No bonus materials from us this week – will just point you to www.activityvillage.co.uk for all your Christmassy Downloady goodness…
Worth the click – trust me.
On to Christmas, Crimbo, Yuletide, The Season to be Merry, Xmas, Crimble and so on.
So… the turkey.
Delia has somehow managed (in the same way we feel it a legal requirement to buy our childrens shoes in Clarke’s) to be engraved on the tablet of stone entitled “What you must eat at Christmas”.
We do what we have always done with regard to the Christmas Dinner, whereas in every other aspect of life.. we have happily evolved.
So now (and I think it is OK) children WILL play with DS, iPad and so on – watch telly, make a mess and wear their pyjamas for the whole of Christmas Day – whereas once a more formal carry-on – umm..carried on.
But why does dinner have to be this bizarre oversized unfamiliar bird (that doesn’t fit in the oven) with vegetables that you don’t normally eat and extra courses that no-one can fit in their overstuffed, exhausted stomachs?
I mean it can be amazing… but for the effort? I know, right?
Would 2 or 3 lovely plump chickens (I would peri-peri them because that’s just how I roll) and accompaniments less intensively time-dependant, make the whole thing less daunting?
Would it be worse?
Can traditions evolve?
Just an example, but I think it could be helpful to think about what REALLY is important, and you REALLY need to have to make it feel Christmassy.
For me, it totally is the family, friends and togetherness.
M&S are pretty good at much of the rest.
Why one person needs to be frantic and exhausted for the benefit of the others is potentially ok (be it Mum or Dad) – but surely only if the attention to detail (random obsessiveness being my disorder of choice) is worth it. Sometimes factoring together cost of the ingredients and the fuel used and the time spent on preparing the perfect Christmas pudding, could all that resource be better deployed in a fab day out for all of you.
So whilst writing this, a nice ASDA advert showed on the box.
There was all the above; the harrassed mum, the mismatched chairs, the painting a beautiful unreal veneer for all the visitors, the stuffing leftovers in the fridge. *Rolled eyes and sighed* But then there was the money shot: family reading, playing, laughing and relaxing together AFTER all the rest of it.
I pointed at the screen “THAT’S what I’m talking about, that is the whole point!”
Cue, husband looking up, with a “what’s she ranting about this time”, look.
As always – fair point.
But the secret is – those are the parts that are free of charge.
For many of our recent Christmasses I have been tasked as Gamesmaster.
I do realise this is so I will leave the cooking to those better placed and to keep me out of trouble.
I will dispense 2 of the more successful game geniusnesses here…
1. Brussel Truffle Roulette
So here’s what you do.
Make (or Buy) some chocolate truffles a packet of icing and some food colouring.
Buy some Truffle Sized brussells sprouts.
So you just cook the sprouts and leave them to go absolutely cold.
Then you turn them into christmas puddings by
covering the bottom with brown icing (pud)
the top with white icing – (brandy butter/cream)
little icing holly leaves
little icing berries
Do the same with the truffles – the art is to make one TOTALLY indistinguishable from the other.
I know this somehow contradicts the above – but it really is an evening well spent, where you will be sniggering as you go at the evil you will be unleashing… (hopefully on the right victim 😉 )
I seem to recall doing this in front of Big Fat Quiz of the Year and several turbo strength mulled wines.
What’s not to like?
Anytheway, you set your truffles/brussells random-style on a Lazy Susan for maximum camp effect – a plate (as in the pic) does the job fine.
Do not understimate the hilarity that will ensue.
2. Fat Santa
Ok so here’s what you do
You go to the Pound Shop and buy 2 terrible Santa Outfits and some balloons.
You blow the balloons up half way.
Then you divide the gathering into 2 teams, allocating a ‘Santa’ to each.
Dads make good Santas in my experience.
Then on your whistle/gong/countdown, teams endeavour to stuff Santa with the balloons to create the fattest one.
Prizes or applause in awarded for the fattest santa achieved in the allotted time.
*Optionally you can then POP Santa to make him slim again.
Unfortunately this can desend into actual kicking seven bales out of the dads, so you may have to use your judgement on this one.
Again, pant wettingly funny.
Some alternative ideas for Christmas Day who find themselves able to do them.
Obviously not an option for those with children – but you may be able to be the Cool Aunty who suggests it.
Crisis, the homeless charity, will be opening seven centres in London this Christmas and is seeking volunteers for all of them – particularly at night. Anyone looking to help must be aged over 16 and prepared to work two eight-hour shifts over the holiday period to make vulnerable people feel at home. Those with skills such as hairdressing, dentistry, chiropody and medical training are all on hand, while others are needed to help in the kitchen, distribute clothing and make tea and coffee. For more information see www.crisis.org.uk.
