pyjamas – or even better, a onesie that is evidently *not* one size fits all – and arranging him in front of the tree + self-timer while he wonders what the Dickens is going on is wickedly entertaining. The best bit: he thinks all this fuss is for Tweeter (sic). Everyone’s a winner, most of all your now exclusively holiday-themed flannel pyjama drawer.
4. Arrange A Girls’ Festive Brunch
Whilst we don’t have a remedy for the fresh hell commonly known as: trying to arrange a date that works for every woman you’ve ever loved in December, the girls’ festive brunch is the one social event that doesn’t require a Doddle intervention, namely because it’s a daytime thing. And daytime socialising is the preferable mode of peopling. Send round the pdf menus, get the pre-orders in and most importantly discuss whether this will be your party pj’s time to shine. Spoiler alert – it is. Feathers and setting spray at the ready, here come the girls.
5. Go Christmas caroling
Like karaoke but with etiquette and volume control, bursting into song with a crowd of strangers does weird and wonderful things for the heart, even if you are off-key for the entirety of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. It’s the taking part (and the mulled wine) that counts, even if it’s just amongst the neighbours you do your best to avoid for 11 months of the year.
7. Cook something together
It simply wouldn’t be the season to eat, drink and be merry without a recipe cobbled together between blood-relatives and bezzie pals. Whether you decide on homemade mince pies, yule log, Christmas Eve cookies or a boozy clementine gin, nothing says Christmas like a pathetic feud over who’s hogging the rolling pin.
8. Write a letter to your future self
Christmas spirit doesn’t have to cost a bomb. Some of the most meaningful gestures come straight from the heart, with a simple handwritten letter ‘to you, from you’ being one of the most thoughtful gifts of all. As we gear up to sing all three words of auld lang syne for another year, now’s a great time to take stock, practise gratitude, and reflect on the last 12 months, and what better way to savour every peak and pit than by putting pen to paper and addressing it to yours truly. It’ll be nostalgic to look back on this pivotal moment in your life and see what you were thinking.
Maybe you’d rather look ahead to next year, exploring what’s next for you, penning your aspirations for where you want to be or what you want to achieve by next Christmas and setting the tone for 2022 with some positive affirmations. Put it in an envelope, seal it with some gold wax – because no one deserves fancy stationery and elegant correspondence as much as you – and open it on Christmas Eve next year to see what whopping great big dreams came to fruition. Manifestation mode – activated.
9. Watch your favourite Christmas movie
If you’ve got to the ripe old age of adulthood (symptoms include waking up in the middle of the night worrying about the whereabouts of your birth certificate) and have yet to know your favourite Christmas movie of all time, what are you playing at? Peruse our definitive ranking of G.O.A.T festive flicks immediately and let the movie marathon commence. Psst! if you want an enduring classic, go for It’s A Wonderful Life, if you want a radiant and respectably dewy Jude Law, go for The Holiday. Better yet, gather round the warm glow of your devices and watch one a night between now and the big day.
10. Start a puzzle / make a wreath
Take it from us: avoid anything that resembles a 1,000 piece Dickensian house because it will ruin your Christmas, unless of course you consider yourself someone who is capable of not getting a piece stuck to your arse cheek and sabotaging the entire finale. It was a child’s scarf if you must know.
Generally speaking, puzzling is a top-tier mindfulness activity, perfect for taking it down a notch ahead of social butterfly season. Whack on a Christmas movie in the background and time will fly by. Unless you’re sitting on the missing piece in which case you will pass away and wish you started a wreath instead.