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Christmas market lit up at night with giant ferris wheel and Christmas tree.

BY HAYLEIGH BARCLAY

Today I woke up convinced that time travel had been discovered. It’s December, but yesterday it was June and despite posting about it on Twitter, nobody could tell me how that happened. I’m not saying it’s a conspiracy, but I’m not saying it’s not either.

All I know is that for the past two weeks, a tree with twinkle lights and baubles appeared in my hallway and some guy on the radio started singing to me about a white Christmas. For those of you who are good at maths, yes that does mean our tree was up in November. Am I ashamed? No! Have I been bragging that all my festive shopping was finished and wrapped last month? Absolutely!

People around me were shocked – not least because, usually, I am the most disorganised person on the planet, but also because in years gone by, I haven’t been the most festive of ladies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Grinch, but if Jacob Marley and three ghosts started haunting me, I wouldn’t be surprised. 

This year of course will be different for everyone. We know why, let’s not get into it. Whether it’s having family get togethers over Zoom or lamenting not being able to sit on Santa’s lap (that milk drinking, saucy fella!), we are all adapting.

What follows is a few suggestions about how to celebrate the holiday season, using technology and imagination to recreate traditional festivities. No matter your beliefs or religion (personally, I am Pagan, so I observe the winter solstice/Yule between December 21st/22nd), these suggestions are aimed to be suitable for everyone.

Virtual Markets

Due to restrictions, the usual annual markets which would be held in towns and cities across the country have had to move online. If, like me you find the hustle and bustle of endless crowds a bit daunting then this might be the perfect option. Okay, you might miss out on free samples of mulled wine and freezing your butt off, but you’re still supporting local businesses and artisans. The links below are just a couple of options for you to check out.

Super Market Virtual

Chatsworth Virtual Christmas Market

Online Christmas Fair

Virtual Pantomimes

Everyone loves a good Pantomime (oh no they don’t! blah blah blah) and why should this year be any different. If you still don’t feel comfortable or can’t visit theatres, there are many production companies taking their shows online for all the family to enjoy. Here is a small selection.

Mistletoe and Murder – Christmas Murder Mystery Challenge

Help Santa and his elves solve an unspeakable crime. Interactive fun where the audience can win a £50 Amazon voucher.

Sleeping Beauty – A Virtual Pantomime

Sit back and relax as the cast from Bigfoot Arts Education & The Royal Hippodrome Theatre presents their retelling of the classic fairy-tale and brings it to you through modern technology. Shows are available throughout December.

Cinderella Live: World’s First Interactive Live Stream Pantomime

To be honest, I don’t understand how this one works – but it looks amazing! From the comfort of your home, you actually become part of the show and take part in live sing-a-longs and best dressed section. I’m assuming it’s either done through the wonder of technology or pixie dust.

Pamper Day

Break out the mud masks and manicure sets – it’s time for some you time! It used to be that you would only find girls like Elle Woods (Legally Blonde) checking out the local beauty salon and reading the latest issue of Vogue, but not now. This option is open to every gender and age group, so either spend the day treating yourself, or get together with your household or Zoom buddies and have a good old catch-up. Conversations about pandemics and Brexit are not permitted – this is a no stress zone. Instead, focus on massage oils, scented candles, and (if over 18) a glass of bubbly.

Festive Film Day

Did someone say pyjama day? If you like to hog the remote control, then this option is for you! Amazon Prime, Sky, and Netflix are forever updating their film lists and it would be atrocious if you missed out. The best part about creating a homemade cinema is that you can do things that you can’t do in public, such as snuggle into a teddy bear and save a fortune on sweets.

My top 5 film recommendations are:

Last Christmas – Sky Movies

Arthur Christmas – Netflix

Christmas Chronicles – Netflix

The Nightmare Before Christmas – Amazon Prime

Home Alone – Amazon Prime

Game Day

This is where things might turn nasty…Depending on how competitive you are and how much you want to talk to your family this year, this option might be best avoided. Traditional board games such as Monopoly and Cards Against Humanity are always a winner, however if you want to move your game day online here are some options (no, I’m not sending everyone a PS5!):

Party games to play with friends remotely

Kids games

Best games to play on Zoom

Craft Day

How many times have you looked online and thought you could make something better at home and not need to pay £50 in the process? Well, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is? Many disabled crafters are making money from doing what they love, so why not take up a new hobby and see where it takes you? From making your own decorations to becoming the next Mary Berry, there’s an option for everyone.

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

DIY Rings

DIY Clothes Hacks

Thinking of Others

It’s been a difficult year to say the least, and for many it has been the most isolating time of their lives. Perhaps now would be a good time to reach out to an old friend who you haven’t spoken to in years or arrange a Zoom chat with some neighbours. It might surprise you how many people need a little extra company at this time of year. 

So, there we have it, a week’s worth of festive ideas to see you through the holiday season. If you decide to try any of these ideas, we would love to see your pics and read your stories – send them to info@pathfindersalliance.org.uk.

I hope you all have a fun, safe, and stress free December and a Happy New Year. 

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