Should the material pressures of the season become too much, the London Buddhist Centre organises a day retreat at its Bethnal Green headquarters on Christmas Day. There will be four meditation sessions, a group vegetarian lunch and a discussion. There will also be a glass of non-alcoholic wine thrown in. A longer winter retreat starts this weekend and goes on to 1 January, avoiding New Year’s Eve too.
A recent survey suggests that less than half of British children relate Christmas Day to the birth of Jesus. What better way to remake the connection than join the four million worshippers who will be attending a service? All churches will be open for what is traditionally the busiest day of the year.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams will be preaching at Canterbury Cathedral at 11am. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor will lead midnight mass at Westminster Cathedral.
There are also many vibrant, younger, funkier denominations that will welcome you with open arms and give you a great morning.
Revellers will have to wait until the rest of the world is tucking into the first of the turkey sandwiches but clubland will be cranking up the sounds on Christmas night.
Cabaret Voltaire in Edinburgh is hosting an escape Christmas party while DJ Oggie will be playing classic disco at Churchill’s in Manchester.
The Fridge in Brixton, south London, will be playing house and electro, while Bamboo in Glasgow will also be open for rock and pop tunes.
Not great for parents – but maybe for the others…
Great tips from NetMums parents:
- Giving and receiving (er, not quite as much as usual)
- Let the credit crunch be an excuse to buy people presents you know they actually want, instead of just grabbing at stuff you think is good present fodder – that’s real value for money.
- Think about what the kids actually need. If they already have 25 DS games, they don’t need another!
- Buy decent ‘family’ presents instead of separate ones. So, a game of Pictionary (or whatever) for your sister, BIL and nieces/nephews, instead of four or five smaller crapola gifts (might be wise to clear this plan of action with your sister and BIL in advance). Getting ‘family’ gifts is great, and you can have a bit of togetherness using them too.
- Use pound shops for stocking fillers.
- Buy lots of cheap stuff from car boot sales and charity shops. And jazz up the present-giving in some way instead. My partner does elaborate treasure hunts around the house and garden: the kids love it and it spins out the present-opening.
- Do Xmas, don’t buy it.
- Some charity shops do cheap new stuff, too: the British Heart Foundation, for example, have some nice stone jewellery and key rings.
- Make stuff. Although I am utterly rubbish at sewing, I have made a very rudimentary set of dressing-up costumes out of some old clothes and sheets for my son, aged 4, so now he will have a pirate costume, a medieval knight outfit and a superhero cape. The pirate hook and cutlass, and the sword and shield I got from the pound shop.
- I ask all my siblings to just buy the kids something (rather than the adults) – and then only if they want to. Kids won’t go short of presents anyway in a big extended family.
- We agree between my siblings not to buy for adults and to get the kids useful gifts. This year, my nephews are getting new bedcovers each, sourced in the sales. My children will also be getting something for their bedrooms.
- Kids under seven? Buy them a bumper pack of paper and pens and spend time with them drawing/making things to give to others. This is a lot more fun than just grabbing some cheap tat. And you can also make thank-you cards to send to the rellies for the cheap tat they send you, so bonus!
- Do a secret santa for the adults with a price limit.
- If you have family abroad, send them money early, so they can buy their own gifts, rather than you having to pay a fortune posting parcels. Send ‘family batches’ of Christmas cards to one member of each family and ask them to distribute them.
- Relatives and close friends are getting things such as a bottle of cheap wine, a jar of home-pickled shallots with either a nice cheese or a nice pork pie, a home-made and decorated mini-Christmas cake or homemade truffles. Grandparents are getting an extra calendar, homemade by the boys and a nice photo (from school ones). Everyone else can take a running jump.
- Buy the kids a big joint present, such as a pool table/garden swing, and get it secondhand (look at adverts locally). And recycle: swap unwanted toys with friends.
- If you’re buying big electrical type things for pressies, remember the shops want sales and have targets to meet, so haggle! This works even better if you are buying more than one thing, so try to go to one shop and purchase them all at the same time. If you don’t get money off, ask them what they will throw in for you.
- Ask grandparents for something like a year’s National Trust membership. It allows a whole year of free car parking and entry to stately homes – perfect for Easter/summer picnics.
- That’s it for now.
- Plenty more where that lot came from…and it will.
Remember your Christmas is just that. Not Delia’s, not Waitrose’s, not your Mother In Laws…YOURS.
Whatever is most important for you and your litter is what is most important.
You don’t have to bend over backwards to accommodate everyone – for once they could fit in with your plans.
Love from The WiggleWaggle Team x
p.s. can you remember who gave you what last year?
There you are then…