This year we might just have to embrace a slow Christmas. Usually, by Christmas Day we’re exhausted after enjoying Christmas parties, family get togethers and too much Bailey’s and cheese.
I, for one, absolutely love this side of Christmas, but I’m not sad about the idea of readjusting my plans for one year only to entwine a slower way of living into my festivities. After all, it’s just one year. Yes, it’s unfortunate, but it doesn’t mean we can’t make the best out of our situations.
If the news is anything to go by, our winters will still be permeated by the ever looming presence of coronavirus. In a bid to stay positive and make the best out of my favourite time of year (Christmas and the build up), I’ve come up with some ways we can enjoy a slow Christmas – despite it being different from our usual festivities.
READ MORE: Is there an art to switching off?
Christmas Eve traditions
Before I got pregnant, I was quite anti the Christmas Eve box. Whether it’s my maternal instinct kicking in or my need for the cosiest home this Christmas, I found myself buying a personalised Christmas Eve box (engraved with our names, no less).
For me, Christmas 2020 needs to be full of new traditions. Whether that’s the Christmas Eve box or some personalised Christmas pyjamas. I like the idea that something good can come out of something bad.
In Iceland, they adopt a traditional called Jolabokaflod, or the Christmas Book Flood. On Christmas Eve, each member of the family gift each other a book they’ll love and then come the evening, they all snuggle up and start reading their books with plenty of chocolate.
We’re usually busy seeing our friends or fitting in family plans on Christmas Eve, so traditions like this aren’t a priority. But, in a year where these usual plans might come under threat, something that gives me a cosy feeling is the idea that we can start new traditions and embrace a slower Christmas this year. If you’re living alone, take the opportunity to buy some cosy pyjamas, light some candles, buy your favourite chocolates and enjoy your very own Jolabokaflod.
Change up your lighting
Cosy lighting is so important for a slow Christmas. A lot of houses love a spotlight. I should know, our house is covered in them. They are very practical at illuminating rooms, but that’s just not what you need when you’re snuggling under a blanket.
There are a few options you can explore; candles, lamps or votives (real or fake). I’ve invested in a few new lamps and having them on as the nights draw in have given me an instant feeling of comfort. If there’s a reason you can’t have open flames and you don’t want to spend money on new lamps, try buying LED flameless tea lights. I bought these for my hospital bag (I’m going to use them to make my environment a bit cosier in hospital) and they work a treat around the house. They’re not the best looking things, but when decorated with some ribbon or foliage, they come into their own.
If you’re feeling a bit spendy, Philips Hue has amazing smart bulbs which will adjust to any colour of your choosing and they’re all managed on your phone. We bought these for some of our house and I can honestly say they’re one of my favourite investments of 2020.
I know that our obsession with hygge (the Danish art of cosiness) seems like a distant memory. It was replaced by Marie Kondo’s Japanese minimalism. I’d argue that this Christmas calls for a bit of hygge back in our lives. Think lamps, thick rugs and curtains, candles and blankets.
Try a winter BBQ
It’s unlikely we’re going to be able to entertain our friends in our homes (in the classic way) this Christmas, but it seems that we will still be able to meet outside. In the summer, it’s a lot more enjoyable to go for a walk in the sun, but, we can still achieve something pretty spectacular with a bit of Christmas positivity.
When you go skiing, you don’t mind sitting out on the slopes eating or drinking – in fact, it’s quite a novelty even though it’s freezing. That’s what we’re going to hold onto when creating our cosy winter BBQ.
Each guest will need hot water bottles (it brings a whole new meaning to bring your own bottle), a blanket and some warm coats. You can provide a nice fire (fire bowls and outdoor heaters have soared in popularity this year, so I’d recommend getting your orders in soon).
The classic BBQ menu of Pimm’s and burgers can go out the window for your winter BBQ. Instead, enjoy a warming mulled wine and cook meat, potato and rice dishes with plenty of carbs to keep us all warm. For dessert, provide guests with hot chocolates with all the trimmings or an apple/fruit pie. Basically – we’re focussing on warming, inviting foods. I’m excited just thinking about it.
If you live in a flat or don’t have a suitable outdoor area, you can still enjoy a slow Christmas meal by giving a winter picnic a go. The same rules apply, but you can meet up in a park instead.
READ MORE: How to work mindfully
A slow Christmas Day
We spend a lot of time running around over Christmas, trying to fit in seeing everybody. It’s never something I’ve minded before, but I’m usually grateful for the lull in between Christmas and New Year just to enjoy a bit of downtime.
Our Christmas was going to be very different this year anyway. Having a newborn doesn’t exactly scream I’VE GOT PLANS, after all. But, if you are somebody who usually has a house full of people and a large Christmas dinner to cook, try to enjoy this as an opportunity to switch off.
Put off your big Christmas dinner until Easter – or whenever the pandemic is over – instead. It’s not cancelled indefinitely, just for a while.
If we are allowed to have some guests in our homes (I’m hoping) then embrace the new experience of not having everybody and his mother in your house. Spend more quality time with your family. Enjoy playing games, eating, drinking and watching Christmas TV. If this year has taught us anything, it’s how important family is.
New Year’s Eve
The last piece of the festive puzzle. New Year’s Eve is always the little glimmer I look forward to after my favourite Christmas days are over. Regardless of what Christmas rules we are dealing with this year, I think it’s fair to say that New Year’s Eve is not going to be the same.
Many of us would argue that New Year’s Eve can be a bit of a disappointment anyway. With that in mind, maybe it’s a good thing that we have a get out clause this year. It gives us a chance to enjoy doing nothing (aka the plans we want to have every year).
There are plenty of things we can do at home on New Year’s Eve. Whether it’s cooking a nice meal or waiting until the 31st to play our favourite board games. You could also make it themed; a pyjama night with all the classics (popcorn, films etc) or a treasure hunt for the children (and even adults).
Yes, this is absolutely not the Christmas we had planned. I think it’s fair to say this isn’t the 2020 we had planned, either. It’s certainly not the circumstances I imagined giving birth in. If we don’t embrace this, though, we risk letting Christmas – as well as the rest of 2020 – pass us by. Life is short – made evident by this pandemic, so my main piece of advice for a slow Christmas is to just accept it and enjoy it for what it is.